Greg Laden’s “Sometimes the bad guys win”

After being removed from this blogging network for using violent threatening language towards me, Greg Laden posted a reply to me on his website. It’s entirely indicative of his manipulative and coercive pattern of bullying.

Justin Griffith is the Military Director for American Atheists. He and I had a strong difference of opinion, and it turns out he was wrong and I was right, mostly. But in the process of having this argument, I made some mistakes and he exploited the situation, so I ended up getting the short end of the stick. Good job, Soldier. You won the battle. Sometimes the bad guys win, it turns out.

Greg, under what circumstances is it okay to use violent threatening language? How am I the bad guy for exposing your pattern of bullying? I didn’t make any threats towards you, violent or otherwise. How are you the good guy in this scenario?

I noticed Greg tried to spin his threat and change it to say “kick you in the ass” – as if it was innocent and obvious rhetoric. You’re being incredibly dishonest to the public.

Incoherent drunken babbling?

He had continued to be  belligerent in the group setting for an entire week, refusing to ‘talk it out’ up until an hour before I publicly posted his threats two days ago.

Greg now says this is the reason why he didn’t call me:

Embedded in what could only be described as incoherent drunken babbling were phrases like “You’d like me, man, if you just called me, man. Just call me.” and so on and so forth.

Bullshit. Absolute bullshit.

For clarity, here is the initial threat:

Justin,

What I said in a public comment (that you should grow up) is the ultra mild version. What I said on the mailing list is still the mild version. Here’s the real version and it is the last thing you are ever going to hear from me until you have issued a fully adequate and very public apology to everyone you’ve offended. I say that fully knowing that you do not have to issue such an apology. All you get if you do is that I recognize that you exist. You certainly don’t need me thinking of you as a human being.

Justin, have you ever killed anyone? By that, I mean, in your tours of duty, did you ever have someone you know die and that happened because you failed to do something, or worse, because you DID do something? I’m thinking not. I’m thinking you probably are a good soldier. You probably didn’t do that.

But, Justin, if you were me, and Abbie Smith’s slimepit was after you like they’ve been after me, that is what it would say on the internet, dude. It would say that you were responsible for the death of fellow soldiers. It would say that all over Abbies blog. Why? Because that is how they could hurt you, both personally and professionally.

I have to live with the fact that when my son gets old enough to surf the web he is going to see horrific things, terrible accusations and horrible insults, about his daddy. It does not matter if they are accurate or not. (They’re not, in case you were wondering).

Think about that. You fucking shit.

Now, get forever out of my life. Do not turn back. You do not deserve to even know the people you’ve insulted in that idiotic post you wrote. Don’t ever, ever find yourself in my presence or think you deserve to breath the air that I, and Jen, and Stephanie, and Gret and Ophelia and PZ and the rest of us breath, because you do not.

If you do make that apology it better be from laying face down in the mud.

Have a nice day and kiss my ass.

Greg

PS, don’t you dare ask, ever again, for an upvote or any other support from your colleagues. I’ll kick your fucking ass if you do. You will regret it. (Unless that apology is forthcoming.)

An hour or so after he sent me that threatening email, I replied with this. This is what he describes as incoherent drunken babbling.

Please, this is hurtful man. Let’s talk on the phone tomorrow. I am apologizing, and I think you should realize that I am making rookie mistakes. I didn’t read the backchannel yet, though I assumed that it was okay to be stupid sometimes and then learn from mistakes.

You ask if I ever killed anyone or if my actions ever lead anyone to their deaths. The answer is YES. Several people have died at my hands. I have almost killed myself from the guilt several times. I feel like a goddamned serial killer. And the blood on my hands is from well before my entry into the military.

I was a heroin addict for several years. I introduced many people to heroin, people that are dead now. I was with people the day they died, I’ve shared needles with people that died. I joined the military to get away from this. “I’d be safer in Afghanistan,” I figured. I even gave a soldier their first hit when I relapsed during training (AIT). The last real friend I ever made was a soldier in 2008 that I unknowingly gave his first stamp of heroin. He’s now a junkie on the streets. He will die or go to jail that way, and I did that to him – a fellow soldier. All my friends are art-damaged punk rock junkies and I’m the one who fought back. I feel like a fucking serial killer with the clarity of sobriety. I refuse to make friends with people anymore.

How about you help me with the apology. Start compiling names, and I’ll do it. Those slimers fucked it up worse than anything you could lob at me could. They are retarded. I was naïve.

By the way, my infant daughter has been threatened by Christians. I get death threats quite regularly. I’m in the news more than most of you, and I open myself up to this stuff. I got a message saying “YOU LOST YOUR SOUL IT WILL BE PAINFUL!!! GOD BLESS YOUR FAMILY IN SPITE OF WHAT I’LL DO!!!”

Lets talk tomorrow, brother. Please call me.

Very respectfully,

Justin Griffith

*[slightly edited for accuracy... only one soldier was a first timer, the 2 others were relapsing on a terrible weekend binge. Actually I didn't exactly 'give' John his first hit, I introduced him to the soldier who was making the runs to get it when he asked me for some. It's still a source of crushing guilt.]*

Greg is calling that incoherent drunken babbling. That was a heartfelt plea for him to simply pick up the phone and talk it over. Instead of picking up the phone, he continued to bully and harass for several days. He’s continuing to bully now over on his website. The movement needs to cut the cord with this Greg Laden.

I refused to keep it secret that we had a snake in the grass, because others deserve to know. People should not act like that even towards their rivals, much less their allies. What about his future victims? What about any potential past victims that he successfully rolled over?

Greg Laden also now says that I’m dangerous to the Atheist community in that post. The guy who issues direct violent threats doesn’t get to say who is or who is not dangerous.

Maybe this admission of long ago nightmares will affect my career, maybe not. I’ve learned in the military that you have to have the integrity to make the ‘hard right’ rather than choose the ‘easy wrong’. I love the military, and I’m forever grateful for the chance to grow it provided me. Joining the Army saved my life, and I am quite proud of overcoming addiction.

I tried AA / NA but found the overwhelming ‘higher power’ business to be insurmountable. I know it worked for other atheists, but I simply couldn’t tolerate 7 of the 12 steps that reference a higher power with the typical workarounds (‘the group is your higher power’ or ‘higher power can be anything, even your shoe!’)

It actually feels good to finally admit that I’ve had this struggle. That crushing guilt… maybe I can start working some of it off.

**I’m going to try this with comments on, but I will delete comments that derail, threaten, or otherwise try to turn this into another mess. Don’t start the same old arguments, and don’t respond to them. Both types of comments will be deleted.**

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About Justin Griffith
  • GibberishWord1

    If Greg Laden had not been removed from this network, I am not sure I would be able to keep visiting it.

  • ‘Tis Himself

    A couple of years ago Laden started a fight on his blog which quickly escalated into something really unpleasant. I accused him of trolling his own blog and his response was to threaten to expose my real name and email address. I flounced off his blog and only returned once by accident.

    Greg Laden has been a bully for some time. But he did write coherently about the Congo.

  • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

    You did misinterpret what was going on. The other bloggers, or at least a good number of them, were quite aware of lulz culture and the fact they were being trolled. I think you handled some things poorly and made rookie mistakes, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that you sided with the trolls against your blogfellows. Even if you did, Greg wouldn’t be helping the situation here.

  • Justin Griffith

    @3 Ace of Sevens – I never attempted to defend the ‘lulz culture’. I simply described it. For whatever reason one or two of my co-bloggers thought I was a traitor because I said “these are trolls using shocking language”.

    Now I’m the type who goes right into a pit of people that I completely disagree with, and still uses a civil tone. I’ve used this strategy quite successfully, and it is in fact the basis of the entirety of my activism. I found it depressing that this particular time I was labeled as a traitor. I consistently argued against using socially irresponsible shock talk.

    Thank you for sticking up for me on PZ’s thread, by the way. I saw that. (:

  • http://irenedelse.wordpress.com irenedelse

    Lurker, here, so make of my comment what you want.

    First of all, Justin, thanks for your openness and honesty, even though this is getting painful for all longtime readers of FtB (and before that ScienceBlogs) to see.

    (Oh, and by the way, absolutely agree on AA/12 steps. This is not an evidence-based treatment.)

    The more I read your blog, the more of a good guy you come across as. And I say that as someone who is fundamentally a pacifist, and not from the USA, so I have no reasons to have sympathy for your job. But your blog and the perspective you bring to FtB is important, and it’s obvious you put your heart in it.

    Now, as someone much wiser than me once wrote:

    “When the other side is retreating, let them wrap themselves in as much flag as they like. They’ll need it to cover their bleeding asses.”

  • http://privatefacesinpublicplaces.blogspot.co.uk/ Corylus

    I refused to keep it secret that we had a snake in the grass, because others deserve to know. People should not act like that even towards their rivals, much less their allies. What about his future victims? What about any potential past victims that he successfully rolled over?

    Quite right, and respect for talking this tack.

    This must have been an utterly hideous experience for you Justin. I am very sorry indeed to hear about this, and am completely disgusted by Laden’s behaviour.

    There is no excuse for this.

    None.

  • http://www.hyperdeath.co.uk hyperdeath

    Justin, engaging with the Hogglites wasn’t a problem. The problem was that you allowed the slimepit to metastasize into FTB.

  • smhll

    The fence of temperance, may I sit on it a little?

    G. Laden’s letter sounds way, way angry. And violent. I acknowledge that.

    Sometimes anger is justified. I can’t say if his anger is justified in this case, because I don’t know anything deep about the situation. The stuff aimed at you may be displaced and badly off target. I’m not going to condemn his anger, just tsk-tsk a little about the threats.

    He does not seem to be exerting himself to be completely fair in his follow-up blog post, and perhaps he has some track record of being inexact when he describes an emotional situation (based on a couple of examples that have been referenced.

    Both of you are redeemable human beings in my eyes.

    The “masterminds” of the so-called slimepit who dispatch minions to torment the outspoken — their redeemability and essential humanity I am still doubtful of. They might be human, but it seems like the get off on pretending not to be.

  • http://www.hyperdeath.co.uk hyperdeath

    I should add, that there was absolutely no excuse for Greg Laden’s reaction.

  • http://irenedelse.wordpress.com irenedelse

    @ ‘Tis Himself:

    Let’s be honest, Greg Laden wrote on a lot more than the Congo! As someone interested in anthropology, I found a lot of his posts enlightening, whether it’s about missionaries in Africa, or the ethics of being an observer in a foreign culture, or the perspective Africans can have of the Western world… I like what he wrote on evolution and the history of science, about human emotions and how we often express them in the same manner as non-human animals. I also liked his more geeky posts on Linux, Google, etc.

    I also can get where he comes from, and what kind of values he operates with. What I can’t stand is the way he sometimes seems to snap completely and turn viciously against someone, to the point of denying it or rationalizing it away when it’s pointed out to him.

    (I’m not going to speculate publicly about what kind of personal problems he’s facing, but I just wouldn’t be surprised if they were non-negligible. Not everybody wants to talk in public about this kind of things.)

  • karmakin

    What Ace said, although I don’t think that makes you wrong per se, I just think you missed where people talk about stuff like that (usually deep in comment threads). I think people knew that at least to a certain degree this was a case of specific trolling. It’s basically stalking-type behavior.

    I don’t think you were on the side of the trolls either. I think you were trying to start with a neutral stance, and that may annoy some people as being ignorant of the backstory and context, but I think it’s a reasonable way to look at things. For what it’s worth, I understand why people were upset, as it was troll bait, and some people are tired of the nonsense of the whole thing, but I don’t think that was your intention.

    For what it’s worth I think that, even though I think content matters much more than tone, I think that the attitude that Greg has basically is like throwing gasoline on fires. It’s not that the whole thing is his fault..far from it…but I think that the way he goes about things tends to make it worse. (and this is both tone AND content itself). He has tendency to talk and act in tribalistic us vs. them terms when I think relatively few rational people want to think that way. (Note. I don’t think that the slimepit-ites are acting rational right now. At all.)

  • Justin Griffith

    Justin, engaging with the Hogglites wasn’t a problem. The problem was that you allowed the slimepit to metastasize into FTB.

    How exactly did they metastasize here in a way that’s different from how they already interact with a lot of the blogs here?

    I may be alone in attempting civil disagreement with them, but I’m not about to drag that out and derail my activism within the military. Not even they would want that.

    Besides, this is a bit of a derail… how does anything ever justify violent threats like Laden’s? You’re kind of blaming the victim of his harassment, no?

  • Justin Griffith

    I should add, I didn’t see hyperdeath’s important “I should add” until too late.

  • Justin Griffith

    “I don’t think you were on the side of the trolls either. I think you were trying to start with a neutral stance, and that may annoy some people as being ignorant of the backstory and context, but I think it’s a reasonable way to look at things.”

    Not neutral. Calm. I was consistently condemning their socially irresponsible use of gendered slurs from the beginning.

  • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

    I’m reminded of what happened a few years back when Laci Green, then a fairly new bloggers, decided to have a rational dialogue with VenomFangX. This was doomed from the start as VFX is apparently incapable of arguing in good faith and it quickly turned into him doing a Gish gallop and declaring victory over atheism. Thunderf00t, as you may recall, had a long-standing feud with VenomFangX. This went beyond makign videos at each other. VFX had made multiple frivolous legal filing to try to cause problems for Thunderf00t. Thunderf00t didn’t tell Laci she was a traitor and threaten to kick her ass. No one else decided to pile on her for being so stupid as to try to talk to a troll, either. She didn’t start collecting threats until a few months later when she criticized TheAmazingAtheist for being sexist. Greg isn’t even living up to Thunderf00t’s standards here.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … how does anything ever justify violent threats…?

    Ask your Commanders-in-Chief, or their nearest subordinates.

  • Stacy

    Justin, you deserve support and respect.

    I’m glad you found your way out of the morass, and I admire your strength and your honesty.

    And Laden was way out of line. Full. Stop.

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

    I don’t really have time for this today, so I’ll just leave one comment.

    It’s a pattern of behavior from Laden, and he was called out for it publicly in the past by several of us.

    I never attempted to defend the ‘lulz culture’. I simply described it.

    You know that’s not true. You said, in allcaps and large type, “I SUPPORT ABBIE SMITH,” among many other things. You treated women who’ve been dealing with their attacks for over a year with a great deal of condescension. You’ve apologized, and now you seem to be chipping away at that.

    Now I’m the type who goes right into a pit of people that I completely disagree with, and still uses a civil tone. I’ve used this strategy quite successfully,

    [This goes for all examples in that linked post, unless you're gay, in which case you should get this already.] There’s a fundamental difference between dealing with gangs of people calling women cunts if you’re a woman (especially one targeted) and dealing with it if you’re a man.* The same goes for dealing with racists and homophobes. I assume you wouldn’t have joined black civil rights activists and quickly tried to lecture them about how they’re doing it wrong and how you understand Good ol’ Boy culture and can helpfully whitesplain to them. Don’t do it here.

    You can’t talk about how your approach would be more “successful” in this case because you’re not in the same position as women who are subject to misogynistic slurs, threats, and harassment. When you chuckle at, shrug off, or try to rationalize those, when you treat those doing that as people who simply disagree with me, I don’t see you as someone who has my back. I really want you to understand this, because I believe you mean well.

    *There’s also a difference between facing hostility toward atheists as an atheist (or toward anarchists as an anarchist or animal rights advocates as an animal rights advocate…) and facing misogyny, racism, or homophobia as a member of one of these marginalized groups. There are certainly parallels and comparisons that can be made across bigotries, but you should recognize the enormous differences between these different sorts of hostile environments in a context of centuries – or, in this case, millenia – of ongoing history involving violent subordination and dehumanization of women, gay people, and racial and ethnic groups on a massive scale and the attitudes and everyday aggressions that support it.

  • KiwiInOz

    That’s a powerful story Justin. More strength to your elbow in dealing with it.

    Greg Laden was a complete and utter prat to you. The public excoriation of him from FTB was deserved, although the celebration of him by some of the bloggers was distasteful.

    As a “slimer” who expressed some personal support for your willingness to engage “the enemy” in conversation, and your personal circumstances, I am disappointed in your characterisation of the Slime Pit denizens – “Those slimers fucked it up worse than anything you could lob at me could. They are retarded. I was naïve.” And of course there is Paul Loebb’s now deleted post!

    Most of the slimers were people who had become disenchanted with the dogma at certain FTB blogs. Many saw it as an opportunity to hold a mirror up to double standards, cognitive dissonance, and hypocrisy. There was some crappy targeting and trolling – but what is conveniently ignored, is that many were expressing their own personal concerns about that sort of rhetoric.

    Most if not all of the denizens actually support gender equity in real and practical ways. They/we are not misogynists. I care about the adult world my 21 yo daughter is in. I also care about the world my younger boys are in. Teenage boys walking alone are targets of violence by groups of boys – my 18yo was surrounded by a small group of boys at the local mall in the middle of the day and was hit because he was there.

    There are some serious social issues out there for people generally.

    There are many perspectives on how those could be solved or addressed.

    The debates and discussions have become heated and rhetoric has flown thick and fast. Some argue from data and some argue from personal experience. Some troll, and some escalate by focusing on strawmen, perceived slights, or their own bandwagon issues.

    Here endeth the rant.

    Respect.

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

    Justin, I think you’re being a gigantic ass in the way you’re pretending to be just presenting the ‘lulz culture’ because in the real world taking a neutral stance when one side is clearly wrong is an implicit endorsement of that wrong side. And I’m a product of the military culture, so I know how much nasty you’ve internalized as part of going along to get along. I even understand how positive the military culture seems compared to other cultures, but that doesn’t excuse the places where it goes wrong.

    You’ve got to get over the idea that everyone who goes along with that sort of culture is a good person just because you go along with it and you consider yourself to be a good person. Some people go along with it, and some people embrace, internalize, and amplify the negative culture. You’re acting like a fool when you put yourself up as someone who can talk from the “higher ground” when you’re knee deep in the mud. That doesn’t excuse the way Greg Laden attacked you, but the fact that you were unfairly attacked doesn’t excuse your own behavior either.

  • Justin Griffith

    @Pierce Butler #16

    Don’t be this guy

    If you have such a problem with the role of a soldier, then make their job obsolete. I doubt you will find many of them objecting to never having to fight again.

  • julian

    And Laden was way out of line. Full. Stop.

    That’s pretty much all there is to say.

    He may have snapped.

    It may have been another example of long standing behavior.

    Whatever.

    It was out of line. Full stop.

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

    Justin – the letter of yours you republished. Are you sure that’s a good idea to be posting some of that information while you’re still in the military?

    Not trying to sound sketchy; it’s a genuine concern.

  • http://sciencenotes.wordpress.com/ Markita Lynda—damn climate change!

    In the past, you did what you could with the knowledge and pressures you had. In the future, you’ll be doing things differently. More power to you.

  • http://www.hyperdeath.co.uk hyperdeath

    Justin Griffith says:

    How exactly did they metastasize here in a way that’s different from how they already interact with a lot of the blogs here?

    When the slimepitters come over to FTB, it’s usually as an unwelcome guests. They attempt to derail a thread, and then either give up or get banned.

    You welcomed them in, allowing them to create a fully fledged slimepit.

  • rjmx

    Justin, I just want to say this:

    You’re the only one — the ONLY one, IMHO — to come out of this with any semblance of credibility. You at least tried. None of your fellow FtB bloggers seem to be interested in doing anything of the kind (and, of course, the ERV crowd are just doing it for the lulz anyway. Why would they want to stop?).

    To the rest of you: I have to admit that I’m totally gobsmacked that this thing is still going: I got sick of watching it after a few days.

    I can only observe that it takes two to make a feud last for this long. Neither side is without fault here.

  • db17

    Justin, your going out of your way to be conciliatory with Greg was an exceptional gesture that most people would not even have considered, and his disgusting reaction to continue his hatred rather than even considering your offers just proves that he is not a person who is worth the effort – or anyone’s time.

    I’m not really aware of what he may or may not have written or otherwise contributed to science and the extended blogging network in the past, but I have precisely no interest in finding out after having seen how he treats people.

    I don’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to be so accommodating and human as you were in your post asking him to talk about it properly. That will work wonders with some people. It’s just a shame that people like Greg make it seem futile sometimes. Still, don’t sink to their level.

    All the best.

  • Justin Griffith

    I didn’t take a neutral stance. I took a very strong opposing stance, with a civil tone and nuanced arguments.

    Not neutral. Calm.

    These are all from the original post. The one that Greg issued violent threats over.

    If you comment at a place where you know such language isn’t welcome, you’re way out of line to use it. If you’re directly contacting a person known to dislike this language, and you use this language, you’re wrong.

    and

    I also really appreciate that the diverse chan-style humor brought a new edge to the atheist world. She gets that, and uses it well. Abbie is funny, but I think she is unaware of the socially irresponsible applications of that style of humor when she commands an audience that large.

    and

    Our particular corner of the internet should probably be run more like this: if you wouldn’t say it to that person in real life face to face, don’t say it on their blog/twitter/facebook.

    I simply put forth a nuanced argument about why. My big mistake was certainly to put “I support Abbie Smith” in big letters in the middle of making that point… within hours it was shrunk with an explanation that I often break up long posts with giant letters, and had a poor choice of (4) words. What was meant by ‘I support AS’ was ‘I read AS… but I don’t approve of gendered slurs.’

    It was not meant to say “THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO APPROACH SLIME”. I simply was just saying “I suppose I look at the problem differently”. Trust me, enough of you misunderstood to convince me that these mistakes were big enough to call it “a shitty blog post.”

    But you shouldn’t think that I embraced, excused, celebrated, cozy-ed up to, or otherwise signaled that I was a slimer. If you still think I am for whatever reason… you’re wrong. Slimers know this, they know that I disagreed with them on their use of gendered slurs from the very beginning.

  • screechymonkey

    It’s sad that Laden seems to be doubling down on this. Even assuming that Laden is “right” on the underlying issue, he’s just not a guy I want on my side any more.

  • db17

    …although, having read his reply (which you linked), it seems that he took a more rational approach to things LATER. Which in no way excuses his initial behaviour. I will still be reluctant to read anything by him, or anyone else who can speak to other people like that, however much they reassess things and apologise later.

  • Justin Griffith

    @db17 #30

    “…although, having read his reply (which you linked), it seems that he took a more rational approach to things LATER. Which in no way excuses his initial behaviour.”

    No. He was bullying and irrational except for a span of 1 hour when he was begging me not to publish it… that was right before I published it. Notice his re-entry into calling me “retarded child in a parking lot”. That was hours after his ‘heartfelt apology’.

    Anyway, I’m going out for an hour so ALL comments are gonna get stuck in moderation for a bit.

  • slc1

    Re Justin Griffith @ #21

    Link doesn’t work.

  • Tristan

    Justin, as a long-term slimepit denizen*, I can say that the reaction over there to Greg Laden’s email to you has been universal condemnation – but not an ounce of surprise. His character has been obvious to anybody who cared to look for years.

    [JG: I edited out the last bit... just trying to avoid escalation / derailing / us vs them.]

  • db17

    Justin @ 31

    Ah, OK. Back to my original conclusion, then! ;)

    After reading GL’s spin on things, I was concerned that my first post might have been too harsh on him, probably due to being insufficiently informed. But, if it turns out that this is how I usually acts, and he defaulted back to it when he realised that playing nice wasn’t going to help his damage-limitation campaign, then I don’t feel very bad about my initial impression after all.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/ Greg Laden

    Greg, under what circumstances is it okay to use violent threatening language?

    In some ways, never. But among colleagues where one has totally betrayed the other, it comes out sometimes. My enemies will condemn me for it forever, my friends will quietly support me. What will you do? Melt?

    Justin, you did not take an opposing stance or a neutral stance. After months of supporting you whenever you needed it, promoting your posts, etc etc., by all of those who were the daily targets of Abbie’s crew you went over there and 24 point STOOD WITH THEM.

    Incoherent drunken babbling?

    Sounds like it, yes but could that just be because you are a “rookie blogger”? That is the excuse you allowed yourself when you slapped all of your allies in the face. Funny how we can allow ourselves excuses but not anyone else. Frankly, I thought “drunken babbling” was a good excuse for you. Anybody can get drunk and babble.

    Instead of picking up the phone, he continued to bully and harass for several days. He’s continuing to bully now over on his website.

    Justin, I’m only responding to the things you say and do. I probably will stop responding at some point because this will get boring and I’ve got other things. But I’m not sure why you think you can ask me to not respond if I feel the need to. I know you get a high off of being judge jury and executioner, but are you also in charge of telling other people to shut up?

    Greg Laden also now says that I’m dangerous to the Atheist community in that post.

    The ranting and raving and stuff is unbecoming of the Military Director of the American Atheists. Bad form.

    Maybe this admission of long ago nightmares will affect my career, maybe not.

    I wasn’t talking about your past, Justin. I was talking about you now.

    It actually feels good to finally admit that I’ve had this struggle. That crushing guilt… maybe I can start working some of it off.

    I honestly, truly hope that works out for you.

    Let’s see. If I apologize one more time, will you raise the stakes ever further? Lets’ see.

    Justin, I am truly sorry that I used the phrase “I want to kick your ass” and all that. I really did not mean that as a threat of actual violence, but I can see how you would take it that way and I should not have done that.

    I mean that, and I meant it when I said it by email and I meant that when I told you over the phone.

    I’m not sure what you want from me beyond that.

    Further clarification. I never begged you. In our private phone conversation that you’ve chosen to misrepresent, I pointed out that you and I probably had more in common and more to work together to achieve than would be achieved by your revenge. Revenge was your word. Or maybe vengeance. Can’t remember.

    Further clarification. Retard in a parking lot? You are making this up. Why are you putting words in my mouth?

    Justin, you’ve deleted all my previous comments to you, so I suppose there is a chance you are going to delete this one, but I just wanted to know. Do you plan to put up a post like this every few days? Just wondering.

  • johngreg

    Justin, yes, the Slyme People™ have a bad reputation, though largely underserved. Nonetheless, for the most part, those of us who posted on your blog did so with support for you. And you have rather betrayed that support.

    Yes, a couple of Slyme People treated you with no kid gloves, but none of us treated you with the hostility and anger that your associates and fellwo commenters from FfTB did.

    I regret that you are somehow unable to see that.

  • Valindrius

    Justin, I entirely empathise with your reaction to such abysmal treatment, the bile and vitriol is horrible. In my view, the original attack was insidious in its nature and the continued inability to contain attacks is troubling. Of course, I can speculate as to the causation but I shan’t as I think any exploration would detract from conveying support. I want my condemnation of the intimidating messages to be categorical and unequivocal. If I referred to anything that could be construed as a mitigating factor then it would sully that condemnation.

    Naturally, others feel it’s imperative to analyse events leading to such a reaction at the earliest opportunity so that mistakes are not repeated. I also regard analysis as critical since the pit posts generated significant harm. However, I simply do not feel comfortable doing that in relation to this post.

  • Optimus Primate

    Justin, I know you didn’t post your email response to Greg to gain anyone’s sympathy or garner more support — that’s obvious from the context — but I just wanted to say that it makes me respect you even more. It takes a strong person to elevate himself or herself from that situation; it takes an even stronger person to share it.

    I did want to address one comment here, though, and if you feel this is derailment, or likely to escalate the problem, feel free to delete it. No hard feelings.

    [JG EDIT: I've read and appreciate that you shared your perspective contained in the large swaths that I'm deleting here... as you said escalation / derailment]

    Some of us who proudly call the Pit home now (well, a former home, I guess) are genuinely heartfelt feminists. Many more are just all-around humanists. We recognize that there is a society-wide problem with sexism (which goes both ways, although women generally have to suffer much worse, much harsher, and much more damaging sexism). Many of us also really want conferences to be as safe as they can reasonably be. We just have legitimate (legal, practical, and ethical) concerns with some of the solutions, and specifically about the attitudes and actions of the most vocal supporters of stringent policies.

    Now, feel free to argue with me on any of those points. I welcome it. Because I may be wrong. Every thought that comes out of my head comes out with the background recognition that it could be wrong.

    But don’t label me as evil. And don’t assume I’m in it for the lulz, please.

    [JG EDIT: Please don't argue with him here... I'm only showing this small part in good faith because it contradicts what I said. Seriously if you want to argue, take that shit directly to the pit (or wherever they are now.) Responding will be considered derailment / escalation here and simply not posted.]

  • http://www.facebook.com/goddesscat catburns

    Hi Justin,

    I think I understand what you wanted to do here. I am someone that keeps trying sometimes to fix things that are not fixable. Relationships, if someone does not meet you half way then it can not be fixed. Opening yourself up and putting yourself in a venerable position to someone who has proven himself untrustworthy is not the answer.

    You owe no one especially on the internet, any explanations.

    We all have things we regret, and the people who say there is nothing. Well, they are either very lucky, lived a perfect life, it hasn’t happened yet, they are lying or delusional.

    Most the time it’s a combination of the last two. You have created something amazing, and that will continue to grow and make a huge difference in so many lives. THAT is what you need to remember, continue to move forward.

    Your personal life is no one business, especially someone that threatens you.

  • Mattir

    Justin, I applaud your willingness to expose Laden’s bullying tactics, which are not all that different from those of Justicar and his buddies. I had my own run-ins with Laden, which culminated in him callng me a rape-enabler and men’s rights advocate in response to comments in which I discussed my having experienced childhood sexual abuse and rape and doing professional research on abuse and resiliency. He is not a safe or effective ally to have, since he has demonstrated his propensity to respond disproportionately to even small or theoretical disagreements.

    Also, if Laden knew of your history of heroin abuse and used the phrase “incoherent drunken babbling” to describe your efforts to seek reconciliation, he is an obnoxious jerk at best and an ableist proponent of stigma at worst. I’ve been sober for 25 years, and yet “drunkard” and related terms are still thrown out at me during arguments with family members (even by some who did not know me before quit drinking). It’s good to know that he’s one to harbor these same stigmatizing ideas about former addicts…

    I do not want Laden as an ally. He is (rhetorically) violent, dishonest, and untrustworthy in dealings with his readers, his fellow bloggers, and his compatriots in whatever social movement he purports to support.

  • Tristan

    [JG: I edited out the last bit... just trying to avoid escalation / derailing / us vs them.]

    Fair point. As long as you read it. Despite all the rhetoric, there are very few actual monsters. There are a lot of people (on all sides) who simply miss the point of skeptical debate. Rather than being in it to work towards a common understanding, they’re in it to win power. For such people honest representation takes a back seat. It’s an exhausting task, but the only real way through is to read what people actually say, rather than what others say they say.

  • Justin Griffith

    Greg you said this:

    “But you are, effectively, a toddler in a parking lot right now.”

    “You’re on Abbie’s short bus, Justin. Mental health issues? That makes you a retard.”

    I am not making this up Greg. Those are your words. I am a toddler in a parking lot, who is also retarded. You posted that stuff the same day that I exposed your bullying, hours later. Now I’m lying about it?

    Justin, you’ve deleted all my previous comments to you, so I suppose there is a chance you are going to delete this one, but I just wanted to know. Do you plan to put up a post like this every few days? Just wondering.

    Well if you keep attempting to bully me directly, and it looks like your peers don’t condemn you for it… I’ll reply. I would have left it alone if you hadn’t kicked up the anthill.

    Keep in mind – I get enough death threats that the FBI and others have told me about certain phone recording software to use on my stalkers and other threats. Don’t think for a minute that you were immune to this. You had physically threatened me. You live in a one-party consent state. When I describe the phone call we had, I’m going off of transcripts. I wont release them unless you keep lying about our conversation.

    You said that I used words like ‘revenge’ ‘spite’ etc. I sure did. I said this when I exposed him, and I said similar things in our phone-call:

    His exposure here is for the betterment of the movement as a whole, not a personal vendetta. Even if it is possible that his employers may see this (I hope they don’t), the secular movement deserves the truth.

    I’ll release it if you wish.

    As for your second apology there in your comment… Do you really think that people can’t see through your tactics? You’re ‘sincerely apologizing’ while twisting the truth and insulting / attacking in the same apology. You’ve managed to unite Slimers and FtB’ers in something, which is impressive. That uniting thing is overwhelming disgust at your actions, statements, and tactics. Violent threatening harassment is not acceptable. Drop it, take a few months away from this subject… if you do some deep searching within, perhaps you’ll find that peace you said you were looking for. I’ll even take a picture with you at some con, and we’ll bury the hatchet. Otherwise, I’d advise against further bullying, lies, and escalation.

  • Tristan

    Greg, the threat of violence is the least of your… indiscretions in that email. As has been pointed out by a few (not on FTB, to my knowledge), the second paragraph is blatant probing to see if you can set off some latent PTSD. With all the talk in these parts (and on your very blog, with trigger warnings enforced), this is an absolutely disgusting move on your part and one for which you simply cannot claim ignorance.

  • throwaway

    Greg, the threat of violence is the least of your… indiscretions in that email. As has been pointed out by a few (not on FTB, to my knowledge), the second paragraph is blatant probing to see if you can set off some latent PTSD. With all the talk in these parts (and on your very blog, with trigger warnings enforced), this is an absolutely disgusting move on your part and one for which you simply cannot claim ignorance.

    As someone with PTSD, that’s exactly what it looked like from even the most generous glance. It was a sad and shocking moment because I’ve had wounds picked at before to the point where I wanted to kill myself. I was concerned deeply for Justin at that moment. It’s not right to treat possible sufferers of any mental illness in such a way as to aggravate their condition. It would be like showing anime to someone with epileptic seizures. Unforgivable, IMHO.

  • Mattir

    I had not thought about the PTSD triggering aspect of Laden’s rapist-enabler accusation to me, but yeah, in retrospect, there was that too. Using PTSD triggers to shut people up in an argument is really really ugly behavior. I was way too charitable in thinking that he was just intellectually sloppy.

  • SF

    Justin, you took the right decision by exposing Greg Ladens disgraceful behavior the way you did. It must have been a difficult choice for you to make and it hasn’t helped that others on the network have chosen to support him rather than take a stance against this type of harrassment. It is sad to see that personal friendships outweigh making the correct moral choice but you should be proud that you did the correct thing.

  • FreeThoughtStorm

    Isn’t it funny how you don’t even have to disagree with some people, you simply have to not hold a mob mentality, and they turn on you? I cannot imagine ever treating someone the way this man has been treating you. I’m very sorry. For what it’s worth, I highly respect you. I would do myself a favor if I were you and just sever all ties with this bike creature, he can do nothing for you but cause you pain. Take care.

  • DrVonEvilPants

    When I was younger I asked a friend if he ever killed anybody while serving. The look on his face answered my question and made me regret asking in the first place.

    My biggest issue is this:

    ” If you do make that apology it better be from laying face down in the mud.”

    My interpretation is to either humbled yourself like Muslim prayer (at best) or your apology to the offended will be made while bleeding out (at worst).

  • http://maxiitheblindwatchmaker.blogspot.com Max

    The characterization of you as a bad guy who won a battle is pretty high school. I’m not even sure where to begin. It seems like when you write a letter like that, the only appropriate response is not to make excuses for it, apologize and move forward in more respectable manner. What you don’t do is blame the victim of your harassment of being the bad guy and winning over the good guy (you the threat maker).

    Good luck.

  • http://anthrozine.com Cubist

    Greg Laden has always been something of an enigma to me. Of that subset of his writings which I’ve read (this includes comments on other people’s blogposts), a healthy chunk just puzzled me, on account of I couldn’t see what his point was, or even why he’d written that particular constellation of words in connection with whatever the nominal topic at hand might have been. I always got the impression Laden was writing for the sake of creating word-objects, the textual equivalent of abstract sculpture, not for the sake of communicating his ideas with clarity. Very odd.

  • EveryMan

    Good for you outing a cyberbully and creep, Justin.

    It’s clear this guy was masquerading as a feminist in order to provide a cover for his illicit behavior. You are to be congratulated for exposing him.

    You are a True Patriot. Please keep up the good work and don’t let the bullies keep you down.

  • Tezcatlipoca

    Wow.

    I grew up watching my father, a Vietnam Vet, who later used the GI Bill to get a Bachelors and Masters in Education and became a math and science teacher, have nightmares while taking afternoon naps in the summer. He did kill people, once even with a machete, and he’s seen people killed. What Laden said was a cheap shot trying to trigger a reaction. It was an utterly reprehensible thing for him to have written. I was sickened and disgusted by it.

  • Pen

    Sounds like it, yes but could that just be because you are a “rookie blogger”? That is the excuse you allowed yourself when you slapped all of your allies in the face.

    I can only just discern what is going on here because I have been away for a couple of weeks, but in response to this comment, I would like to say that I don’t come here to listen to a group of ‘allies’ mutually support each other. I don’t want FTB bloggers to be influenced by the opinions they think other FTB bloggers will find acceptable. I am not interested in popularity contests or reality show style relationship dramas between FTB bloggers or anyone else. I want to hear what people actually think, right or wrong. I don’t think Greg has any business calling on Justin for ‘allegiance’, or threatening him (obviously). Equally, although I’ve often disagreed with Greg, I thought his overall contributions were worthwhile (yeah, especially on the Congo!). I think it’s a shame this couldn’t be sorted out some other way.

  • kraut

    Having followed Greg Laden at his own blog from way before he joined FtB, I encountered him as one perfectly willing to bully and troll in the response section of his blogs whenever it suits his (whatever) goals.

    I quite often had the feeling to deal with a very intelligent person without much conscience as to his behaviour towards others – either deliberate, again to achieve some unfathomable goal, or it being part his personality.

    I think in both cases the term “psychopath” might be applicable.

  • kraut

    Ah yeah, good riddance to him. Almost forgot that part.

  • hotshoe

    “You’re on Abbie’s short bus, Justin. Mental health issues? That makes you a retard.”

    I am not making this up Greg. Those are your words. I am a toddler in a parking lot, who is also retarded. You posted that stuff the same day that I exposed your bullying, hours later. Now I’m lying about it?

    Not lying, just misreading. You know that Greg was talking about slimepit technique of using any weapon they think will hurt you. If they think you’ve got mental problems, that makes you a retard to them because they know retard is one of the most stinging insults they could use in that case. [Not a retard to Greg, or to any of the rest of us].

    Given the rest of the shit that Greg laid on you, I hardly care that he was right about this one paragraph, but I hate to see you, Justin, adding one more mistake to this morass.

    [JG EDIT: I appreciate the portion I've deleted. Zapped it to stop any escalation / derailment.]

  • whiskeyjack

    I’ve made an effort to ignore most of the drama around here, so there’s not much I’m going to say about it. Further, I know this is not what you’re looking for, and maybe it’s weird and intrusive of me, but…

    *hug*

  • Brownian

    I had not thought about the PTSD triggering aspect of Laden’s rapist-enabler accusation to me, but yeah, in retrospect, there was that too. Using PTSD triggers to shut people up in an argument is really really ugly behavior. I was way too charitable in thinking that he was just intellectually sloppy.

    Me neither, though now that I see it, that’s why it bothered me so much. It was malicious and cruel. I have to agree with Tristan.

  • Brownian

    It was ultimately an ableist attack.

  • Achrachno

    Justin, I think you’ve been both right and admirable through all of this and I’ve found Greg Laden’s behavior toward you to be appalling. I used to follow both his blogs, but I have just deleted bookmark to the one that remains. I no longer like or trust him and will not be reading his writing any more. Life is short and there are better bloggers I can follow — such as yourself. I hope you find a way to put all this aggravation behind you.

  • http://icarusswims.blogspot.com Anne C. Hanna

    Dammit. My sympathy, Justin, for the bad history this has brought back up for you. I’ve long appreciated both your and Greg’s work, and I hate to see such a mess between you two. I find myself wishing there was a way that this could all be fixed, but I know that’s obnoxious and pollyannaish. I hope you can keep going forward and doing the work you’re so good at in spite of all of this.

  • SallyStrange

    Yeah, I’m glad you were the trigger for getting Laden booted from FTB as well. I didn’t realize how toxic his tactics were. Whether he agrees with me or not on general principle, his actions are despicable and his post here shows that he hasn’t learned a damn thing.

    I wrote an email to you after your initial post in support of Abbie, and your quick response gave me reason to believe that you’re learning, and beginning to understand why it provoked such a disproportionate reaction. I still think it was a massive mistake, but I won’t hold it against you, and hope other FTB folks can take a cue from me that Justin’s going to be okay, maybe even a really effective ally someday. If anyone is interested I can describe the contents of our communication in more detail, but it’s nothing groundbreaking. I just complained that Justin had given some nasty characters yet another forum in which to spread lies about me (specifically, that I endorse and promote rape jokes) and I resented it; he responded that he saw that this was the case and that he’d made a big mistake.

    Anyway, it’s really late for me and I hope you’re doing well, Justin. You messed up, but nothing you did warranted anything Laden did or said in return. Thanks for your honesty.

  • Emburii

    Justin, just wanted to be another voice of support. Greg Laden’s behavior was completely wrong, and his later accusations in the middle of what was supposed to be an apology were incredibly off-base for someone who’s supposed to be an ally to skepticism and human rights. While I (and others) may not agree with your post about Abbie Smith, you did learn from it and take people’s hurt reactions to heart (though please don’t play down the hurtful impact of that post in the future, Salty Current is very right on that).

    Greg Laden, on the other hand, has a very different pattern. He doesn’t learn. He doesn’t apologize. For him to say that you’re hurting the movement and that you have nothing to offer atheism would be rich if he wasn’t morally bankrupt.

  • C Rowan

    Justin, while I understood why people were upset by your original post, your comment at #28 touches on what I understood to be the point of your blog. Greg was completely out of line to threaten you, no matter why he was upset. I’m sorry you’ve been going through this.

  • annalemma

    Justin, Greg Laden’s behavior was disgraceful. I’ve seen him do this and worse here and over at ScienceBlogs in the past. This is why I never post on any of his blogs and rarely read them. I don’t know if you were truly aware of the history behind the slimepit, some of the people over there are probably mocking some of the people here, others really are rather misogynistic.

    If this happened to me, I would sever all ties to Laden and never respond back to him directly. He is trying to push your buttons and get you to say or do something that would hurt yourself. I think that Mattir and throwaway are right. Laden is trying to find weak spots that he can push, to try to get you to retaliate against him, to sink down to his level. And to perhaps use any information he can get to hurt you in real life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1712698167 joshuade venter

    Yeah, the PTSD probing nauseated me as a human being. I even felt twangs from my time in Afghanistan so I can only imagine how something like that must have felt for Justin. Laden’s email was a perfect nail for his figurative coffin. The transcripts(that I’d love to see) would only serve to completely bury him.

  • embertine

    Justin, while I disagreed with the way you presented your initial post, I recognise that you probably did not mean it to sound that way and I condemn Greg’s treatment of you. Best of luck.

  • Za-zen

    Laden was absolutely out of line, what makes it worse is his “notpolology” and an attempt to muddy the waters as to what he actually said, relying on readers to take his reworked version of events instead of researching (something which a lot of bloggers do to present a version of reality that suits themselves, is to rely on the predictable laziness of so called skeptics).

    Further to that is the Abhorrent apologists for Ladens violent threats, and those who choose not to condemn because he’s (one of us)

    [JG 'BIG BROTHER' EDIT: baleeted the rest to dissuade escalation / derail]

  • mouth mixture

    I hope for Greg Laden that he has got some friends left who are willing to tell him that it might be better to STFU about this topic for a while. Seriously. In his threat mail he said that he’s concerned for what his children might find on the net about their father. He’s currently busy making it worse for himself and for them.

  • Jack

    Justin, thanks for helping rid FTB of the insufferable Greg Laden.

  • baal

    Justin, I’ve never gotten along with folks in the military (except one friend who is a major now but he has a weird double personality, one for the military and one for civilians) but I also value free speech and appreciate what you’re doing on this blog as well as for atheists in the military.

    I’m disappointed in the commentariat who felt the need to repeat their excoriation of you in this particular thread. You have earned sympathy and support and have mine.

  • CommanderTuvok

    Greg, will you stop “victim blaming”, please.

  • jackrawlinson

    Isn’t it interesting how Laden – one of the “You Just Don’t Get It” crowd of patronisers – shows so plainly in his comment above that he just doesn’t get what a big deal it is to make a direct threat of actual physical violence.

    As I just said over on Pharyngula, these people have revealed staggering depths of hypocrisy over all this. And he’s still insisting your clear and heartfelt reply was “drunken babbling” and “incoherent”, even after you posted it here to illustrate that, er, it isn’t? The man has lost the bloody plot, along with the rest of that gang of self-righteous louts.

  • http://overthinkingmusic.wordpress.com Jennifer, Uppity Bitch and General Malcontent

    As a former Marine who understands how military culture impacts one’s ability to understand how a lot of language comes across, and as a woman who underwent a lot of misogynist abuse while I was in, I was very, very disappointed with your initial post. I remember what it it was like to listen to my fellow devil dogs justify their use of homophobic language, and I remember what it as like to be constantly reminded that my vagina made me less-than. (It would have even moreso had I been a transguy, to ward off gender essentialism.) I didn’t want to see you go that route in defense of the kind of horrible language that they use in the Pit.

    However, I also saw that your intent was rather different, and I think that you meant, and mean, well. You have a learning curve, just like I did, and that’s okay. You’re learning, and that’s what matters.

    That being said, it doesn’t matter if you had voiced your absolute support of ERV. Even had you given full-throated approbation of Abbie and the slimepit’s antics, you would not have ever, ever deserved what Laden threw at you. It was low and despicable bullying and “the best revenge is not to be them.” You are having some measure of it, where he is stooping to the tactics of a really nasty group of people. I don’t want people like that on my side; I am not willing to be like the people whom I oppose on social justice issues. You deserve better, and you would have regardless.

    Thank you for serving our troops. I wish this had been a thing when I was in, because I was in the band and oh, boy, do we play all of the religious bullshit. I could tell you stories.

  • mk

    Hang in there Justin. I appreciate your situation. I support you. For whatever all that’s worth.

    Cheers.

  • mythbri

    Greg’s letter and subsequent behavior is completely out of line, and incredibly disrespectful. Although I disagree with your analysis of the slimepit and disliked what followed, I think that at the very least your intentions were good. I’m sorry that you were treated so poorly, and I’m sending positive thoughts your way.

  • oolon

    Justin – keep on posting about the ‘war’ between the slime pit and FtBs maybe someone will realise its not worth it eventually. Somewhat ironic to me that the military guy who I might have expected to take sides and be right in on the ‘them vs us’ stuff is the peacemaker. So sorry for my pre-conceptions there as you are imo the clearest thinker here. Couple of other things:

    -> Rookie blogger is patronising bullshit, ignore that and don’t give it any credence as it smacks of a put down to me

    -> PZs ‘disclosure’ post was atrocious, he surely knew you were being bullied by a FtB’er and wades in with that post! Stunningly poor taste but then Pharyngula does seem to be full of people more interested in a fight than finding common ground.

  • Fizzing thru da Fizzics

    Justin, I am more from hard sciences, but Greg’s dishonesty is telling. Having been in armed forces myself, sympathy, strength, keep up the good work.

  • http://florilegia.wordpress.com Ibis3, denizen of a spiteful ghetto

    Hi Justin, I’ve been wanting to voice my support of you personally, especially after I read that ugly PTSD-inducing screed. You make mistakes (to be honest, based on your comments in this thread I still don’t think you get it entirely even now–but I won’t go into that so as not to derail) but I can tell that you’re sincerely trying to not only get it but to act differently as a result. That is worthy of respect.

    Please take care of yourself and know that you’ve already done lots of good in the world.

  • qbsmd

    People frequently mention the Congo memoirs on Scienceblogs when talking about Greg; they are an interesting read, but what I remember most is that they were the most narcissistic thing I’ve ever read. In every story Greg talks about how he’s the smartest and bravest and generally most awesome person around and how everyone else is too easily scared and needs his help to run everything. After that, I guess it isn’t too surprising that he lacks the self-reflection necessary to admit when he’s done something morally wrong.

    For the rest of his posts, I’ve long suspected that he just says anything that pops into his head, and then decides later, based on reader reaction, if it was serious or an obvious joke that only an idiot would take seriously.

    I mostly stopped going to or and completely stopped commenting on any of his posts after he started posting real names and contact information for any commenters who annoyed him. It was never justified, as it is when PZ or others post contact info for people who send threats, and Greg always dismissed the concerns of other commenters who always told him he went too far. I would recommend against anyone ever posting on a blog that he manages; he has some specialized computer knowledge so there’s no way of knowing how much he can find out about you when he gets obsessed.

    After that bullying behavior, nothing else he’s said has really surprised me. If it were my blog Greg were posting on, I would delete any of his comments and replace them with a note saying “comment by Greg Laden deleted; Greg, go back to the slimepit where you belong.”

  • A3Kr0n

    Justin Griffith says:

    July 1, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    In a move that should surprise nobody…Pool’s closed. No more comments.

    This is the last blog post I’ll ever do on the subject.

    Ya?

  • A3Kr0n

    Moderating comments? Like a Christian on YouTube?

    12 tracking widgets on this page?

    Freethought?

    Hmmmm……

  • Bleeb

    Laden’s behavior is repulsive in so many ways. Cowardly, weaselly threats to make himself feel like a tough guy. Manipulative, dishonest, bullying.

    The way he was let go, with an attitude like “he screwed up, but he’s still our friend,” is unacceptable. Anyone who continues to be his ally has lost credibility.

    I’m sad that FTB turned out to be like this. There were a number of bloggers here that I liked, but this Laden incident has really exposed serious moral weakness.

  • ChasCPeterson

    fwiw I think Justin Griffith is handling the situation well, down to moderating the comments for tribalism.

    Laden’s latest actions are, as noted above, part of a pattern. I left an accusatory comment on his blog once; he changed my log-in nym to my real-name e-mail address and sent me an e-mail that read in its entirety “I recommend that you do not fuck with me”. This was in Feb. 2010.

    Just another datum in support.

  • ewanmacdonald

    The way he was let go, with an attitude like “he screwed up, but he’s still our friend,” is unacceptable. Anyone who continues to be his ally has lost credibility.

    I’m sad that FTB turned out to be like this. There were a number of bloggers here that I liked, but this Laden incident has really exposed serious moral weakness.

    Sadly I feel the same way. There’s still an elephant in the room here.

  • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

    Could you be more specific?

  • GMM

    Justin, I’m sorry you had to deal with those awful triggering comments and threats, there is no excuse for that. I get that you were genuinely trying to bring some sort of resolution or understanding to the situation with your post. I also think it was totally uncool of Myers to respond to you the way he did. I understand the tensions involved and that they’ve been building up for a while, but again there’s absolutely no excuse for that reaction from Greg Laden, especially when you tried reach out to him by phone to resolve it. You have my support.

  • Jillian

    I never comment here at all, Justin. I used to read PZ back in the day, but I can’t bear the cult-like quality his blog has developed. I’ve been following this whole imbroglio since the beginning, and have only commented online about in in one place. And I’m not even going to say anything about it here.

    I wanted to respond to the guilt you are feeling over people who were hurt by your drug use. I was raised by addicts. I had an unimaginably shitty childhood, and dealt with a lot of horrid things. My folks kicked me out when I was 18, and I spent some time on the streets after that.

    Things have been pretty hard for me. But I have graduated from college, gotten my dream job (public school teacher), and have worked very hard on not being the person my upbringing trained me to be. It took a few years of counseling and a regular supply of antidepressant medication, but as of right now my life is wonderful. It’s amazing. And every day when I wake up, I am glad to be alive. I’m almost 40, and I have never before in my life said I am glad to be alive.

    I share this with you to let you know that you didn’t ruin anyone’s life. No one can ruin someone’s life except for themselves. All of us have crummy shit done to us at one point or another. Some of us get a more raw deal than others. But in the end, we are always responsible for ourselves. We can fix the damage that is done to us – and if we don’t take that responsibility, no one else will.

    Obviously, this only goes so far – I have had students in my classroom whose mothers used crack while they were pregnant, and those kids never really had a chance. My heart aches for them. But anything short of permanent structural damage to the brain can be fixed.

    I had my life damaged by addicts, but it isn’t damaged anymore. At least, no more than anybody else’s life is. Your friends will fix themselves when they are ready to fix themselves. And if they are never ready, that is not your fault. You bear absolutely no responsibility for that.

    Just hoping you can keep the guilt you feel in perspective. Feel bad about things you are legitimately responsible for, but don’t beat yourself up over things that aren’t your fault, okay?

    Hope that helps.

  • Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Laden is an asswipe. He should be gone. I’m sorry you had to deal with that, but you did exactly the right thing.

    I can’t help but laugh at all the “FTB is a cult/groupthink/hivemind with simultaneious DEEEEP RIIIIFFFTTTSSS” moronic bilge, but I just consider the source.

    And, you should too. Because, despite his fantasticly assinine douchosity, he’s 100% correct about the slimepit. What Laden did was clearly wrong, what the slimepit would do to you will be orders of magnitude worse. The last year+ proves that in spades.

    You didn’t deserve that shit from Laden. You don’t deserve it from the slimepit either. Save yourself, man.

  • Justin Griffith

    what the slimepit would do to you will be orders of magnitude worse. The last year+ proves that in spades.

    You didn’t deserve that shit from Laden. You don’t deserve it from the slimepit either. Save yourself, man.

    The slime pit has nothing on the trolls / death threats / and Christian fundamentalists who threaten violence towards me when I’m home in the USA. They also have nothing on the Islamic fundamentalists when I’m away. Perhaps you’re unfamiliar, but I’m a pretty outspoken foxhole atheist. I’m in the news quite a bit, and do go on Fox News, etc. all the time. Every single time, it generates shit tons more slime than the 13 or so people in that endless old thread at ERV ever could.

    Greg Laden asked me “Have you ever had to deal with the kind of animosity and psychological torture?” (paraphrase)

    I responded “wait wait… don’t you know who I am? Of course I do… But I don’t threaten my allies with physical violence.”

    I don’t threaten any civilians with violence except in very extreme specific situations (preventing a rape, self-defense, etc.) The slime pit did not do that to him. He’s always been a bully, it wasn’t that he was destroyed in any sense from a year+ battle. He simply always was a snake in the grass.

    I am not afraid of the slime pit, and I argued with them calmly. I did not bully them, or anything like that… I used their statements against them, and they replied back and forth. That’s what I do with any group of people that I disagree with.

    Don’t panic. Stay calm. Talk. Wait. Listen. Repeat until you detect that you’re talking in circles / past each other. Move on. The slimers don’t hate me, and they don’t exactly like me either. They knew I wasn’t on their side of the topic of ‘using gendered slurs’ from the beginning. Some of them definitely intensely disagree with me, despite fully understanding my points. So what. They know I’m not going to write about it anymore. They know that I don’t want them to argue back and forth with people about their shit here. In a few days I’ll probably lift the extreme comment moderation (every comment needs approval, currently). I don’t expect them to be a problem to me at all. I do expect some of them to keep on doing the same old shit that I’ve disapproved of to others, and they know I condemn that too.

    They just aren’t interested in trolling me.

  • Concentratedwater, OM

    [JG Edit - Agreed, but take this conversation out of here. I can handle my own. (big brother reason for edit: escalation)]

  • Michael Kingsford Gray

    It appears that Greg Laden is being fêted by certain bloggers [JG edit: deleted - escalation], with a view to re-instating him to his usual rôle as hitman/thugee.

    Fêted by those who are the most vociferous when it comes to issues of threatening stalking!

    A curious attack of egregious hypocrisy if true.

    [JG edit: deleted - escalation. Don't feed trolls. Don't feed snake enablers.]

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

    Hi Justin.

    I just want to renew my respect and full support.

    That’s all!

  • http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/ Optimus Primate

    Justin Griffith says:

    July 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    …they don’t exactly like me either.

    Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Justin? Some of us like you a lot! I may disagree with you about harassment policies. I think they’re security theater at best. That doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not I like you.

  • Gen, Uppity Ingrate.

    Greg Laden’s behaviour is completely unacceptable and I applaud you for highlighting it. There is absolutely NO excuse for his continued thuggery (as evidenced in the comment he left here).

  • paul1

    I haven’t been to ERV’s blog lately, but I used to spend a good amount of time there. Don’t assume that they don’t like you just because they argue against you. Seeing as you were the one to come on FtB with “the know” on chan culture, that seems like an odd assumption :-). I am actually unaware of their specific past with Laden, but not horribly surprised.

    Incidentally, people on Pharyngula don’t really talk about Laden’s Congo writing as a serious compliment. “It’s a shame, he did write lucidly on the Congo” was just a meme tossed around when he caused a pretty extended blog war with the Pharyngulistas with a serious of almost unintelligible posts and comment threads which utterly disenfranchised most of them. But it was noted that at least his posts on the Congo had been lucid (if, as noted earlier, full of examples of Laden’s power to solve everyone else’s problems).

  • bluharmony

    Justin: thank you for trying to deescalate the tension/tribalism and for handling yourself in a way that anyone should be proud of. It’s not worth much, but you have my admiration and support.

  • malkman

    I recently ran across Greg’s blog. It didn’t take 10 days to find out that Greg is an insolent ass, get on his bad side, and be censored ‘for my own good’. But now I see he’s worse than I could have imagined. I wish I could say that he’s no just an online troll, no worse than an angry kid on the net, and that he isn’t anything you should be preoccupied with, but I can’t. What he did was awful.

    I don’t know much about you other than the few stories I’ve read about your experiences with Greg. But I want to say two things:

    Thank you for responding the way you did and exposing that hack.

    I love you, Justin. Keep doing your best to be fucking rad.

  • JohnH

    After encountering greg in an online forum and Googling his name, I just found this. It’s long after the fact, but I have to say: I am so sorry this happened to you. Your message to Greg was incredibly decent. As to your history, you fell down, but you got up. You did wrong, but you chose to do right. I have enormous respect for that for facing up to what you were and becoming better. It’s all anyone can do. My best to you. I hope you’re doing well.


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