I support DJ Grothe

This is probably going to be a long post. I’m going to try to keep it from getting TOO long, but that will require not explaining some things in as much detail as I’d like, so be warned of that in advance. Also, I’m going to link to a couple posts on my old blog, where comments are now closed. Feel free to leave any comments whatsoever you have on those posts in the comments thread on this one.

With that said: the suggestion DJ Grothe should resign from position as president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, recently made by a couple Freethought Bloggers, is utterly ridiculous. For those who aren’t aware, a key bit of background for the call-for-resignation is a previous attack on DJ made by Stephanie Zvan, one of the bloggers now suggesting that he resign. There, Stephanie declared, “DJ Grothe has a problem, an ongoing problem with a pattern, and that problem is him.” (Note that she appears to have edited that post after it initially went up, so you shouldn’t assume DJ’s replies in the comments were to the post as it exists now.)

Stephanie’s previous attack on DJ rested on three points: first were some comments DJ made on a discussion involving Lawrence Krauss, where DJ’s comments would have been reasonable in isolation but were probably ill-advised given the context. Given that DJ later acknowledged as much, I don’t think that incident does much to justify Stephanie’s comments about DJ.

The second point involved a dust-up over evolutionary psychology. I’ve written a bit about the attitude of some people in the atheist/skeptic community towards evolutionary psychology, though not as much as I’d like, so briefly: I think too many people in here have an irrational dislike of evolutionary because they mistakenly think it has bad socio-political consequences, in particular they mistakenly think that explaining behavior excuses it.

A perfect example of this sort of confusion comes from one of the posts Stephanie linked to as representing the kind of “expertise” DJ should have consulted before commenting. The post said that the idea that rape is an adaptation “is bullshit. Rape is a sexual hate-crime.” The confusion here is that there is nothing inherently nice about evolution, so something can be both an adaptation and horrible (and, I’d add, something doesn’t have to be a hate-crime to be a horrible crime.)

Stephanie’s third example is from a nasty fight that happened in a comment thread on Greta’s Facebook page. When I started writing this post, I wasn’t sure how to summarize it, but looking through the comments on Stephanie’s post I think DJ had a good summary in one of his replies to Stephanie:

The excerpts on Christina’s post, and the quotes on this post from Long originally seemingly attributed to me (very surprisingly) are only a snippet of a spectacular 200 comment-long FB thread, where Long was insulted, accused of wanted to kick women in cunts, and was party to escalating the rhetoric. As I wrote to Christina, there is never any defense for real or pretend threats of violence, and on her wall, such threats came from both sides. Long was wrong to escalate things, and to comment in anger, as I said on Christina’s post. But my point is that in those quotes of his angry and unfortunate reaction (something, again, I commented about directly on Christina’s post) I believe he is taken out of context, or at least not in the whole context. Note that Christina didn’t quote her defenders’ over-the-top attacks against him. Her post seemed to me to be unfair to Long after I read the whole FB thread where he begins by saying something reasonable, is roundly attacked, unfortunately attacks back, and then is made weird poster boy for misogyny.

I agree with everything DJ says there. People who want to check the accuracy of this description for themselves can see this large (though incomplete) collection of screencaps I took from the thread. A particularly ridiculous aspect of this part of the previous dust-up is that DJ ended up getting attacked, in part, for spending too much time explaining himself.

This incident left me with a very good impression of DJ, in part because I think he, rightly, raised some worries about in-group/out-group and us vs. them thinking in the skeptic community. It also left me with a bad impression of Stephanie, and to a lesser extent a bad impression of Greta Christina (though I’d emphasize that I think Greta has done a lot of really good stuff; see her book or the “If you’re just going to read five things…” on her sidebar).

A final key bit of context here is what DJ said about the e-mails he received as a result of Stephanie’s post:

As Stephanie first published this blog post, a number of people assumed many of the quotes were attributed to me. I have received nearly two dozen emails and FB messages today expressing concern, and even outrage, accusing me of being a misogynist, someone who obviously hates women, someone who defends rape, wants to kick women in cunts, or who said a number of things I did not say to Christina. Some JREF donors have emailed to cancel their support (until clarified that such quotes were at first falsely attributed).

Phew. The reason all of this is important as context is because the calls for DJ to resign are over a comment DJ made referring back to this previous dust-up, which is worth quoting in full:

Barb: I think I see where Sophie is coming from with all of this, and as a gay man I feel I’m sensitive to issues of sexism and homosexism.

It is true that harassment issues are much discussed in some quarters of the skeptics and atheist and other allied movements (all generally for the better, to the extent the emotionally charged issues are tempered with evidence) but to my knowledge there has never been a report filed of sexual harassment at TAM and there have been zero reports of harassment at the TAMs we’ve put on while I’ve been at JREF.

Of course that doesn’t mean such didn’t happen, but of 800+ responses to our attendee survey last year, only three people said they were made to feel unwelcome by someone at the event: one, a man who didn’t like all the magic; two, a woman who was ridiculed for her veganism; and three, a conservative who didn’t feel welcome because of what he saw as an undue emphasis by speakers and attendees on progressive and leftist ideals. (One woman at the event did, however, complain to staff that she felt she may be harassed by someone in the future, and felt uncomfortable about the man, and while we are concerned about such concerns, she didn’t complain of any actual activity that had happened that the hotel or security or law enforcement or others could take action on.)

I believe I understand the impulse to protect people from harm (this is a strong motivation for skeptics, after all) but telling newbies that they need to be on guard against so-called sexual predators at our events, or that the movement or movements are “unsafe for women,” may be a sure-fire way of making some women feel unwelcome who otherwise would feel and be safe and welcomed. As for policies, I think Ben is on the right track. We are all against harassment or bullying of any kind, sexual or otherwise. Any incident of harassment or assault should immediately be reported to security and law enforcement, and JREF staff and the hotel staff stand ready to assist should any regrettable incident ever occur, God forbid. But again, no such incident has ever occurred at TAM to my knowledge, and I believe that bears mentioning in current discussions about how prevalent are the unnamed “sexual predators” at various atheist and skeptical events.

Last year we had 40% women attendees, something I’m really happy about. But this year only about 18% of TAM registrants so far are women, a significant and alarming decrease, and judging from dozens of emails we have received from women on our lists, this may be due to the messaging that some women receive from various quarters that going to TAM or other similar conferences means they will be accosted or harassed. (This is misinformation. Again, there’ve been on reports of such harassment the last two TAMs while I’ve been at the JREF, nor any reports filed with authorities at any other TAMs of which I’m aware.) We have gotten emails over the last few months from women vowing never to attend TAM because they heard that JREF is purported to condone child-sex-trafficking, and emails in response to various blog posts about JREF or me that seem to suggest I or others at the JREF promote the objectification of women, or that we condone violence or threats of violence against women, or that they believe that women would be unsafe because we feature this or that man on the program. I think this misinformation results from irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in skepticism, actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, and I find that unfortunate.

A few things are worth emphasizing here: first, DJ makes clear that just because he had not received reports of harassment at TAM does not mean it hadn’t happened. Second, DJ is not disputing the value of harassment policies; in fact TAM implemented them before the current conversation about them.

Most importantly, if you know the history, it’s quite clear that when DJ refers to “irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics,” he really does mean a small number. But it’s a number that includes Stephanie Zvan. My guess is DJ did not want to name names initially, because he did not want to be unnecessarily inflammatory. This may have been a mistake, though, as it may have led to women who DJ did not have in mind mistakenly thinking he was talking about them.

I’m sympathetic with other things DJ says in his comment as well. I wouldn’t have said some of the things he said, but then I’m not the president of a major skeptic organization who’s had to deal with angry, misinformed e-mails stemming from attacks by people like Stephanie. And DJ didn’t say that was definitely to blame for the drop in attendance by women, only that it might be. I think that’s a reasonable hypothesis, all things considered, though there are of course other possible explanations. And as should be clear from what I’ve written so far, I agree with DJ about people saying irresponsible things about these issues.

I think DJ has handled himself quite well in the ensuing controversy. See for example what he’s done trying to clear up a misunderstanding with Ashley Miller. (And yes, I think that piece of this suggests TAM could improve its reporting procedures, though it also suggests TAM has done a good job of dealing with problems in the moment.)

I can’t say the same of his more extreme critics. Greg Laden, for example, claims that DJ “clearly disassociates himself with” the part of the skeptics’ movement “that wants women to be not only comfortable, but to lead, and this includes the majority of people in the movement.”

How ridiculous. Everything I’ve seen of DJ suggests he does want women to be comfortable and involved in leading the skeptics’ movement. I have no doubt that some of the people inclined to support him, myself included, want the same thing.

Similarly, Stephanie accuses DJ of being, “not capable of listening to the people telling him that he’s part of the problem.” I see no evidence of this. An alternative explanation is that he’s listened, and seen little basis for the charge. And if that’s the case, I agree with him.

Note added Sunday, June 3rd: Read the comments on this post at your own risk. They haven’t been moderated at all so far. I reserve the right to moderate comments however I feel like in the future, but it happens that (when it comes to comment policy) I have a very high tolerance for stupidity.

For example, had I been in JT’s position, I would not have banned the people he discusses banning here, though I agree with him that their comments were awful. This should be obvious, but the fact that I allow someone to comment here does not imply I agree with everything they say.

Ryan Grant Long showed to make a comment which I’d strongly recommend reading. The other “names” that have showed up, as far as I can see, are Stephanie Zvan, Kylie Sturgess, and Orac (Orac left quite a few comments, link is to the first one). I’ve left exactly three comments: my reply to Kylie, one defending Ashley Miller, and a completely tangential one about Steven Pinker.

I give those links because I have no idea why anyone would want to read the entire 300+ comment thread. Not that the comments I’ve just linked to are necessarily the only ones worth reading, but I’d encourage everyone reading this to ask yourselves if you have better uses for your time before diving in.

Note added Thursday, June 7th: Comments on this post are now closed. I decided having this thread open was no longer worth the trouble to me personally. If you have something to say to me about this post, you can say it through e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/ Stephanie Zvan

    Congratulations, Chris. You’re publicly supporting someone whose response to women talking about being harassed and assaulted but being afraid to talk about it was this:

    So much of that feels to me more like rumor and distasteful locker room banter, often pretty mean-spirited, especially when it is from just one or a few women recounting sexual exploits they’ve had with speakers who are eventually deemed as “skeezy,” and whom they feel should be not allowed to speak at such conferences going forward.

    Do be proud of yourself.

    • Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

      This is what’s left of the attempt to be skeptics, huh. Blame the bitchez, for literally everything. Chris’s response to DJ’s blaming women for the problem of sexual harassment is to blame a woman for DJ’s problems. LOL See, Stephanie it’s all your fault DJ can’t speak without ramming his own foot down his own throat because . . . uh. . … . e-mails. And let’s just keep ignoring that DJ has absolutely no proof that Watson, et al have anything to do with the decline in female attendance at TAM. It must be their fault thought, because . . . . uh . . . . e-mails. . . . .

      And let’s DEFINITELY ignore all the women who responded to the question ‘why aren’t you going to TAM’ by listing the psychotic, and still on going, attacks on Watson et al as a giving them reasons to think it’s a toxic, bigoted environment to be in. Definitely can’t make psychotically bigoted boys think there’s anything wrong with THEM.

      *sighs* We aren’t any different from theists after all.

    • xtog42

      In my honest opinion your demeanor on your own blog and this one is just the kind of bullying childish response that the free thought movement needs less of. Can you for one moment quit misrepresenting what others have written and simply defend your position on the merits without making snide snarky juvenile ad hominem attacks on people who are essentially your allies when it comes to the big picture.

      Congratulations Stephanie, you managed again to reply to a thoughtful disagreement with no real argument or data at all, just a shallow outburst of emotion with no real point. How anyone with your emotional instability and inability to express themselves got on FTB is beyond me.

    • SkepticAtheist

      Congratulations Chris!!! You’re the only blogger on the freefromthoughtblogs that “get’s it”, and have spoken against your crazy neighbors. You have guts and I like that! Just be wary, these baboons will probably find a way to retaliate, and will probably send their sycophant army after you. Look what they did to D.J. Grothe.

      Don’t listen to Zvan. She’s stupid. As far as we know, you are not supporting someone who did anything wrong. These FreefromThoughtBloggers and their sycophants only have anecdotes, hearsay, and gossip. If they DID know about harassment or abuse which took place, and didn’t report it to the police at the time, then THEY allowed someone to get away, and THEY are wrong, not D.J. Grothe. D.J. is just a scapegoat, and a target for reasons you’ve stated.

      A lot of the other blogs outside from this FfTB atmosphere are in agreement with you, and have already made the similar points in other posts, addressing the craziness from these baboons.

      Good blog! DO be proud of yourself!

    • I notice that SZ is already playing the “I’ll make up an accusation and stick it to you” game.

      But remember, there is NO chance that there will be ANY blacklisting EVER.

  • pocketcalculator

    Take no notice of Zvan and the other Salem Witch Hunters.

    I fully support DJ Grothe, and I hope this is the first step in the removal of the FTB trolls from the atheist/skeptic movement. The behaviour, groupthink, and cognitive dissonance of the Hive Mind has revealed just what a bunch of non-skeptics they are.

    Now Rebecca isn’t going, can we hope that PZ, Opheliar, Greta, Greg Laden, Jen, et al, will be given a flea in their ear and told to piss off.

    NOW IS THE TIME FOR SENSIBLE ATHEISTS AND SKEPTICS TO COME OUT AND CONDEMN REBECCA WATSON, PZ MYERS, GRETA CHRISTINA, JEN MCCREIGHT, STEPHANIE ZVAN, OPHELIA BENSON AND GREG LADEN. Plus a few others.

    PS – If you are a conference organiser, boycott and ban those speakers and guests who support FTB trolling. It is time to rid ourselves of this cancer.

    • Deidre Keen

      Frankly it is time for Stephanie Zvan to be boycotted. Stephanie, you are boringly self-righteous and unsubtle. Be proud of yourself.

    • http://www.blondelimbo.com C. Mason Taylor

      Take no notice of Zvan and the other Salem Witch Hunters.

      I fully support DJ Grothe, and I hope this is the first step in the removal of the FTB trolls from the atheist/skeptic movement. The behaviour, groupthink, and cognitive dissonance of the Hive Mind has revealed just what a bunch of non-skeptics they are.

      Now Rebecca isn’t going, can we hope that PZ, Opheliar, Greta, Greg Laden, Jen, et al, will be given a flea in their ear and told to piss off.

      NOW IS THE TIME FOR SENSIBLE ATHEISTS AND SKEPTICS TO COME OUT AND CONDEMN REBECCA WATSON, PZ MYERS, GRETA CHRISTINA, JEN MCCREIGHT, STEPHANIE ZVAN, OPHELIA BENSON AND GREG LADEN. Plus a few others.

      PS – If you are a conference organiser, boycott and ban those speakers and guests who support FTB trolling. It is time to rid ourselves of this cancer.

      Do you realize the deep contradiction between your first sentence and the rest of your post?

  • slc1

    Here’s a blog post by Ms. Rebecca Watson declaring that she’s not going to TAM this year and why.

    What it would be nice to know is just how big a problem with female attendees being hit on by male attendees really is. Is this a widespread problem or is this a tempest in a teapot.

    http://skepchick.org/2012/06/why-i-wont-be-at-tam-this-year/

    • ischemgeek

      In my comment #46 below, I cite stats on sexual harrassment in our culture. Given the results of well-designed studies, somewhere between 15-36% of women experience harrassment on a daily basis. Considering that ~5% of sexual assaults are reported (and they affect ~2% of the population each year in Canada, at least), harrassment is orders of magnitude more common then sexual assault. And yet, our civil and criminal courts aren’t overflowing with cases, which suggests the report rate is far lower for harassment than for sexual assault (ie, <<5%)

      All of which means that claiming that TAM is an environment without a sexual harassment problem is a pretty extraordinary claim. And DJ's evidence is far from extraordinary.

      • Somite

        An alternative explanation is the JREF does a pretty good job providing a “safe space” and claims to the contrary are exaggerated.

        • ischemgeek

          Evidence?

          I’ve given mine that sexual harrassment is common in society and that one should expect it would be common elsewhere, too.

          Where’s yours?

          • Somite

            I agree with you. The competing arguments are whether the JREF is doing everything it can. It appears a few
            vocal members don’t think so.

            What I don’t understand is why those members are unable to provide a list of requests or deficiencies but are able to endlessly complain in vague terms.

          • ischemgeek

            My bad. I’ve encountered a lot of people who would say something along those lines only minus the sarcasm in this shitstorm. I failed to recognize it.

  • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

    This is an excellent article. I hope you don’t get into too much shit for it from the other bloggers/commentors at this domain.

    • sacha

      I am a woman who has been to three TAMs,

      I fully agree, and I support DJ Grothe 100%

      This has been a long time coming…

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    I was indifferent on the subject of Grothe resigning. However, there is a checklist to follow that allows someone to see if they’re wrong a subject that involves sexism in any way.

    1) Scented Nectar not only agrees with you, but is congratulatory towards you.

    On another subject…
    Pocketcalcular, as someone who calls people “Salem Witch Hunters” (randomly capitalized, mind you), a “Hive Mind” (also randomly capitalized) and “cancer”, do you consider yourself one of the sensible atheists and/or skeptics? I know I find myself skeptical of such an extraordinary claim.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    And my apologies for misspelling your name, pocketcalculator. I didn’t realize until I already clicked the submit button.

  • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

    I think DJ has handled himself quite well in the ensuing controversy.

    You mean by blaming Watson for speaking to USA Today?

    From the comments: “Would you not view such a response issued by say a clergyman chastising his parishioners for ‘causing trouble’ with contempt and suspicion?”

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

    +1 to Tabby’s response above. pocketcalculator is either a right-wing troll pouncing on any opportunity to discredit the entire atheist movement, or an MRA looking for any opportunity to dredge up his tired old grudges yet again. (Rebecca Watson still hasn’t been condemne enough? Really?!) His indiscriminate, caps-laden name-spewing reminds me of Mao Tse Tung dictating who the masses should “criticize.”

  • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

    DJ could have handled the issue well. As Lauren said:

    “He could have presented his dilemma of losing women neutrally and non-judgmentally, instead of jumping to the conclusion that women aren’t signing up because other irresponsible, lying, hysterical women made them afraid for their physical safety.”

    He could have invited public discussion from women on how to bring attendance numbers back up.

    The way he has handled it is so far removed from that, you must have a very limited imagination to think “DJ has handled himself quite well”.

  • Pteryxx

    slcl1: Sexual harassment’s very common and rarely reported in general. Women recounting how they’ve been harassed multiple times are not making any sort of extraordinary claim. It WOULD be extraordinary if any given event did NOT have harassment incidents happen; it’s unwarranted to assume that as the default state.

    Those references again: (honestly, it’s not hard to find this stuff)

    A GAO report released today criticized the Department of Defense (DOD) for its oversight of sexual harassment, citing new statistics suggesting that the majority of sexual harassment in the military goes unreported.

    According to the report, only 4 of the 82 service members who said they were sexually harassed in the past year reported it formally.

    The study also found that an estimated 41 percent of servicemembers believed that people in their work group would be able to get away with sexual harassment, even if it were reported.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-20125528-10391695/gao-sexual-harassment-in-the-military-underreported/

    The harrassment ranges from wolf-whistling and lewd comments to physical groping and sexual assault.

    Campaigners say that reported cases represent “the tip of the iceberg” and that authorities can no longer afford to ignore the issue.

    Research released today by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition shows 41 per cent of women under the age of 34 have been on the receiving end of sexual harassment in the street.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/catcalls-whistles-groping-the-everyday-picture-of-sexual-harassment-in-london-7786185.html

    • slc1

      Actually, I was referring specifically to the TAM meetings, not in general.

      • Pteryxx

        Re TAM specifically: There’s no way to know the actual incidence. The mismatch between anecdotes and reported statistics demonstrates communication problems at the very least; and surveys not designed for the purpose are not reliable tools for assessing sexual harassment prevalence because of the underreporting problem. The most probable explanation for an extremely low reporting rate, at TAM or any event, is faulty information gathering.

  • hieropants

    Everything I’ve seen of DJ suggests he does want women to be comfortable and involved in leading the skeptics’ movement.

    I’m sure he does. But he’s not handling it well.

    You talk a lot about Stephanie Zvan here, but when asked for clarification DJ did not talk about Stephanie’s criticisms of his actions as head of JREF, he specified that he meant Rebecca Watson’s USA Today interview. Rebecca Watson was not attacking him in any way, she was speaking the truth about her experiences and the work she was doing to improve the movement. I don’t see any way to interpret DJ’s comments other than that he wants women who have suffered harassment not to talk about it. Can you see why that makes a lot of people angry?

    What it would be nice to know is just how big a problem with female attendees being hit on by male attendees really is. Is this a widespread problem or is this a tempest in a teapot.

    It’s not just the amount of harassment, it’s the perception of how the harassment will be handled. Remember the elevator thing was fairly small, Rebecca added it as a side note in one of her videos as a way to let people know they should avoid that kind of situation if they want to make other people comfortable. The problem was that a significant number of members of the atheist movement responded with anger, name-calling, rape threats, death threats, and so on, and it’s still going on today. That says to a lot of women that their safety and comfort does not matter to the majority of the rest of the people in the movement.

    I have no idea why DJ didn’t just advertise the fact that TAM has an anti-harassment policy in place that they take seriously. His blaming the women who speak out about being harassed just seems counter-productive to me.

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

      Um…I just read the article you cited, and Watson didn’t say anything bad about TAM — or any other specific event — AT ALL. All I saw was an admission that there was misogyny in “the community.” Did I miss something? Did you cite the wrong article? Or is DJ hallucinating?

      • hieropants

        Nope, that was the article DJ referenced when Rebecca asked him for specifics about who was creating a climate where women felt unsafe.

  • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

    Pocketcalculator, you’re joking, right? I hope so. You’re just doing the same thing Laden’s doing, wildly shouting for the banning of people.

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

      You can’t even tell whether the people who agree with you are serious? That says something about the company you hang with.

      Oh, and where is Greg Laden “wildly shouting for the banning of people?”

      • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

        I guess you missed the obvious, which is that I don’t necessarily agree with him/her. And that I obviously and certainly don’t agree in regards to wildly shouting for bannings or boycotting or whatever that was they were doing.

        In fact, I think they are just a poe, pretending to be on the opposite side of this issue than they really are.

        • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

          Is “I think they are just a poe, pretending to be on the opposite side of this issue than they really are” the new “no true Scotsman”? Coming from the side of the issue that has people who gleefully used “Rebeccunt Twatson” on a regular basis, do you honestly find it difficult to believe that pocketcalculator is one of yours?
          What about Deidre Keen? She wasn’t quite as wild in her comment, but she posted in agreement. Or are the poes only those who are more difficult to defend?

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Looked like a poe, smelled like poe, and tasted like a poe. You have some funny ideas about what you think we spend our time doing over at the “Slimepit”. :D

          • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

            I guess there are only so many sub-replies allowed, so I’ll reply to myself in reply to you…

            I’ve been to the “Slimepit” (and I’m no more a fan of that name than I am of “FfTB”, at that point it’s just name-calling back and forth). Granted it’s been a while, but yes, “Rebeccunt Twatson” was being thrown around regularly at the time.

            As for pocketcalculator, I like to think I’ve got a pretty damned good poe detector, and zie doesn’t strike me as one. Here’s why, and it’s also a reason why you might want to re-think your use of the word “poe”…

            http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe%27s_Law

            Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake it for the genuine article.

            If you’re suggesting it’s utterly impossible to parody an anti-feminist because the real thing can’t get crazy enough…

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            We sometimes use bad adult words and laugh. That’s because we are adults. Some adults though, like many of the ones who are feminists, like to appear infantalized, in need of nurture and protection, vulnerable and over-sensitive, which I think is a mindset indulged in by feminists to gain victim cred. That’s why you are uncomfortable with the casual use of adult words over there. You’re all like “mommy! he called me a bad name! :(

            Toughen up, especially since you pharyngulites are able to dish it out with porcupine self-rapes and other disgusting insults. So, don’t pretend like you can’t take it too. Insults are insults, and the use of adult words in an insult does not make it magically more bad than a politely worded insult.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Why on earth would you think that I thought they were parodying (badly) an “anti-feminist”? That’s one of those loaded questions like “how many days a week do you beat your wife, sir?”

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

            Some adults though, like many of the ones who are feminists, like to appear infantalized, in need of nurture and protection, vulnerable and over-sensitive, which I think is a mindset indulged in by feminists to gain victim cred.

            Got a cite for that? Or should we just file it in the same place as your asinine statements about Greg Laden “wildly shouting for the banning of people?”

            And why do you have such a pathological need to piss all over people who are trying to address a problem they see in their lives? Are you treating other women the way you were treated in the past? If so, I sypathize with you, but your response is unhelpful and wrong, and you, as a sane adult, need to realize and understand that.

          • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

            Scented Nectar, so are we infantalizing African-Americans by calling people out for using the n-word? I have no problem with foul language (though I challenge you to find any instance of me using the whole porcupine self-fucking thing). I do have a problem with language that denigrates only one historically downtrodden subset of humanity.
            And seriously? “Rebeccunt Twatson” is “sometimes we use bad words and laugh”? You can make claims of infantalization all you want, but you don’t get to pretend you’re acting like an adult.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Raging Bee, a citation? No. But personal experience as an ex-radfem-separatist during most of the 1980s, combined with seeing many femtheists and other radfems of today doing the same thing? Yes.

            I know the game. I know how one is encouraged to embrace, and indulge in, the victim role, indulge in fear and demand justice for it, deserving of having a wrong righted, the one who is owed after being oppressed. All of which detracts and distracts you all from fighting REAL current sexism, laws that are against women, you know the ones, those theocratic laws, the ones that islamic, jewish and christian theocracies enforce on women wherever they can.

            But, oh, sisters, never mind the real places and events that have your good old enemy Patriarchy at the helm, let us all cry over adult insult words instead.

            Tabby, you poor downtrodden soul, toughen up and enjoy life, wouldja? If you get all hung up on hurty feelings from words, how will you be able to handle life’s sticks and stones?

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

            All of which detracts and distracts you all from fighting REAL current sexism…

            And you actually believe that pissing all over other women will help in the fight against the sexism you (allegedly) want to fight? The women you’re pissing on are also opposed to the sexism you (allegedly) oppose. And the fact that you treat them like enemies makes me inclined to think you really don’t give a shit about sexism, and are just looking for an excuse to act like a petty, grudge-nursing idiot. (Oh, and the fact that you only mention “REAL sexism” AFTER leading off with babyish insults and lies, further proves that’s not really your main priority.)

          • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

            Again, Scented Nectar, please tell me how you would say the same thing to an African-American who objects to “nigger” or a Latino/Latina who objects to “spic” or a gay man who objects to “faggot” or… No, I don’t need to go on. Is it only feminists who are infantilizing women when we object to “cunt”, or are those I listed also infantilizing themselves when they object to slurs directed at them?

            You can’t have it both ways. Either “nigger”, “spic”, and “faggot” are “adult insult words” that African-Americans, Latinos/Latinas, and gay men are “all hung up on hurty feelings” from just like you feel “cunt” is, or they are all vile slurs that decent people should avoid.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Tabby, you are assuming that all bad words have the same usage. In reality though, calling someone a cunt is no worse than calling someone a prick or a dick.

            Those are words that are usually used against *individuals* who are not liked, rather than against a whole group. Your racism examples are always used to mean a whole group.

            I’m sure there are exceptions, like some radfems may refer to ALL men when they say the word ‘pricks’, ‘dicks’, or ‘TehMenz™’, and some nasty men who really do hate all women might refer to them as ‘cunts’ or whatever, but mostly those gender based insults are used to mean individual persons, and the sayer of the word does NOT actually hate all of the other gender. Racist words usually DO mean they hate that group though. Seems to be the most common use anyways.

            That said though, I’m not a fan of any words being gendered, especially pronouns and titles. Luckily, with the word ‘cunt’, I see a nice change where in some parts of the world, like the UK, it’s used as an insult totally regardless of the gender of the person being insulted. This is good. You may still hate insults, but that one has at least evolved to shed the unnecessary gendered shit.

          • NuMad

            Scented Nectar,

            [Mostly] those gender based insults are used to mean individual persons, and the sayer of the word does NOT actually hate all of the other gender. Racist words usually DO mean they hate that group though. Seems to be the most common use anyways.

            That’s a pretty arbitrary definition of what makes a slur a slur.

            So, the speaker has to (demonstratively) hate the whole group, for a given definition of hate, for it to not just be like any random insult. And these practically mutually exclusive statuses as “insults” or “slurs” are generalizable, obviously, despite the noted exceptions.

            And all that based on what? A perception of racist slurs based on a social context where racist slurs are widely and unanimously condemned in the public place. Don’t you think that plays a hand in you associating racial insults strongly with self-identified hate-mongers? Especially if you’ve never experienced them personally as personal insults, which is how all slurs are propagated.

            I don’t believe that it’s in the essence of racist language to not be casual like sexist language is today.

            I’m not saying that there’s no difference in the basic nature of racism and sexism that affect how the language is used. When it comes down right to it, it shouldn’t be surprising that sexists and misogynists, no matter how extreme in their degree, would be less likely to espouse stances that would be tantamount to express a desire to physically reject the existence of women. They can other women, but they don’t want to sever them from themselves. Flavours of “separatism,” are more the natural domain of racism, I think.

            So it’s no wonder that sexist slurs would lend themselves better to singling out targets than racist slurs would, in the sense that a “bitch” or a “slut” is a bad woman.

            But even then, my impression is that racist insults can easily still convey that as well, even today in a world of relatively more discreet casual racism, but certainly more in a context where they were just plain more lightly used. By default, the slurs will come out when personal displeasure is in play.

            But the gist of it is, with all of your “mostlies” and “probablies,” do you think that a racial slur ever transforms into a mere “adult insult” by virtue of the speaker’s personal and ideological feelings not visibly amounting to “hatred of the whole group,” and though the speaker is in effect, leaning on racism to put down their personal target, it’s the responsability of the person on the receiving end to “grow up because it’s just words?”

            If not, why not?

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            NuMad, who said I’m trying to define ‘slur’? And from there, you just continue down some road I can barely understand, although it looks to include more assumptions of what you think I said or mean, and assumptions of what you think others say or mean. Your jumble of whatever that is you’re saying, ends with “If not, why not?” Huh? I don’t even know what you’re talking about at that point. Have a nice day, though.

          • NuMad

            Scented Nectar,

            Not remotely shorter version: your rationalization is double bullshit. Sexist insults do sometimes even colloquially refer to all women (bitches, hoes; pricks or dicks, notably not.)

            Racist insults can and do allow the speaker to differentiate between individuals of the same race, like sexist language more markedly does. “Spics” are the bad latinos not totally unlike “bitches” are the bad women.

            You obscure that when you pretend that racism is the exclusive province of intense and global ideological hatred, which is ironically made easier by the fact that casual racist language isn’t as flourishing as it once was. Not least because it’s been taken seriously.

            And you obscure the fact that racist insults are still fundamentally used as personal insults more than as fodder for white supremacist rants. Which is made easier when one’s experience of racist insults isn’t direct and personal.

            Sexist and racist languages are different because sexism and racism are different. Otherwise, they run parallel. They’re similar expressions of similar things. People should object to sexist language no less, and for the same reason that they object to racist language. As long as they consider sexism a problem, that is.

            NuMad, who said I’m trying to define ‘slur’?

            I assumed you were trying to say something coherent about a difference between words like “nigger” and words like “cunt.”

            You described words like “cunt” as “adult insult words,” while saying that words like “nigger” are “usually used to express hate toward whole groups.”

            Which presumably allow us to consider words like “nigger” something more than just mere “adult insult words.” The word “slur” is one that’s generally used to describe that concept of words that aren’t just garden variety insult.

            Hence: in effect you would have been defining what a slur is in a way that includes “nigger” but excludes “cunt.”

            I realize now that my single, basic assumption was mistaken. I apologize for implying that you would ever try to do something as substantial as defining something.

            And on that, I won’t distract you from fighting “Real Sexism” any longer. Ciao.

      • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

        You asked where Laden calls for that. I refer you to his article wildly and crazily calling for the firing of Grothe. I don’t have the link handy, but I’m sure you know the article I mean.

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

          You “refer” me to something you can’t provide a specific reference for? Come off it — if you have time to comment here, you have time to look for the specific reference. Looking for a blog post is pretty easy, really, when you already know whose blog it’s on. Try a keyword search that includes all of part of the blog’s title.

        • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

          Yup. Saying “perhaps he should resign” is exactly the same thing as “wildly shouting for the banning of people.”.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Matter of opinion. That was my impression. Mind you, that’s just a tone complaint, which is merely the packaging of the message. My actual beef is with his message, no matter whether he wildly shouted it or politely whispered it. No matter what the package. The message is more important. Laden wanted Grothe fired without good enough (or any) cause, which I think is absolutely despicable.

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

            Matter of opinion. That was my impression…

            And so begins the backpedaling. Go back to bed, Nectar.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            No backpeddle, just a plain old honest answer. And, you do realize that opinions are subjective, don’t you? There is no single correct one etc?

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

          SN: I just read the article, and guess what — Greg doesn’t call for ANYONE to be banned, “wildly” or otherwise. All he does is ASK for one person to resign — after acknowledging that person’s many positive contributions to the movement, then describing his recent unhelpful actions.

          Now we know why you couldn’t be bothered to provide a citation.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            And now I can see why I was under no requirement to do so. Unless, oh my, methinks you are pretending now to have just read Greg’s article for the first time, and so therefore really did need a link to it? Are you really making that claim? Oh gawd, this whole thing just gets sillier and sillier. :D

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

            SN, you know damn well why I asked you for a cite. If you’re not willing to act like a grownup, then maybe you should quit pretending we’re the silly ones, and backpedal back to bed. You’re not fooling anyone here.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            I know that you were just bullshitting when you claimed you needed a citation. Nice try though. :)

            Now then, I must remind you that I’m not playing in the self-infantalization game that you femtheists like so much, so if you don’t mind, kindly stop pretending that you are ordering me to go to bed.

            I’m an adult and I’ve got to tell you, it’s really fun. You should try it. I get to even choose my own bedtime! Yeah, I know, eh? hard to believe, but it’s true. You just have GOT to try this grown-up gig. :)

    • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

      SN: “Laden’s … shouting for the banning of people.”

      SN: “You asked where Laden calls for that. I refer you to his article … calling for the firing of Grothe.”

      GL: “Perhaps it is time that DJ Grothe resign as the President of the JREF”

      TL: “Yup. Saying ‘perhaps he should resign’ is exactly the same thing”.

      SN: “Matter of opinion.”

      DPM: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

      • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

        While this little sideroad examining the difference between wanting someone fired or wildly calling for their ban, is very nice as far as keeping things accurate and un-elaborated goes, it’s kind of boring and unimportant to even care about to debate. Fired is the more accurate word (that just there was the part where I’ve conceded you win on this, in case you’re not fully following), while a wild call for banning is only my opinion/interpretation. So, can we call this little confusion tangle sorted out?
        TL;DR I agree with you technically on this derail. Can we move on?

        • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

          I’m bad with acronyms sometimes. Who is DPM?

          • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

            It appears my link went into moderation. Let’s try it without the url tags…

            http://lmgtfy.com/?q=You+are+entitled+to+your+own+opinion%2C+but+you+are+not+entitled+to+your+own+facts.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            I guess you didn’t really understand a word I wrote, so I will bid you adieu. I mean, I don’t really know what more to say to you. Nothing so far has gotten through, so I give up. Sometimes it’s good to take the easy way out instead of keeping on trying to talk forever to a brick wall. You’re too much work. :)

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            That comment was for Tabby. Forgot to start with “Tabby, …”

          • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

            You asked “Who is DPM?” I googled the quote attributed to DPM and got the answer. I don’t know if you didn’t have the patience for the animation in the link to finish, but if you did, you would have had the answer too.

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

          While this little sideroad examining the difference between wanting someone fired or wildly calling for their ban, is very nice as far as keeping things accurate and un-elaborated goes, it’s kind of boring and unimportant to even care about to debate.

          Actually, the fact that you’ve been proven to be a liar IS kinda relevant, at least as long as you’re here.

          Grow the fuck up already. It’s not the feminists who are infantilizing you — it’s you.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            A liar?!?!?! Ok, RB, you’re too insane for me to continue trying to communicate with. Goodbye, oh raging one. Live long and froth at the mouth, I mean, prosper. :)

        • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

          While this little sideroad examining the difference between wanting someone fired or … calling for their ban,

          That’s not the issue. If Laden had called for Grothe to be fired, I wouldn’t bother to argue that you shouldn’t call that “banning”. It would be an odd choice of words, but not terribly important.

          If it helps you understand better, go ahead and strike that first line from my summary, since it’s not really necessary:

          SN: “Laden’s … shouting for the banning of people.”

          Your remaining claims are still false.

          Laden is calling for Grothe to resign. That’s not calling for him to be fired.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Your wording/version of the derail subtopic doesn’t even make sense to me, but I’m used to that when I converse with the extended pharyngula/skepchick family of commentors.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            Here’s the edited-for-clarity version, then.

            SN: “I refer you to his article … calling for the firing of Grothe.”

            GL: “Perhaps it is time that DJ Grothe resign as the President of the JREF”

            TL: “Yup. Saying ‘perhaps he should resign’ is exactly the same thing”.

            SN: “Matter of opinion.”

            DPM: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

            +++++
            You claimed that Laden called for Grothe to be fired. That is not true. Laden called for Grothe to resign.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            That’s about the same technical difference as between telling someone “GTFO and I’m shoving this porcupine up your ass on your way out!” and “GTFO and go shove this porcupine up your own ass on your way out!”

            You see? Both are porcupine rape, except that only in the latter one, the porcu-rapist gets to pretend it’s not REALLY them giving a rape order, since they are ordering the person to do it to themselves. Playing with words to avoid responsibility for the action.

            Guess who sees through that and won’t play that game? Me.

            I mean, really, like calling for someone to resign isn’t a form of getting them fired.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            I mean, really, like calling for someone to resign isn’t a form of getting them fired.

            It clearly isn’t in most cases.

            We can see this by considering the exceptional case when it is.

            When the boss asks for an employee’s resignation, then calling for resignation is the same as calling for firing.

            So, is this one of those cases? Let’s check: is Greg Laden the employer of DJ Grothe?

            No.

            Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis.

            Therefore Laden is not calling for Grothe to be fired.

  • Gabby

    Well done Chris. I’m sorry for what’s about to happen to you. I remember when a lot of these people seemed reasonable.

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

      What, in your opinion, is “about to happen” to Chris?

      • Gabby

        My hope is that he’ll only be declared an enemy of the state and potentially banished rather than the more extreme gutting and head on a pike. Y’know, as a warning to others who may take the term ‘free thought’ too seriously.

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

    Chris, I’m not sure if you’re right or wrong here (yet), but I think you should address the substance of this post:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/06/rebecca-explains/

    On the one hand, I’m aware that some women have said hyperemotional and unhelpful things on the subject of sexual harassment and related topics. OTOH, I’m also aware that many women’s actual words have been blatantly distorted and misrepresented by others — sometimes within minutes of the words being uttered — to the point where they’re accused of saying things completely unlike what they actually said. The orchestrated hatred of Rebecca Watson is — and will probably remain for some time — the classic case in point. These days, whenever anyone accuses women of overreacting or saying outrageously emotional or hateful things, my first inclination is to discount such accusations until I see a direct and exact quote to back them up.

    • xtog42

      From Raging Bee,…”These days, whenever anyone accuses women of overreacting or saying outrageously emotional or hateful things, my first inclination is to discount such accusations until I see a direct and exact quote to back them up.

      Hey, Raging here is an example

      “The ORCHESTRATED HATRED of Rebecca Watson is — and will probably remain for some time — the classic case in point.” really, any evidence of this. And the funny thing is your post seems to be condemning just this sort of over the top flaming.”

    • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

      Rebecca now claims to have been groped at some past event (TAM, I assume, since that was the topic). How do you feel about the fact that she didn’t bother reporting it, and thus did not protect any other women from being his next victim? Ashley did that too. It turned out that she hadn’t even reported the sexual harassment part of what the drunk guy did who snuck into the speakers reception. Everyone was supposed to read her mind.

      How can anyone get mad at Grothe for not taking action on things that were not reported to him. In fact, as far as I know, Rebecca still hasn’t reported her incident either, other than announcing that it happened in her latest article.

      • rowanvt

        Why report it, when history says it will be dismissed/nothing will be done/we’ll be blamed for it?

        I was stalked when I was 17. The guy tried to break in to my house one day, and was driven off by my dogs. I hid in a closet with a weapon for several hours before the panic abated enough to call 911. The cop who arrived told me he wouldn’t do any follow through because I waited too long, and how was he to know whether it was really the stalker (despite numerous creepy phone calls over the previous weeks) or whether it was just me having gotten upset at my boyfriend.

        He effectively told me to my face that he thought I was making it up and so wasn’t going to do anything.

        I’ve had other, less severe, incidents that have followed similar lines. I wouldn’t bother reporting harassment; I would deal with it myself or extricate myself from the situation and not return.

        Reactions like yours are exactly why reporting is pointless.

        • julian

          Why report it, when history says it will be dismissed/nothing will be done/we’ll be blamed for it?

          Or when the people you report it to will misrepresent what you said trying to paint what happened and how you feel as a non issue. Sorta like what Grothe did.

          • jody

            Sorta like what Grothe did.

            Except that’s not what happened… as has been pointed out endlessly.

          • ischemgeek
      • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

        Have to defend Ashley here. There was a miscommunication, that was all. And the people running TAM didn’t have to read her mind, they could have just been more careful about asking if they understood right what happened.

        • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

          Ashley says that she didn’t tell them back then, about what the guy did to her, so if she didn’t report that part (the sexual part), that’s more of a lack of communication rather than a miscommunication. She communicated fine the parts about him being drunk and uninvited, but held back telling about him touching her and pestering her repeatedly for sex until just a few days ago. Yesterday, her report of the incident was finally given to TAM.

          Now, it’s turned out that Watson is also claiming to have been groped at a past TAM, but she didn’t bother reporting her sexual assault either.

          Do you know what that leads to? The groper’s confidence improves. He sees that his victims are keeping his secret for him. How delightful he must find that.

          And by not reporting him, he can keep doing it at the same event. How many more women were groped than would have been otherwise if the guy had been reported and booted out or arrested? We’ll never know.

          And I see in the comments all the usual “well, if they DID report it, no one would believe them anyways” “they won’t care, why bother” excuses, ad nauseum. Maybe it’s time women encouraged other women to not act like little pessimistic scaredy cats who are resigned to just letting sexual assaults keep happening and not reporting the criminals.

          If you don’t report it, you can’t complain about it not being taken care of.

          Also, if you don’t report it, you ASSIST the assaulter by leaving him free to attack other women.

          • RowanVT

            Yeah. It’s totes *my* fault that the guy who stalked me has probably gone on to actually succeed at raping other women because I didn’t repo… no, wait, that’s wrong. I *did* report it. And was told I was a liar.

            How things easily go at a con. Woman gets harassed:

            Security: So who was it?
            Woman: I don’t know. I couldn’t see his name badge, but he was tall with brown hair.
            Security: Well, there’s nothing we can do then. Tell us if you see him.

            I’m not a scaredy cat despite the panic attacks… especially as my panic attacks tend to result in my panicking and then attacking. I’m not being pessimistic, but rather realistic when faced with the current attitude that it’s all *my* fault that this stuff keeps happening.

      • http://giliellthinkingaloud.blogspot.com/ Giliell, not to be confused with The Borg

        Wrong.
        Ashley was told by the TAM staff that she needn’t file a report because it was already done.
        Turns out it was filed under “drunk without invitation” with the sexual harassment conveniently swept under the carpet.
        And at this point I’m not very inclined to give TAM the benefit of doubt that it was “just a mistake”, especially since harassment part was also erased from DJ Grothe’s mind.

        • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

          Ashley admits that she didn’t tell them about the sexual parts of what the guy did. She thought it would look bad on TAM is she told of the touching and persistent requests for sex. I don’t understand why she’d think it’d look bad, but if that’s the excuse she wants to give for not reporting it, whatever.

          • julian

            Scented Nectar, you are a disgusting human being. Trying to guilt, shame and humiliate people who’ve been sexually harassed is among the lowest things you can do.

            I’d ask if you still had such confidence in Grothe’s magic survey but there’d be no point. You’ll say, do and write anything so long as you don’t have to admit Watson has a point.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            No Julien, I am just showing why Grothe didn’t realize that a sexual assault/harassment had taken place. Ashley herself says that she didn’t tell TAM that part. I’m not shaming anyone, just showing where the break in communication was. People are wrongly blaming Grothe for it, but it was really Ashley, with the simple good intentions that she thought telling would somehow make TAM look bad. And she thought it had been reported as harassment even with her not telling about that part, which was just a simple mistake on her part.

            Now, why on earth should I not post the answer to what many have been asking, which is something along the lines of; Did Grothe ignore a harassment claim? He did not, which Ashley’s statement proves. She exonerates him with her statement. I don’t know why you are twisting this into thinking she’s being shamed.

          • julian

            She exonerates him with her statement.

            No she doesn’t. Here is what she has to say.

            Pretty relevant bit.

            “Furthermore, I did not think that DJ would ever be going around saying that no harassment was ever documented at TAM. I didn’t think DJ would be saying that the low attendance problems at TAM were from women talking about how they were treated. I didn’t think that DJ would ever be saying that the only problem that TAM needs to correct is that victims just don’t officially report enough. I am extremely lucky that there were other witnesses, I hate to think what other women who’ve been harassed are thinking right now. What would people be saying about me right now if I hadn’t had half a dozen other people there? I mean, considering what they’re already saying.”

            Grothe dropped the ball.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Are you dense or something? Read her OTHER words. She didn’t even tell them about what she calls the “gross” behaviour (touching and following her). But let’s all get mad that no one read her mind, right? She’s mad at them for not noticing on their own. Maybe she’s the type that assumes she’s at the center of everyone’s attention.

            From: http://ashleyfmiller.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/harassment-at-tam9/

            “In fact, I was impressed with TAM so much for ultimately intervening that I didn’t want to go into explicit detail of exactly how gross the guy had been to me, for fear of making TAM look bad.”

            I am keeping in mind though, that this woman is especially timid compared to most. She felt unable to tell the guy to fuck off or to walk away from him. I have rather strong opinions about women who CAN walk away but don’t due to fear of of looking rude or awaiting ‘rescue’. Also in her case, she was for some unknown reason, worried that telling would make TAM look bad, which doesn’t even make sense. So, I mean, do you really want to break this down? We have her own words and they both exonerate DJ, AND make Ashley look a little, um, how can I put this? Like she maybe shouldn’t be out on her own if she has such problems with being so mentally pliable by strangers to stay and talk or whatever they want from her, that she needed “rescuing” from one, she said.

            Mind reading, how does that work? Ashley was mad that they hadn’t noticed (that’s why I think she needs a babysitter or something) even though she DIDN’T TELL THEM. And if you want to insist they should have magically known, then go get Randi’s million dollars right now. I’m serious. Think about this. You really are mad at them for not reading her mind? I know she’s mad about that, but she is under the misconception that everyone was watching her, watching out for her, and should have seen it. She thinks she should not have had to report it. I guess that’s where magic comes in again, eh?

        • julian

          She’s mad at them for not noticing on their own. Maybe she’s the type that assumes she’s at the center of everyone’s attention.

          Like I said before, you’re a disgusting person, SN.

          I’d ask that you read up on combating sexual harassment but I can already tell no matter what, to you it will be the harassed fault. (I’d be angrier but a couple other FtBer’s seem to feel the same way.)

          We have her own words and they both exonerate DJ, AND make Ashley look a little, um, how can I put this? Like she maybe shouldn’t be out on her own if she has such problems with being so mentally pliable by strangers to stay and talk or whatever they want from her, that she needed “rescuing” from one, she said.

          Not a drop of victim blaming in there.

          Pro-tip: When approached with a claim of sexual harassment or any altercation, your responsibilities extend beyond making the person stepping forward feel comfortable talking to you and reporting what they had to say. You are also responsible for helping construct what happened.

          For example, suppose someone steps forward with a claim of disorderly conduct. After receiving their complaint (if they were unwilling to divulge more information for whatever reason) the prudent and responsible thing to do would be to go to where the event occurred and ask if anyone had seen what happened/if anyone had been bothered by the man/if anyone knew how or what prompted them to behave disorderly.

          Writing down the claim of disorderly conduct would be the absolute minimum you’d have to do in that situation. I understand the conferences don’t have as many bodies as they might always need but what does that tell you about the reliability of their anti-harassment work?

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Don’t be ridiculous. They’re busy. They don’t have to send in an investigative team and a forensics team every time they successfully deal with what seems to be just a common uninvited drunk.

            Are you suggesting that with every altercation requiring help, say a person not supposed to be in that room, or maybe a thief who has tried to sneak off with books for sale, or maybe a guest that won’t turn off his loud ipod music in a crowd, or any other thing, that they should do some extra digging, looking deep for buried cases of sexual harassment or an assault that no one has mentioned yet? If so, you’re nuts.

          • julian

            I wasn’t aware asking people who were in the area when an altercation went down what they saw/heard amounted to sending in a forensics team. Silly me.

            looking deep for buried cases of sexual harassment or an assault that no one has mentioned yet?

            If you’re goal is to deal with sexual harassment or assault exclusively going by what is reported to you you are going to miss it. Why? Because even clear cut cases of sexual harassment aren’t reported by the harassed or by witnesses as sexual harassment.

            If you bother to compare the number of women who’ll answer yes to being groped or cat called when out at a club or party to the number of women who formally complain of sexual harassment, you’ll notice the numbers don’t match to well. I realize to you that’s the fault of the harassed for being to weak or meek or whatever to inform someone (btw, this has a lousy record and only causing more trouble for the harassed) but what it should tell someone looking to curb that sort of harassment at their event is that this will take time, effort and a willingness to look out for problematic behavior.

            Being on the lookout for problematic behavior, in case you didn’t know Scented Nectar, is one of the responsibilities of security and other staff.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Julian wrote:

            If you’re goal is to deal with sexual harassment or assault exclusively going by what is reported to you you are going to miss it. Why? Because even clear cut cases of sexual harassment aren’t reported by the harassed or by witnesses as sexual harassment.

            Then it’s time to focus on getting women to speak up on real harassment (coffee offers where the decline is politely accepted don’t count). If that’s where you say the problem is, then don’t just try sweeping up after it, do something about it. And not on blogs where it will just form arguments, etc. Report it to the police and/or event organizers.

            I’ve heard all the “they won’t believe me anyways” type excuses, but if you decide that in advance, then your fulfilling all your horrible prophecies by making SURE no one does anything or even knows about it.

            I’ve heard it so many times, for decades, that it’s on my femtheist bingo card (trigger warning Julian, you’re gonna hate this card, heheh). “I didn’t report it because…” It’s bullshit, since people are way more apt to give sexual harassment claims automatic credibility these days than any other types of victim claims (like robbery, dog ate my homework, or whatever). It’s not like the old days when no one believed it. It’s the opposite nowadays, and it’s considered awfully politically incorrect to even question a sexual assault/harassment claim.

          • John D

            BINGO!

          • julian

            You’re an evil fuck, Scented Nectar. No wonder ERV likes you. Pathetic thing that she is trying to convince herself she’s better than all the other women who’ve been sexually abused or harassed, she’s bound to love what you have to say.

            It’s bullshit, since people are way more apt to give sexual harassment claims automatic credibility these days than any other types of victim claims (like robbery, dog ate my homework, or whatever).

            Really? Show me the evidence. I can point you to studies where people were more likely to perceive rape as consensual if alcohol was involved. I can point you examples of judges refusing to allow those with knowledge and training in how rape survivors behave to speak in court. I can point you to case after case where irrelevancies like an active sex life were used to dismiss rape charges.

            Where can you point me, SN. Where exactly is your evidence that rape and sexual assault is considered a more credible allegation than theft?

          • John D

            Another box can be added to the Feminist Bingo. Being called an “Evil Fuck”. Haha!

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Julian, why are you so against toughening women up to enable us all to stand up and speak up against any sexual abusers that may exist within our own communities? Shall we stay sensitive victims that always need protecting cuz we can barely speak up (except when convenient on blogs for victim cred, rabble rousing and sympathy)? Woman up, sisters! :D

            If it wasn’t the case that auto-credibility is given to sexual harm claims as the only politically correct way these days in the atheist/skeptic communities, (I’m not talking about bad judges and cops here), just take a look at how often I get jumped on whenever I’ve questioned any aspect of any victim’s story. There is NO SCRUTINY ALLOWED, SCRUTINY IS MUTINY and will just get a person handed a porcupine. I think you’ve seen this happen to me and others in many threads.

            Anyways, unless you really believe there is no point at all in reporting, because you will definitely, positively and absolutely won’t be believed, then you’re beyond hope and are causing the equivalent of the very thing you fear. Nothing will end up being done about your assault/harassment.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Jon, yes, I’m apparently an evil fuck. If that was on the bingo card, I’d have been able to mark that square! :D

          • http://giliellthinkingaloud.blogspot.com/ Giliell, not to be confused with The Borg

            Scented Nectar, I truely and honestly hope that what you are actually advocating will never happen to you.
            Because it’s a shitty thing to happen to one.
            And it’s also one that happens more often than not.

          • julian

            So no links, no studies, nothing but a half-assed poorly fleshed out “look how crazy feminists get” with a little “rapes no big deal. Those girls just have to nut up” sprinkled on top.

            You’re evil and stupid.

  • Steve Schuler

    Chris,

    I admire you for this display of courage in countering the prevailing ill sentiment evident at FTB with regards to DJ Grothe and TAM. In January of this year Greta Christina announced in her blog that, “I have no intention of going back to TAM because I don’t feel safe there.”, in an article that was highly critical of Mr. Grothe, criticisms that largely involved deception by omission on the part of Christina that she might appear rational and cogent. I discovered your ‘old’ blog while trying to sort out the truths and deceptions of that particular kerfuffle.

    From my perspective DJ Grothe has fallen victim to a small, but somewhat influential, political faction of the secularist movement that are all too willing to bend the truth and distort reality in an effort to expand their own power base.

    Thanks for standing up for truth, yet again.

    • Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

      truth, in this case, defined as “complete bollocks”.

      • Deidre Keen

        Illuminata, you are not welcome here. Leave.

        • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

          Illuminata is welcome here unless Chris says otherwise.

  • http://www.bynkii.com/ John C. Welch

    Well, thus far, the only verified account has been from Ashley Miller. Who said:

    I guess it didn’t mean much to him at the time, or he forgot, or didn’t realize that it wasn’t just that the guy was annoying, it was that he was inappropriately touching me and backing me into corners and asking me to have sex with him after I told him to stop, or that DJ wasn’t who kicked him out and it was someone else on the TAM staff. In fact, I was impressed with TAM so much for ultimately intervening that I didn’t want to go into explicit detail of exactly how gross the guy had been to me, for fear of making TAM look bad.

    If anyone reading this has ever run a conference of more than oh, 20 people, especially a multi-day one like TAM, there are a lot of things that happen that the guy at the top either never new about, or didn’t know the severity of the action. Ashley herself says she downplayed the incident, “for fear of making TAM look bad.” While an understandable action, I wish she hadn’t done that. It wouldn’t have made anyone look bad in and of itself, and by downplaying the incident, she unintentionally made it harder for TAM staff to do the right thing.

    The reaction to “dude was being a drunken obnoxious douche” is going to be different than the reaction to “dude was touching me and backing me into corners and propositioning me”. They’re two *very* different situations. And again, Ashley was impressed with TAM staff for the actions they took based on the information they had.

    Ashley raises a valid point about improving reporting procedures, and how even verbal reports should be noted so that they can be better tracked:

    Since there are a number of incidents, detailed after this, where JREF staff helped someone who complained about behavior but DJ has no knowledge of any reports of behavior, I recommend that when they help someone who complains verbally they make a note of it and make sure they understand what happened, so that DJ has a more accurate record of what his staff has actually done and what incidents have been acted upon. I think many people, myself included, made the assumption that telling someone on the staff what was going and them acting on it means that you’ve reported the incident, but apparently if you did not write it down, it doesn’t count.

    However, a lot of Ashley’s second post goes a bit orthogonal too.

    First, DJ can only claim knowledge of stuff he actually knows. Yes, I know, tautology, but it’s the truth. This happens all over life, not just conferences. When I found out one of my son’s schoolmates in 2nd grade had been bullying him, we sat down, and I had to impress upon him that when something bad happens, he had to tell me all the information. I couldn’t do anything about the bullying until I knew it had actually happened. He, like a lot of children that age, just assumed that “Daddy knows everything.” Once I knew, I was able to talk with his teachers and that problem was fixed, quickly.

    (because I have to: no, i’m not calling Ashley, or anyone else but my at the time 2nd-grader child a child. It’s an analogy, nothing more.)

    When you’re in charge of a large staff running something as hectic as a conference, it is literally impossible to know everything that happens. Your staff is expected to handle things at the lowest level possible, because you simply cannot micromanage something that large, it’s impossible. (Yes, I actually do know about running conferences. Large ones even.) If DJ, or whomever is in charge had to make every decision themselves, TAM would never be able to grow at all.

    However, that can create communications channel issues, which we’re seeing here. It’s obvious that DJ does need to impress upon his staff that there are things that absolutely HAVE to be brought to his attention, handled or not. For example, at this year’s Macworld Expo, we had someone freak out because they weren’t part of the MacIT section, and so, because they couldn’t get free food, flung their food against a wall, started screaming all sorts of things about how the staff and security sucked, and ran out. He was found and his credentials revoked, all before the people in charge even knew about it. But, there was a report on the incident filed with the folks in charge anyway, because we certainly didn’t want him coming back.

    ( again, that’s not saying flinging food is on the same level as touching someone. Vandalism and assault, two different things. it’s an illustration of communications procedure.)

    Should DJ be dinged for the problems with communications channels? Absolutely, that’s totally his fault, because he’s in charge. Should he be called even half the names he’s been called because he didn’t personally know of everything that happened because no one told him? no.

    for example, from PZ:

    someone had blown through the nearly empty hallways while a session was ongoing to make lewd remarks to someone sitting at the tables; it was reported, I heard, and I joined in with another fellow to look for the “gentleman”…he’d escaped, so it didn’t happen? There was also an incident on twitter in which a prospective attendee threatened to grope Rebecca Watson on an elevator at TAM; I thought his registration was revoked

    Did PZ report this? Did any of the people looking for the dude report it?

    if not, then how is DJ, or anyone supposed to know about it? “It was reported, I heard” sets up a Kitty Genovese situation where everyone is assuming everyone else has reported it, and no one does. Even if you “heard” someone reported it, report it again. Multiple reports help confirm things, and avoid “he-said/she-said” issues where it’s one person’s word against another’s. That makes corrective action much easier.

    I had an issue at the Del Mar [pre-DJ], was handled very well by two members of the JREF staff and South Point. I’m not kidding, my hair was set on fire. So well resolved except he showed up at South Point at the Del Mar. I talked to the South Point security and they assured me ONE WORD from me and he would be OUT. (and they had no clue WHO I was, but this guy is in their “data base” as a bad one). They were even “do you want us to remove him now? Do you feel uncomfortable?” The man was NOT attending TAM, he was simply at the Del Mar with his wife and talking quietly, so I said “no”. But later a security person from South Point (she informed me she was a veteran) came over to check with me again. I was “no I’m fine”. I would say South Point security has as their first goal the comfort of all their guests. A person can just be making you feel uncomfortable, and South Point will react quickly. I admire them so much.

    Again, did DJ actually know about this? How “pre-DJ” was this? Do JREF staff have a database going back for all the TAMs of such incidents? if the answers to these questions are “no” or “well before he joined”, (I don’t know, so I can’t answer yes or no at all), then how is DJ supposed to know

    it’s absolutely fair to state that JREF and the TAM organizers really need to up their game, communications-wise. it’s fairly obvious they have some holes in their procedures that must be fixed, this year, not next.

    I don’t know anything about their procedures, but some things I see used successfully are:

    1) morning meetings, to review potential problem areas, i.e. “events with alcohol”. Booze brings out the worst in people more than anything at these events. Also, if there are any other events happening at the venue or nearby that could be problematic, make sure everyone knows about it. Are their badges similar to ours? If so, we need to do more than the quick color/shape glance as people enter/leave. Things like that. (This can be a problem, even with good behavior. I’ve been in situations where there are 2-3 tech conferences happening at the same time within a 3-block radius, and the badges look very similar.)

    2) Every day of the conference, after it’s “over” if there are specific hours, or in the time between day and night events, another sit-down. Did anything bad or even annoying happen. How was it handled. Is further reaction warranted. Etc.

    3) as much as it sucks, if there are late-night events tied to TAM, remind staffers to stay sober, or sober enough to be able to handle, and then remember incidents at the morning meeting. If the staffers are also sloshed, that’s a huge potential hole in communications.

    As far as the “messenger shooting”. If someone is talking about ‘incidents’ but the only time they talk about them isn’t to TAM staff, or JREF staff, but rather in news interviews to USA Today, pointing out the irresponsibility of that action is not “messenger shooting” or “victim blaming”. It is absolutely irresponsible to tell the wide world about “i heard” or “i saw” but never actually reporting it to the ONLY people who can do ANYTHING about it. Assuming everyone reads one’s blog is a bit egotistical, and a really unreliable way to report things.

    “Well, they wouldn’t do anything” isn’t a logical conclusion if you never report it and even give them the chance to do anything about it. Christ, that’s like not telling the fire department your house burned down, then telling people the fire department doesn’t care about your house burning down.

    “He should know” is expecting him to read people’s minds. That’s incredibly unfair, and makes it impossible for anything to be done. What, DJ should monitor everyone’s actions during TAM personally? How. Monitors in every hallway and every room, recording video and sound of every action and conversation? That should make you feel anything BUT safe.

    Not reporting because you assume nothing will be done, then being angry because nothing was done makes fixing anything impossible.

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

      On the one hand, your points about intra-organizational communication, information channels, and chain-of-command are very good ones. They don’t necessarily justify everything JD did (or failed to do), but they are relevant.

      OTOH, it seems to me that a lot of the raw emotion affecting the debate here is due, not to incidents IN TAM or any other conference, but incidents OUTSIDE — specifically, all the relentless, pathological lies and hate that have been directed at the women involved for at least a year now, probably longer. All the blatant harassment and rape-threats outside may have made at least some women more sensitive to the possibility of harassment inside a convention. Repeated relentless threats have a way of causing people to be afraid. None of that is JD’s fault, of course, but perhaps he could have shown a bit more sensitivity and tact by recognizing this fact on the ground, acknowledging that women had good reason to be concerned, and then reiterating that JREF had a policy to address such concerns. I know hindsight is 20-20, but I think he could have put a more positive spin on his position, instead of saying something that sounded like he was blaming women for making his event look bad by not shutting up.

      Oh, and +1 to Illuminata @1.1. It kinda does look like it’s only wimmin getting blamed for what’s wrong here.

      • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

        Hey there Raging, I know you like asking others for citations, so you won’t mind this, but can you give cites where all those massive amounts of woman hate and rape threats are? Heheh, just kidding. I’m not actually requesting you try and cite that (impossible task anyways), I just couldn’t resist asking. :)

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

          Read what’s been written by the other female FTBers; they write about the hate they (and other women and girls) get fairly regularly. That’s a good start at least, something you can do on your own while the grownups talk.

          • Somite

            This is a good moment to remind everyone that no one is saying there isn’t sexism and mysoginism in the internet or even within the freethought movement. These are problems that require our attention.

            However this is completely different from saying that the “freethought movement is not a safe space” or that women are constantly harassed at TAM and that DJ should quit because of it.

        • jean-nicolasdenonne

          How about here. And here too.

          Or how about the harassment of that girl who posted a photo of herself with a copy of A Demon-Haunted World on r/atheism

          How about the comments on Rebecca Watson posts about elevator guy.

          It is not difficult to find examples and citations or remember some off the top of your head. Spend some time in the comment section of a female blogger talking about problems of sexism and you are bound to find some gems.

      • http://www.bynkii.com/ John C. Welch

        But DJ can’t fix the internet. Well, he could, but he’d need a lair, an invisible plane, and a super laser. Also, a kajillion dollars.

        DJ can only manage the things he’s responsible for: JREF and TAM. So i’m going to, for now, and in the interest of staying on topic, ignore everything outside of those. That’s not to say there’s no problem outside of TAM, but they’re not in scope as far as I’m concerned. You certainly may bring them up, but i’m not going to reply to them here.

        As far as TAM goes: I’ve learned a lot more about TAM’s growth in the last few days than I knew before, and honestly, i’m surprised it’s as good as it has been. The staff and attendees (including speakers) deserve some major kudos there. I also think it’s unfair as hell to label DJ “anti-woman” or even close. He may not say the things you want to hear, but that’s not the same thing as him being a misogynist. I tell people things they don’t want to hear every day. Doesn’t mean I hate them, just means I don’t get to agree with them for whatever reason.

        Back to TAM: it’s no longer a meeting. It’s a conference. It’s gotten too big to treat like a big happy party in Vegas. It’s got bloody tracks for goodness sake. You have to decide which sessions you’ll miss! That’s good, because it’s a sign of the growth that TAM has seen, but it’s bad because everything gets more complicated.

        It means that the staff is no longer “lucky volunteers” but rather, you know, staff. With responsibilities. Possibly even walkie-talkies at some point.

        The simple fact is, DJ’s going to have to up his game with regard to communications, but at the same time so are attendees. This “i heard it was reported” stuff? Bullshit. You see it, you report it. Not on a damned blog, not in a news interview, but to TAM staff or venue staff. Again, people complaining that DJ didn’t act on things he didn’t know about because they weren’t reported is, well, bullshit. You want TAM to be a safe space, well, you have to do something to assist that. If it’s important enough to remember years or months later, it’s important enough to report then and there.

        You want to hang him because of things that WERE reported and not acted on, okay, that’s fair. It sucks, but it’s fair.

        Hanging him out to dry because of “we all knew it, he should have too” is just nonsense. How is he supposed to “just know it”? TELEPATHY? If he could do that, he’d be able to take the JREF prize, run off to Fiji, and you’d not have to worry about what he thought ever again, nor he you. It is incumbent for people to report incidents, because without that, you are relying on the blind luck of staff happening to see something.

        Luck or process. Pick one. But I know which one works better, and that’s provable.

    • ischemgeek

      First, DJ can only claim knowledge of stuff he actually knows. Yes, I know, tautology, but it’s the truth. This happens all over life, not just conferences. When I found out one of my son’s schoolmates in 2nd grade had been bullying him, we sat down, and I had to impress upon him that when something bad happens, he had to tell me all the information. I couldn’t do anything about the bullying until I knew it had actually happened. He, like a lot of children that age, just assumed that “Daddy knows everything.” Once I knew, I was able to talk with his teachers and that problem was fixed, quickly.

      (because I have to: no, i’m not calling Ashley, or anyone else but my at the time 2nd-grader child a child. It’s an analogy, nothing more.)

      Yes, but it’s an analogy that doesn’t fit: Ashley did tell people about it. It’s less a case of “Daddy not knowing” and more one of Daddy resolving it with the school and then saying a year later that it never happened.

      When you’re in charge of a large staff running something as hectic as a conference, it is literally impossible to know everything that happens. Your staff is expected to handle things at the lowest level possible, because you simply cannot micromanage something that large, it’s impossible. (Yes, I actually do know about running conferences. Large ones even.) If DJ, or whomever is in charge had to make every decision themselves, TAM would never be able to grow at all.

      This does not negate the fact that they should have made an immediate record of this and any similar incidents. That this one seems to have been lost in the shuffle strongly suggests to me that their record-keeping left quite a bit to be desired, and that the rest of the convention’s statistics probably leave a bit to be desired in terms of reliability.

      However, that can create communications channel issues, which we’re seeing here. It’s obvious that DJ does need to impress upon his staff that there are things that absolutely HAVE to be brought to his attention, handled or not.

      I agree with you on this. Before I was a chemist, I worked in security for a few years. We recorded everything out of the ordinary, even someone stopping by to ask for directions. That they didn’t keep a formal record of everything they were asked to deal with with strikes me as unprofessional. You record everything because you never know what will be relevant in a month’s time. If it’s just someone stopping for directions, that’s one thing, but what if the place is broken into three days later, and there was a car with the same liscense plate spotted in the area at the same time as the break-in? Suddenly, something as innocuous as lost tourists might be a breakthrough for an investigation.

      Should DJ be dinged for the problems with communications channels? Absolutely, that’s totally his fault, because he’s in charge. Should he be called even half the names he’s been called because he didn’t personally know of everything that happened because no one told him? no.

      Absolutely his fault because he set up the organization in such a way that stuff like this could – and evidently did – fall through the cracks. Not his fault that he doesn’t know about stuff he can’t know about, to use your tautology, but yes, his fault that he set up a system with inadequate and unprofessional record-keeping and then tried to use the stats generated by the spotty record-keeping as fact.

      Did PZ report this? Did any of the people looking for the dude report it?

      if not, then how is DJ, or anyone supposed to know about it? “It was reported, I heard” sets up a Kitty Genovese situation where everyone is assuming everyone else has reported it, and no one does. Even if you “heard” someone reported it, report it again. Multiple reports help confirm things, and avoid “he-said/she-said” issues where it’s one person’s word against another’s. That makes corrective action much easier.

      This much I do agree with, but it doesn’t help situations like Ashleys where conference officials themselves get involved, but apparently the report still didn’t get filed. The fault for the shoddy records is not entirely with the attendees.

      it’s absolutely fair to state that JREF and the TAM organizers really need to up their game, communications-wise. it’s fairly obvious they have some holes in their procedures that must be fixed, this year, not next.

      Which comes from the top. It’s entirely reasonable to blame the people setting up the policies for the results of those policies. It’s also entirely reasonable to get angry with someone who uses shoddy records as a basis to try to claim their conference doesn’t have a harrassment problem (speaking as a woman in North America, everywhere has a harrassment problem. I’d be far more skeptical of someone saying “this event has no harrassment problem!” than someone saying “I was harrassed at this event.”). There are a lot of stats (Pterryx linked to them) about incidents rates of sexual harrassment. DJ saying he had no reports proves nothing in light of his organizations documented recordkeeping issues. DJ saying his survey had no reports doesn’t necessarily mean anything, considering the stuff Pterryx has linked to about people under-reporting if questions are not phrased carefully and specifically.

      I don’t know anything about their procedures, but some things I see used successfully are:

      1) morning meetings, to review potential problem areas, i.e. “events with alcohol”.

      ….

      2) Every day of the conference, after it’s “over” if there are specific hours, or in the time between day and night events, another sit-down. Did anything bad or even annoying happen. How was it handled. Is further reaction warranted. Etc.

      3) as much as it sucks, if there are late-night events tied to TAM, remind staffers to stay sober, or sober enough to be able to handle, and then remember incidents at the morning meeting. If the staffers are also sloshed, that’s a huge potential hole in communications.

      You forgot something that I’m required to do at my current workplace and in the past when I worked in security: Record everything out of the ordinary in writing as soon as it happens in a hand-held notepad and rewrite it in a formal report at the end of your shift. That way there are two records of what happened that day on your shift: Your hand-held notepad, and a formal end-of-shift report. Add in making sure you get statements from people who ask that someone be removed or who are witness to or involved in an incident, and there’s enough records it’s unlikely a given incident will be lost in the shuffle.

      And finally, something my uni does: At the end of an event, collate all the individual incident reports into an overall report of incident types, action taken and people who had registrations revoked so that there’s an overall report. Then remove identifying info for the victims’ privacy and publish online so there’s a record of how seriously you take stuff and people can judge for themselves whether or not it’s a problem that’s being addressed correctly (yes, I’m assuming there is a harrassment problem. I’ll explain why further down).

      As far as the “messenger shooting”. If someone is talking about ‘incidents’ but the only time they talk about them isn’t to TAM staff, or JREF staff, but rather in news interviews to USA Today, pointing out the irresponsibility of that action is not “messenger shooting” or “victim blaming”. It is absolutely irresponsible to tell the wide world about “i heard” or “i saw” but never actually reporting it to the ONLY people who can do ANYTHING about it. Assuming everyone reads one’s blog is a bit egotistical, and a really unreliable way to report things.

      1) You assume that people writing about such incidents didn’t report. We know that in at least one such case, it was reported. And lost in the shuffle.
      2) A lot of the blog posts are in general supportive of how staff handled situations – which indicates that even if they weren’t formally reported, they did come to staff attention and therefore a record should have existed if the staff was record-keeping properly.

      “Well, they wouldn’t do anything” isn’t a logical conclusion if you never report it and even give them the chance to do anything about it.

      *Trigger Warning for descriptions of sexual harrassment*

      But such wariness is completely rational if you’ve reported stuff in the past and been brushed off or ignored as the rule rather than the exception. And speaking as someone who’s been brushed off, given blame and/or punished for the majority of incidents I’ve ever reported (in my life, not at TAM. For the record, I’ve never been to TAM), that’s a big part of why I’d be disinclined to report. In my undergrad, I reported someone who was following me (in a very improbable manner, to the point that he’d wait outside a building until I came back out and start following me again), and was told that maybe I shouldn’t be walking around alone. In elementary school, my parents reported a high school aged boy who was sexually harrassing me (yes, I know I was prepubescent – but what else do you call catcalls of “Sexy!” and “Get that shirt off!” along with sexual assault like groping?). The school kicked me off the bus for a month for not discouraging him enough. Though he was suspended for two weeks, he was allowed back on the bus before I was. A time in junior high, I reported a boy who was bullying me, and I was the one suspended for being a tattle-tale. And there’s more where those came from. Before I came to my current workplace, I’d only had one time that I’ve reported sexual harrassment where it was taken seriously, and that’s left me in general disinclined to report anything. I report at my current workplace because I trust them to handle it properly, but unless it’s something obviously criminal with several witnesses, I’m not going to report in my day-to-day life. Because frankly, life has taught me that I’m going to put in the time, effort and emotion of filing, only to be told that they don’t have enough supporting evidence and don’t want to damage someone’s career and/or that it’s not serious enough and/or that because I didn’t react according to a third party’s standard, they’re not going to do anything. Not worth it.

      */Trigger Warning*

      Christ, that’s like not telling the fire department your house burned down, then telling people the fire department doesn’t care about your house burning down.

      No, it’s more like interacting with a lot of bad cops and then being reluctant to report a crime to a cop because you don’t know if this one is a good one.

      “He should know” is expecting him to read people’s minds. That’s incredibly unfair, and makes it impossible for anything to be done.

      I agree with this, but that’s not what I’ve seen most taking him to task over. Most people who have taken him to task have done so over his dismissive tone regarding allegations, his insistence that women talking about their experiences is contributing to the drop off without providing any evidence, and his attempt to point at his conference’s records tainted flawed record-keeping and a survey not designed by people who know how to design such things for accurate results as evidence of it not being a problem.

      Not reporting because you assume nothing will be done, then being angry because nothing was done makes fixing anything impossible.

      Have you given a thought to the fact that people usually don’t assume nothing will be done in a vacuum? If people are assuming nothing will be done, it’s probably because in their experience, nothing is done (and I don’t mean at TAM, I mean in society at large). If TAM wants people to report, they have to 1, make sure they’ve got the policy and record-keeping in place to ensure existing reports don’t fall through the cracks, 2, make a point of promoting a safe space at the conference (which I do think they’ve made strides towards), and 3, make sure attendees know they take these complaints seriously and want people to report any and every infraction, and 4, make sure complaints are dealt with in a delicate and confidential manner (which from the reports I’ve read, they already have a handle on). 1 is very lacking since an incident resulting in the ejection of an attendee was completely undocumented, and DJ’s continued insistence that TAM doesn’t have a harrassment problem – despite people telling him otherwise – isn’t helping 3 at all.

      And I’m not saying that TAM is a horrible place full of rampant and unfettered sexual harrassment. I’m not. My point is this: Sexual harrassment is almost everywhere. I’ve been harrassed at home (by residents of buildings I was staying in), at school (the above incidents and more), on the street (almost daily), in bars (every time I go to a bar, which is why I don’t drink in this city anymore), at work (by bosses, coworkers, and customers alike – though my current workplace is the best I’ve worked at in that regard, it still happens), at conferences, at social events (like concerts and public talks), and at get-togethers with my friends (usually by friends-of-friends who are not re-invited). I find it very hard to believe that TAM has no harrassment problems when even get-togethers with my friends do sometimes. And maybe it is, but that would be a pretty damn extraordinary claim and would require much more extraordinary evidence than that presented by DJ to convince me of it. So, no, I don’t believe that TAM isn’t the one shining exception in the issue of sexual harrassment.

      I do believe that the organizers of TAM (including DJ) want it to be an exception. By all accounts, they’ve made a lot of good progress. And I hope they continue to work for improvement year after year, and that one day, I’ll be able to go and see it for myself.

      • jody

        Yes, but it’s an analogy that doesn’t fit: Ashley did tell people about it. It’s less a case of “Daddy not knowing” and more one of Daddy resolving it with the school and then saying a year later that it never happened.

        But that’s not what happened!

        TAM/DJ did record the incident. They didn’t record it as sexual harassment because it was never reported that way. It wasn’t until yesterday that the miscommunication was identified and fixed.

        You can’t state as fact that DJ and TAM were denying something occurred when they used their own records to figure out what happened.

        This is the idiotic part of all of this. There’s a meme developing that DJ was hiding this incident when it plainly isn’t the case.

        • ischemgeek

          My point further on in the post is that if they didn’t record it correctly at the time, the officials didn’t do their jobs to make sure stuff was recorded. I have a slight involvement with sexual harrassment reporting and investigation at my workplace. Here, if a situation comes to our attention, the reporter’s job is done, and now it’s time for the official to figure out what’s going on and record it properly.

          And, yeah, something might not be reported completely accurately at first. That’s why you investigate. A drunk obnoxious jackass might also be sexually harrassing. A student upset at a rude TA might not be upset that the TA was short with the class, xie might be upset that the TA made inappropriate comments. A prof complaining about a student might not be annoyed that the student is disrupting class by flirting, it could be that the student sent the class an inappropriate email about the prof. It could be that the person reporting a situation is the one at fault (rare, but it happens). And so on.

          Add in the fact that people are often very leery of reporting any sexual misconduct. Often, people who are nervous about reporting sexual harrassment will take the sexual angle out because they’ve been brushed off or blamed for it in the past. It’s the official’s job to ask questions and find out what’s really going on. Not just who and what, but how? and specifics.

          Plus, DJ himself said they had no record of the incident at all on the facebook thread. So, unless he corrected himself later and said they did and that it was misrecorded (and I haven’t seen such a correction anywhere, though I’m open to changing my mind about that part if you can link me to one), my point about shoddy recordkeeping stands. Further, though several witnesses said they saw DJ toss the guy personally, DJ said they must have faulty memories, so I stand by my statement that he claimed it didn’t happen.

          • ischemgeek

            Oh, and to further back up the allegations that DJ has been misrepresenting this incident, he claimed that Ashley didn’t think it was worth reporting, when she, in fact, had said she already thought it was reported. After she thought she’d cleared it up. And that’s a post from Ashley Miller.

            So, forgive me if I’m less-than-inclined to think that Grothe is being completely honest with regard to this incident, especially considering the long-winded blame-shifting he engaged in during the comments section, trying to make the issue about the initial miscommunication and not about the misrepresentation he’d made in a comments section of another blog after the miscommunication had been cleared up.

  • Konradius

    > What it would be nice to know is just how big a problem with
    > female attendees being hit on by male attendees really is. Is
    > this a widespread problem or is this a tempest in a teapot.

    This is totally not the point.
    Even if we didn’t know DJ lied about harassment (NOT hitting on) occurring at TAM.
    Even if we factually knew no harassment ever happened at TAM meetings.
    Then we still know that harassment occurs in other places in the world.
    Then we still know that there’s lots and lots of people in our movement willing to send physical threats of violence both sexual and not specifically to women.

    And the JREF by word of DJ made it perfectly clear they should not whine about that.

    THAT is the problem and with such an attitude of the JREF leaders, were I a woman I would not feel safe in that environment.
    With that attitude I would not trust any statement made by this organisation because it is plain to see they are denying reality.

    And I can see that some actions of the JREF actually are quite good. The lineup is equal women and men. They do seem to have a harassment policy.
    But the policy is not working because for it to be effective it has to be communicated well.
    When DJ noticed no reports were made, the correct sceptical response would have been “Hey, our harassment policy is not working because it’s not being used” in stead of “Hey our harassment policy is working, we must be the only gathering of people without this problem”.

    Now you can deny all evidence that the harassment of women is something that is a problem *in this world*. But then you need to make clear to me what the exact difference is between your stance and that of a climate ‘sceptic’.

  • julian

    Yeah, Chris. You and your buddies are really showing us witch hunters up. You’ve got us running scared. All those unreasonable evil women (Watson, Zvan, Christina) will soon get the boot. And everything will be awesome!

    Or something.

    • Gabby

      Why does everything have to be about someone getting the boot? Can we not just share opinions and discuss?

      • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

        Not with the likes of Julian. It would totally destroy his narrative.

        • julian

          Oh, Phil. Didn’t you see your friends calling for the boycott of Zvan or jumping for joy at the thought of Watson being kicked out of skepticism? You really should learn to read.

          • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

            Oh, Julian, didn’t you see your friends call for the boycott of DJ, Abbie and everyone else on the planet who doesn’t agree with you?

            Didn’t you see your friend Laden get on Bluharmony’s ass because she disagreed, trying to kill her professional life? Or John C. Welch’s, by accusing him of DDOS for posting a lenghty post? Or DJ because Laden needs traffick?

            Wake up!

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            Phil: citation needed for “Laden … trying to kill [bluharmony's] professional life”.

          • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

            Pitbull:
            it’s all over the place, do your homework…:)

          • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

            That’s what a Laden post looks like, when he shame and hurts women:

            http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/wp-comments-post.php

          • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

            That’s what a Laden post looks like, when he shames and hurts women:

            http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/wp-comments-post.php

          • julian

            Your link is borked.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            Phil, please don’t treat me like an NPC.

            Citation needed for “Laden … trying to kill [bluharmony's] professional life”.

          • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

            Julian: my link is borked because Laden’s post was removed “by request of the management”.

            The gist of it was Laden posting a screencap of Blu’s IRL LinkedIn account making a (automatic) request to be related professionaly to Laden. But fear not, it was not the first time he tried to fuck with someone’s carreer. Ask JCW or DJ…

            Trailer-park withe trash indeed.

          • old man jenkins ॐ

            “by request of the management”.

            Hmmm. Is that the result of litigiousness?

        • julian

          So I think I just got linked to the thread about bluharmony you were referring to and you’re right that was way out of line on Laden’s part. He took it to a level he had no reason to and seems to have done it just to be vindictive and spiteful.

  • Somite

    I posted this on Rebecca’s TAM post:

    I wish Rebecca would discuss why the survey carried out by JREF at TAM did not reveal a systemic problem of harassment or even people feeling unwelcome.

    “Of 800+ responses to this comprehensive survey, only two people reported feeling “unwelcome” at the event. Both of these respondents were men. One was a conservative who felt several speakers insulted his political beliefs. The other was a retiree who “hates” magic.”

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/05/30/where-are-the-women/#comment-84687

    No one, including DJ has said there has never been harassment at TAM. But it appears sporadic, not systemic, and the JREF has taken many measures to minimize it as much as possible.

    The other thing missing in all this is what measures have been proposed and ignored by JREF?

    Considering the data it does seem like the response is not commesurate to the problem. IMHO.

    Whether the amplification of the perceived problem by a few is causing lower female attendance at TAM is speculative but it is not unreasonable. Furthermore, if the extent of harassment at TAM is being exaggerated by a few it would be extremely irresponsible and should be called out by all.

    • hieropants

      I wish Rebecca would discuss why the survey carried out by JREF at TAM did not reveal a systemic problem of harassment or even people feeling unwelcome.

      Are you talking about Rebecca’s recent interview or something else? Because in that interview she did not talk about TAM in particular, she talked about the atheist community. And she did not talk about the experiences of women in general, she talked about her own.

      Considering the data it does seem like the response is not commesurate to the problem. IMHO.

      The problem is more than simple sexual harassment. The problem is also the community’s response to complaints of sexual harassment, or the perception of what said response would be. Because of the elevator thing, we know that a significant number of members of the atheist community will react violently to the suggestion that they consider women’s safety when they attend conferences. When DJ chooses to blame the women who have experienced harassment for talking about it rather than focus on how the convention takes women’s safety seriously, he contributes to the perception that atheist conferences are not safe spaces.

      • Somite

        Rebecca was a talking about the freethought movement and that includes TAM.

        DJs point is that Rebecca and others are exaggerating the number of incidents and extent of harassment as demonstrated by the JREF survey.

        It appears from the few incidents discussed that the JREF acted quickly and with all seriousness.

        • hieropants

          Why would the harassment Rebecca experienced show up on the JREF survey? Do you think she is exaggerating what she’s experienced, given that most of it is readily available to read online?

          • Somite

            None of those have anything to do with TAM or the JREF.

          • hieropants

            Then why the hell did you say “Rebecca was a talking about the freethought movement and that includes TAM”? Does the movement include TAM/JREF or doesn’t it?

  • peter

    Thank you, Chris. I am delighted to see more and more people standing up to the unreasonable demands of Stephanie Svan, Laden, Myers, Watson, and the rest of the crazies who are determined to find “sexism” and “misogyny” behind every tree and beneath every stone.

    • Konradius

      Or in every piece of hate mail they receive.
      Or do you claim they’re making up that part as well?
      And what exactly is the unreasonable demand they make? Asking for DJ’s resignation? I think that is appropriate as well based upon my post at 17.
      DJ complains about low attendance rate of women for the next TAM, but it looks like he himself is the main reason for that.

      But feel free to explain to me why you think attendance rates of women will improve if the ones we’ve got would only shut up.

      • Deidre Keen

        I will respond to your daft and rather unlettered comment.

        “Or in every piece of hate mail they receive.”
        Hate-mail’s raison d’etre is to make the recipient feel bad. If the recipient is most bothered by sexism, hate-mail will take that form. It is not a good barometer of general beliefs.

        “And what exactly is the unreasonable demand they make? Asking for DJ’s resignation?”

        That is exactly what is unreasonable. So unreasonable that I actually think that we should ostracize those calling for his resignation.

        “But feel free to explain to me why you think attendance rates of women will improve if the ones we’ve got would only shut up.”

        I would love to. Making it seem like TAM is a rape-den of horrors as opposed to a place where nerdy skeptics meet is not good PR. Obviously we should deal with sexual harassment. However, our efforts to deal with it should be commensurate to the size of the problem. TAM is not a rape-zone, and making it seem like it is this scary dangerous place deters potential females.

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

          That is exactly what is unreasonable. So unreasonable that I actually think that we should ostracize those calling for his resignation.

          Um…actually, Greg stated some very specific reasons for asking DJ to resign. (NOTE: he was ASKING DJ to resign, not trying to force him out.) So no, Greg was not being “unreasonable.” Demanding the ostracization of someone who asked DJ to resign…now THAT’s unreasonable. Not to mention hypocritical.

          Making it seem like TAM is a rape-den of horrors as opposed to a place where nerdy skeptics meet is not good PR.

          Who, exactly, has said anything remotely like that about TAM? Some direct quotes might help here.

          TAM is not a rape-zone, and making it seem like it is this scary dangerous place deters potential females.

          Wouldn’t want to deter people who have the “potential” of becoming female, would we?

          • Deidre Keen

            “Um…actually, Greg stated some very specific reasons for asking DJ to resign. (NOTE: he was ASKING DJ to resign, not trying to force him out.) So no, Greg was not being “unreasonable.” Demanding the ostracization of someone who asked DJ to resign…now THAT’s unreasonable. Not to mention hypocritical.”

            It is not in any way hypocritical. DJ does not deserve the opprobrium he has been getting. The leaders of this poo-flinging shitfest should not be welcome because they are unreasonable. 


            
“Who, exactly, has said anything remotely like that about TAM? Some direct quotes might help here.”

            
Claiming that TAM is a place where sexual harassment is rampant is close to identical. Sexual harassment is not rampant at TAM and the people that claim it is are dishonest.

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

            Protip: calling a heated argument about an issue that’s important to us a “poo-flinging shitfest” is not a wise thing to do if you’re trying to accuse others of being “unreasonable.” Also, demanding that others be ostracised for suggesting someone should resign from his job, while crying about the “opprobrium” heaped on him, isn’t exactly convincing either.

          • Deidre Keen

            
If it is in fact a poo-flinging shitfest, it is not unreasonable to call it that. 

I think the leaders of this unreasonable poo-flinging shitfest should be embarrassed and castigated. Their behavior is reprehensible.

        • Konradius

          >If the recipient is most bothered by sexism, hate-mail will take that form. It is not a good barometer of general beliefs.

          No hate-mail will take that form when the recipient is a woman.

          >Obviously we should deal with sexual harassment. However,

          =Yes, but.
          Thank you for playing, feel free to ostracise me. The feeling is mutual.

          • Deidre Keen

            “No hate-mail will take that form when the recipient is a woman.”



            And who pray tell is most bothered by sexist remarks?


            “=Yes, but.”

            
I see you are unable to comprehend that subtle people use qualifiers and caveats when they express propositions.

          • julian

            You realize, Deidre Keen, that you using sexism just to hurt someone is sexist. So if you (and I don’t doubt it really is you) are willing to resort to that kind of bullying just to hurt someone you’re a sexist. Why? Because you engage in sexism to silence, harm and demean women.

            Claiming that TAM is a place where sexual harassment is rampant is close to identical. Sexual harassment is not rampant at TAM and the people that claim it is are dishonest.

            Look, you irritant. No one (to my knowledge) is saying that sexual harassment is rampant at TAM. Every person complaining, even self described radfems like skeptifem who comments at FtB occasionally, point out it’s likely no worse than in the general population. So you can stop being dishonest and stop repeating that moronic claim.

            I know you won’t be, but hey, I can dream.

          • Deidre Keen

            “ Why? Because you engage in sexism to silence, harm and demean women.”

            

People may use sexism to hurt individual women’s feelings in hate-mail. THEY ARE NOT TRYING TO “to silence, harm, and demean women” WRIT LARGE. My claim is that the hate-mail people get, is not a good gauge of the feelings towards women writ large. 


            
I am glad you conceded that the problem is no worse than the general population. I am glad you conceded that there is not skeptic-specific problem. Further, because skeptics by nature are timid, nerdy types. I would wager the problem is smaller than the general population.

            Your brain is a turd-filled pile of rat intestines

  • mouth mixture

    The hyperbole brought about by many on the relevant FTB threads is quite astonishing to the casual observer. In the right hands, it can be a powerful rethorical device, but it makes some of the people attacking DJ Grothe for things he never even said or implied look rather mean spirited and (more importantly) unable to argue their points.

    If there was just some time during the extensive flinging of poo to actually address each others points… that would be wonderful.

    If anything, this whole debacle emphasizes the need to actually address sexual harassment when it occurs. If there was no proper complaint filed with JREF (who appear to have implemented a process for doing so), it is somewhat understandable for DJ Grothe to act disappointed when people complain through other channels about harassment that he couldn’t have known about – and that long after the fact.

    And yes, calling an event unsafe without giving its organizers the opportunity to handle harassment is uncool. It hurts the event for no reason, and it also exposes other visitors to harassers who would normally be banned from the event taking place and from further events. It was even possible to make anonymous complaints through the survey (the records were kept) – understandable given that people feel shame for things that aren’t their fault at all.

    If harassment reports would be ignored or victims made fun of, this would probably be an entirely different matter. But there is no evidence that harassment reports were ignored. Now, if people were somehow discouraged from making these complaints, a valid point would be to point out WHY victims of harassment didn’t make them or felt discouraged from doing so. But that didn’t come forward either.

    Even if you thought that JREF was completely oblivious to the problem, you have it in your hands to make your voice heard. Instead they are bullying someone who might just be unaware of the problems you are facing. Education using reasonable arguments might help, screaming and putting words in someones mouth usually doesn’t.

    Or something.

    Yes, or something. Read from comprehension.

    • Konradius

      [citation needed]

      Tell me? Do you live in a world without sexual harassment?
      Let’s assume you say no to that, or else we can safely dismiss your opinion.

      So, imagine you run a large gathering of people and your sexual harassment reporting program comes back with no reports.

      Do you:
      1. Wonder if it’s not working correctly
      2. Consider this irrefutable evidence that no harassment ever occurred.
      3. Feel free to provide a third possibility

      Bonus points of you provide a reasoning that can be considered sceptical.

      Btw, DJ chose option 2.

      • Somite

        But this is not true. DJ and the JREF have done anything within reason to minimize harassment as much as possible. They would also welcome new reasonable suggestions.

        What their survey showed is that it is not the widespread problem portrayed by a few people while acknowledging (and having dealt with) the few isolated incidents.

        Two things are missing from the currrent complaints:

        1) what should the JREF additionally
        2) acknowledge the JREF survey

        • Konradius

          The survey quoted asked if women felt welcome. It did not ask whether any harassment took place. It did not ask what the expected level of harassment was. (think woman in a comic book store)

          DJ’s complaint was that women registration was less than half of earlier events.
          Now there are 2 possibilities.
          1. Women that attended before did not re-register, in which case they know the actual level of harassment they received at TAM.
          2. Women who did not attend before failed to register which can come from the perceived attitude to women from our community.

          For case 1 it means that your harassment policy is failing. For case 2 you want to communicate that you take the issue seriously.

          Taking the issue seriously is inconsistent with this
          Unlike the facebook comment referenced elsewhere this is a researched opinion (though expressed in a blog reply).

          And anything within reason? Like not dismissing complaints as gossip? Like clearly communicating what the harassment policy is (using a link would be nice) and asking for help strengthening it?
          Or like not pretending he does not know what incidents are referenced when people complain of ‘misinformation’
          Child-sex-trafficing was about an incident where Laurance Krauss (a TAM speaker) was making excuses for a friend that was conviced for this in a US court.
          And the other ‘misinformation’ can easily be concluded from the state of the JREF forums.

          I think I’ve addressed your 2 points that you felt were missing.

          • Somite

            The survey would have included incidents of harassment because it included things like this:

            “11 respondents to the survey did report a problem with an interaction with someone else that made them feel uncomfortable or unsafe (this was a difference question on the survey). 3 of them were men who did not elaborate on the interaction and 3 were from women who did not elaborate on the interaction. Another was a woman who reported a speaker was rude to her when she asked for a photo. Another was a woman who was made fun of for not being an atheist. Another was a woman was ridiculed for being a vegetarian. Another was a woman who reported no specific incident but claimed her enjoyment of the event was negatively affected by the “drama surrounding elevator gate” and “having to hear everyone talk about it.” “

      • Spartan

        Btw, DJ chose option 2.

        Not the way you phrased it he didn’t; citation please that he thinks this is ‘irrefutable evidence’. Here’s what I see in the post above:

        Of course that doesn’t mean such didn’t happen, but of 800+ responses to our attendee survey last year, only three people said they were made to feel unwelcome by someone at the event:

        So is your ‘irrefutable evidence’ claim consistent with the above, especially the very first part before the comma? You may be right that he is a turd, but try and be honest about how you are representing him.

      • Ligeti

        “Btw, DJ chose option 2.”

        Did he really?

        Quoting DJ:

        “…there have been zero reports of harassment at the TAMs we’ve put on while I’ve been at JREF.

        Of course that doesn’t mean such didn’t happen…”

      • mouth mixture

        Tell me? Do you live in a world without sexual harassment?
        Let’s assume you say no to that, or else we can safely dismiss your opinion.

        I live in a world where sexual harassment exists. I have also reported incidents of sexual harassment. That doesn’t mean that I encounter it every day personally, though. By the way: Using the topic like you do, “assuming you say no to that”, makes you look like an ass. I have barely escaped what would have turned into serious molestation when I was a small child.

        So, imagine you run a large gathering of people and your sexual harassment reporting program comes back with no reports.

        1. Wonder if it’s not working correctly
        2. Consider this irrefutable evidence that no harassment ever occurred.
        3. Feel free to provide a third possibility

        3. To see anything as irrefutable evidence against sexual harassment is stupid, and you should know it. It IS generally underreported. Massively so. But to automatically do the opposite is not-quite-as-but-still unreasonable: To think that there absolutely must be sexual harassment at a specific event. Non-sexualized events of people feeling unwelcome where reported. Of course, these don’t bear the same sort of social stigmata and chances of getting slut shamed, so this must be taken with a grain of salt.

        The gallow that people build in der DJ Grothe’s feet for quoting their statistics is still unexcusable.

        If there are examples of people feeling unsafe, these people had – in theory – the means to report it, even anonymously and by proxy, but might have been hindered by a problem in the process. But if you can tell the whole world that event X is unsafe and maybe even have examples and names of perpetrators, you can make yourself heard to the organizers of event X as well. If not regarding specific cases, then why there might be a barrier that prevents you or others from reporting it.

        This was not done, and this is a valid complaint.

        Btw, DJ chose option 2.

        Liar. He said that there were no reports. He did not say that it was irrefutable evidence that no harassment ever occured, and he didn’t imply that it was. Stop making shit up, this is exactly what was complained about. Re-read the quote, where he especially states that:

        Of course that doesn’t mean such didn’t happen, but of 800+ responses to our attendee survey last year, only three people said they were made to feel unwelcome by someone at the event: one, a man who didn’t like all the magic; two, a woman who was ridiculed for her veganism; and three, a conservative who didn’t feel welcome because of what he saw as an undue emphasis by speakers and attendees on progressive and leftist ideals.

        A clearer way of saying ‘I don’t consider this irrefutable evidence that no harassment ever occurred’ doesn’t exist.

        • julian

          What gallow? At most a handful have asked for his resignation and one person (Watson, who’s outspoken criticism of sexism within the skeptical community Grothe blames for any dip in TAM’s attendance) has said she will not be attending TAM. Who is building a gallow? Or are you just using the inflammatory rhetoric that Grothe will eagerly blast Zvan, Watson and Greta for but will applaud in his supporters and allies?

  • http://momoelektra.blogspot.com/ Momo Elektra

    “If there was just some time during the extensive flinging of poo to actually address each others points… that would be wonderful.”

    You could start with stopping burning straw men.

    It’s not as if your points haven’t been addressed already (ad nauseam, actually, and in multiple places).

    • xtog42

      Momo, if you are too lazy to respond to the point then why respond at all?

      • http://momoelektra.blogspot.com/ Momo Elektra

        “Momo, if you are too lazy to respond to the point then why respond at all?”

        If you or others are too lazy to read upon what has already been discussed, why should others do the work for you?

        • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

          Typical FTB response: “it’s been answered somewhere else, do the work!”. Well no, sorry, not everyone wants to wade in fucktons of blog posts and comments. So if you have an opinion substantiated with valid arguments, go ahead and write it down here.

  • mouth mixture

    It’s not as if your points haven’t been addressed already (ad nauseam, actually, and in multiple places).

    Perhaps – they might just have been drowned out, or I might have missed them due to regrettable negligence. Care to point me somewhere useful?

  • http://momoelektra.blogspot.com/ Momo Elektra

    “Care to point me somewhere useful?”

    Not really. If you really want to avoid regrettable negligence you will do what everyone else has to do: Read everything yourself.

    You’ll learn much more that way, too.

  • http://saltycurrent.blogspot.com SC (Salty Current), OM

    It might help you to read Miranda Fricker’s Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing.

    I think too many people in here have an irrational dislike of evolutionary because they mistakenly think it has bad socio-political consequences, in particular they mistakenly think that explaining behavior excuses it.

    Let’s say good-bye to the straw-feminist.

    I agree with everything DJ says there. People who want to check the accuracy of this description for themselves can see this large (though incomplete) collection of screencaps I took from the thread.

    Checked. You and he are wrong.

    ***

    there is a checklist to follow that allows someone to see if they’re wrong a subject that involves sexism in any way.

    1) Scented Nectar not only agrees with you, but is congratulatory towards you.

    Truer words have rarely been spoken.

    • julian

      Ugh

      That’s right. He took all those potshots at Greta and then blamed her for Long’s response. Never mind that Long either made up all the accusations or simply can’t read.

      Ironic that he had no problem defending Long but defending Watson against what is easily 10x worse is impossible for him.

  • http://giliellthinkingaloud.blogspot.com/ Giliell, not to be confused with The Borg

    Women, how did you dare to criticise a prominent male leader of a big organisation?
    You should have known what’s going to happen, didn’t you learn from Rebecca Watson at all?
    Here you go, get back into your place, make the Nice Guys™ a sammich.
    It’s interesting what a narrative is being woven.
    when some people misread Greta Christina’s thread (and yes, I read it before the edit. Although it was not as clear as it could have been, the quotes were not attributed to DJ Grothe) it’s her fault and an attack.
    When DJ Grothe words himself poorly about age of consense and prostitution, it’s just a mistake.
    Again I notice how only the women involved in this discussion get attacked, not the male bloggers who’ve been making the same points as Stephanie, Greta and Rebecca. Telling it is.

    • peter

      Again I notice how only the women involved in this discussion get attacked, not the male bloggers who’ve been making the same points as Stephanie, Greta and Rebecca. Telling it is.

      PZ Myers and Greg Laden are wrong about DJ Grothe, and they’re also complete assholes. Happy now?

      • http://giliellthinkingaloud.blogspot.com/ Giliell, not to be confused with The Borg

        Yes, happier than before.

  • Pingback: Wait – that was last year… | Butterflies and Wheels

  • xtog42

    Thank goodness for a rational, reasoned response on this topic. I went to the Diamond’s and PZ’s FTB blogs and tried to have an honest clear back and forth on this subject and in response I got nothing but juvenile verbal abuse — and after years of following the freethought movement these were my first posts ever on a bulletin board here — needless to say those bulletin boards are complete and total wastes of time at least on this issue.

    And the verbal abuse was real and discomforting, one might say I was harassed mercilessly and yet all I basically did was ask Stephanie to explain herself and respond to another poster’s post.

    It is my hope that FTB monitor this sort of thing and end their relationship with blogs that cannot control the board harassment of people new to the movement. After all the free thought movement not only needs to appeal to women, but also to men too.

    • Somite

      It is terrible. Even Sara Mayhew, a well known skeptic and presenter was told to STFU.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sironen mattisironen

        I’ve been allowing a lot of crap in this thread, and I have no opinion of Sara Mayhew, but I also have no use for comments consisting entirely of insults. Don’t do that again. – Hallq.

        • julian

          You really shouldn’t talk about yourself like that, mate.

          • http://scentednectar.blogspot.com Scented Nectar

            Oh no, I’ve stepped into the kindergarten room by accident. Above, is Julien doing one of those “I know you are, but what am I? Ptttthht, so there!”. How old are you, Julien?

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

      After all the free thought movement not only needs to appeal to women, but also to men too.

      What kind of men, specifically? The movement already seems to appeal to men who value equality, fairness, civility, and decent treatment of women. Did you have a different group of men in mind?

      • xtog42

        Is this a serious response, or more flaming troll spew? You don’t really expect me to reply to this do you?

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

          Yes, I do expect a reply — as well as an explanation of why such a simple question makes you so childishly defensive.

    • peter

      Your experience mirrors mine, xtog42, which is precisely why I gave up on Pharyngula. Those people are not even remotely reasonable and cannot disagree without resorting to the most juvenile of insults. Visit ERV for a more mature discussion of these matters – Abbie won’t edit or delete your posts just because she disagrees with you.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

        Visit ERV for a more mature discussion of these matters

        Pardon me for a moment…

        BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHA!!!

        If “Rebeccunt Twatson” is your idea of a “more mature discussion”…

        • peter

          Do you seriously not realize that “Rebeccunt Twatson” (and “Rebitchca” and “Peezus” and “Greg Bin Laden” and so forth) are merely appropriate and comparable responses to “shove a porcupine up your ass”? Such labels are jokes, much like the title of Al Franken’s 1999 book, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, intended merely to piss off unreasonable, disagreeable people.

          • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

            So, let’s see if I’ve got this right…

            Immature: Poopyhead!
            Mature: Yeah? Well you’re a poopyhead too!

            Is that about right?

            For the record, I’m no fan of the “porcupine up your ass” BS, but I do think it pales in immaturity to turning someone’s name into an insult, especially when it’s done using gendered slurs.

          • julian

            Greg bin Laden?!

            Are you things trying to validate every comparison I’ve made between you all and FOX and Friends?

          • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

            “Are you things…”

            Good on you Julian, you’re not dehumanizing people at all.

          • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

            Soooo… Nobody’s picked up on Julian’s ass-move (well, one of many) regarding “things”? I guess he might be on the “blacklist” if such exists. If not, be very careful about anyone called “Julian” at conventions. He thinks people are “things”.

            Did my point get through?

          • julian

            You’re absolutely right. Thing was meant to be dehumanizing. Are you willing to admit the same about much of your behavior?

            No? Didn’t think so.

          • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

            Julian, you will get a Tip of the Hat for best non-sequiture of the week.

            Happy?

      • xtog42

        A good example would be response #2 to my post typed by the utterly dismissable Raging Bee.

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

      How dumb do you have to be to think Pharyngula is the only skeptic/atheist blog in the Universe? I don’t like that place either, but there’s plenty of other places you can go to have lively discussions with atheists. Like…oh, I dunno, any of the thirty-two other Freethought Blogs that are conveniently listed on the right-hand side of PZ’s page maybe? That’s just for starters.

      …one might say I was harassed mercilessly and yet all I basically did was ask Stephanie to explain herself and respond to another poster’s post.

      One might say that. One might also note that many obnoxious lying trolls say the same thing when they get pounced on for their stupidity and/or dishonesty: “I was only asking questions, and now I’m being persecuted by the hive-mind!”

      • xtog42

        So,…a straw man and then a guilt by association in another dismissive an non-informative post from Raging Bee, while I am being told about how to spot a troll. If the shoe fits.

  • http://saltycurrent.blogspot.com SC (Salty Current), OM

    I think DJ has handled himself quite well in the ensuing controversy.

    Well, you came away from reading Carrier’s review of Ehrman wondering if Carrier could be trusted, so you seem to have a larger pattern of reading problems.

    • Metaphysical Ham Sandwich

      While I think that’s technically an ad hom…so true. :P

      • http://saltycurrent.blogspot.com SC (Salty Current), OM

        Yes, I suppose it does look like an ad hom. That wasn’t my intent. I couldn’t quite remember if Hallquist was the one who had written that post about Ehrman and Carrier when I posted above the recommendation of Miranda’s Fricker’s book. Later, I checked, confirmed that it was him, and started to wonder what’s at the root of these misreadings. In this case, it seems to be the same as Grothe’s problem, which is why I recommended the book (he should read it anyway). But in light of the other case, I considered that it might be a more general tendency on his part to read arguments that sound less angry – more condescending, dismissive – as stronger than those that sound more angry or demanding.

        Of course, that could well be the same issue: people in more powerful positions who are content with the status quo can much more easily adopt that condescending, dismissive tone, while the statements of people in struggling groups and positions are going to come across as more militant, aggressive, “strident,” etc. And some people are impressed by power, and tend to read defenses of inequality less critically.

        A third option is that Hallquist just has difficulty following complex arguments in context, in which case I’d have more hope for him politically but, well, less intellectually. So I hope it’s the first/second issue, because that can be resolved by being conscious and changing your habits.

        Thanks for the response – it pushed me to clarify!

        • aspidoscelis

          A fourth possibility is that Hallquist is… right.

        • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

          But in light of the other case, I considered that it might be a more general tendency on his part to read arguments that sound less angry – more condescending, dismissive – as stronger than those that sound more angry or demanding.

          It’s fair of you to wonder about that, and the problem of people assuming that the angry person must be wrong is something I’m sensitive to. Heck, I put it right there in the title of the book I’m working on.

          But as I see it, there’s another issue here. I think unjustified beliefs are bad, but saying unjustified, harshly negative things about someone else is especially bad. So when I see things like Stephanie’s comments about DJ, or Richard comments about Ehrman, and fail to see the justification for them, I think I’m justified in being quite critical in return.

          • Eliott

            Thank you…thank you…thank you…I have been reading blogs till my eyes have crossed about these issues and become so absolutely frustrated as well as insulted, shouted down and cursed at and then just when I was giving up hope I can across your blog and specifically this response which I am in complete agreement with. Thank you…thank you…thank you.

  • kevinkirkpatrick

    All I can say after reading this is post: I am so happy to not be a woman. This just seems so suffocating. I cannot fathom living a life where I’d have to combat this endless supply of privilege-induced ignorance day in and day out. I started typing a counter-argument to Chris’ defense of Grothe’s defense of Ryan Long. About halfway through, though, I quit – couldn’t get past the sense that, like trying to convince a Creationist of the accuracy of radiometric dating, the problem isn’t with the quality of the argument.

    “Just… just read the shit Ryan Long says, I mean, read the thread, the words are right there, you posted them yourself!”, I want to scream.

    And I guess that’s my point – the words are right there, and still Chris won’t see the forest of the trees (even feels compelled to express support for DJ’s inability to see it). With this post, he’s put himself into an ever growing list of men unable to shake their own privilege and just listen to, understand, and empathize with the women who speak out against the sexism that pervades our society; and as a result acutally impede their efforts to combat it.

    Condolences to you women who must wade through this shit; and an admiring “kudos” to those who are able to keep their wits and seem ever willing to try, once more, to open eyes that seem willfully squeezed shut (I guess the only worse fate would be acquiescence)?

    For me though, I’m just so glad I’m a man – while reading through shit like this sickens and saddens me, at least the second I close this browser, the whole issue will just *poof* disappear.

    p.s. Well, I can’t get away that easily… damned if I can’t help but remember that my 3-year-old-daughter is going to be growing up with this shit too. Sigh….

    • Somite

      I think you are conflating the general problem of sexism at large with the specific problem of sexism at TAM or within the JREF. I am sure the JREF is open to any suggestions on how to improve.

    • Konradius

      Word.
      I agree with you completely Kevin. I’m happily going to a nice boardgaming day in one hour and won’t waste my time responding to the people here.
      I do encourage DJ supporters to try to refute my strongest points, not my weakest.

  • Abdullah

    The discussion above is going nowhere.

    How about we get right to the point: why is Rebecca Watson treated like an outstanding skeptic when little, if anything, she says couldn’t easily have been gleaned from an entry-level Wikipedia article?

    That is to say: why should we care whether Watson feels welcome in the skeptical movement? She is a fifth wheel, and a very squeaky one at that.

    • Robert

      Ah yes, and you are certainly the gate keeper of who gets to be a spokesperson for skeptics everywhere.

      And I’m sure you are blind to your own sexist tendencies even when trying to shut someone else down for having the audacity to point out the bullshit being leveled at them.

      Rebecca has suffered through the worst kind of harrassment and abuse that I have ever seen from a group of supposed “rationalists” and “Skeptics”.

      • Abdullah

        Ah yes, and you are certainly the gate keeper of who gets to be a spokesperson for skeptics everywhere.

        No, my apologies, you are. I’m sorry.

        Look all I’m saying is that Watson is an intellectual lightweight. And her own record speaks very well to that.

        And I’m sure you are blind to your own sexist tendencies even when trying to shut someone else down for having the audacity to point out the bullshit being leveled at them.

        I don’t dislike Rebecca Watson for being a woman. I dislike her for being a self-pitying nitwit who wastes the movement’s time.

        Big difference.

        • http://momoelektra.blogspot.com/ Momo Elektra

          “I don’t dislike Rebecca Watson for being a woman. I dislike her for being a self-pitying nitwit who wastes the movement’s time.”

          You are saying that about someone who has had to endure months of abuse from people of the very community she is a part of.

          You are saying that about someone who hasn’t and hopefully won’t back down.

          You are saying that about someone who talks about sexism and misogyny in the atheist and skeptic community.

          You are saying that the movement’s time is wasted when it talks about women.

          Of course you don’t dislike her for being a woman. You dislike her for being a woman who doesn’t know her place.

          You know when you people fail? When you don’t realize the moments when popes and talibans are in agreement with you.

          • Abdullah

            Of course you don’t dislike her for being a woman. You dislike her for being a woman who doesn’t know her place.

            That doesn’t explain why I admire women in the sciency movement who actually know something. E.g. Pat Churchland and Susan Haack.

            Could it have something to do with the fact that, unlike Ms. Watson, they actually know a Goddamn thing about science and its ancillary philosophy?

            Nah, that’d be stupid.

            It’s GOT to be sexism.

          • http://momoelektra.blogspot.com/ Momo Elektra

            “Could it have something to do with the fact that, unlike Ms. Watson, they actually know a Goddamn thing about science and its ancillary philosophy?

            Nah, that’d be stupid.

            It’s GOT to be sexism.”

            Yeah, that is sexist. Because Rebecca Watson is not a scientist and she doesn’t write about stuff YOU want to read so you want her to shut up.

            That doesn’t happen to male writers like that. People ignore them when they aren’t interested. Women get told to STFU.

          • Abdullah

            Because Rebecca Watson is not a scientist

            That’s not an excuse for her ignorance.

            and she doesn’t write about stuff YOU want to read so you want her to shut up.

            Yeah, self-pitying drama is annoying.

            That doesn’t happen to male writers like that. People ignore them when they aren’t interested. Women get told to STFU.

            And you know I don’t want some male writers to shut the fuck up because?

            Sam Harris, for example, needs to shut the fuck up whenever he isn’t talking about neuroscience directly.

            He tends to bring unlettered nonsense into any other subject he talks about.

        • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

          who wastes the movement’s time.

          It is logically possible that you waste your individual time thinking about her. (She isn’t putting a gun to your head and forcing you to waste time, thus she isn’t wasting your time. But you may be wasting your time.)

          However, I find her to generally be interesting, a source of utility.

          You have committed the fallacy of composition regarding the movement.

          • Abdullah

            (She isn’t putting a gun to your head and forcing you to waste time, thus she isn’t wasting your time. But you may be wasting your time.)

            I suspect one of the major reasons PeeZus et alia moved away from scienceblogs is because scienceblogs is supposed to be about science, and they booted him.

            The fucker hardly even posts on Panda’s Thumb anymore.

            All these clowns, and not just poor little Ms. Watson, or just those equipped with vaginas, are huge time wasters.

            However, I find her to generally be interesting, a source of utility.

            Then you must not be very educated in scientific matters…

          • julian

            Personally I find her annoying but she’s very dedicated to advancing skepticism (making it more mainstream and encouraging others to “get into it” so to speak) and she’s clearly put a lot of hard work into the skeptic community. Her activism, this Grothe thing just being a recent example, has done very little for her while taxing her nerves and well being. If I expected to get rape threats regularly from members of a community I’d given my time for I’d leave in a heart beat.

          • julian

            Then you must not be very educated in scientific matters…

            *snort*

            Wall of text incoming.

          • Abdullah

            Personally I find her annoying but she’s very dedicated to advancing skepticism (making it more mainstream and encouraging others to “get into it” so to speak)

            i.e. watering it down and turning it to shit.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            Then you must not be very educated in scientific matters…

            I didn’t suggest that I learned science from her. As much fun as science is, I hope it’s not your only source of utility.

            Now, you still have not addressed your fallacy of composition.

          • Abdullah

            I didn’t suggest that I learned science from her. As much fun as science is, I hope it’s not your only source of utility.

            That’s irrelevant. She claims to be a science advocate. She isn’t doing a good job of it.

            Now, you still have not addressed your fallacy of composition.

            I didn’t need to. You misapplied it.

            You still have not addressed the fact that Ms. Watson is a nitwit.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            She claims to be a science advocate.

            And she is a fine advocate for the value of science to the public. However, as I am already convinced of such, that is not the utility I personally derive.

            Now, you still have not addressed your fallacy of composition.

            I didn’t need to. You misapplied it.

            It is evident that I did not. You are collapsing “the movement” as though it were an individual with time which could be wasted or not.

            I am a member of this movement; I assume you are too. You may be wasting your time thinking about Watson, but the time I spend with regard to her is not wasted. Therefore, you are committing the fallacy of composition.

          • Abdullah

            You may be wasting your time thinking about Watson, but the time I spend with regard to her is not wasted.

            K, thn yr mdcr ntllct.

            Been allowing a lot of crap on this thread, but you need better rebuttals than, “Oh yeah? Well you’re stupid.” – Hallq

          • Abdullah

            It is evident that I did not. You are collapsing “the movement” as though it were an individual with time which could be wasted or not.

            Fallacy of composition doesn’t apply to opinions about things.

            I think that drama-mongering and self-pity is a waste of time for the science advocacy movement, regardless how many other people like it.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            OK, then you’re a mediocre intellect.

            :) It’s possible.

            Fallacy of composition doesn’t apply to opinions about things.

            That’s not accurate, and it appears to be an arbitrary invention on your part.

            If someone says “it’s my opinion that America is basically [liberal|conservative]“, it’s clear that the formation of that opinion occurred because the person committed the fallacy of composition.

            The person treated characteristics of individual members of the nation as though they applied to the nation as a whole. That remains true even if the outcome of their reasoning is ultimately stated as an opinion.

            So, regardless of whether you’re now clarifying that this is all just your opinion, you still committed the fallacy of composition by taking your opinion about your time and applying it to the movement as a whole.

          • Abdullah

            That’s not accurate, and it appears to be an arbitrary invention on your part.

            No, not really. I can hold whatever utility function I want.

          • julian

            I can hold whatever utility function I want.

            >_<

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            I can hold whatever utility function I want.

            Indeed! I think I made that clear already.

            However, it is not accurate to say that the “fallacy of composition doesn’t apply to opinions about things.”

            It is the fallacy of composition when you take your individual utility function and apply it to “the movement” as though it were an individual with time which could be wasted or not.

          • Abdullah

            It is the fallacy of composition when you take your individual utility function and apply it to “the movement” as though it were an individual with time which could be wasted or not.

            Yeah why the hell not? Unless you don’t think you can legitimately say, for example, that you think your country is wasting its time on some things rather than others.

            I’m sure you hold at least one such opinion.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            Unless you don’t think you can legitimately say, for example, that you think your country is wasting its time on some things rather than others.

            One cannot take one’s own individual utility function and apply it to the country without committing the fallacy of composition. The country may or may not have utility functions — whether it does or not is a very difficult question, but it is fallacious to hold that they are those of the individual.

          • Abdullah

            One cannot take one’s own individual utility function and apply it to the country without committing the fallacy of composition.

            OK. Hope you have no problems with America’s defense spending or anything.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            Whether I do or not, at the best of times I also have the self-awareness to realize that my problems are not the same as the country’s.

          • Abdullah

            Whether I do or not, at the best of times I also have the self-awareness to realize that my problems are not the same as the country’s.

            Well OK then I guess the best you can say is that skeptical movement’s problems are trivial and stupid.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            What I can say is that it is very difficult for any one person to cause the movement much of a problem. Sam Harris seems to be the single person most destructive to this movement, and yet, I have a hard time imagining it’d be noticeably different if he were gone.

            Your particular animus for Watson, Myers, et al, is clearly an artifact of your idiosyncratic social circles.

          • John D

            Haha – Sam Harris has been one of my favorites lately.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            That’s nice, John, and about as relevant as your taste in music.

          • John D

            ditto.

          • Abdullah

            Your particular animus for Watson, Myers, et al, is clearly an artifact of your idiosyncratic social circles.

            Do tell. I wonder what comically inaccurate signs your crystal ball is giving you.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            Abdullah, if you’re having a hard time following along, it’s okay to ask for help. I don’t mind.

            Most skeptics on Earth haven’t heard of Myers except in passing and wouldn’t remember the name. O’Hair, Dawkins, Hitchens, are the only ones who’ve ever begun to approach being household names. Therefore if you’re focusing on anyone else, that must be a result of your idiosyncratic interactions. This isn’t, like, a judgment of you or anything, so don’t take it the wrong way.

            Aside: I’m curious, is your IRL name actually Abdullah or anything Arabic?

          • Abdullah

            Most skeptics on Earth haven’t heard of Myers except in passing and wouldn’t remember the name.

            If that’s true, that’s wonderful.

            And yeah my middle name is Abdullah.

          • life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

            Of course it’s true; give it a think. But back to why we got on that tangent:

            What I can say is that it is very difficult for any one person to cause the movement much of a problem. Sam Harris seems to be the single person most destructive to this movement, and yet, I have a hard time imagining it’d be noticeably different if he were gone.

            Your particular animus for Watson, Myers, et al, is clearly an artifact of your idiosyncratic social circles.

            To the degree that you are concerned about the, what, maybe a dozen bloggers in this circle, doing some harm to the skeptical movement, you are letting your imagination get out of hand. Even Dawkins could get baptized as a Pentecostal tomorrow and it really wouldn’t matter.

          • Abdullah

            Yeah maybe.

      • Abdullah

        Rebecca has suffered through the worst kind of harrassment and abuse that I have ever seen from a group of supposed “rationalists” and “Skeptics”.

        I was not aware that my strong interest in science compels me to give an edgewise shit about Rebecca Watson’s stupid first-world problems.

        But thank you for clearing that up for me.

        In fact now that I checked my favorite rationality texts, Thinking and Deciding, The Strategy of Conflict, etc. they all tell me that doting on little crybabies is integral to the very definition of rationality.

        • julian

          Rape threats, now a first world problem.

          • Abdullah

            Incredible rape threats on the Internet (I personally can’t count the number of times I’ve received incredible threats of violence on the Internet, and laughed at them), being called names, and being briefly inconvenienced on an elevator.

            All first-world problems.

          • julian

            As are, I’m sure, being fondled and groped. Please, continue to remind me why I feel complete disdain for you.

          • Abdullah

            Never said anything about being groped. When did that happen to her?

            Furthermore, how would you feel if I decided that the number one priority of the skeptical movement should be all the incredible death threats I’ve received? Rather than, say, science?

          • julian

            Furthermore, how would you feel if I decided that the number one priority of the skeptical movement should be all the incredible death threats I’ve received?

            1)I missed where this happened.
            2)Rule of thumb for any community, when that sort of harassment is common, you may want to do something about it.
            3)Wasn’t a comment addressed to me but, yes she is a science advocate. Science advocacy does not mean being a scientist. I understand you view any attempt to make science more approachable to those of us who grew up without it for the most part, but that doesn’t make her work useless or her incompetent.

          • Abdullah

            Science advocacy does not mean being a scientist.

            It does mean being scientifically literate, however.

            brotip: she isn’t.

        • julian

          brotip: she isn’t.

          If that was a typo I find it hilarious.

          brotips sound like exactly what Grothe and Friends are pushing.

          It does mean being scientifically literate

          It depends on what you are doing. Different levels of science literacy (and literacy in different topics) are required for different goals, programs and audiences. That should be obvious but I guess you need it pointed out.

          • Abdullah

            If that was a typo I find it hilarious.

            Nah it’s from the “Troll Science” memes.

            Different levels of science literacy (and literacy in different topics) are required for different goals, programs and audiences. That should be obvious but I guess you need it pointed out.

            The late Carl Sagan was an effective science communicator to a broad audience and he didn’t waste everyone’s time with little snits.

            It’s a cost/benefit analysis: RW simply is too mediocre to be worth all the trouble she causes.

          • julian

            Because he had talents in other areas besides science. Do you think he’s talents as a communicator came from his science education?

            It’s a cost/benefit analysis: RW simply is too mediocre to be worth all the trouble she causes.

            You mean the trouble you cause. Whatever you and Grothe may believe, she isn’t making anyone send her rape and death threats. The “trouble” was started by you and your friends. Not by her.

          • Abdullah

            You mean the trouble you cause. Whatever you and Grothe may believe, she isn’t making anyone send her rape and death threats. The “trouble” was started by you and your friends. Not by her.

            I never sent her threats of any sort; don’t look at me.

            And are you kidding? She LOVES the drama. Her career wouldn’t be too much without it.

          • julian

            I never sent her threats of any sort; don’t look at me.

            No you just think she enjoys all the harassment and uses it to advance her career.

          • Abdullah

            No you just think she enjoys all the harassment and uses it to advance her career.

            Besides the self-pity crucifixion what else is there to her career?

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

          I was not aware that my strong interest in science compels me to give an edgewise shit about Rebecca Watson’s stupid first-world problems.

          Nothing says “obsessed insecure self-centered blowhard” like Abtrollah posting DOZENS of comments bashing someone he insists he doesn’t care about.

          …why is Rebecca Watson treated like an outstanding skeptic…?

          That’s a very good question. Why don’t you go and ask it to Richard Dawkins and all the other assholes who’ve been going so far out of their way for so long to bash her for an innocuous, off-the-record comment she made LAST YEAR? They’re the ones who did so much to make Watson “outstanding,” so they’re the ones who need to answer your question.

  • Jandorian

    DJ should not resign. He should stay in his position and reap the fruits of what he has sown.

    1) Deny the problem.
    2) Scold people who talk about the problem.
    3) ?????
    4) Profit!!!

  • http://saltycurrent.blogspot.com SC (Salty Current), OM

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/hallq/2012/05/25/dont-make-excuses-for-homophobia-that-you-wouldnt-make-for-racism/

    LOL. Replace “gay marriage” with “interracial marriage” and “sex and gender” and the stupidity becomes obvious. Yeah, there will be a new public morality according to which homophobia will not be acceptable, just as current public morality says racism is not acceptable. Deal with it.

    My poor head.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sironen mattisironen

      Yes, your poor head.

  • http://www.improbablejoe.blogspot.com Improbable Joe

    Wow Hallquist, you’ve decided to use your blog to host a really stellar class of people who hate Rebecca Watson and are proud to share it. You must be so proud.

    • julian

      Meh.

      Going off this and how he deliberately misrepresented Ophelia Benson back during that Be business he’s undoubtedly an ass of the first order but I doubt this was any kind of decision. These are the people most sympathetic to his views (hard to pin down as they keep moving goal posts. Suffice it to say it’s whatever makes ‘radfems’ angry) so they’re going to comment in his defense.

      Besides, these comments aside, I doubt he knows any of these people and would consider it an insult to his rationality to consider how they’ve behaved elsewhere or what their general beef with Watson is.

      • http://www.improbablejoe.blogspot.com Improbable Joe

        Well… considering context is hard. Harder than Hallquist is willing to deal with.

    • Abdullah

      Wow Hallquist, you’ve decided to use your blog to host a really stellar class of people who hate Rebecca Watson and are proud to share it. You must be so proud.

      I don’t hate her. I dislike how she wastes the movement’s time on her narcissism. And, yes, I am proud to share it.

      • http://www.improbablejoe.blogspot.com Improbable Joe

        Right… because sticking up for other women is narcissism, and trying to prevent women being harassed/assaulted is a waste of time. You’re the problem, and the proof that Rebecca Watson is correct. The more you and your ilk make noise against her and against feminism, the more you prove that people like her need to exist and keep fighting the good fight.

        • Abdullah

          Right… because sticking up for other women is narcissism

          Rebecca Watson displacing any discussion of science in the “movement” (which, as time passes, has revealed itself to be a “movement” largely only in the sense of “bowel movement”) to make way for her petty personal drama is narcissistic. Making out anyone who criticizes her for doing this to be a monster is narcissistic, too.

          The more you and your ilk make noise against her and against feminism, the more you prove that people like her need to exist and keep fighting the good fight.

          Haha, look at you drama-mongering and thinking you’re doing society a huge favor.

          By 2030 or so, with climate change, food crises, water crises, and energy crises, and who knows maybe even serious nuclear threats, I have a feeling the current generation of sanctimonious leftards exemplified by people like you are going to feel extremely silly about tilting at the really tiny windmills that they did.

          So, millions of people will be swallowed up by famine and war but you can go to your grave knowing YOU FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.

          And before you charge me with hypocrisy, I’d like to let you know I think society is too stupid for me even to try to start fixing these problems. Just look at the priorities of people like you. It’s a lost cause.

          No, I’m just here to watch the calamity. And perhaps profit from it.

          • http://www.improbablejoe.blogspot.com Improbable Joe

            Hey, if someone starts punching you in your face over and over again, breaking all of the bones in your face and forcing you to choke on you own blood, would you like someone to step in? Yes? Maybe? Why?

            Why should anyone care about your insignificant problem? There’s global warming! There’s wars! There’s unemployment! Pollution! Famine! So when someone is pounding your face in, I should just walk on by because there are bigger problems in the world.

            Just shut up. Every answer you’ll give will make you look stupid.

          • Abdullah

            Hey, if someone starts punching you in your face over and over again, breaking all of the bones in your face and forcing you to choke on you own blood, would you like someone to step in? Yes? Maybe? Why?

            Yes but a) RW never got punched in the face over and over again, rather ran up against mostly really trivial first-world problems and b) if this ever happened to me I wouldn’t demand that the entire Internet pity me for months and years after it happened.

            Your analogy is flawed.

            Just shut up. Every answer you’ll give will make you look stupid.

            No, not really, because as I’ve pointed out you drew a stupid analogy.

            However, every year that passes in which you crusade for a sniveling, insignificant little narcissist named “Rebecca” instead of dealing with real problems will make you incredibly stupid in the long run.

            People like you love claiming that you can care about as many things as you want but the truth is that you have to economize in the real world.

            Your choice, pal!

          • julian

            a)No, she was just fondled, threatened with rape and told her complaining about the former two is what led to a drop in women at TAM.
            b)It’s still happening. You have a very weak understanding of timelines, man. See, shit happening now, is not in the past. It’s happening now.

            People like you love claiming that you can care about as many things as you want

            How dare you care about rape, sexism and all those other first world problems?! Don’t you know about all them famines and such?

          • Abdullah

            How dare you care about rape, sexism and all those other first world problems?!

            a) Economization still applies whether you like it or not.
            b) Almost Raped™ isn’t the same as rape.

          • julian

            I was parodying you, in case you didn’t notice. Pointing out how useless and moronic your method of deciding which issues are worth focusing on is.

          • Abdullah

            I was parodying you, in case you didn’t notice. Pointing out how useless and moronic your method of deciding which issues are worth focusing on is.

            If you think that gratifying RW’s self-absorption is really worth your time then by all means go ahead but don’t blame anyone but yourself if you regret that choice in the coming decades.

          • http://iacb.blogspot.com/ Iamcuriosublue

            “By 2030 or so, with climate change, food crises, water crises, and energy crises, and who knows maybe even serious nuclear threats, I have a feeling the current generation of sanctimonious leftards exemplified by people like you are going to feel extremely silly about tilting at the really tiny windmills that they did.”

            If I could “favorite” a statement here, it would be this.

  • John D

    For what it’s worth Chris, I am 100% with you on this. The kind of behavior I see from many bloggers is nothing short of slander. It is somehow impossible to be constructive or honest with some bloggers who thrive on drama, hyperbole, and exaggeration. Nicely done.

    The “skepticism quotient” will surely be much higher at TAM now that Rebecca will be absent. Good news as far as I am concerned.

    • Abdullah

      The “skepticism quotient” will surely be much higher at TAM now that Rebecca will be absent. Good news as far as I am concerned.

      Huzzah. That’s the price of being a drama-mongering little waste of space. She will eventually have to make good on her persecution complex and stay away from these venues.

  • Somite

    Surely there is no need to attack anyone personally. Your argument is stronger of you stick to the facts and their interpretation.

    • Abdullah

      Surely there is no need to attack anyone personally.

      That’s the price of being a drama-monger full of glib, cheap rhetoric: she has sown the wind, now she will reap the whirlwind.

      • julian

        Oh, the irony…

  • Abdullah

    Oh, the irony…

    I’m not a drama whore.

    • julian

      Ha!

      Oh my god. I’m all out of rope, man. Sorry. You’ll have to do with what ya got.

      • Abdullah

        Ha!

        Oh my god. I’m all out of rope, man. Sorry. You’ll have to do with what ya got.

        Vague innuendo like this sure showed me!

        • Konradius

          Nothing shows you.
          So why would I say anything to you?

          Chris, with such friends as Abdullah, do you not start to feel you might be contributing to an environment where women do not feel welcome?

          • Abdullah

            Chris, with such friends as Abdullah, do you not start to feel you might be contributing to an environment where women do not feel welcome?

            This isn’t about “women” with an “e”. This is about one narcissistic, dim-witted little womAn.

  • jody

    I know there’s a long history regarding Rebecca Watson, but the endless insults of her is about as helpful to the discussion as is bringing an ice cream cone to a zombie invasion. It’s also pretty much the mirror of what the people piling on DJ are doing.

    • Abdullah

      Past a certain point, I don’t have any problems fighting fire with fire.

      • jody

        MADness indeed.

        • Abdullah

          MAD is considered an antiquated approach to nuclear deterrence. But hey if you want to discuss nuclear strategy with me, I’m more than ready.

          • jody

            It’s an analogy. Don’t be willfully obtuse.

            Well, be willfully obtuse. Free country and all. But you look like an ass in doing so.

          • Abdullah

            It’s an analogy. Don’t be willfully obtuse.

            As long as you’re invoking game theory perhaps you’d like to tell me why it’s rational to cooperate in the iterated prisoner’s dilemma with noted habitual defectors.

          • John D

            MAD was one of the great successes of mankind resulting in the great peace. Read Pinker’s “Better Angels of our Nature”. Best book I have read this year.

          • Abdullah

            MAD was one of the great successes of mankind resulting in the great peace. Read Pinker’s “Better Angels of our Nature”. Best book I have read this year.

            If Pinker’s writing on game theory is as crappy as his writing on psychology, I’ll take a pass.

            He’s one of those shitty evolutionary psychologists who thinks the frame problem actually supports his views. (Never mind that the brain doesn’t work with a system of formal logic and never mind that anyone working in AI who isn’t a hidebound logicist will tell you that domain-general learning is essential to solving real, complex problems.)

          • Abdullah

            Furthermore, I suspect the age of multiple resource depletion that we live in will mount an effective counterargument to Pinker’s thesis. Hahaha.

          • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

            This is a total tangent and should not be construed as an expression of general animosity, but when I saw the bit about “domain-general learning” my reaction was “awww, that’s cute, let me know when you use domain-general learning to make an AI that can learn language as well as a typical human two year old.”

            (Edit: Less snarkily, I think Pinker would expect domain-general learning to be able to do impressive-looking things on tasks humans did not specifically evolve to do, but not so useful for imitating human abilities that were strongly selected for in our evolutionary history.)

    • julian

      Because we’re totally going around calling Grothe a whore who lives off rape threats and internet drama.

      • Abdullah

        Because we’re totally going around calling Grothe a whore who lives off rape threats and internet drama.

        But he doesn’t, so there’d be no point in doing so.

      • jody

        Saying he’s hiding evidence of harassment, doesn’t care about the issues or is part of some larger conspiracy driven by the board of TAM — all of which have been floated on various threads and blogs — are equally unfounded and baseless as referring to Rebecca Watson as a “sniveling, insignificant little narcissist” or a “self-pitying nitwit” or [insert silly personal attack here.]

        • Abdullah

          Not so. She betrays her lack of talent and self-absorption quite directly through her actions.

        • julian

          Do you have links?

          I’ve seen Grothe (rightly) accused of misrepresenting Ashley Miller’s complaint, I’ve seen him called irresponsible and I’ve seen him accused of ignoring the issue. Can you point me to where people are accusing the TAM board of directors of some sort of conspiracy?

          are equally unfounded and baseless as referring to Rebecca Watson as a “sniveling, insignificant little narcissist” or a “self-pitying nitwit”

          But they lack the obvious sexism behind much of the attacks she’s receiving. You haven’t (I hope. If not they deserve hate and scorn) seen Grothe’s homosexuality brought into the picture. People critical of him have avoided homophobia (as they should) The same cannot be said of Watson’s critics and sexism.

          Critics who go so far as to say she enjoys and thrives in the abuse she receives. I understand you likely don’t have a problem with that but to me it’s an obvious case of victim blaming. Watson (I doubt any woman) wants this sort of treatment and it takes a certain callousness and underlying misogyny to so eagerly jump to those types of insults.

          • Abdullah

            Critics who go so far as to say she enjoys and thrives in the abuse she receives. I understand you likely don’t have a problem with that but to me it’s an obvious case of victim blaming.

            When you consider how much of her career she’s built on that nonsense it seems fairly easy to come to that conclusion.

          • julian

            You’re a repulsive creature, Abdullah. I’m glad not to know you personally.

          • jody

            I’ve seen Grothe (rightly) accused of misrepresenting Ashley Miller’s complaint,

            I’m going to stop you right there. He never misrepresented Ashley’s complaint. There was a miscommunication over why an asshole was ejected. The conversation occurred over several blogs, including Ashley’s. Chris noted this up-thread. So did I. You are perpetuating a meme that is factually untrue.

            As to ignoring an issue, someone who implements a harassment policy before ever being called on to do so, asks about such issues on a survey and tries to accurately resolve confusion over a recorded incident, isn’t ignoring an issue.

            As far as the accusation that it was some master plot by TAM, it was a comment either on “Butterflies and Wheels” or “Almost Diamonds.” I rolled my eyes and moved on, putting it in the same category as all the outlandish and stupid things hurled at Rebecca Watson.

          • julian

            He said Ashley did not feel like the harassment was worth reporting. He did that here. What she said was, she thought it had been reported not that she didn’t think it worth mentioning. You can scroll down to read her correction.

            Which brings me to Grothe ignoring the issue. It may have been a slip of the tongue but he keeps doing this. He tries to white wash everything so that TAM comes out looking spotless, which is just pointless, but without a second thought he’ll shift blame onto others using much less measured or even language. I don’t think it intentional but he is doing it.

            And I’ll have a look at B&W and Almost Diamonds. Don’t remember anything like that but I might have missed it.

          • julian

            And no they are not in the same category. One would be personal insults. The other misogynistic slurs. You may not recognize them as distinct or important categories but I do.

          • Abdullah

            You’re a repulsive creature, Abdullah. I’m glad not to know you personally.

            The feeling’s mutual.

          • Abdullah

            Although that being said, julian, I’d love to be a fly on the wall when the 21st century sees its first notable, preventable megadeath event and you realize how much time you pissed away as a White Knight of the Retard Table defending Lady Rebecca’s honor.

          • julian

            you’re probably not reading anymore having found something else to do, jody, but I’ve checked every possible thread over at B&W and Almost Diamonds and I can’t find anyone accusing TAM what you’re saying.

          • http://iacb.blogspot.com/ Iamcuriosublue

            Julian writes:

            “Critics who go so far as to say [RW] enjoys and thrives in the abuse she receives. I understand you likely don’t have a problem with that but to me it’s an obvious case of victim blaming. Watson (I doubt any woman) wants this sort of treatment and it takes a certain callousness and underlying misogyny to so eagerly jump to those types of insults.”

            Really? So this is “sexism” in your estimation? No, it’s just saying that somebody is too prone toward drama and playing the victim for one’s liking. That’s a gender-neutral criticism, and can certainly be accurately lobbed at plenty of men.

  • jody

    “Not trusting” and “being a dick” aren’t synonyms here.

    • Abdullah

      They exist on the same continuum, really.

  • Lauren

    I’ve been needing to cull my RSS feed subscriptions – the Uncredible Hallq will be a good place to start. Chris, I doubt if you even realize how misogynistic you are presenting yourself to be. You think you are a nice, calm, reasonable guy, but what you are peddling is every bit as harmful to women as the crap at the bottom of ERV’s slimepit. Yours just includes air freshener.

    • Abdullah

      The insularity of the feminist movement is probably an important factor in their general lack of influence.

      • Lauren

        Then why are you expending so much time and energy on something you consider so inconsequential?

        • Abdullah

          comment flub – see below

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

            Maturity flub – see everything under Abdullah’s name.

    • John D

      “Oh Chris (gnashing of teeth… wringing of hands), you don’t even know how much you hurt women with your vile and uncaring words. How dare you try to carry on a rational dialog. You have no idea how much harm you are doing to women (and I am to confused to explain it!)” love L.

    • Darren

      Chris, I doubt if you even realize how misogynistic you are presenting yourself to be.

      Bingo!

      What do I win?

      • http://www.facebook.com/sironen mattisironen

        Nothing. Being called a misogynist on FTB is worth nothing at all.

  • Abdullah

    Then why are you expending so much time and energy on something you consider so inconsequential?

    Same reason I’m playing Protector IV.

    It’s amusing.

    • Stacy

      21st century sees its first notable, preventable megadeath event and you realize how much time you pissed away as a White Knight of the Retard Table defending Lady Rebecca’s honor

      Ruh roh! A coupla comments ago you thought folks on our side should be worried about preventing megadeaths–

      –Now you admit you’re pissing away your own time amusing yourself on a topic you claim to find inconsequential–

      Almost makes me think you’re not being honest with yourself, dudebro. Like maybe you’re just a threatened little guy who’s flailing around, trying to justify an incoherent, emotion-based position.

      Have fun hangin’ with Scented Nectar. kthxbai

      • Abdullah

        Ruh roh! A coupla comments ago you thought folks on our side should be worried about preventing megadeaths–

        –Now you admit you’re pissing away your own time amusing yourself on a topic you claim to find inconsequential–

        Yeah? And?

        Do you think I’m claiming I’m in this world to do some good? Really?

        Like maybe you’re just a threatened little guy who’s flailing around, trying to justify an incoherent, emotion-based position.

        No. I’m just trolling you.

        And, LOL, “emotion-based position”.

        “My position isn’t based on emotion. It’s based on Evidence™, Logic™ and Reason™.” (N.b.: Stacy probably couldn’t even tell us about Bayes’ theorem or first-order logic if someone were holding a gun to her little head. And whoever pulled the trigger would be disappointed when they saw no brains paint the wall.)

        And “dudebro”. You’re a dime-a-dozen, unoriginal little fuck and if not for the little nametags I couldn’t tell you people apart at all.

      • julian

        Stacy probably couldn’t even tell us about Bayes’ theorem or first-order logic if someone were holding a gun to her little head.

        Sidestepping the violent and threatening language (which got me branded an evil sociopath), I can see why you’re drawn to Hallquist.

  • Kylie Sturgess

    Chris, thanks for writing – what, in your opinion, should be a future direction (whether it be prior to the next convention, post-convention, et al)?

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Kylie, I’m not sure I understand your question. Direction for what? The conversation?

      Unfortunately, no one individual has any power to dictate that. It takes a bunch of people working together to change how a conversation is had, and I’m not optimistic about a sufficient number of people listing to anything I’d say about that.

      But obviously, I’d like the conversation to continue with less villification of disagreement and more work to make sure we understand what the people we disagree wtih are saying.

      Relative to many other interactions that have been going on, I actually think the back-and-forth between Ashley and DJ has gone okay. But ask Ashley recently commented on Facebook, it’s hard for two people to discuss things reasonably when the people around you are screaming.

      • Kylie Sturgess

        “Unfortunately, no one individual has any power to dictate that. It takes a bunch of people working together to change how a conversation is had, and I’m not optimistic about a sufficient number of people listing to anything I’d say about that.

        But obviously, I’d like the conversation to continue with less villification of disagreement and more work to make sure we understand what the people we disagree wtih are saying.

        Relative to many other interactions that have been going on, I actually think the back-and-forth between Ashley and DJ has gone okay. But ask Ashley recently commented on Facebook, it’s hard for two people to discuss things reasonably when the people around you are screaming.”

        As I (kind of thought, sorry if I was vague) indicated, the conversation was what I meant.

        I don’t disagree with what you’ve written here and certainly think that the ‘noise’ surrounding the signal isn’t really helping.

        Back to studies for me – again, thanks for writing.

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

        Unfortunately, no one individual has any power to dictate that.

        YOU have the power to ban the vile hateful idiots, such as Abdullah above, who are gumming up an otherwise worthwhile thread with pointless, obsessive repetition of long-refuted arguments, and stalkeresque hatred of Rebecca Watson, while contributing absolutely nothing of substance to a conversation that needs to be had.

        Seriously, dude, this is your party; and you get to choose who to invite, who to bounce, and what kind of party you want to throw.

        • Somite

          Trolls like Abdullah are easily identified and ignored. Simply don’t feed them

          I am more worried about the trolls that have been given legitimacy and a blog but have nothing substantial to say about skepticism or science.

          I couldn’t give a fig less what Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss’ views or opinions are on gender equality issues. I follow them for their science and atheist advocacy as a way to expand my mind and yes, as a form of entertainment.

          I don’t follow the gender issues-oriented blogs not because I don’t think it is not important or that there isn’t a real problem. I simply don’t enjoy their methods or identify with their problems. I also support anyone that enjoys those blogs and their goals, but I would encourage everyone to not feed any troll. If a troll gins up the concept that TAM is a cesspool of harassment contrary to the evidence and most people’s experiences, just ignore the troll and visit blogs that offer substantial content.

          There is one important feature of some trolls that fits the current situation. Some trolls make the problem about them and expect the world to change for then personally. True advocates do not personalize the problem and work to effect change constructively because they consider the goal more important than themselves. The current gender issue is greatly personalized.

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

            I don’t follow the gender issues-oriented blogs…I simply don’t…identify with their problems.

            Then why are you commenting on a blog post about a gender issue? Are we supposed to be impressed by your lack of concern for the topic being duscussed here? Go fuck yourself.

          • Somite

            Because I care about the skeptic and freethought movement.

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

            You care about the skeptic/freethought movement, but you don’t care about the issues that people in the skeptic/freethought movement are trying to deal with? You’re not fooling anyone, you worthless self-centered twit.

  • Ryan Grant Long

    What up. I’m the guy who got into a fight with Greta Christina. And yes, I think you selected the perfect Grothe quote to sum up what happened, as well as his position on that (in which he clearly does condemn what I wrote when I was upset). Greta was stupid, I was stupid, Ophelia (who was the first to bring up “cunt kicking”) was stupid, it was just a big ol’ mess and since then I’ve been trying to avoid contact with them (although it seems like every few weeks I am alerted to the fact that the flames of this drama are being stoked again, or they’ve gone on to attack somebody else).

    Anyway, I tried to apologize for the vulgarity of my comments, but that wasn’t enough for some people. They wanted me to “admit” to being an evil misogynist and wanting to attack women, or something. Sorry, not gonna happen. That just isn’t me. Woulda been kinda hard to pass my women’s studies classes and get a certificate in LGBT studies from UW-Madison if I hated women or was blind to sexism in society, ya think? No, the reality is much simpler. Some people argued with me on facebook and said some nasty things, and instead of ignoring it like I should have I engaged, and said some nasty things back. It was a flame war. They happen. It’s no big deal. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.

    And then I suspect Greta didn’t appreciate DJ Grothe stepping in and pointing out that she was a bit unfair when she slammed me, that probably bruised her ego a bit and since then she and her pals have had it out for him. Seems petty and childish if you ask me.

    So anyway right after this happened and I wrote dumb things on facebook, when it became clear that they wanted my head, not a reasonable dialogue or genuine apology, I instead just deleted all the posts and said I didn’t want anything more to do with it. That also wasn’t enough though, because some people left comments on my page trying to provoke me further, so I blocked those people (hey did you know facebook had a block button? You can totally just make people disappear if you don’t want to talk to them, neat huh?); and then weeks later after I thought it was over and almost forgot all about it, Stephanie posted the screen caps on her blog, restarting all the drama anew. Slow news day? Idunno.

    Also as I recall, my profile pic in the screen caps happened to be adorable little Makar from The Legend of Zelda. So there is poor Makar, with his cute little leafy face plastered all over FTB, being associated with misogyny and violence against women. Poor little guy… Makar deserves an apology!!

    And I think I’ve been blogged about a few times since then, I’m not entirely certain how many. I recall a post that described me as “infamous”. Heh. Okay guys. :D So since then I deleted my old facebook account and got a new one that is mostly people I know in real life, friends, family, co-workers, as well as a few long-distance buddies I did meet in on-line skeptic circles, but who are cool and don’t like the divisive blog flame wars that go around in circles. But overall I pretty much consider the project of using social media to connect atheists on-line to be a massive failure.

    Anyway, Stephanie and Greta or whoever else who doesn’t like me can rest easy, because I’m not a part of their “movement” at all. I don’t read the blogs anymore, I don’t watch the Atheist Experience anymore, I don’t listen to the podcasts or watch the Youtube videos, I don’t go to conventions. I’m writing THIS post entirely because my name has come up (again) and I received an e-mail from a friend alerting me to it (yet again). I’ve done some illustration work for skeptic organizations in the past, and I made that “Marriage in the Bible” infographic that’s been going viral lately (YAY!), and I will probably continue to take on clients who work for organizations that promote science and skepticism, but I have no further interest in participating beyond lending my artistic talent. Heck I don’t even really call myself an atheist anymore, secular humanist seems a better fit.

    If Greta, Stephanie or whoever else, really want to keep believing that a liberal, gay atheist with a background in gender studies is actually living a secret double life as an evil violent misogynist, then… whatever. I mean I think it makes them look crazy, but you know, whatever floats yer boat I guess. But either way they are completely safe from me, because if I heard that any of them were attending a public event in my area, I think I would run a thousand miles in the opposite direction. I don’t feel safe around them to be honest. I feel like if we met somewhere in public they would hiss and point at me like a body snatcher and sic a mob of fast-moving zombies on me. Hm no thanks.

    On another note, while all of this was going on, I had taken on a transgender Christian client to do some illustration work. He knew I had negative opinions on religion, but he saw in me an ally in the LGBT rights movement, and respected my right to disagree. Despite that I was still struggling with some very negative feelings about religion, I chose to work with him because he’s working within his church to promote tolerance for all, and to overturn discriminatory policies. My relationship with him and his wife has been nothing but positive despite whatever disagreements we might have about religion and God. And through him I started meeting other progressive Christians working toward similar goals that I care about. That opened my eyes. Here I am working with a theist who seems to be much more sane and moral than some of the people claiming to be “freethinkers” and who are always harping on the evils of religion. Yes. Enlightening.

    So to recap, through all this I pretty much learned that: FTB bloggers love drama. At least some of the claims of “misogyny” that have been made are bullshit, since I now know this from personal experience. “Elevatorgate” is the stupidest thing ever to have happened in the history of world events. And I like a lot of Christians WAY better than I like some atheists.

    Well that’s all I really have to say, and now I’m going back into hiding, away from all this silly drama. I do have some parting advice though. Steph and friends, if you have a problem with someone, why not just send an e-mail? Hell, sit down and have coffee with them, or do a web conference. Talk it over. You all probably agree on 99% of everything, there really doesn’t seem to be a need for all this in-fighting. And why does your personal drama have to be scrawled all over your public blogs for everyone to gawk at? When did dumb comments on facebook become “news”? I really just don’t get what you think you’re accomplishing here, except that drama = blog hits = ad revenue.

    Idunno, I’m happier making my living creating things, rather than wrecking them.

    - Ryan

    Oh and P.S. I think we went to the same college Chris. GO BADGERS!! :)

    • Abdullah

      “Elevatorgate” is the stupidest thing ever to have happened in the history of world events.

      That’s not funny, Ryan. Who cares if Richard Dawkins was physically molested by an Anglican priest?

      Rebecca Watson was ALMOST™. RAPED™.

      Don’t you understand the gravity of that situation?

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

        No one claimed Watson was “almost raped,” you lying asshole — least of all Watson. Your hatred of Watson has absolutely NOTHING AT ALL to do with anything she ever said or did. So what the hell is your problem, little boy?

    • julian

      And you’re still a disingenuous jerk.

      So to recap, through all this I pretty much learned that: FTB bloggers love drama.

      Yes. They love this. The love the stress, the strain on their nerves, the nasty comments, they’re all just masochists. They don’t honestly hold any of the opinions they do.

      • Abdullah

        And you’re still a disingenuous jerk.

        The “jerk” part I do not contest.

        Explain “disingenuous”.

        Yes. They love this. The love the stress, the strain on their nerves, the nasty comments, they’re all just masochists. They don’t honestly hold any of the opinions they do.

        If all this drama exacts the strain on them that you say it does, then it’s time to turn up the heat.

        PeeZus in particular, who has already had a bypass surgery, is the fat force multiplier for his own trolls. It’s not inconceivable that they could put him in an early grave.

        HE DIED TO CLEANSE US OF OUR PRIVILEGE

      • peter

        Most of all they love the $ that rolls in via pageviews everytime they post something about poor, oppressed Rebecca Watson and all the meanies who are out to get her.

    • Darren

      Hi, Ryan. I remember watching with a combination of disbelief and bemusement as you were provoked, and then torn limb from limb for daring to defend yourself. It seems to be a recurring theme.

      Glad to hear things are getting back to normal for you. Pretty soon this movement will self destruct – then we can all get back to reality.

      • julian

        Yes, Bryan was forced to wish to kick all of Greta’s trans supporters in their micro penises. Totally forced him to say that. Totally forcing him to deny any sexism on his part too.

    • julian

      Can’t believe I missed this the first time around.

      Woulda been kinda hard to pass my women’s studies classes and get a certificate in LGBT studies from UW-Madison if I hated women or was blind to sexism in society, ya think? - Ryan Grant Long

      No it wouldn’t have. It’s ridiculous to think passing a class or course makes someone incapable of being bigoted, holding bigoted ideas or acting in a bigoted manner. That’s beyond absurd.

      Look at feminism. Many feminists show a tolerance and reverence towards misogynistic practices in the Middle East or refuse to call out specific examples of sexism when it comes bundled with either culture or religion. Hell, look at the way some feminist treat trans women. Their degrees, classes and ideals haven’t prevented them from acting against the best interest of women.

      Of course not, why would they?

      • bluharmony

        Yes, let’s look at some feminists. For expressing my opinions on this issue, I’ve been called a bitch (by Raging Bee); a sick puppy; mentally disturbed; a liar; an attention whore; worthy of ignoring because I’m supposedly “trying to look sultry” in my FB profile photos; I’ve had my home address posted in a hate thread about me with my full name and my ‘nym in the searchable header of the post; I’ve had private FB communications disclosed; and I’ve received e-mailed and public (now removed) threats about what a certain individual would do to me if I continued “to annoy” him. These threats were real, made with the intent to silence me, and made with the ability to bring about calamitous consequences in my life.

        What you call yourself isn’t necessarily what you are. I believe your intentions are good, Julian. But I don’t believe that about some of the people you associate with. I believe you have all the potential in the world to look at this situation from a distance and to draw your own conclusions — and they don’t have to be identical to anyone else’s. That’s what free thought is supposed to be about, not name-calling and abuse.

        Grothe has done the best he could in an extremely difficult situation; further, he has apologized to Watson trying to resolve the situation, and I have nothing but respect for him.

        • Somite

          And the problem is that the justification for that kind of abuse is the real problem of sexism.

          We need to recognize that no matter what the intention or possible justification an overtly aggressive approach and verbal abuse of people that disagree with you should be beneath educated people.

          • bluharmony

            I agree completely. It should be, and I thought it was. And I thought a civil conversation was possible, but I was wrong. It’s particularly disturbing to see dissent suppressed, posts reworded, responses removed, and people grossly misrepresented. Sexism is a problem, but so is bullying or abuse of any sort. I can assure you that what happened to me in this situation felt far worse than the many times I’ve been groped on the street. I don’t think men get to decide which hurts a woman more — a random jerk grabbing her breast as she walks down the street or a man repeatedly trying to destroy her career, and thus her only means of livelihood. I think each woman gets to decide for herself. I know what scares me more, and it’s the latter.

  • Albert Bakker

    One wouldn’t wish even his worst enemy to have to endure the support DJ Grothe is getting.

    • Abdullah

      The only way to deal with the mob of clowns that ruins everything in the movement is to become even bigger clowns. And I think it’s beginning to start working.

      • Albert Bakker

        ** shaking head **

        • Abdullah

          Which direction, buddy?

  • http://disagreeableme.blogspot.co.uk Disagreeable Me

    I support Chris Hallquist.

    Wow, what a lot of bile.

    Just want to say thanks to Chris for once again highlighting an issue within the skeptical community and not being afraid to call out others on their behaviour, even when his position is likely to be unpopular.

    Keep up the good work.

    • julian

      Wow, what a lot of bile.

      Yeah, have you seen the things your friend Abdullah has been saying.

      • Abdullah

        Yeah, have you seen the things your friend Abdullah has been saying.

        Looking at “Disagreeable Me”‘s blog, I notice that this individual shows some real scientific and philosophical competence rather than just a boring identity politics blowhard.

        I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

        • julian

          Yeah, Hallquist and the rest of your friends don’t see anything wrong with your behavior but find me completely and totally unfair and inflammatory. I’d say I’m surprised but meh. Have fun with your friends, Abdullah. Hopefully you don’t starve in a famine caused by all our first world problems.

        • http://disagreeableme.blogspot.co.uk Disagreeable Me

          Thanks for the compliment! Although you appear to be making it to contrast me with Rebecca Watson, based on reading your earlier comments (as suggested by Julian).

          I’m not familiar enough with her work to comment on the quality of Watson’s work, but I think I do find the way you’re denigrating her to be uncalled for. Whether she’s a lightweight or not, it’s certainly her prerogative to try to get her voice heard. Even if she’s saying nothing new, perhaps she is good at communicating worthwhile ideas to a new audience.

          I just wish people would be nicer on the internet. If you don’t like her, then don’t read her blog or attend her talks or whatever. There’s no need to come onto someone else’s blog maligning her.

          But again, thanks for the compliment. Genuinely.

          • Gabby

            I’m afraid that Rebecca has influence in these circles that seems to be disproportionate to the skills she actually brings to the table. That makes her a bit of a magnet for things like this. Anyone willing to disagree with her publicly is immediately lumped in with the worst characters on the intertoobs. That’s why DJ, and by extension possibly Chris, are in so much trouble. It’s really too bad as they both seem to be good people. The horrific things that will be said about them after this… it’s really too bad.

          • julian

            That’s why DJ, and by extension possibly Chris, are in so much trouble.

            What trouble? He’s the president of JREF. You want to talk about who has the power in this situation?

            It’s like the people of this blog are looking at the world through a pair of warped glasses.

            Rebecca Watson is a dominanting all powerful bully, and DJ Grothe is a tiny little figure she’s trying to destroy? Is that the world you guys see?

          • Gabby

            No julian, but if Rebecca makes a claim about someone there are a great many people in this ‘community’ who will accept and repeat the claim without skepticism. This, of course, has a snowballing effect. The claims will become more exaggerated and the makers of those claims more numerous. DJ’s work will be made quite a bit more difficult for the crime of disagreeing with Rebecca. In some circles, his character is already beyond repair for the crime of disagreeing with Rebecca.

          • julian

            The claims will become more exaggerated and the makers of those claims more numerous.

            What exaggerated claims have been made? How have they snowballed? How have they negatively impacted his work?

            And I think my biggest question is, how the hell is any of this the fault of Watson’s and whatever judgement she may have passed on Grothe? Plenty of people are upset with where he lays the blame for a possible dip in TAM attendance, his claim that there were no sexual harassment complaints made, his insistence that the survey handed out after TAM is a reliable method of tracking harassment, his misrepresentation of Miller’s experience, and more.

            There’s no reason to try to pin some people’s current feelings of frustration, anger and disappointment with Grothe on Watson. She isn’t responsible for how people view him as it’s obvious they’re feelings don’t hinge on her evaluation of the man.

          • Gabby

            Alright julian.
            If you think that DJ Grothe hates women, Dawkins is a rape apologist, and TAM condones child sex trafficking, then no… There will be no exaggerated claims. The last one is my favorite because it’s sourced in some of Rebecca’s early work, before the Beatification where she was declared infallible.

          • julian

            Who accused Grothe of hating women? I’ve seen him accused of behaving irresponsibly and impeding efforts to make skepticism a less hostile place for women. I’ve seen him accused of missing certain key elements of sexism due to privelege. But no, I don’t think I’ve seen Grothe accused of hating women. Do you mean to say he’s been accused of behaving in a misogynistic way (which I also haven’t seen)?

            TAM condones child sex trafficking

            The only instance of that I can think of is an email DJ supposedly (and I say supposedly because of the way you and Grothe’s other supporters have dismissed claims of sexual harassment as rumor mongering) received a few months ago after someone misread a post by Stephanie Zvan. Apparently they misread the attribution of a quote Zvan used when discussing what she perceived to be failings on Grothe’s part.

            And who the fuck accused Dawkins of rape apologia? A couple of us, myself included, were incredibly offended when he said (after being informed of the fear some of the women commenting felt in elevators. One who’d been molested in one at the age of fourteen.) all you had to do was push the stop button and everything would be ok. Is that what you’re referring to?

            Or are you just parroting the bullshit you’ve heard and have no actual links or quotes to where these things were said?

          • Gabby

            julian
            What the fuck are you talking about? What I’m talking about is unfair claims made and then exaggerated to obscene claims. You clearly aren’t new to this issue so I shouldn’t have to explain all of these points. I don’t have a direct link to the claims of rape apologia, but this link popped up quickly in a search. It’s a fairly reasonable response to the claims, which wouldn’t have been necessary unless the claims were spreading. Honestly, I’m just being lazy in not digging further. hehe
            http://www.somecanadianskeptic.com/2011/07/why-feminism-in-skepticism-is-now-more.html

            “and I say supposedly because of the way you and Grothe’s other supporters have dismissed claims of sexual harassment as rumor mongering”
            Where the fuck have I done that? Nowhere. And don’t broad brush me because that’s one of the reasons I don’t include myself in this ‘community’ anymore. Accepting the fact that Rebecca made a reasonable and useful statement about guys hitting on you in elevators but rejecting the claim that Richard Dawkins had a history as a misogynist, rather than having made a stupid remark in a sea of hyperbolic and even more stupid remarks cast me as a sexist in this community. Do I need to explain how insane that is?
            And your ideas of the child sex trafficing claim coming from a misreading of one of Zvan’s posts is mistaken. It’s based on a hit piece Rebecca did on Lawrence Krauss. Here’s a skeptical view of that one.
            http://www.skepticismandethics.com/2011/05/small-voice-says-stop-while-crowd-yells.html

          • julian

            That link is about discussions about rape in general (at least the part addressing “rape apologists”) not something Dawkins or whoever said. If you’re going to make an accusation please be able to back it up.

            And don’t broad brush me because that’s one of the reasons I don’t include myself in this ‘community’ anymore.

            Funny, I don’t consider myself a member of this community because every time a topic like this comes up the focus exclusively becomes what’s wrong with Watson and other feminists without ever a glance at the misogynistic slurs and speech they endure.

            ((Unlike the linked blogger, I’m not lifting a finger to defend Epstein. Fuck him. They may believe he’s guilty only of what he plead to. I’m not that naive. And no, I’m not out to lynch anyone but you and whoever else is free to think that of me.))

            So in short, you can’t actually provide any examples of the behavior you’re condemning.

          • Gabby

            You think that link is about defending Epstein? Look, that link takes you to a fully sourced (something like 40 links) display of skepticism. You accuse me of offering no evidence while dismissing this article as a defense of Epstein? Fuck Epstein. This is about Krauss saying that the case should be judged on evidence rather than on sensationalized tabloids and being condemned for it.Epstein has very little to do with it at that point. I’m sure that Epstein was guilty of more than he was charged with but when Krauss says that he didn’t see anything illegal and we should follow the evidence, that seems like a properly skeptical reaction. If you want to assume Krauss is lying about what he’s seen that’s on you, but is that enough for him and every organization he does work for (such as TAM) to be accused of condoning child sex trafficking? Your evidence free assumption?

    • bluharmony

      I agree completely with the above. Thanks for writing a blog entry that I never thought I’d see on FTB.

  • ischemgeek

    Here’s the thing: The vast majority of women experience street harrassment, which is defined as harrassment by strangers in a public area. Most harrassment at a con would probably take the form of street harrassment.

    In Canada, 80% of women experience street harrassment to an extent that it has a “large and detrimental impact on their perceived safety in public.” (Ross Macmillan, Annette Nierobisz, and Sandy Welsh. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. 37(3). 2000. 318.). That study surveyed over 10,000 women. A much smaller study in the bay area of California (Nielsen, License to Harass: Law, Hierarcy, and Offensive Public Speech) found that 100% of women interviewed had experienced street harrassment, of which almost 20% reported daily harrassment. Similar results were found for Indianapolis (Gardner, Passing By: Gender and Public Harassment). In Chicago, a small study found that 36% of women were harrassed daily, 60% felt unsafe in their neighbourhoods, and 86% were catcalled on the street (Robertson, A. Off Our Backs. May-June 2005. 48.). These studies and others like them suggest that harrassment is very common.

    So, yeah, I find it hard to believe that TAM is the one shining exception in North American culture. Based on the stats I’ve found, that would be an extraordinary claim, and DJ’s evidence is far from extraordinary.

    Given that sexual harrassment and assault is often under reported, and given that many factors play in to whether or not someone who has experienced sexual harrassment will report it, including the fact that many women fear reprisal if they do report, DJ’s claim of “We had no reports of sexual harrassment” means just that: they had no reports. Doesn’t mean they had no harrassment. And given the stats out there, is far more likely to mean either 1) they misrecorded harrassment as something else, 2) women who were harrassed didn’t want to report for some reason, or 3) some combination of 1 and 2.

    • Sheesh

      Why doesn’t this post have tons of replies under it? No one could even bother with a simple, snide, “na-uh!” or hyper-skeptic methodological complaint? Not even a conspiracy claim of misandrists dominating the academy or something?

      I’m so disappointed this went by unremarked.

      • ischemgeek

        I think because it doesn’t fit with their narrative that those of us who say “this is a problem” are saying that TAM is a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

        Which, not really. Unless you consider the rest of society as a whole a wretched hive of scum and villainy, too. In which case, it is in all probability no more wretched than anywhere else. :P

        • bluharmony

          I don’t think that’s the narrative. I think the narrative is that DJ is doing the best he can in a difficult situation, and that he’s willing to try even harder to do more, if logistically possible.

          Without blaming anyone on either side of this issue, Elevatorgate has decreased the desire of women to participate in this community for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is internet abuse and constant character assassination (and yes, that obviously includes the rape threats and other sexual comments that Ms. Watson receives).

          • ischemgeek

            Which is why he said that people who are talking about the problem are causing the drop-off and that women are engaging in locker room banter about sexual exploits later regretted. Right.

            And it’s why he said that people are exagerrating the problem and spreading misinformation about harassment.

            And it’s why he’s said that women who speak out are painting the skeptic community as unsafe (the obvious implication being that it is safe and they’re lying).

            And it’s why he continues to cite the one report to his poorly implemented policy and no responses to a vague and ill-designed survey as evidence that they don’t have a harassment problem. Despite the fact that everywhere that’s ever been studied in North America by professionals who do this for a living does. This at best shows a lack of critical thinking on his part.

            And it’s why he continued to misrepresent the situation with Ashley Miller even after she cleared it up with him. Which at best shows that he’s unwilling to let go of his assumptions even after he’s been corrected.

            He’s been given the benefit of the doubt, and he’s continued to act in a way that is at best not completely honest. He blames the victims, engages in obfuscation, and tries to put the burden and risk of solving the problem with his conference on the shoulders of everyone other than those who should be shouldering it: the organisers.

            I’m sorry: this time Saturday, I was more than willing to try to cast his actions in the best light possible. Except that he doesn’t seem to realize that the first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is stop digging. And so he just keeps getting deeper and deeper into this mess of his own making, and I’m finding it very hard to remain sympathetic.

  • mnb0

    On moments like these I am happy to be an atheist in a very religious – very liberal versions – community. I prefer to remain a loner to getting involved with shit like this controversy.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/insolence Orac

    Chris, I’m not sure if you’re right or wrong here (yet), but I think you should address the substance of this post:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/06/rebecca-explains/

    On the one hand, I’m aware that some women have said hyperemotional and unhelpful things on the subject of sexual harassment and related topics.

    Well, ironically enough, part of the substance of that post was Ophelia Benson likening the issue with TAM to Jews in Nazi Germany circa 1936 and then immediately trying to say that she wasn’t likening TAM to Nazi Germany. One paragraph in that post is worthy of a Hitler Zombie post. I haven’t written one in a long time. Maybe it’s time for the Undead Fuhrer to rise from his crypt again.

    • julian

      And you’re still an asshole.

      Out of curiosity, what would have made the great Orac pleased? If she’d suck to sexual violence? The widespread shaming and silencing of rape victims? The gas lighting that survivors of spousal and domestic abuse were made to endure? What analogy, metaphor or comparison would be appropriate for this situation?

      And this is coming from someone who also got irked when he read that post. But poor comparisons aren’t enough to dismiss everything else someone has written or the main thrust of their argument.

      • http://scienceblogs.com/insolence Orac

        Out of curiosity, what would have made the great Orac pleased? If she’d suck to sexual violence? The widespread shaming and silencing of rape victims? The gas lighting that survivors of spousal and domestic abuse were made to endure? What analogy, metaphor or comparison would be appropriate for this situation?

        I’d put it another way: How does one justify comparing what is more likely a misunderstanding and perhaps a bit of insensitivity to one of the most monstrous evils that ever happened? And how is it not disingenuous to compare something to Nazis and then say they’re not?

    • Albert Bakker

      The matter has been addressed post 75 onward on Butterflies And Wheels. Having a hard time trying to understand why anyone would be unable to understand. Perhaps I’m falsely assuming good intent.

      Is the use of Hitler Zombie posts really just measure of public humiliation? You haven’t written one in a long time? There is something obnoxiously handwringing to those words. Am I just not reading that threat with an appropriate measure of positive generosity?

      • http://scienceblogs.com/insolence Orac

        Yes, my Hitler Zombie posts are designed to mock the overblown and inappropriate use of Nazi/Hitler metaphors, for which Ophelia’s use of Nazi metaphors qualifies.

        Hand wringing? No, not at all. Annoyance at the trivialization of the Holocaust? Yes.

        • Albert Bakker

          Perhaps you do not realize it yourself then. But this trivialization of the Holocaust can work both ways. If the person you target truly isn’t guilty of trivializing the Holocaust and you nevertheless decide on going to use the Holocaust denial brush to punish them for what you perhaps still (want to) perceive as Nazi-by-association rhetoric, which to me at least is pretty convincingly not the case, then it is you who is doing the trivializing of the Holocaust. Then even though not deliberately, you are merely using it is a ploy. Don’t morph into a Glenn Beck clone. I have no doubt whatsoever that this is the furthest thing from what you want to achieve. It is truly a sad thing to see.

        • Albert Bakker

          Okay, I saw your reply 51.2.1 to Jody later. If I would have seen that first I wouldn’t have posted the harsh words above. I especially apologize for the Glenn Beck thing, that was unforgivable.

  • woo_monster

    I hope you enjoy your new commenters, they seem like a nice bunch.

    • http://www.myspace.com/fairylandfantasia Phil Giordana FCD

      Passive-aggressive much?

  • Erista (aka Eris)

    You know what? The skeptical community clearly has a problem. A man propositioned a woman in an elevator, and the woman made an offhanded mention of it in a video. Whichever side you are on, surely we can agree that this incident should have been (at most) a tiny bump in the road. And yet it was not; instead, it is a firestorm that is still periodically erupting something like a year later. This is insane. Seriously, what the hell is going on? This post has three hundred responses! Three hundred! And this is hardly unusual; posts like this one regularly blow the top off any previous post in regards to comment number. I can’t think of even one other issue that evokes this kind of outpouring, even the ones we profess to care about the most.

    So, I ask you, why should any woman want to be a part of the skeptical movement if such an absurdly small event results in such radioactive fallout? Why should any woman want to jump into our pool knowing that at any time she could be the next focal point of this kind of drama?

    I ask you this because I’m tired. I used to very much want to go to conventions, to be involved in skeptical organizations, and all in all be part of the community. I mourned because I lived in such a small, religious area that there were no already existing organizations for me to go to. And now I find myself reconsidering my previous position. I can barely handle all of this ridiculousness on the internet, to say nothing of the stress it would heap on me in real life. I filled out the Secular Census today, and it asked about the benefits that I received from being part of the community. My stomach sank when I thought of all of this, and realized that even on the internet, I can no longer think of any.

    • http://disagreeableme.blogspot.co.uk Disagreeable Me

      Well said. I agree with you 100%.

      Neither Rebecca Watson nor DJ Grothe deserve the ire they seem to be attracting, as far as I can see.

      People need to be a little bit more ready to forgive. DJ probably shouldn’t have implied that TAM had no problem with sexual harassment, but as far as I can see the stuff that’s being hurled at him is beyond what is called for.

    • xtog42

      I think I have a possible explanation why the reaction has been so acute.

      The free-thought community is primarily made up of single white young men. They are better educated and live in a higher income bracket. They have lower rates of marriage and higher rates of cohabitation than others.

      http://atheistscholar.org/AtheistPsychologies/AtheistDemographics.aspx

      http://atheismexposed.tripod.com/atheists_divorce.htm

      And here is the thing,…many women do not want to date/marry atheists because they do not trust them or feel safe with them because they do not believe in God and therefore have no morality. They think atheists are a threat to them.

      Ask atheists male and female alike and you will find that they have had relationship difficulties with religious mates sometimes running into people who will not even consider dating an atheist.

      Religious people and conservatives drive this myth and it has been used as a weapon against this movement from the beginning. And now people in our own group in their over-reactive response to real and true concerns about the movement’s accessibility to women are making those same arguments.

      And it is a myth. Atheists are no more of a sexual harassment threat to women than men at large. Now convention goers? I don’t know.

      Witness this conservapedia entry on atheism and marriage and you can see how Rebecca and her supporters are mimicking some of the absolute most unfair charges made against atheists for years by their biggest “enemies”.

      http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_women#Atheism_and_rates_of_marriage_in_the_United_States

      So, for people in the movement to hear some very vocal allies in our fight against religious privilege take the very real issue of sexual harassment at conventions and be so vocal about this issue makes the entire community extremely defensive, because we have been fighting these allegations for years from our religious brothers and sisters. The problem is real, but should we not be measured and a little more political dare I say in how we handle it?

      Sexual harassment is a big deal. Let’s put down some policy to fix the convention problem and the problem at large. But let’s do this without sullying our image to those who will gladly use these accusations to derail our primary cause,…freethought.

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

        Witness this conservapedia entry on atheism and marriage and you can see how Rebecca and her supporters are mimicking some of the absolute most unfair charges made against atheists for years by their biggest “enemies”.

        How are “Rebecca and her supporters” “mimicking” the lies of religious bigots? Oh wait, you used a CONSERVAPEDIA entry to back up a totally incoherent bit of word-salad. Don’t bother trying to elaborate…

        • xtog42

          Raging Bee,

          I was using the Conservapedia link to show what our freethought opponents conservative/religious types say about people in our movement. And that is what it does. I was not vouching for the voracity of the ideas there as your response seems to imply.

          You wrote, “How are “Rebecca and her supporters” “mimicking” the lies of religious bigots?

          My response,….because they are saying exactly the same thing!

          And then you write this,… “Oh wait, you used a CONSERVAPEDIA entry to back up a totally incoherent bit of word-salad.”

          Word Salad? I made a clear point about DJ criticizers using ‘attacks’ on a leader in our movement and the movement in general that we cannot be trusted and we should be feared because we have no morality because we are not religious” Which is precisely what these charges of misogyny are doing — reinforcing unfair stereotypes of our movement. The link proves exactly that.

          Let’s face it, I’m making a clear point here, so to say it was incoherent, word salad is just demonstrably wrong and makes one wonder about your seriousness and honesty in writing about this issue in this response and your other posts. Yours is simply FLAMING the debate, something that gets others moderated or banned (unless of course the blog author agrees with the flamer).

          I’d suggest you save your comments for more positive replies to honest concerns in the future. Neither side of the DJ debate is served well by responses like you have just offered.

          Bottom line is, if you have nothing to add to the discussion, then don’t.

  • xtog42

    “Neither Rebecca Watson nor DJ Grothe deserve the ire they seem to be attracting”

    I agree with this totally.

    And here is the thing, what this exposed about our online community/blog writers is distressing. Weh really need to rethink how we disagree with each other.

    I think we can all admit to flaming the blogs a bit, but some writers on both sides of this issue have been downright abusive. And I have seen so many threats to block completely sane, calm and rarional posts it is bewildering to me.

    I myself wrote a post or two in reaction to personal attacks that I wish I had not, but I have only been writing on these blogs for a week or so, and so it will take me a little while to control my own expressions.

    I know in the future I am going to do my best to stay on point and keep the invective to a minimum, so I can enjoy the back and forth with this community that I care so much about.

    • julian

      What writers have been abusive towards Grothe? More importantly, how have they been abusive towards Grothe?

      • http://scienceblogs.com/insolence Orac

        You’re kidding, right?

        Maybe not on this specific thread, but I’ve seen some pretty nasty comments about DJ elsewhere.

        • julian

          Such as? I’m genuinely curious. I can be very specific about how some writers have been abusive towards Watson but I’m drawing a blank on Grothe. The worst I’ve seen is “fuck Grothe.” I saw Laden suggest that Grothe should resign and I saw Watson say she wouldn’t be going to TAM anywhere and that’s it.

          • http://scienceblogs.com/insolence Orac

            Well, I’d have to look, but since I first became aware of this kerfuffle, I’ve seen DJ accused of dishonesty, lying about various claims, of in essence being a rape and abuse apologist, etc. I’ve seen him being called upon to resign.

            And, yes, I’ve seen all that nastiness directed at Rebecca, which is also way beyond the pale, probably more so than the invective directed at DJ. That’s why I think the level of invective needs to be ratcheted down.

          • julian

            I guess we disagree on what qualifies as abusive. With the exception of the “rape and abuse apologist” (which I’d like to see the full comment) I don’t see any of that as abusive. Mean but definitely not abusive.

          • ischemgeek

            I’ve seen DJ accused of dishonesty, lying about various claims, of in essence being a rape and abuse apologist, etc. I’ve seen him being called upon to resign.

            While I’m a huge fan of Respectful Insolance, I don’t think the two are even comparable.

            DJ has been accused of dishonestly attributing the drop in female attendance to feminist bloggers who “exaggerate the problem” and “spread misinformation”. Rebecca has been accused of lying about and/or fabricating everything that’s happened to her before, during and since ElevatorGate.

            DJ has been accused of lying (and continuing to misrepresent) one situation. Rebecca is accused of lying every time she relays any experience. I think she could say something as innocuous as “I had oatmeal for breakfast today!” and the haters would snarl about how she is trying to destroy the toast industry and pics or it didn’t happen.

            DJ’s policy has been derided as poorly implemented with shoddy record-keeping and been described as unprofessional. Rebecca has her name changed to “Rebecunt Twatson”.

            I haven’t seen the rape/abuse apologist comments (give me a link and I’ll admit I must have missed them – this has been one hell of a shitstorm and I do have a life outside of the blogosphere), though I have seen people saying he’s being dismissive of women who talk about our experiences. And based on what I’ve read (including his exaggerating the problem comment in light of the studies I cite in comment #46 above and Pterryx has cited on Pharyngula and other blogs), I agree with them. Rebecca is given rape threats.

            DJ has been called on by a single blogger to resign after a screwup (and others have argued he shouldn’t resign but rather should take this as a learning experience). Rebecca, on the other hand, has been given death threats.

            Forgive me for the “respectful insolence” here, Orac, but I think saying the treatment given to Rebecca is only “probably” worse is woefully oblivious at best.

    • http://scienceblogs.com/insolence Orac

      “Neither Rebecca Watson nor DJ Grothe deserve the ire they seem to be attracting”

      I agree with this totally.

      Hear, hear!

      What needs to happen is that everyone needs to step back, take a deep breath, and then try to ratchet the invective down a bit. Maybe I’m hopelessly naive and Pollyanna-ish, but I don’t see this situation as being beyond retrieval. It didn’t need to come to this point (for example, if DJ had spoken privately with the women who had been harassed or expressed concern about harassment before spouting off in various comment threads), but now that it has there is opportunity.

      • jody

        Thanks Orac. You’ve said what many of us have wanted one of the “biggies” to step up and say for a long time.

        Those tarriel cells really are a wonder. [/nerdreference]

        • http://scienceblogs.com/insolence Orac

          I’m not so sure I’ve acquitted myself that well. I’m regretting calling out Ophelia Benson for Godwinizing the issue, not because I think I was wrong (I wasn’t) or that she shouldn’t have been called out (she should have, and I was disappointed that apparently no one else did) but because my anger led me to post first and ask questions later. As a consequence my point about invoking Nazi Germany analogies appears not to have been understood because I didn’t make my point as well as I should have. Perhaps I let my involvement with fighting Holocaust denial with the Holocaust History Project and my extreme dislike of what I view as trivializing the Holocaust affect my judgment.

          As for being a “biggie,” you flatter me. PZ is a “biggie.” I’m at best second or third tier or, as I like to call myself, a microcelebrity. Maybe nanocelebrity is more appropriate. :-)

          • jody

            As for being a “biggie,” you flatter me. PZ is a “biggie.” I’m at best second or third tier or, as I like to call myself, a microcelebrity

            Yeah, but I read you more. :-D

            Much of this is about our buttons. We all have push button issues… feminism, skepticism, The Holocaust… that cause us to not only post quickly, but to see others’ posts in the worst light, rather than a charitable one or at least balanced against all the past good things they’ve done. (There are days that being a human sucks.)

            Your point that I loved:

            What needs to happen is that everyone needs to step back, take a deep breath, and then try to ratchet the invective down a bit. Maybe I’m hopelessly naive and Pollyanna-ish, but I don’t see this situation as being beyond retrieval.

            …stands as a great comment on what we all need to do.

            Our community, just about all of which frakking quotes the research on cognitive biases, should be the last ones to do the bias-blasted pile-on that’s happened over the last year.

            I’m hopeful that your entreaty to take a chill-pill and re-engage with calmer heads might just catch on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sironen mattisironen

    I’m thinking John Loftus’ departure was a symptom of deeper problems with FTB than it seemed at the time. Consider the brouhaha with JT and now here with Chris; there’s obviously a line that the bloggers can’t cross without being assaulted.

    Sure there were some post condemning for example Taslimas anti-prostitution posts, but no-one was calling for her head/blog on a plate. Jason, on the other hand, was shouted down for suggesting that maybe demonizing dissenters to such a degree wasn’t such a great idea; JT is grappling with the issue right now and now Chris is being assaulted for having transgressed against the RightThink.

    What I find really disappointing about the whole situation is
    Brayton’s lack of initiative. Maybe Pharyngula is just too lucrative a partner to ignore the fact that it makes a mockery of the sites name.

    • Sheesh

      When you say “assaulted” you don’t mean assaulted, right? You mean disagreed with? Chastised? Ridiculed? Right? Something more accurate that doesn’t trivialize actual assault?

    • Lauren

      I’m thinking John Loftus’ departure was a symptom of deeper problems with FTB…

      I’m thinking John Loftus’ departure was a symptom of deeper problems with John Loftus.

  • K Crow

    I understand that asking him to resign is a bit much, but supporting him for essentially arguing that women need to shut up about their problems? I don’t understand why you would support that, and I don’t understand how you could argue that he handed it well.

    • Feddlefew

      I don’t see why people are arguing that pointing out the sexism problem is hurting the skeptic movement.

      If someone cares about another person, they tell them when they’ve done something bad. And yes, it almost always makes people angry. That’s still better than complacency, because if they jump to that person’s defense whenever someone else calls them out on it, they learn that whatever they’re doing- racism, sexism, shoplifting, drunk driving, setting fire to peoples flower beds- is perfectly acceptable and is a perfectly good way to be buddy-buddy with you.

      So the movement has stepped on the proverbial rusted nail, but trying to hide the wound and the resulting infection frankly isn’t going to work, and the sooner it gets treated the less likely it is that amputation is going to be necessary. Which in this case means a large chunk of the movement becoming so infested with misogynistic views that it makes the rest of the movement have to disavow them every time they’re engaging the public.

    • Feddlefew

      And to clarify I mean behaviors which harm other people, not personal choices. If someone is being an asshole they need to know that they are being an asshole.

  • Pingback: Message to everyone who came to this blog because of the DJ Grothe controversy | The Uncredible Hallq

  • melior

    I support DJ Grothe’s statement completely.
    I think it’s sad that comment threads at Pharyngula on anything relating to topics like this have devolved into such a tedious, predictable cycle: The same handful of self-congratulating insiders reinforcing each others’ over-the-top panicky mischaracterizations and stereotypes, interspersed with an occasional ping by a quizzical well-meaning newcomer, followed by even more vicious piling on the naive interloper as further evidence of the evil conspiracy. I don’t even think they know how to quit at this point, they’ve got too much status invested in their fun little alternate bubble they’re living in.

    • julian

      And they accuse me of non sequitars.

      • Achrachno

        Do you know what a non sequitur is?

        • julian

          Do you?

          • Achrachno

            Yes, and I can even spell it.

            Did you notice that nothing in Melior’s comment was one, but that your response did not follow logically from anything M. said? You didn’t even attempt to refute any of M’s statements.

    • xtog42

      “self-congratulating insiders reinforcing each others’ over-the-top panicky mischaracterizations and stereotypes, interspersed with an occasional ping by a quizzical well-meaning newcomer, followed by even more vicious piling on the naive interloper as further evidence of the evil conspiracy.”

      This was precisely what happened to me.

  • Stretchycheese

    Thank you for your post, Chris. I support Grothe as well and will express that to him should I meet him at TAM next month. I see the attacks on Grothe as a symptom of dogmatic gender identity politics that unfortunately pervades much of FTB, Skepchick and other influential secular blogs. They try to frame this debate as a battle of the sexes or a battle between the evil misogynists and the righteous feminists, but they’re clearly mistaken. When they exhort us to “listen to women!” do they mean women like Paula Kirby, Miranda Celeste, Jennifer Keane and others who have been critical of them? No, they mean only women who subscribe to their narrow gender identity ideology. This whole episode reminds me of the excellent 2005 Swedish documentary called “Gender War” by Evin Rubar, which documents the harm caused by the influence of radical feminist extremism on public policy (the translated version of the documentary can be found on YouTube for any who are interested, by the way).

    For a community that promotes skepticism and freethought, I find the current trends disturbing. Vilification of dissent, witch hunting, acrimonious piling on and smearing of anyone who disagrees with the party line on gender identity politics, etc… It reminds me that no community, even skeptics, is immune to things like ideological groupthink, us vs. them tribalistic behaviours, and other “Lord of the Flies” and “Animal Farm” foibles of human nature.

    • julian

      They mean women who feel like they’ve been harassed at atheist cons. Women who feel like the environment isn’t welcoming to them so that we can learn why and help improve the community.

      For fuck’s sake, could you people at least pretend this isn’t your disdain for feminist like Watson speaking?

      • Somite

        The main problem with this argument is that there is no data to back it up. It also does not reflect the opinion of most women surveyed.

        Your position would also be strengthened by clear statements of what should the JREF change or has refused to do.

        Without these the vitriol and outrage seem unwarranted. It certainly seems unwarranted to call the freethought movement an unsafe space in a national publication.

        • julian

          It also does not reflect the opinion of most women surveyed.

          I said “women who feel like they’ve been harassed at atheist cons.”

          Your position would also be strengthened by clear statements of what should the JREF change or has refused to do.

          I made one suggestion (more like how to approach claims of harassment) up thread in a reply to Scented Nectar and I’m not the only one. Thibeault, Zvan and others have been discussing how best to handle claims of sexual harassment for some time now.

          It certainly seems unwarranted to call the freethought movement an unsafe space in a national publication.

          Not when discussing the sexual harassment (gropings, rape threats, ect) you have yourself faced at skeptical gatherings like TAM. Because it has not been a safe space for you (and others in your immediate circle) you are entirely right is saying so.

          • Somite

            It just seems inexplicable to me why the experience of that small defined group is so different than the rest of the women in the freethought movement.

            But regardless, I would be more interested in knowing what concrete recommendations were given to the JREF that were ignored or refused to be put in place. Assuming the freethought movement is important to them this should be their first priority rather than raising the alarm in a national publication first.

        • ischemgeek

          See my comment #46 on this page and stuff Pteryxx has linked on Pharyngula and other blogs. If you look into the scientific literature, every environment ever studied by social scientists in North America has a substantial sexual harassment problem. It is reasonable to assume based on this data that the problem is ubiquitous in North American society.

          In light of the science on the subject, the safe assumption isn’t that TAM is free of harassment because there haven’t been many formal reports, but rather that the system as currently designed minimizes the number of reports that are made. When you add in that even carefully-designed systems made by the people who study this stuff for a living have rampant under-reporting issues, it becomes even more likely.

    • Cupcake

      Which goes back to what I’ve been saying all along. We don’t need gods to be jerks to each other. That should be crystal clear, because god doesn’t actually exist. So we do all this to ourselves, and evolutionary psychology is a great tool in understanding why, so that we can take appropriate measures and finally stop. If we want to live in a more just, safe, and comfortable world, then we have to overcome certain evolutionary impulses, like, the powerful taking advantage of the powerless, for example. Along with sexism, misogyny, racism, nationalism, and bigotry of any sort. Religion isn’t the problem; humans are the problem, and they can maybe be the solution, too. But now I’m just dreaming.

  • xtog42

    @ K Crow: “I understand that asking him to resign is a bit much, but supporting him for essentially arguing that women need to shut up about their problems?”

    Really? Do you really believe that DJ said “essentially” that “women need to shut up about their problems”

    • K Crow

      That is what I said, isn’t it?

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/ Greg Laden

    Chris, the full quote is:

    “In his recent remarks about how women are fleeing TAM because of Rebecca Watson, the Skepchicks, and various anti-misogyny bloggers and commenters poisoning the water, DJ Grothe does not necessarily cast his lot with the latter, but he clearly disassociates himself with the former. He can not position himself outside the mainstream of the skeptics movement and continue to lead.”

    Which is meant to say that DJ in these particular activities (loosely defined as victim blaming) is doing a particular thing. I’ve said in that post and elsewhere that DJ should be lauded for generally doing the opposite.

    Shocking quote mining, young man!

  • Pingback: Degodwinization | Butterflies and Wheels

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

    Totally OT question: with more than 400 comments now, how does this post fail to get on the “most active” list? The software os wonky here. Not as wonky as Watson’s dedicated/obsessive haters, but still wonky…

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      I dunno. It’s totally hit or miss whether a post even ends up in the RSS feed, which is why I encourage fans to sign up for the feed specific to this blog. Or maybe it was “most active” over the weekend but just not anymore?

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

        I think it was about #4 on the list BEFORE the comments crossed the 100 mark. Meanwhile, lots of other posts, which never get more than 100 comments, sometimes stay on the “most active” list for several days after the last comment gets posted. Shouldn’t the FTB folks have just stolen the algorithm from SB?

        • sanshajohnson

          I think the ‘activeness’ may be related to views, rather than comments.

          • Somite

            And this is a problem because a good uncontroversial science article will get less activity and views than a controversial colossal waste of time.

  • Pingback: What Did D.J. Apologize For? | Almost Diamonds

  • This whole thing is beyond insane. Grothe makes very fine points about what damage unfounded, unbacked up, proofless accusations can cause. So, he must go according to RW.
    Same thing as was said about Lawrence Kraus.
    Same thing as was said about ERV.
    Same thing as was said about Dawkins.

    But remember, there’s no such thing as a blacklist in the skeptics movement. Don’t be silly.

    If I were you – and I say this with regret because you strike me as an honest man – I’d be very careful that you’re not the next person to be chucked out and hounded.

    But the real story here? If this is what the skeptics movement is, it’s not worth having. It’s dead.

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

    Grothe makes very fine points about what damage unfounded, unbacked up, proofless accusations can cause.

    …says yet another guy making “unbacked up, proofless accusations” about jackbooted skeptic PC thugs persecuting and punishing all dissenting views…and who can’t even be bothered to make up a pseudonym, let alone address any of the actual facts or events involved in this debate.

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

    …I’d be very careful that you’re not the next person to be chucked out and hounded.

    Oh yeah, raving about persecution that has yet to happen (what’s Chris about to be chucked out OF anyway?) is perfectly rational and appropriate for a dialogue among skeptics — but women talking about sexual harassment (and worse) are just feminazis getting emotional and infantilizing women.

    I can see why you wouldn’t want even a pseudonym attached to such a stupid comment.

  • Call this rational discourse? Undefined accusations with no requirements for evidence? I saw Grothe’s cringe making apology, and that was being derided up and downhill. For the record, I cannot see he did anything wrong, he just warned that irresponsible stuff was scaring away people. And he was promptly howled down for it and now a collection of blowhards want him fired as the head of JREF. Same way that the watsonistas tried to blacklist Richard Dawkins before even they realized that the loss of Dawkins would be a disaster, whereas watson and her industrious crew could be swallowed by an earthquake and no one would notice.

    If this is the skeptic movement, it is not worth having. The religious are pointing and laughing at you. “This is the vaunted militant atheism? And to think we were worried.” When push comes to shove they’ll just march straight over you.

    • John D

      I love it when I am right. I predicted last Friday that Grothe would be arm-wrestled into give a pathetic gut-wrenching apology (even though he is guilty of nothing). He even had to tell Rebecca how funny he thought she was (after she boycotted his convention… haha). Now Laden WANTS MORE and continues to mock Grothe comparing him to a comic book character! Oh poor DJ…. it’s been nice knowing you. Such class. Such skepticism!

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

        Now Laden WANTS MORE…

        What, EXACTLY, does Laden WANT? Some quotes might be helpful. So far, all he’s said is that DJ needs to do some work to repair the damage he said he was so concerned about in the first place. You know, saying DJ should do the job he hasn’t resigned from or been forced out of.

        • John D

          Ummm. read it yourself…. but I guess you think this crap is rational and funny and shit…right?

          http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/2012/06/05/dj-grothe-vs-tony-stark/

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

            Ummm. I did read it myself. Twice. And there’s no demand more outrageous than that DJ should take some mundane-sounding steps to do his job better.

            No quotes, no case.

          • John D

            I especially love all the mocking and mis-characterization comparing your prior ally to a comic book character. I just can’t match the class found on these Freethought Blogs.

          • Somite

            Can you name the “mundane” steps?

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

            Yes: hiring a consultant to help him improve the JREF organization and internal communication process.

            Now where’s the quotes that back up your paranoid screed?

          • Somite

            My first LOL moment in this conversation. You can’t come up with anything yourself so you suggest, of all things, hiring a consultant? What a joke.

            http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1991-06-30/

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

            Moving the goalposts again? I wasn’t aware that it was my job to “come up with” anything. We’re talking about what Greg “came up with,” remember?

          • Somite

            To my knowledge there has not been any constructive suggestions from the gender difference side. That is part of my criteria to disregard criticism in general.

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

            In other words, John D, your accusations against Greg are bogus, you can’t provide the backup you need because it doesn’t exist, so now you’re changing the subject again. No, you definitely can’t match the class of an adult blog. Buh-bye.

          • John D

            Buh bye to you Raging one. Have I ever told you how appropriate your “Raging Bee” name is? If the shoe fits…

            Freethought does not mean that your thoughts are so free your brain falls out.

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

      For the record, I cannot see he did anything wrong…

      For the record, that’s probably because you didn’t read any of the NUMEROUS posts or comments on the subject.

    • John Morales

      [meta]

      “watsonistas”?!

      In-group cant is risible from an outside context.

  • Somite

    I have and I haven’t seen neither a comprehensive survey showing that the “freethought movement is an unsafe place” or a list of denied requests denied by the JREF.

    Either of these would make a stronger case than the personal conviction of a few.

    • John Morales

      Your null hypothesis can be tentatively inferred from the nature of your contention, and it ain’t one I share.

      (Why do you assume “freethought movement” need be (and perforce is) better a safer space?)

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

      We’ve already explained to you, at least once, using small words, why that approach will not give you a fair or complete picture of the underlying problems that DJ is (competently or not) trying to address. The fact that you seem to have ignored said explanations is further indication that you’re just a dishonest uncaring idiot.

      • Somite

        No you haven’t. You’ve made a rationalization that only convinces yourself.

      • xtog42

        “dishonest uncaring idiot”

        Raging Bee, could you please stop this sort of invective driven personal attack? Why can’t you just make your point and move on?

        Psychs tell us that the invective we use tell us more about ourselves than they do the target of the comment.

        What does the need to add that phrase to your post tell us about you?

        And would you speak with such venom and rudeness if the target of that comment were sitting across a table with you? I think not.

        It is embarrassing how cowards use these blogs to vent their personal psychopathology on to others by saying things they would never dare say to someone in person and into their eyes.

    • ischemgeek

      Given that everywhere else in North America that’s been studied has a sexual harassment issue (and therefore could be deemed “unsafe”), the safe assumption is that TAM has a sexual harrassment problem and therefore may be deemed unsafe.

      To claim otherwise goes against established science and is therefore an extraordinary claim.

      So, the burden of proof is on the one making the extraordinary claim: Where’s your extraordinary evidence that TAM is safe?

      We’re not saying that TAM is a wretched hive of gropings and catcalls, what we’re saying is that TAM is probably on par with the rest of North America – where 15-36% of women are sexually harassed in public on a daily basis.

      • Somite

        What are your suggestions for the JREF?

        • carlie

          No, you’re moving the goalposts. Do you have evidence that TAM is somehow safer than every single other environment that has been studied, or do you agree that it is not currently free from harassment?

      • John D

        Houston… I think we’ve spotted the problem…

        “on par with the rest of North America – where 15-36% of women are sexually harassed in public on a daily basis.”

        Every woman in America must get sexually harassed each week! At least 5.5 BILLION cases of sexual harassment every year in the US. Ho ho. Great statistic.

        There is no safe place on the planet.

  • A reality check to RagingBee and all the other watsonistas.

    Richard Dawkins is one of the six or seven top-line evolutionary biologists today. Lawrence Krauss is perhaps the greatest living physicist after Stephen Hawking. ERV is an actual bona fide scientist, whose blogging is consistently good on these subjects. Grothe leads one of the most important institutions for rational thought. Shall I go on, listing what people like James Randi, Penn & Teller, Michael Shermer etc. have done?

    On the other hand rebecca watson and others like greta chritiansen etc. are a bunch of spoiled rich brats who have never made any contribution and never will. Watson’s sole claim to fame is saying that astrology is bunk – I knew that, thanks – while posing in her knickers.

    And this is voted “most influential female atheist” ahead of Maryam Namazie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali?

    I think that this fiasco highlights a choice. If you want the skeptics movement to be a club for spoiled rich brats, go with the watsonistas. If you want it to actually mean something better than that, then dump the watsonista gang and go out there and actually achieve something.

    • K Crow

      Do I really have to point out how much of a non sequitor this argument is? Maybe it’s too much to ask of a basic understanding of logic and reasoning from people who call themselves skeptics. Being a scientist can help, sure. But there is no need to dismiss the attributions of bloggers who aren’t scientific experts. And being a scientist doesn’t automatically make you important to the skeptic movement.

      And “Watsonistas”? Really?

      • Yes, seriously. And it’s not to do with having scientific qualifications, it’s to do with making a contribution. Myers has scientific qualifications, but I cannot recall a single worthwhile thing of his that I’ve ever read. Mutatis mutandis, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has no scientific qualifications, and she is probably one of the foremost fighters for reason and civilisation on the planet.

        What have people like Watson ever done? That’s what drives me nuts. A couple of Army girls I know have faced the real deal when it comes to sexism, and they don’t go for self-pitying drivel. I know many many people who do their bit, day in day out, and who wouldn’t dream of being so self-aggrandising.

        Watson and her ilk annoy me because they are ridiculously well off and don’t know it. They are spoiled brats. I’ve always hated those.

        • K Crow

          Right, because Skepchick has accomplished nothing with their fundraisers, and never brought up a single point of discussion that made anyone think about a thing. It’s not my job to list off everything they have done, but it’s clear you and I are on different pages on what we consider worthwhile.

          • I cannot think of a single worthwhile thing. To her credit, she did link to the Ayaan Hirsi Ali security trust, which is more than people like the ridiculous BlagHag and Myers did, but who made that trust? Sam Harris. Show me anything serious she’s done. Please, take your time.

            Incidentally, note that the much derided Abbie Smith’s blog is called ERV as in endoretrovirus, whereas watson specifically trades on her sex. I think that is quite, quite revealing.

            Incidentally, while everyone is feeling mawkish self-pity and the spoiled brats are whining about how oppressed they are, Maryam Namazie has been trying to drum up support for a woman who is about to be stoned to death. Will this attract anything like the level of attention as this pity-party? Of course it bloody won’t.

            Spoiled brats. Christ, give me the meanest working class dishwasher any day.

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

            …watson specifically trades on her sex.

            What, exactly, do you mean by that? Are you calling Watson a whore?

            …Maryam Namazie has been trying to drum up support for a woman who is about to be stoned to death.

            And your stupid sycophantic tirade is helping that cause…how? If that was your first priority here, you would have mentioned it FIRST, not last. Take your phony self-righteousness and shove it back where it came from. You’re not fooling anyone here.

          • Only have a handful of seconds to answer this, but I thought I’d best deal with a piece of stupidity.

            What, exactly, do you mean by that? Are you calling Watson a whore?

            I said “sex” not “sexuality”. Contra the relentless misuse of the word “gender” is something words have, “sex” is something human beings have. Watson’s entire schtick is “I’m female! And a skeptic! And female! Did I mention that I was female yet?”

            Interestingly the flap with ERV started when Abbie Smith said she only cared to be considered because of her work and not her ovaries.

            “I hate people who complain about injustice in my country

            You think to talk about injustice you spoilt little madam? Try living some of places I grew up. Hell, try a few months of working class life in your own damn country. You’ll soon learn the difference.

            What’s the current gripe? Getting called mean names on the internet, is that it? Allow me to wipe away a tear.

            As I said, spoiled brats who don’t have the wit or skill to live up to the good luck of their birth, so they pretend to be victims, while turning their back on the truly oppressed, day in, day out. It’s enough to make you sick.

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

            Watson’s entire schtick is “I’m female! And a skeptic! And female! Did I mention that I was female yet?”

            Lamme guess…you don’t have time to cite a representative sample of her “entire schtick?”

            Oh well, at least she’s not lying about that fact — that’s more then her obsessive haters can say.

            Interestingly the flap with ERV started when Abbie Smith said she only cared to be considered because of her work and not her ovaries.

            “Interestingly,” that’s bullshit. That flap started when she smugly praised Dawkins, bashed Watson, and invited Watson’s most infantile, deranged haters to turn her blog into a cesspool of barely-literate MRAs chanting the same taunts and lies over and over again, and praising their own brave genius, for almost a year now. (I can’t tell if it’s still going on, because every time I try to look at the latest “Monument” thread, my laptop chokes on it — that’s how the Universe tells me I have better things to do than hover around toxic-waste dumps.)

          • http://notungblog.wordpress.com/ Notung

            a cesspool of barely-literate MRAs

            I think there was an MRA who used to post there a few months ago. However, he hasn’t posted in ages. I don’t think anyone there really cares about Men’s Rights to be honest.

          • K Crow

            You are going to have to show me examples of her “selling her sex”, because in my experience these accusations are usually just surfacing misogyny involving with not liking a woman mentioning that she is a woman, and assuming anything a woman does to bring attention to the fact that she is a woman, even if only in passing, is “attention whoring” or “selling her sex”.

            Also, knock it off with the “spoiled brat” crap. That is an ad hominem argument and you are going to have to bring more examples of why this is a problem or even relevant to anything if you want to come off as anything but a bigot. So far the only impression I am getting is that you are angry because Rebecca Watson is a female with a voice.

        • xtog42

          Here, Here ….says

          And thank goodness we at least have one blog here at FTB where you can make those comments and not get sworn at or mind read or threatened with banishment – even though Chris seems to have had to apologize for this (probably in response to the anti-DJ crowd criticizing him).

          This stuff was spot-on,…

          “I know many many people who do their bit, day in day out, and who wouldn’t dream of being so self-aggrandizing.”

          “Incidentally, while everyone is feeling mawkish self-pity and the spoiled brats are whining about how oppressed they are, Maryam Namazie has been trying to drum up support for a woman who is about to be stoned to death.”

          Good Points!,… and one might add that we have GOP congressmen going around tweeting about throwing acid in women’s faces, GOP spokesmen saying that we should put women’s issues aside and discuss real and important topics like tax cuts for the wealthy and ads with machine guns pointed at Dem congresswomen.

          But what have we heard from the anti-DJ crowd on those topics? Little if nothing since to them how DJ apologized for not doing enough about sexism is just such an important issue for the free-thought community.

          As an example of the self-aggrandizing,… how about The Lousy Canuck’s not-pology titled in part “….My Stated Opinion of DJ Grothe”

          Who gives a ______ what HIS stated opinion of anything is given the way he flames his own blog and bans those who dare to post in the same manner he does. How some of these blogs ever got on FTB is beyond my comprehension — IMO they are a disgrace to our movement.

          Hopefully FTB puts in place a policy for pulling them down if they cannot provide more comment about free-thinking and a more harassment free place for debate — after all this is FREE-THOUGHT BLOGS.

          Then uses the term “douchebag” as a pejorative while trying to criticize others for being insensitive to women’s issues and gets all bent out of shape when people call him on the use of that “one word” even after he himself continues to try and get mileage out of a few poorly chosen words “sexual exploits” DJ used as if they have huge meaning. And then he calls DJ childish names like “Grothebot 5000″ and hides behind the satire defense that he refuses to allow his opponents.

          The other thing that is amusing is how they have blogs, post-titles and contributors with names that involve the word “chick” (Skepchick) or “bitch”,…but oh don’t YOU use that word (elevatorchick) or that means you are a rape apologist.

          It’s reminiscent of the way the N-word works,…some people can say it without criticism but if YOU say it, even in the most docile or funny way, oh, that means you are a bigot.

          Sorry I derailed a bit here, but I am still just so disappointed with the way the discussion sections of these blogs operate and how some in our community do not know how to monitor a blog and trash people like DJ who have done so much for us, without any self-reflection about how destructive the way they attack is to the movement as a whole.

          And of course in making that point I realize that it means that I do not care anything at all about women’s issues and getting more women involved in our movement.

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

          Watson and her ilk annoy me because they are ridiculously well off and don’t know it. They are spoiled brats. I’ve always hated those.

          Translation: “I hate people who complain about injustice in my country! I only care (or pretend to care, when it suits me) about injustice on the other side of the planet that doesn’t demand any sacrifice that hits too close to home!”

          Like I’ve said elsewhere, if your real first priority was worse injustices than Watson is enduring, you would have mentioned them FIRST, not last.

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

      A reality check to RagingBee and all the other watsonistas.

      I’m not an atheist, I’m not affiliated with any atheist organization, and I’ve never had anything to do with Rebecca Watson or any activity of hers. All I ever did was post blog comments trying to debunk some nasty lies about what she did and did not say last fucking year, and that makes me a “watsonista?” Ellipsis-man’s use of that word shows him to be an overgrown teenager with a clique mentality.

      Richard Dawkins is one of the six or seven top-line evolutionary biologists today. Lawrence Krauss is perhaps the greatest living physicist after Stephen Hawking. ERV is an actual bona fide scientist, whose blogging is consistently good on these subjects. Grothe leads one of the most important institutions for rational thought. Shall I go on, listing what people like James Randi, Penn & Teller, Michael Shermer etc. have done?

      Therefore…what? They’re all saints, inviolable and infallible, and we have no right to criticize anything they say or do and anyone who dares question them is a threat to the atheist movement? Are you really saying that skeptics can’t apply skeptical inquiry to the words and actions of other skeptics? Ellipsis-man’s comments here are so stupid, sycophantic and infantile, I’m forced to conclude he’s either a very immature Dawkins fanboy, or a Christian Reich plant posting this sort of shit just to reinforce all of his own faction’s negative stereotypes of atheists.

      (Oh, and are you actually speaking of Penn and Dawkins in the same category? You realy think a well-established biologist is comparable to a comedian? Puh. Lease.)

      • John D

        Raging one – what are your religious beliefs?… if I may ask. Feel free to tell me it is none of my business.

        • John D

          Guess #1: Wicca
          Guess #2: Pantheist
          Guess #3: Deist
          Guess #4: Self described Agnostic (who is really a Deist)

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

          I won’t say my religion is “none of your business;” but I will ask why you suddenly think it’s relevant to this thread. Looking for another diversion after your arguments have been shown to be bogus, perhaps?

          • John D

            Well Raging One – You know me well enough by now. Partly I am trying to understand where you are coming from. But also, I suppose this could end up being another thing we can fight about…. :^)

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

            You say you want to understand “where I’m coming from”…by asking me about one narrow facet of my life that has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m talking about here? Are you even smart enough to see how transparently cheezy your diversionary tactics are?

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

            PS: Didn’t you recently bid me goodbye? But now you want to get to know me? What a cheezy manipulative twit.

          • John D

            Bee – I am a psychological monist and a hard atheist. This fact has a great deal to do with how I frame topics. I sort of assumed people on this blog were similar to me. I see that I am wrong on this count. I am thinking you are certainly a Wiccan. This makes a great deal of difference to me regarding how I interact with you.

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

            I am a psychological monist and a hard atheist.

            And that means…what? Your statements here are still bullshit, which is why I didn’t bother asking you about your beliefs.

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

            I am thinking you are certainly a Wiccan. This makes a great deal of difference to me regarding how I interact with you.

            In other words, you’re a religious bigot resorting to identity politics when all of your other con-games fail. (Do you even know what Wiccans actually believe, let alone why it should affect how you interact with me? And shouldn’t you be verifying your uneducated guess before you change your behavior?)

          • John D

            Oh! But I am a good guesser.

      • xtog42

        Any review of your posts would have to include that your use of the word “fuck” and “idiot” betrays a weak argument.

        And in accounting for the posts of yours that I have read, an overwhelming majority of them are just flaming the issue in a way that if the blog author didn’t agree with you, you would have gotten moderated or banned — most of the time writing things you would not dare to say to a person standing in front of your face.

        I have no recollection of you making a serious salient point. Your posts have been either cheerleading DJ bashers at the expense of the community as a whole no matter how just the criticism of him is, or making snarky filthy ignorant responses to people who dare to disagree with the Watsonista position.

        So spare us the “all I ever did,…” bawling.

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

          Any review of your posts would have to include that your use of the word “fuck” and “idiot” betrays a weak argument.

          Any such review would also show that you could remove those words, and the arguments you’re clearly too cowardly to address would still stand.

          • xtog42

            There are no “arguments” there to talk about,…that is my point, you just flame away. it’s the only thing you do.

            Would you speak with such venom and rudeness if the target of that comment were sitting across a table with you? I think not.

            It is embarrassing how cowards use these blogs to vent their personal psychopathology on to others by saying things they would never dare say to someone in person and into their eyes.

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

            There are no “arguments” there to talk about,…that is my point, you just flame away. it’s the only thing you do.

            …says the guy who led off on this thread by calling Stephanie “shallow” while ignoring what she actually said.

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

            Would you speak with such venom and rudeness if the target of that comment were sitting across a table with you? I think not.

            Would the people I’m responding to here talk to my face like they talk here? I think not. Why are you only asking me that question, and not the people I’m talking to? And why are you asking it so late in the game? Your lame-ass tone argument is just another hypocritical fallback position.

  • jody

    If we haven’t already, we’re about to jump the shark with all of this as, over at Lousy Canuck a discussion / debate / smash-up has broken out over whether Jason has been homophobic or misogynistic in a comment thread, in regards to DJ. I can’t quite keep up with who’s on what side of which issue, but the image of a circular firing squad keeps coming to mind.

    • http://iacb.blogspot.com/ Iamcuriousblue

      As far as I’m concerned, the accusations of Jason’s “homophobia” are simply a mirror of accusations of DJ Grothe’s “sexism”, of which Jason has been one of the more over-the-top accusers. Same predictable course – major accusations built out of very little, and then the predictable course of those accused going on the defensive and being accused of minimizing. It’s a level of discourse that’s neither rational nor useful, and it’s sad to see so many so called “Free Thought Blogs” devoted to such BS.

      Overall, however, I support DJ Grothe, and calls for him to step down from JREF, or more generally for his head on a pike, need to be treated as the partisan bullshit that it is.

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