Want to keep commenting here? Don't derail threads.

As I’ve said in the past, I’m very reticent to ban anybody.  However, in the last week there have been a couple posts where there was very great potential for conversation in which those of us who may not fully understand an issue could be helped to understand it better.  Those comment threads were hugely derailed and it is a damn shame.  As one commenter put it

I’m disturbed by what seems to be reflexive hostility directed toward people honestly seeking information, in a space specifically earmarked for the honest seeking of information. Can we maybe acknowledge that someone in a privileged position has a long educational road to walk before they understand the perspective of a less-privileged person to the point where they’re immune from saying anything ignorant or insensitive, and that they have a right to engage in discussions before they’ve reached that point… especially when they’re not co-opting or derailing an existing discussion, but starting up a new thread of conversation in their own space?

Bingo.

So here are the new standards.  You can insult someone.  You can accuse them of being privileged.  But those things had better damn sure come attached to a response to what somebody actually said, not what you wish they would have said.  Your insults don’t bug me on a personal level (though I can’t speak for others), but their ability to hinder progress and derail otherwise fruitful conversation does bug me.

So far the people who have received warnings are:

Happiestsadist
Josh, Official SpokesGay
Ms. Daisy Cutter, Gynofascist in a Spiffy Hugo Boss Uniform

Regardless of my past of being entirely on the side of women, gays, trans people and so forth, I’m sure the accusations of me being a woman-hating, cis-hating, privileged, piece of shit who just doesn’t get it will fly.  I am not trying to silence them out of some sense of privilege or allegiance to those who’d discriminate against others (or because I worry in the slightest about them being true), I’m really just sick of the people flinging them about with abandon derailing threads.

I’m also not asking anybody to stop being angry.  I’m asking them to respond to others instead of engaging in behaviors that serve only to destroy conversations.  I realize anger, though productive, can sometimes nudge us into that territory.  That is why these are warnings and not instant bans.  But they will turn into bans if behavior does not improve.

These standards are minimal.  They require you to at least attempt to criticize reasonably.  It makes me a little sad I have to put actual standards in place to make sure that happens.


Comments closed for the time being.

I’ve closed comments on this post.  I’ve not been reading them the last couple days because vacation is awesome.  A couple people who I trust have suggested I close the thread so those jockeying for a ban so they can have something else to gripe about can stop feeding off each other and then reopen it, and it seems like good advice.

For those who have contributed in good faith, thanks.  I’m hoping to learn something from your comments.

  • slc1

    Mr. Eberhard is under no obligation to tolerate individuals who post comments on his blog that personally insult him. IMHO, such individuals should be banned without further ado.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Insult me all you like. It bothers me about as much as a slight breeze.

      But destroying potentially beneficial conversations needs to stop.

      • pb&l

        A privileged person can’t be a very good judge of what makes a conversation beneficial to less privileged people.

        You are making yourself part of the problem, JT. If you’d stop trying to control the discourse, and just let these arguments run their course, you’d be more likely to be considered an ally, and you might even learn something.

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

          I think you’re misjudging his goal, which is to make the conversations beneficial to privileged people in order that they recognize their privilege and start addressing these issues maybe for the first time in their lives. Not saying he’s doing it right, but I think that’s his goal.

          • pb&l

            his goal, which is to make the conversations beneficial to privileged people

            I know.

  • Anna

    As a trans woman who participated in the aforementioned thread, I thank you for promoting a safe space for the discussion. Not only is seeking information hard so is answering and sharing. I felt a bit worried about continuing to do so with the tone that had been developing.

  • http://csdphumor.com Steven Olsen

    Remember when you had to ban the guy who kept arguing that 2+2=5? Good times.

  • Josh, Official SpokesGay

    How many times does one have to say the same thing over and over, JT, before it stops being a “beneficial conversation?” How much rope do the “just asking questions” people get? From my perspective, it’s (all of it) whereas those of us criticizing (and yep, I threw a lot of insults, sure thing) get the public spanking. It looks for all the world like you really, really don’t care about the disproportionate burden placed on the minority to bear up under the constant dismissal and condescending lecturing of people who’ve never had to fear what the other party lives with every day.

    It’s extremely disappointing and crazy-making. You don’t even give a hint that you gave a whisper of a thought to why people like me might be so exasperated. Why?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      I understand you’re exasperated. That doesn’t excuse derailing threads in the way you have.

      Deal with your exasperation in a way that is productive rather than derailing. That’s all I ask.

      (And by “ask” I mean “demand”)

      • No Light

        This is an honest question (sorry if it’s been asked), are you aware of the concept of ‘microaggressions’?

        Thanks in advance.

    • Anna

      I understand your anger very well Josh as I think my comments in that post indicated, however a few things I try to keep in mind I would suggest considering:

      1. I never assume someone is a troll until they prove it. I think some people have trouble understanding and need to ask and its better to give them the benefit of the doubt. It may occasionaly feed trolls but that is better than stifling discussion by sincere people.

      2. Tone of discussion effects people other than who you are responding to. I am afraid to post in extremely negative threads.

      3. If it is not my own blog it is not my place to police tone or content.

      I can also say in at least one occasion you stood up for my right not to answer. Problem is I did not ask you to do so, did not like the tone in which you did so and I was 100% willing to answer that persons question. Please dont speak for other people.

      • Josh, Official SpokesGay

        Problem is I did not ask you to do so, did not like the tone in which you did so and I was 100% willing to answer that persons question. Please dont speak for other people.

        Anna, no one can speak for someone else—it’s literally imposssible. I don’t understand that objection, honestly.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com TerranRich

          When your words and tone make somebody like Anna unwilling or afraid to respond, when they were originally going to do so, then yes you are attempting to speak for someone else, and are successful in doing so.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            I am actually inclined to agree with this, despite ultimately coming down on the opposite side of JT in this argument. At the bare minimum, if I think that something someone says to someone else warrants a response on my part, I like to say, “But, hey, x person who was targeted, correct me if I’m wrong or if you disagree.” It helps at least prevent the white-knighting tendency.

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

      Because sometimes, Josh, believe it or not, it’s not about you. It was a thread all about educating at a fairly basic level. That doesn’t mean you have to educate. It does mean that if you want to do something else, you’re in the wrong thread.

      • Josh, Official SpokesGay

        Yes, Stephanie. I’m so utterly foolish I have no concept of others having a theory of mind, and I expect everything to be personally about Josh. Sigh.

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

          Yes, dear. *pat, pat*

          • Josh, Official SpokesGay

            Quality, Stephanie.

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

            Yep, quality on the level of ignoring what my comment said you actually did in favor being blisteringly stupid about something it didn’t. If you can dish it out, you probably want to be able to take it.

            The criticism of your behavior still stands.

          • http://ms-daisy-cutter.dreamwidth.org/ Ms. Daisy Cutter, Gynofascist in a Spiffy Hugo Boss Uniform

            Now, now, Josh, stop being so uppity churlish. Stephanie and JT and Christina are your allies, remember? Why can’t you be grateful and let them dictate how they’ll be your “allies”?

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Daisy just got a ban.

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

          This is the problem, Josh. Stephanie never said anything remotely suggesting you were foolish. She implied she thought you were wrong, and explained why.

          This type of responding to stuff that was never said does a disservice to your position. It makes it look as if your gripes are imagined rather than real, when we know a great many of them are real. Please, for your sake and for the sake of causes we share, stop doing it.

          You get a pass on that one since it seems you’re trying to grasp the situation, and I can appreciate that.

          • consciousness razor

            This is the problem, Josh. Stephanie never said anything remotely suggesting you were foolish. She implied she thought you were wrong, and explained why.

            Really? So it couldn’t be that Josh was expressing how foolish he thinks it would be if that were how he was approaching this, while at the same time claiming that it’s not in fact the case?

            And this doesn’t look like an explanation to me:

            Because sometimes, Josh, believe it or not, it’s not about you. It was a thread all about educating at a fairly basic level. That doesn’t mean you have to educate. It does mean that if you want to do something else, you’re in the wrong thread.

            And did you notice that Josh never said it was about him? So how was Stephanie responding to what Josh actually said, much less explaining something?

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

            I was responding to Josh’s last paragraph.

          • consciousness razor

            I was responding to Josh’s last paragraph.

            In much the same way I’m responding to you right now.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com TerranRich

          Excellent straw-man argument, Josh.

    • http://www.facebook.com/QuantumSinger chrisbryant

      Because as long as there are new people in on the discussions, they need to happen. Get over yourself.

  • Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Regardless of my past of being entirely on the side of women, gays, trans people and so forth, I’m sure the accusations of me being a woman-hating, cis-hating, privileged, piece of shit who just doesn’t get it will fly.

    Cheap and unfair. Don’t parody my position—it’s possible for you to do things that are tone-deaf or a little blinkered. And it’s possible for people to take issue with it without caricaturing you. Kindly don’t caricature them.

    No one is saying you’re not on the side of right and good; your record speaks for itself. But that doesn’t make you immune to mistakes (or what other people think are mistakes) or to being called out on them. Can you understand why the fact that you only chastised the queers makes them, um, a little less than confident that you’re “totally on their side?” No, no, no, I’m not saying you have to agree with everything a person like me says or that I’m always right.

    But you didn’t bother to acknowledge any of the provocation at all coming from the clueless. How do you think you’d feel in my place?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Can you understand why the fact that you only chastised the queers makes them, um, a little less than confident that you’re “totally on their side?”

      This is what I’m talking about.

      Are you going to argue they’re not guilty of thread derailing or of responding to things people haven’t said? Then do that.

      If you’re going to insinuate they’re not guilty because I’m picking on them for some strange unspoken motivation, you’re derailing the thread.

      I picked out the guilty as I saw them. If they’re all queer, that doesn’t worry me. What worries me is that they’re all guilty.

      There are plenty of queer folk in those thread who didn’t derail it into oblivion through poor behavior. They weren’t on that list because they weren’t guilty. Period.

      • Josh, Official SpokesGay

        This is so baffling because I don’t think I’m saying anything hard to understand. JT, what bothers me is that you see the sin as entirely consisting of people lashing back at provocative behavior (just asking questions). Am I correct that you don’t see that behavior I was reacting to as at all wrong, and so benign it doesn’t merit comment?

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

          I’ve seen plenty of it in response to people just asking questions. That is not provocative behavior.

          People who only provoke are subject to these same standards. They do apply to everybody. The three I listed are, in my estimation, the three biggest offenders of late.

      • http://jadehawks.wordpress.com/ Jadehawk, chef d’orchestre féministe

        way to miss the point. Josh isn’t accusing you of punishing non-guilty queers, but of failing to also punish the non-queers who were provoking and derailing with their JAQing off. meaning, out of the set of people guilty of what you call derails, you only picked for punishment people who were queer. that is indeed something you should think about.

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

      Nope. Not this either Josh. When you claim the power to decide who among the people working hard for equal rights is and is not an ally, you get to live with that.

      • Josh, Official SpokesGay

        I don’t know what you’re responding to, Stephanie. It looks like there’s a permanent brick wall between us because I criticized for you not getting something I thought you ought to get. Yeah, I know you didn’t like that. But really? That was so over the line it’s brick wall time?

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

          Not at all. You didn’t tell me I wasn’t any ally. I observed you doing it elsewhere. It’s a stupid move that ignores everything about the actual nature of alliance. It’s cheap political blackmail, and this is one of the consequences of using it. People don’t trust you not to resort to cheap political blackmail anymore.

          • Josh, Official SpokesGay

            Cheap political blackmail? That’s more than a bit hyperbolic. There are other people who don’t trust allies when said allies freak out at having an imperfection pointed out. It ought to be possible to point these things out (and yes, I know I’m often extremely harsh when another approach would probably work better) and have these conversations.

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

            Well, the “cheap” part probably is a bit hyperbolic. You do end up paying for it, even if it’s easy to do in the heat of the moment. But it is political blackmail.

            If someone “just listens” when you say that, if they take that choice seriously, they get to either do whatever you’re saying or to work to dismantle their own privilege all on their own. It’s not the worst choice anyone has ever faced, but it’s still a choice that has nothing to do with actual alliances.

    • Beatrice, anormalement indécente

      But you didn’t bother to acknowledge any of the provocation at all coming from the clueless.

      I noticed this, but didn’t want to start an argument by asking. I probably should have, so thank you for bringing it up.

      • betsumei

        Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have egged Josh on. I’ll go ahead and warn myself, since I feel bad for sinking to that level.

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

          Thank you.

        • http://idioprag.com WilloNyx

          I am going to say thank you for that too. Admitting when we are provoking is not always easy.

  • Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Deal with your exasperation in a way that is productive rather than derailing. That’s all I ask.

    Wow. Wow.

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

    This looks like it is going to be lots of fun, so can I go ahead and derail this conversation to talk about my cats and/or guitars? :)

    Seriously though, I’m always respectful of a person’s right to run their blog as they see fit, period. Doesn’t matter if I agree with their reasons or not, any more than I think I can visit someone’s house and break their rules.

    Sometimes comment threads can become scary places where people don’t want to get involved or even keep reading because of the sort of giant epic battles going on. And at some point, if a comment thread or someone’s blog as a whole bothers you so much that you feel obligated to engage in those sorts of battles, maybe it is time to find different blogs to read. There’s no prize and you’re not going to win anything by outlasting the people you disagree with.

    In my own experience, I’ve tended to stick around 4-5 posts longer than I should have in various comment threads/blogs, to my everlasting regret. Better just to drop it and walk away… easier said than done, but better done than not.

    • Josh, Official SpokesGay

      Do you believe someone was under the misimpression that they don’t have to obey someone else’s blog rules? What is it you were trying to instruct, and whom, Joe?

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

        Just a general comment about my personal view on blog rules, which didn’t require your contribution even a little bit. Thanks anyways, but if I do need your help I’ll let you know, OK?

  • Pteryxx

    JT: I thought ‘derailing’ generally referred to changing the topic of discussion. Going by your OP, it looks like you’re referring to folks engaging in repeated personal attacks. Would that be an accurate reading? (and, perhaps, simpler to enforce?)

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

      I can’t speak for JT, but I guess it can also count as a “derail” if someone takes some smaller point that someone seems to have made and blow it up into the focus of a sub-conversation that is technically part of the larger conversation but threatens to overwhelm the larger points that are being made. Doubly so if the smaller point isn’t really what the other person is getting at.

      • Pteryxx

        Okay… then IMHO, the intent of the rule would be to ban flamewars? Because I don’t see anything about raising minor points except as conflated with personal attacks.

  • consciousness razor

    So here are the new standards. You can insult someone. You can accuse them of being privileged. But those things had better damn sure come attached to a response to what somebody actually said, not what you wish they would have said. Your insults don’t bug me on a personal level, but their ability to hinder progress and derail otherwise fruitful conversation does bug me.

    If there is a topic of conversation and someone says something, it’s reasonable to respond by casting their statements in a different light and showing why their actual statements themselves aren’t on-topic or have implications which they may not have considered before.

    If someone says “affirmative action is unfair for these reasons…,” you can stay on topic and point out why their concept of fairness is screwed up beyond repair. They may think their points aren’t being addressed, and that their position is being misconstrued because they didn’t really mean to imply this or that thing about what constitutes fairness. The whole conversation looks like it got derailed, because to them, it’s all about those points they wanted to make. But the fact is that their statements and their point of view may have started out off-the-rails, without their realizing it (even now). It’s only “derailing” if you look at it from their actual perspective on the issue, not necessarily from the way the issue itself actually is. And this person doesn’t get to dominate how a topic should be discussed.

    In other words, saying “you can’t get there from here” is not derailing. Or maybe it is, and the train ought to be derailed. Take your pick.

  • Armored Scrum Object

    In principle I probably deserved a warning too. I didn’t intend to change the subject or ignore/dismiss peoples’ arguments, but I definitely wasn’t being constructive either, and I apologize for that. I’ll be more careful in the future, regardless.

    Anyway, I can’t say I hold out a lot of hope that this policy is going to really improve things. Derailing is pretty subjective, as a couple other commenters have noted.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Thanks.

  • http://ms-daisy-cutter.dreamwidth.org/ Ms. Daisy Cutter, Gynofascist in a Spiffy Hugo Boss Uniform

    Aw, aren’t you the specialist little “ally,” JT.

    This blog is a joke. I’d be proud to be banned from here, quite frankly.

    • betsumei

      You know, you’re able to ban yourself, too. It’s easily accomplished by not visiting the site anymore. I’ve used that technique myself on many a blog that I found I just couldn’t enjoy anymore for a variety of reasons.

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

      Is there a specific reason that you find that you can’t leave on your own? That’s not a dig, I’m seriously asking because I’ve suffered from the same tendency over the years and I’m curious what other people’s take on it is.

    • Kevin

      Of course, the appropriate reply is “don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out.”

      You’re not being forced to participate here. I don’t participate at Little Green Footballs, because they’re assholes that I don’t want to associate with. Nor at the Daily Kos for much the same reason (in the opposite direction).

      It’s a free blogosphere. The exit is one click away. Your silence will be — maybe noticed, but probably not.

      Start your own blog.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Ask and ye shall receive.

  • carlie

    *warning: butting in, possibly just to muck it up further*

    JT, there seems to be a big disconnect in what you think Josh means by “people asking questions”. There’s asking questions, and then there’s picking on and repeating oneself in an attempt to wear the other person down, or elicit a slightly different answer in order to play gotcha and say they’re being inconsistent, or even just to be annoying, or for the attention. Picture, say, an astronomy talk, and after it the speaker says “Ask me anything, that’s what I’m here for.” And a person raises their hand and says “Why is the sky blue?” and the speaker answers. And five minutes later the person raises their hand and says “But why is it blue, though? You didn’t explain it well enough.” And gets an answer. And five minutes later they say “But you really didn’t explain it well enough, and you seem to be irritated with me and that makes me sad and you need to explain it better if you want me to support your planetarium”. And then they keep asking it and asking it and asking it.

    …and then that same person shows up at the next talk the speaker gives, and the next, and does the same thing every time. The speaker would get on a bit of a hair trigger, wouldn’t they? And the next time someone asked “But why is the sky blue?”, there would be a bit of an eye spasm on the part of the speaker, and they might just snap a bit at them. Because they never get to talk about pulsars or quasars or asteroids or comets or any of the other wonderful stuff they were giving a talk about, because that guy is always interrupting and asking about the damned color of the sky all the time, and nobody ever stops him or realizes how much the speaker is getting annoyed by it, and the time the speaker does blow up and yell at the guy, the speaker gets castigated instead because hey, the guy was only asking a question.

    There are a lot of ways to structure a comment thread to avoid this happening in the first place. One would be to clearly label certain threads as entry-level v. advanced-level discussions; in an advanced-level discussion, questions that are 101-ish are ignored as being a derail, and in an entry-level thread, people who don’t want to deal with repetition know from the label they should stay out for their own sake. Or you could set a limit for the number of times a person is allowed to repeat themselves (either question or answer) in a single thread before they are cut off from commenting any more in that particular thread.

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

      There are a lot of ways to structure a comment thread to avoid this happening in the first place. One would be to clearly label certain threads as entry-level v. advanced-level discussions; in an advanced-level discussion, questions that are 101-ish are ignored as being a derail, and in an entry-level thread, people who don’t want to deal with repetition know from the label they should stay out for their own sake. Or you could set a limit for the number of times a person is allowed to repeat themselves (either question or answer) in a single thread before they are cut off from commenting any more in that particular thread.

      Sounds good… because I was about to make a similar point. Some of my peeps on another website get on about how crap certain atheist spokespeople are about making the same points over and over and not moving on to more advanced arguments. They forget that there are people who are reading those arguments for the first time, and that those atheists are still talking to people at that level of their education on the subject. People forget that not everyone has had the conversation even once, just because they personally have had it a hundred times.

    • http://polyskeptic.com Ginny

      I agree that labelling posts as 101 or advanced would eliminate some confusion, or at least eliminate the excuse of ignorance about the level of knowledge expectation in a given post. However, it seems to me that context could be taken into account when making that judgement (is this a “101″ thread or an advanced thread?) In this particular case, the post appeared on a blog not typically dedicated to discussing trans issues. Therefore it’s reasonable to expect that a majority of the readers would come in ignorant of a lot of 101 information. Also, the post itself was titled “I have ‘Die Cis Scum’ questions,” and the content of the post stated pretty clearly that the writer didn’t understand the point and was looking for help. In that case, it doesn’t seem like too much of a leap to expect that other commenters would also be in the position of “I don’t understand, I need some help.”

      So yeah, an explicit label would be nice, but absent that I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people to make an assessment based on context. Taking a reverse case, if someone posts on Sincerely Natalie Reed asking for 101 information (when it’s not a post where she’s specifically giving 101 information) that can justifiably be labeled a derail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

    I feel like a bunch of people walked into a math class and then screamed about how fucking sick they all are of teaching math, and insulted the students for not already knowing all there is to know about math.

    • Ze Madmax

      Math teachers, as a rule, don’t get beaten up (or otherwise harassed)for being math teachers. Issues of privilege (particularly with regards to trans issues) can be emotionally charged precisely because of the violent opposition people face due to their sexual orientation.

      Expecting people to be completely dispassionate when talking about this is (IMO) the quintessential expression of privilege. Although to be fair, you can also argue that people should be aware of their own buttons, and avoid conversations (or “math classes”) that can be highly charged, emotionally speaking.

      But of course, then there’s an issue of censoring (or self-censoring) people who have good reason to speak up. And now I’m all tied up in a knot. Bah.

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

        All of that is true. It is still tangential to the point that the thread existed to “teach math”. The point of the post was learning.

      • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

        I’m not asking for people to be dispassionate. Be passionate.

        I’m asking only that they include arguments and that if they respond to someone else that they respond to their arguments.

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

        Well, you’ve got both sides of it right there. People as a rule shouldn’t push other people’s buttons intentionally, and should back off and apologize if they do it accidentally. On the other hand, no one has a right to work out their personal issues(no matter how VERY legitimate they are) on other people. There’s a mid-sized stack of subjects that set me off every time, and it isn’t fair for me to go nuclear on people over them. At the same time, I don’t have a right to go into conversations on certain conversations and intentionally say things that I know are hurtful and even damaging to people.

        Yeah, it is a tangled knot.

    • carlie

      Except it’s not just any student. It’s that guy. The one who always has his hand up, and always makes it all about him and what he wants to know, and who spends the entire class, every class, trying to catch the instructor in some little slipup so he can correct the instructor and feel like a big shot. That guy gets old, fast. Also, what Ze Madmax said.

      • Beatrice, anormalement indécente

        And then there is that guy who keeps asking the same question over and over and over again, no matter how many different people answer. And the head teacher never chastises him, while chastising those who get frustrated after his tenth repetition.

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

          Then stop answering that person specifically. Asking questions is not a crime.

          • Beatrice, anormalement indécente

            Not a crime, no, but there is such a thing as asking a question in bad faith.

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

            That person does very much exist, and they are very good at what they do. And part of what they are doing is working to provoke a response. The only thing I’ve ever seen work on them is pointing out the behavior in the least “responsive” way possible and walking away so they have to follow you to keep it up. It’s very hard to do, emotionally.

          • carlie

            JT – just so I’m clear, are you saying that a) you don’t agree that “but I’m just asking questions” is a tactic that is used for silencing/derailing a conversation under the guise of asking for education, or that b) it’s a tactic that you don’t think was used in the threads under discussion, or that c) you don’t mind if people use it and if others think it’s in play, it should just be ignored?

        • Happiestsadist

          Exactly that.

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

        But ultimately, isn’t it for the teacher(whoever runs the class/blog, JT in this case) to deal with the issue? If you’re better at math, you can help or not help your fellow classmates at your discretion. You usually aren’t supposed to scream STFU! at the dumber people in the class when they ask a dumb-to-you question over and over again.

    • carlie

      This analogy is all wrong from the angle of the power differential, too. Generally a teacher is the one with social power, and picking on a student, no matter how annoying, is obviously punching down. You can’t really use that setup here, because the ones being labeled as the “teacher” are in the oppressed group while the “students” are the ones in the majority oppressing group.

    • skepticalmath

      I don’t think that’s an apt analogy. It isn’t that you didn’t know everything about trans experiences, or die cis scum, or whatever. At least for me, it was a little bit surprising that you didn’t at least head over to your co-blog-network-blogger Natalie Reed’s blog and read any of her pieces on DCS, which addressed pretty much every point you raised. And maybe you did. But it didn’t seem like it (particularly since you were unaware of even the stats on violence against trans people.)

      Nonetheless, and that said (and I’ve rewritten this comment so many times to try to make this clear), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking questions or learning, and I’m grateful that JT is trying to keep this comment space productive and positive. I left that whole comment section fairly quickly, because I could tell it was going nowhere.

      And I don’t want this to sound like I’m trying to lecture you. Because, honestly, that’s not what I’m trying to do and nor do I have the right to. But I also know that in my experience as a queer person, I do tend to dismiss people asking questions, and sometimes respond not very substantively to them, who aren’t at least addressing any of the copiously available material on the subject.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

        At least for me, it was a little bit surprising that you didn’t at least head over to your co-blog-network-blogger Natalie Reed’s blog and read any of her pieces on DCS, which addressed pretty much every point you raised. And maybe you did. But it didn’t seem like it (particularly since you were unaware of even the stats on violence against trans people.)

        I did read Natalie’s blog, and the stats are mostly surprising to me because try as I might, I am as yet unable to find a primary source for them. But, before I point all of the ire of the entire interwebs directly at me, I’m going to spend more time looking!

      • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

        Ah. After spending some time searching, I found that none of Natalie’s posts on DCS contained any mention of the 1 in 12 murder rate. Which, is why I was surprised, even after reading her posts.

        Hoever, this post of hers did mention it: http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/03/04/lazy-sunday-androgynous/

    • http://idioprag.com WilloNyx

      To be fair it wasn’t a lot of people. Just a few very VOCAL people. Plenty of others attempted to patiently school on the subject. I don understand if the vocal ones are distracting.

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

    Want to keep commenting here?

    *skims linked thread*

    Not particularly, no.

    Take care, all.

    (And celebrate.)

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

      You had to give the bad news first, huh?

  • Laurence

    After reading the threat in question JT, I understand exactly why you are doing this. Sometimes people need to not pull out their Jump-To-Conclusions mat.

  • Daniel Schealler

    On the subject of provocation:

    When I was 9, my little brother was 5. While watching morning cartoons before school, he would do everything in his power to wind me up. Eventually I’d snap and hit him.

    When he went crying to mum because I hit him?

    She punished both of us.

    She punished my brother for winding me up and provoking me in the first place.

    But she punished me far more for giving in to provocation by hitting my brother: I should have known better.

    She was exactly right.

    That’s the thing about provocation. If you are provoked, you as an individual get to choose how you respond to that provocation. If you respond poorly, it’s your decision, your action and therefore the consequences of that action are on your head.

    Of course provocation can be a mitigating factor in judgement of poor behaviour. But it’s still poor behaviour and should fairly be regarded as such.

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

      Actually, the thing about provocation is that as a rule the people involved in these conversations very strongly reject it as an excuse for the behavior of people against women and/or the LGBT community. No misogynist gets to claim provocation as an excuse for sexism, no bigot gets to claim provocation for bashing activity.

      Whether you’re being truly terrible towards other people, or merely being a gigantic ass, you are responsible for your own behavior. No one can “provoke” you into much of anything, especially not with just words.

    • carlie

      And you’re setting up the analogy wrong, too. In your story, you were the bigger and older and more mature one, the one with more social power. In this situation, the analogy would be the younger kid getting picked on and provoked by the older one, who is therefore a bully.

      • Daniel Schealler

        Duly noted.

        I didn’t intend to make an analogy – but that wasn’t obvious from context.

        I’ll be sure to indicate more clearly in future when I don’t intend to make an analogy.

      • http://jadehawks.wordpress.com/ Jadehawk, chef d’orchestre féministe

        enh. it’s even worse than that, since in this case the provocateurs weren’t punished at all.

        so, to make this analogy, we’d have the older sibling teasing and provoking the younger one until the younger one finally reacts angrily; and then the parent only punishes the younger kid for fighting back incorrectly, but never the provoking older kid.

        That’s how bullies rule the schoolyard: by getting their victims punished for bullying by inattentive teachers.

        • Daniel Schealler

          If I’m reading you right, then that’s getting pretty close to being a tu quoque.

          Is JD’s (alleged) failure to punish the provocateurs a defence or excuse for the (alleged) poor behaviour of the provoked?

          I’m pretty sure it’s neither of these things.

          I’m open to correction.

          Note that I say ‘alleged’ because I’m withholding judgement until I’m finished getting to grips with the underlying thread behind all of this.

          • http://jadehawks.wordpress.com/ Jadehawk, chef d’orchestre féministe

            If I’m reading you right, then that’s getting pretty close to being a tu quoque.

            you are not even close to reading me correctly, since I’m not accusing JT of hypocrisy, nor am I dismissing whatever point he might have had as a consequence of said hypocrisy.

            I am merely stating that he’s being unjust, and that this new commenting policy may well protect the bullies at the expense of their victims

          • Daniel Schealler

            @Jadehawk

            That’s alright then. I accept the correction.

        • ‘Tis Himself

          JT’s “alleged” behavior is not “alleged” at all. He’s threatening banning the people who are being picked on while ignoring the bullies. And he’s apparently quite proud of his actions.

          More and more I’m getting less and less impressed by JT as an “alleged” defender of GLBT folks. I think he needs to look at his own privilege before he pretends he’s supporting others. But that’s just my opinion. I’m sure JT has a different idea.

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            I like you as a commenter, so I think you deserve a response.

            I’m not seeing bullies. If anything, I’m seeing people ask questions and then getting insults, responses to arguments that weren’t made, or only accusations of privilege without any explanation for how that privilege has made somebody wrong. The people I have singled out seem more the bullies to me.

            They may be bullied outside these threads, which I would abhor and want to stop, but I’m not seeing it here. If I have missed it somewhere, I’m open to having it shown to me.

            I’m not silencing critics. Plenty of critics are still perfectly allowed to comment here.

            I’m not picking on anybody specifically because I don’t like them. There’s plenty of commenters I don’t like who are allowed to use this space.

            I wouldn’t even care if they left comments of pure insult or crafted arguments out of thin air that matched their prearranged rant better if those behaviors didn’t derail threads that could have made a real/better difference on the subjects that were at hand.

            More and more I’m getting less and less impressed by JT as an “alleged” defender of GLBT folks.

            Then don’t consider me an ally. I’ve seen that phrase used as emotional blackmail by plenty of people in those threads. Generally they’re people for whose opinion I have little/no respect anyway. Admittedly because your comments are generally pretty good it makes my ears perk up a bit when you say it, but I think my history on this subject speaks for itself.

            If you don’t like my new policy, that’s fine and dandy. But I don’t think any fair-handed person could deny that I’ve spent a great portion of my life in defense of LGBT rights, from writing, to protesting, to debates in their defense (aside from the writing I do on it). This is not “alleged,” it’s perfectly evident. I’m ok with my performance in that department. It seems anybody who fails to see the years I’ve put into this because I banned some people for derailing threads has really had their perception painted by something other than fact.

            I think he needs to look at his own privilege before he pretends he’s supporting others. But that’s just my opinion. I’m sure JT has a different idea.

            Pretends I’m supporting others? What a petty insinuation.

            I’m squared with my own conscience on this issue.

            As always, I’m open to being shown where I’ve made a mistake and eager to fix a mistake once I’m sold I’ve made one. But I’m not going to become aware of places I’ve erred by people who respond by dismissing a career of putting in tremendous time and effort for the cause of LGBT rights to make a dig at me by calling it pretend.

            I usually agree with your comments most of the time, but I think you really wiffed on this one.

          • ‘Tis Himself

            As has been pointed out ad infinitum, “asking questions” is used as a form of bullying. “I’m just asking the question why are you feminist, man-hating bitches so angry?” Seem familiar? I’ve seen MRAs ask this sort of question all the time and the bullies aren’t actually interested in the answers. They’re just making rhetorical points.

            I’m ok with my performance in that department. It seems anybody who fails to see the years I’ve put into this because I banned some people for derailing threads has really had their perception painted by something other than fact.

            What I’m seeing is you banning people for not putting up with bullies. I’m not the one who whiffed this, you are.

            Incidentally, I’m not gay. I’m actually about as privileged as one can get. To show how privileged I am, I’m about to spend several hours sailing in a yacht.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            I’d like to cosign here, and say that perhaps the opinion of marginalized people on who is or is not their ally is more important than the opinion of self-proclaimed allies on the same topic. That isn’t germane only to this particular topic; this is germane in all areas of social justice. I’m deeply disappointed by JT’s admission that sure, those whom he intends to help are questioning his motives, but they are just automatically wrong because he knows how awesome he is at ally-ing.

          • ‘Tis Himself

            I just realized that my above post might seem I thought JT was dealing with MRAs. I know what the “questions being asked” topic is, I was just giving an example of how other people “ask questions.”

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            “I’m just asking the question why are you feminist, man-hating bitches so angry?”

            Ok, that would be an example of a bad question.

            However, this, in my eyes, would not: “Why are women so angry?”

            Is it possible the question is being asked in bad faith? Yes. Maybe even more so because it’s so basic and one could probably ascertain that for themselves. But it may also be asked because someone is new. I don’t have a problem with that question.

            I think far too often questions that are being asked by people who are wanting to understand (see my post) are met with the immediate assumption that questions formed without the man-hating, bitch part are asked in bad faith. That’s a damn shame.

          • Daniel Schealler

            @’Tis Himself

            JT’s “alleged” behavior is not “alleged” at all. He’s threatening banning the people who are being picked on while ignoring the bullies.

            This is a good example of why I’m finding it hard to take criticism of JT’s actions seriously.

            He’s threatening banning the people who are being picked on…

            ‘Threatened’?

            JT updated comment policy to catch behavior he thinks is problematic, cited individuals who were engaging in that behavior, warned them several times, and those that have failed to adjust their behavior despite multiple warnings have been banned.

            That’s all pretty run-of-the-mill stuff. It’s an update to policy and repeated warnings to those that violate the policy. Labeling this as ‘threatening’ is using emotional manipulation in place of a sound counter-argument.

            Additionally, the way you have phrased it makes it seem that JT has decided to kick people out just because they were picked on by someone else. There’s no mention of the kind of poor behavior JT cited in his original post. It’s an emotionally skewed misrepresentation of JT’s position and actions.

            … while ignoring the bullies.

            This point keeps coming up. I’m still withholding judgement on it. But even if we grant it as true, it has to be obvious that this would be a separate criticism of JT and not a valid criticism of his updated comment policy.

            If there is a valid criticism of JT’s policy in this thread then I’ve missed it.

    • Josh, Official SpokesGay

      No. “You’re both behaving badly,” while ignoring provocation and relative responsibility, was never a sound moral precept. Not when we were kids and not now. It’s an understandable reaction from an exasperated parent or teacher, but it’s perverse ethical reasoning and it’s unjust.

      • Daniel Schealler

        The point at hand is: Provocation does not excuse poor behaviour.

        So yes. Perhaps in a different situation, the provocation behaves worse than the provoked. So what?

        The lesser of two wrongs is still wrong.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

          …this also completely fails to take any context into consideration. This isn’t a matter of two people who are equal in social and political power insulting one another, or of siblings hitting each other. This is a matter of people who come from a disadvantaged group being picked at by people with privilege, and then the disadvantaged people getting their hands swatted as if they were children because it is “still wrong” when they throw their hands up in exasperation or swat back when they’re provoked.

          • Daniel Schealler

            I’ve already granted that provocation can be a mitigating factor in how we regard poor behavior. I’ll add the context of being underprivileged, bullied, and provoked to that list of mitigating factors.

            Even so, such mitigating factors don’t grant a waiver for poor behavior.

          • http://overthinkingmusic.wordpress.com Jennifer

            Even so, such mitigating factors don’t grant a waiver for poor behavior.

            So, in order words, if someone has punched the little gay kid in the head a thousand times without getting censure from anyone, and you happen to look up right when the little gay kid punches back, the little gay kid is in the wrong.

            …okay. Wow.

          • Daniel Schealler

            @Jennifer

            I was bullied pretty mercilessly throughout primary school. Wasn’t until my final year that I fought back in self defense for the first time.

            So I know the difference between self defense and giving in to provocation. I expect that you know the difference too, so I’m annoyed that I have to point this out to you.

            Putting those words into my mouth is both hurtful and (more importantly) unjustified by anything I have written so far.

            So if you’re done saying false and hurtful things about what I think while adopting a position of opposition to people saying and doing hurtful things to others, then I invite further criticism or correction of what I’ve said so far.

            My only other request is that you critique what I’ve actually said, rather than misrepresentations of my position that you’ve invented for yourself.

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

            @Jennifer:

            So, in order words, if someone has punched the little gay kid in the head a thousand times without getting censure from anyone, and you happen to look up right when the little gay kid punches back, the little gay kid is in the wrong.

            …okay. Wow.

            I don’t think that is what Daniel Schealler is saying. If a pesron is bullied, they have ever right to hit the bully. That doesn’t give them the right to punch people for the rest of their life, based on being reminded of that initial bully.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            Improbable and Daniel:

            It doesn’t have to be the specific bully; if you’ve lived with incessant reminders that you are Other, every day of your life, then you are more inclined to swipe at individuals who, well-meaning or not, perpetuate that. To them, the entire society is the bully that has punched them in the head a thousand times, and that privileged individual represents the society. If the person with privilege is any kind of decent then they will take this as a chance to reflect on why is it that they have been swiped at. It will never be erroneous because either the person has suffered enough that they’ve developed a reasonable hair-trigger, or the individual has genuinely offended, and should ask why and how to prevent that. Both require empathy and a sense of one’s privilege.

          • Daniel Schealler

            @jenniferforrester

            That’s more like it.

            Thanks for that. It was thoughtful and fit with what I’ve actually been saying. You’ve given me food for thought.

            I have very strong existing positions on other unrelated issues that boil down to the notion that being offended doesn’t justify lashing out. So I don’t like the idea of introducing an exception clause.

            But at the same time, you raise good points about the need for those in the privileged group to engage in self-reflection before jumping to conclusions. And in this context, I’m in the privileged group again.

            So I think I’ll take a time out from this to reflect a bit more before I reach any conclusions.

            Thanks.

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

            @jenniferforester:

            I’m sorry, but I can’t quite agree with it, although I do understand it. I’m sorry, but no one has a right to work out their personal trauma issues on random people. I don’t discount or dismiss or minimize the real serious hurt that people experience when they are bullied for whatever reasons. I was bullied myself, I had teeth knocked out, I still have lots of scars, and I was beaten so badly once that I was hospitalized for a few days. That doesn’t give anyone the right to lash out indiscriminately at everyone they come across on the Internet. It doesn’t really matter that their anger has a legitimate reason for existing, if they are using any excuse to vent legitimate rage at illegitimate targets.

            That’s not to say that people who intentionally provoke/trigger people don’t deserve to have their heads handed to them, but on the other hand online comment threads aren’t a replacement for therapy, and it is NOT acceptable for people to use it as such. Almost everyone has a valid reason to be angry, but no one has a right to aim that valid anger at people just because it makes them feel better.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

      This analogy completely fails to take power imbalance or harm done into account, and both of these factors are extremely important.

      • Daniel Schealler

        As I said to carlie: I didn’t intend to make an analogy – but that wasn’t obvious from context. So duly noted.

        • Setar, too lazy to log in on his blackberry

          Then what did you intend to do?

          • Daniel Schealler

            I intended it to be an example to help illustrate my point that provocation does not justify poor behavior.

            But rather than deal with the point, people have instead become fixated on the example.

            I need to stop using examples.

          • http://overthinkingmusic.wordpress.com Jennifer

            Daniel: The examples that you choose demonstrate that you don’t understand the situations. Yes, perhaps you’d better stop using examples, at that.

          • Daniel Schealler

            @Jennifer

            That was a needless swipe, Jennifer.

            I go out of my way in this little sub-thread of mine to point out that I still haven’t caught up with everything.

            I cant think of a time where I’ve claimed to possess thorough understanding or knowledge of anything, not just in this thread but also anywhere else in life.

            I can’t even be confident of my own perspective, memory, emotions or mind most of the time.

  • Happiestsadist

    You know, if you have to crow about how great an ally you are… Something about “show not tell”.

    • Micah

      Keep in mind you responded to a post about derailing threads with an ad hominem. I don’t mean to be rude, but there is a connection to be made here.

      • skepticalmath

        Where’s the ad hominem?

        • Micah

          Unless I misread the point of the article was “Hey, don’t derail threads.”

          This response read as an implied “You’re not really an ally!” Which seems, to me, as a pithy unrelated attack on character.

      • Pteryxx

        Wasn’t this in response to a claim of being an ally that JT made in the OP? Then it depends on whether y’all consider a response to that claim an argument, or an insult. It wasn’t an ad hominem because it didn’t discount an unrelated claim.

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

          Will let that one slide then.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Yeah, I’m thinking this is a violation. It’s not an argument, but just saying I’m not an ally (the emotional/political blackmail Steph was talking about).

      Thoughts from others?

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

        Seriously? I think maybe I did have it right as to what you were talking about with derails being taking some minor point out of the larger point, that the person might even be reading wrong, and trying to make it the focal point of the discussion. The point of this discussion is/should be about your standards for commenting, not your perceived status as an ally of certain groups/people, and especially not that status as the leading edge of a personal attack.

        Yes you brought it up, but only in passing and not as the main thing that you want discussed here. Am I reading you correctly.

        • skepticalmath

          If you look at the timestamps, his upthread decision to let it slide came after this post…..so….clearly it wasn’t a violation of policy in the end.

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Borderline, but I’d rather err on the side of caution in banning people.

        • Pteryxx

          As I understand it though, one of the questions *about* what constitutes derailing/personal attacks re the policy has been whether ally status is subject to discussion at all, or whether it’s a personal statement and thus questioning it amounts to a personal attack rather than an argument or statement of opinion.

          You know, if you have to crow about how great an ally you are… Something about “show not tell”.

          I read this statement as a general you, thus not a personal attack. I could be mistaken.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            I think the problem with tabling the discussion of who and who is not an ally is the fact that it leaves it to the ally, who presumably holds privilege in this arena, to decide what actions and words sufficiently qualify them as an ally, which silences the ability of marginalized people to decide who is really on their side.

            I took it as an explicit general “you” but an implicit “you,” meaning JT; it would make little sense otherwise. I think that every blog has the right to its commenting policy, but I do think that the discussion of JT as ally is germane to the conversation since it is relevant to his decisions about who to reprimand about the commenting policy.

            I remain agnostic on this because I’m not in a position to evaluate any of this.

          • Pteryxx

            jenniferforester: You also articulated it much better than I did, thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

    I would just like to second the suggestion (for the blogosphere in general) that threads denote whether they are 101 or advanced, and give links to go to first in the case of advanced threads. Marginalized people should not feel compelled to educate privileged people, but there should be a space for education. If it wasn’t for the patience of some LGBTQ folk, transfolk, and people of color, I would still be completely clueless as opposed to just mostly so. I would suggest that it is the duty of privileged people to explain things to their clueless comrades in unearned advantage, but there will inevitably be some blind-leading-the-blind going on there. I wish there was an easy answer, but I think the easiest, for now, is to at least differentiate 101 and advanced discussion.

    • Pteryxx

      *whispers* “blind-leading-the-blind” ‘s a bit insulting to blind people. How about “prone to rookie mistakes” ?

      • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

        Well, hell. Sorry for that; thank you!

        • Pteryxx

          *blush* Welcome.

          I have ONE blind friend, and she’s very used to being the only able-bodied blind person that anyone she meets, well, has ever met before. She mentioned how tired she gets of being the educator-by-default every single time she goes out in public. So, I promised her I’d make a point of calling out comments that equate blindness with helplessness. /meta

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            Well, hey, nothing like a friend stopping well-intentioned people from making some rookie errors, like using ableist expressions.

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

        … derail.
        :)

        • skepticalmath

          I really don’t think his point was to never discuss tangentially related, but related nonetheless, topics. It was about keeping threads productive, not killing every potential discussion.

  • Zengaze

    I have a personal problem with the phrase “privilege” while I do think it does have validity it is thrown about far to easily, and has almost become a debate killer, it’s used to invalidate an argument without having to deal with the argument, and wow do i hate that.

    Plus it raises the question as to who the hell a person thinks they are to scream privilege at another, I keep getting the image in my head of a spoilt brat when I hear it, the spoilt brat being the one screaming it.

    I spent a large portion of my life in political activism, I’ve been in the military, I’ve been the minority in a country where the state viewed me as an actual enemy, I’ve been arrested multiple times for agitation, I’ve had the police lift me off the street while walking home at night multiple times, ive had squads of police with assault rifles surround my house to arrest me, I’ve been threatened with death by the police, I’ve been jailed twice, though not for political reasons, I’ve been homeless, I’ve borrowed money to go as a volunteer to an earthquake zone in north Africa to help with the rebuild, I’ve been forced out of employment for being a union activist, I’ve marched and I’ve fought for the rights of all……… Now I’m your average middle class type, I have a wife and kids, and I’m an employer, I’m well off, but im still the product of generations of leftism at the cutting edge in my family, who are you to sit behind a screen and dismiss me and my argument as nothing more than privilege.

    If that was ranty I apologise. I also apologise if I dealt with the person rather than the argument

    • skepticalmath

      People can do good things, and still be privileged.
      People can live a hard life, and still be privileged.
      People can live a hard life and do good things, and still be privileged.

      None of what you’ve done exonerates you from confronting and admitting that in all of that, there are privileges from which you have benefited.

      And if your argument is one which demonstrates a complete disregard for or misunderstanding of the experiences of certain marginalized people, they and we can call you out for it *despite* you being an activist or whatever.

      • Zengaze

        If my argument is bad I want to be called on it! Its part of how i learn.

        About the privilege thing though It needs to stop.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

          Can you explain to me what is bad about explaining to someone that they have certain unearned benefits in their lives that will never accrue to certain others? Why does the privilege thing seriously have to stop? I think it’s a basic bit of empathy, to be able to understand where you have benefited without deserving it, both because it means that you will understand how others are marginalized and because it will help you to understand where you might be able to use the heft of privilege to benefit marginalized people. (There’s a lot of discussion of that in regards to how feminist men should behave in the atheist community when other atheist men are behaving reprehensibly towards women.) It can help you to understand some of the difference between white-knighting (“saving” marginalized people for the glory of being such an awesome, awesome person!) versus genuinely trying to help people.

          Privilege is an incredibly helpful matrix through which you can understand the world. It just involves lowering whatever defenses are based on privilege and honestly listening to whomever has mentioned it. I’m not at all saying that there aren’t unproductive ways to discuss privilege, but it should not be removed as a discussion point.

      • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

        Please do. But give a good argument for how “privilege” has made us wrong. Don’t just say we’re privileged, throw out an insult, and call it a day.

        You’re free to criticize me or whoever. You’re not free to do it without reason such that it derails threads.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1698151270 John-Henry Beck

          I think there are a couple of difficulties that hurt the discussion over privilege.

          Many people being called out about their privilege do not understand the nuances of what is meant by privilege in these kinds of discussions. So it’s easy to take those as personal attacks or just glaringly inaccurate. I think generally speaking most people, when they think of privilege, think of someone like Mitt Romney or royalty.

          And from another angle not everyone pointing out privilege is doing it in a responsible way, or even necessarily is accurate about it. But combine it with exasperation or having explained privilege hundreds of times before, failing to step back and do so with the latest case just means the person they’re talking to misunderstands and gets frustrated themselves over what appears to be some oddball personal attack.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

      I would also point out that none of those things exempt you from privilege. Privilege isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing that every privileged person gets in every area in their lives. I’m white, cisgender, and I’m married to a man, so I experience privilege in those areas. I am also a woman, I am mentally ill, I am fat, and I am physically partially disabled. I experience some degree of difficulty in my life based on these attributes.

      Privilege can come and go as well. I was raised lower middle class, and I enjoyed the benefits of that without earning them personally. I experienced a period of poverty and homelessness, and was economically disadvantaged. Then I returned to the middle class and to the privilege that comes with that. I was able-bodied before I was disabled, and I enjoyed the benefits of that. I was thin for the vast majority of my childhood and through my teen years, and I enjoyed the privilege that comes with that.

      I am not a better or a worse person because of any of these attributes, but it is necessary for me to recognize how these various identities intersect in order to create a situation that is unique to me, and how this will function for other people. This is a necessary part of empathizing with other people as well. Screaming “privilege” at people’s heads without explaining it is unproductive (although I don’t really feel like giving every MRA a 101 on male privilege, either), but so is a failure to acknowledge that privilege exists, sometimes permanently and sometimes on a transient basis.

      • Zengaze

        But do you have to walk a mile in someone’s shoes to understand their pain? As long as you’ve walked a mile and felt pain then you should as a human being be able to empathise with another’s suffering.

        For example tonight I broke down watching the news, 32 kids and a lot more adults were murdered in their homes in Syria, I’m tearing up thinking about it now, do I need to have had a child murdered by the state in order to fully understand the pain?

        • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

          You can sympathize with another’s suffering regardless, but all of the depths of compassion in the world won’t equip you to comprehend what it has been like to live every minute of your life with this problem hanging over your head. You may deeply empathize with those whose children have been murdered in Syria, but you will get to go to bed and wake up in the morning without this weight over your head.

          An example of this would be the fact that, after Trayvon Martin’s murder, I’ve been devastated by the proliferation of violence against men of color, often perpetrated by authority figures. However, I am not asking for cookies for feeling like this because I was not afraid the day before I read about it that either of my children might be mistaken for a criminal and shot by a police officer, nor was I afraid of that afterwards. I have the option to think about something else without it impacting my life, and I will never have to have “the talk” with my kids about how people might misperceive them. I can make the choice to make this problem an important focus in my politics, and I have, but that does not put me in the position that parents of children of color must live in. It is political, not personal, to me. I am not Trayvon Martin. I am empathetic, but I will never be capable of understanding what it would be like to have my child murdered by someone who thought he was a thug because of his skin color. That is privilege.

          • Zengaze

            You make the argument well, and you obviously type a lot faster than me! That or your thoughts are more in order.

            I do think there is limited weight to the privilege argument, as you point out, really I could never experience what it’s like to have a child murdered until that….. Well I won’t say it. But you are correct.

            But none of us can walk the walk of each and every Individual, so youll never truly know the pain of that individual, and they will always be able to shout privlege as a way to short circuit the debate when they encounter an argument they dont like. that’s why I think experiences are transferable.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            To Zengaze’s reply @9:04:

            I don’t think that it’s impossible to use “privilege” as a silencing tactic, although I think that the instances of this are counterbalanced by the infinite numbers of times that privileged folk use their privilege to silence marginalized people, so I am not particularly concerned with this problem. (I think that one of the more interesting incidences of this is when you see accusations that “scientism” and atheism function to silence women, particularly women of color, because they have sooper speshul emotional intuitive connections with the spiritual world, but I think that’s bull anyway because it presumes that there is something fundamentally different about either of these groups that makes them exempt from reality, and that just ain’t so.)

            However, what you missed in your statement that you won’t understand what it’s like to have a child killed is the fact that you don’t have to have your child killed to understand it. You have to live with the fear of your child being killed because of their status as a marginalized person in order to understand it. That is the important part here, not that I’ve never (as far as you know) lost a child. I don’t have to fear that one of my children will fall victim to racialized violence. That is the privilege in this situation.

          • Robert B.

            jennifer:

            This is totally tangential, but I’ve seen good anti-scientism arguments. Most of them have warned against putting more trust in science than it deserves, rather than attacking or dismissing science as a whole. The scientific community has done some seriously bad shit in the past, and it’s still got a really big problem where it marginalizes or forces out women and POC who want to be scientists. There are also people who think science is the only valid way of knowing things, marginalizing other means of empirical inquiry such as history, or else trying to turn them into science. (One of the causes of the current problems with US education is the idea in education research that you can study everything you need to study about learning with double-blind controlled experiments, and anything you can’t study that way isn’t worth knowing about. That kind of “only scientific data counts” thinking contributed to the current overuse of standardized tests.)

            But yes, I’m always appalled by the particular arguments you mentioned. The idea that the fundamental workings of science are somehow antithetical to women and POC is sexist and racist – science is a source of power, one of humanity’s best, which everyone deserves equal access to.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            Robert B at 3:29: I am in complete agreement, and that would be part of a fuller argument that I would make. Institutionalized science has treated women and POC (and particularly people who are both) terribly, and I would be suspicious, too. (I’m a ladysort, but I haven’t been particularly hurt by science, so. ::shrug:: )

          • Robert B.

            My sister’s working on a Chemistry PhD. She’s faced some serious sexism both in the way her science is treated and in the general workplace environment, and though I’m totally rooting for her to get through it and become Dr. B., I’m angry at the institution of science for how hard it’s been made for her. Plus there’s issues in my own field of education, as I mentioned before. So as much as I love science, when someone mentions scientism I stop and figure out exactly what they’re talking about, as I did here, because there’s a valuable conversation to be had. Thanks for answering!

        • skepticalmath

          This is an odd strawman.

          Literally no one I’ve ever read has claimed that being privileged makes you immune from understanding the viewpoints of unprivileged people. Nor has anyone claimed that being privileged makes you incapable of empathizing.

          What privilege does do, particularly when people deny its existence, aren’t aware of its existence, or claim it doesn’t matter, is blind them to the perspectives and lives of others, thereby leading to bad arguments.

          I agree with you, bad arguments should be criticized based on why they are bad, not solely on why someone came up with them in the first place.

          But seriously, after the ten thousandth straight person has said some stupid privileged thing to me, yeah, I might just tell them to check their privilege. I might just tell them that they don’t understand because of their privilege. And it is still a substantive response, because that’s why their argument is wrong: their premises are false, and they are false precisely because they are based on a privileged world-view in which, for example, it is not dangerous to walk down the streets of a nice, rural town.

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Literally no one I’ve ever read has claimed that being privileged makes you immune from understanding the viewpoints of unprivileged people.

            The problem is that it gets trotted out instead of arguments, as in: “you’re wrong because your privilege prevents you from understanding,” not “you’re wrong because your reasoning fails in x, y, or z way.” It gets used as an ad hom.

          • Zengaze

            I’m not in good enough form to reply, i’m not ignoring the effort you put into posting, but I have to go to bed, plus the syria situation is really fucking with my love for humanity tonight.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            JT @9:15:

            Do you never get frustrated with having to explain some point of contention in your life to some person who may or may not be well-meaning, but is clueless regardless, and decide to skip the entire argument since you’ve already had it a billion times? I mean, you don’t address every religious apologist argument despite the fact that it may be productive to do so in a nonzero set of circumstances, and you shouldn’t have to because some things should be obvious. This is what that reminds me of.

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Jennifer,

            I do not answer every religious apologist, but that’s because I write a blog that gets a fair amount of traffic and I simply don’t have the time.

            If it’s someone who has not demonstrated themselves to be intentionally obtuse, I always give them the benefit of the doubt.

            And I’d certainly never let “You’re too obtuse to get it” be the entirety of my argument. It might come at the end of an argument that has been repeatedly missed by that individual, but I would never convict another person for their crimes.

            Many of the commenters in the two big threads this week have, and it’s wrong.

  • karmakin

    This actually isn’t the first time this particular thing has jumped up. One thing is that this sort of action is pretty normal in the feminist blogsphere, going after people for “JAQ”-ing off (Just Asking Questions) is a very common thing, and RIGHTFULLY SO, mainly because of this tactic being used so prominently by anti-feminists.

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

      …except when it is wrong, it is VERY wrong. Asking question is also a tactic for getting answers. I understand the quick-draw attack mode in certain places/spaces, but it doesn’t mean that’s always the best move.

      • skepticalmath

        Absolutely. But, as I mentioned upthread, something I do expect from people who are *honestly* asking questions and *honestly* want to learn — which I fully believe many of the folks in the other thread did — is to do a little research themselves. To google the topic. To read readily available sources (like Sincerely, Natalie Reed, in this case.) Coming to a topic with questions that have already been answered a thousand times by the community in question isn’t a good first step.

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

          Wanna hear something weird? There was a time where I stumbled onto a feminist blog through a link from a political blog, I posted something that a ton of people agreed with, and then someone said that what I posted was well known to feminist philosophers. I hate philosophy and said so, but backed down and asked if there were one or two books I should read to expand my knowledge… and I was blasted up and down for being a sexist pig and expecting a woman to do my homework for me. It was strange and irritating, to say the least. Asking someone to summarize feminist thinking I could have seen as wanting to be spoon fed the information, but asking for a book suggestion seemed like a good way for me to educate myself.

          It took me awhile to simmer down and not assume that all feminists were evil people looking for a fight…

          • skepticalmath

            Well that’s incredibly odd. I certainly wouldn’t agree with that response at all. I’d think people would be happy to dispense reading suggestions (but maybe that’s just because I love to.)

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

            Well, I try not to judge too harshly. Privilege and all that. :) But there are some people who are actually terrible people AND activists towards worthy causes. And there are people who have good reason to vent and simply choose the wrong targets sometimes. It is an evolving work in progress, but I’m trying to learn to not get so bent out of shape over these conversations where there’s no harm done to me personally.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            However, when you put your comment into the context of one of a thousand a day asking the feminists to do something for you that you could do for yourself, and your assumption that they owe it to you to do this for you (and, whether or not you genuinely assume this, it will come across this way), their hostility makes much more sense.

            You know that you are just a dude who genuinely wants to know more about this, but to them you are Guy #1000, saying, “Hey, your newfangled feminism business is rather interesting. You ladies feel up to explaining things to me even though I could go look them up myself?” It may be completely unfair, but it is not on marginalized people to assume good faith on the part of the privileged when it has been disproven so often. It is on you to prove it, and to think about why it might not have come across the way that you wanted it to.

            Again, it’s complicated. That doesn’t make you a bad person, but their hostility makes a lot more sense in the context that this is their lived experience every day while it’s a novelty to you, as far as they see.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            To your comment @9:23:

            When I find myself being told to check my privilege and I feel like I’ve been wronged, I try to do the same thing: assess the harm done. There’s no way that this conversation hurts me, except that it might hurt my feelings a little bit, but I’m a big grown-up person and I can handle that. In the context of how much harm is done to people who are marginalized, I can live with that little dink in my self-image.

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

            Jennifer, I think there’s a bit of a difference between asking someone to explain things to me, and asking if there’s a book or two I can read that will explain it to me. Other than that, I get your point which is why I try not to attack back when people come at me unfairly. Even if I’m not a fair target, I don’t assume their anger comes from an invalid place, and since it does me no damage to be lashed out at online (because of my privilege?), there’s no good that can come from me fighting back.

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

            … and we typed right past each other.

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

    I think the mistake in the use of privilege as an argument is that no one is wrong because of their privilege. They are wrong because they are wrong for whatever actual fact-based reasons. Privilege is the reason that they don’t immediately recognize that they are wrong, especially after having had the fact-based reasons explained to them multiple times. So saying “privilege” isn’t an argument, it is at best a way to make someone stop for a minute and give your argument a serious examination before dismissing it out of hand.

    I could be wrong, but that’s how I see it at this point.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

      I agree with your point here, but I think there are finer problems with it. It makes me think about how math teachers always wanted us to show our work: they wanted to see the thought process that got us to the conclusion, whether right or wrong, so that they could see what errors we were prone to. Pointing out privilege is like pointing out a thought process in math, only with much greater implications for society at large than whether we tend to forget to divide by a certain number. You can’t address errors if you don’t eventually address how they occurred.

      “Privilege” is not an argument; however, “this error in reasoning is common in people with a certain kind of privilege privilege” is. I think the problem is that marginalized people get tired of having to say that to half the people they meet every day, three-quarters of whom have no intent of actually learning about how they came to the wrong conclusion for Y. I don’t blame them. When they’ve been doing this math in their head from the second they became aware of their status in the world, it can be extremely frustrating to deal with people who think they have the right to a lesson, or don’t even care about the lesson.

      Add to that situation the fact that most people hear “you are privileged” and translate it to “you are a bad person,” when all it means is that the person experiences unearned benefits in life. It shuts down the conversation, but that is the fault of sensitivities with their origin in privilege. It’s complicated.

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

        Damn right it is complicated, and I don’t blame anyone either. There are finer points that I didn’t cover, because no comment can cover every point. And I’m sure not going to play Privilege Olympics with anyone… unless it is a drinking game, in which case I play to lose!

        And to be fair, I don’t see misused accusations of privilege popping up all that often any more than I see very many examples of the dreaded “radical feminism” that is brought up more or less constantly by various and sundry asshats. And cues like that usually come up really quickly in conversation, which is why I wish folks weren’t quite so quick on the draw to nuke people. Real trolls hang themselves almost immediately.

    • skepticalmath

      Sure. I agree with everything you said.

      But part of the problem with this approach is that the disagreement in a discussion like this happens at a very fundamental level: basic assumptions about how the world works. Addressing a disagreement like these as a top-level argument won’t get you that far. An argument that comes from a privileged position is wrong because the initial assumptions made were wrong. And addressing those is, usually, a matter of addressing privilege. A productive discussion will have to, inevitably, address these faulty assumptions and *why* they exist in the first place (namely, privilege.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

        I am not entirely certain that we are not a hive mind at this point.

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

        I agree completely?

  • mouthyb

    I tend to use the following to judge sincerity in people who are asking me

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

      …ummm?

      • mouthyb

        Stupid fingers.

  • mouthyb

    I tend to use the following to judge sincerity in people who are asking me questions (mind, this is my PERSONAL rubric):

    Do they ask the same questions which have already been answered in the thread?

    Do they read the resources I or anyone else have provided them?

    Do they ask leading or double questions? (Ex: When did you stop beating your wife?)

    Do they refuse to acknowledge certain basic truths? (Ex: The sky is blue during the day, people have different experiences in culture, some people have a hard time in culture for things they can’t help, because the culture tends to favor certain characteristics.)

    Do they do the all-penis review of logic and/or science, and refuse to acknowledge the ability of non-white, non-male persons to reason?

    Are they using magic cavemen to justify problems?

    Do they shit their pants when I say the word privilege?

    Do they habitually refer to women, persons of color or persons who are not heterosexual in derogatory terms?

    _________________________________________________________

    I’m reactive to these because I’ve heard them all repeatedly (and sometimes carry a large plastic penis to debates because it appears to help people take me seriously. Either that or brandishing what amounts to two cans of soda in size, not including the balls, is scary.)

    I’m sensitive to them because they accompany people ignoring me and/or hurting me. And yes, actually, I have been beaten up for being a deviant (according to gender roles, thank you my family and ex-husband #2). I don’t actively remember those incidences when provoked, but I will certainly tense up and start feeling aggressive/combative and/or withdrawing (depending on whether I think I have support.) Feeling supported becomes very important to people who understand what happens when you aren’t supported.

    On that note, I understand, because I am a white person, that I can only understand the experience of persons of color from the outside; it’s up to them, based on my behavior, to decide if I am worth trusting. Being considered an ally is very…. complicated…. that way.

    However, again for me (and by implication what I think is the best possible approach), I don’t mind being asked to reference specific things when pointing out something bad someone has done, assuming that they haven’t pushed a major button (harder to do as I age, thank therapy).

    However, if the question seems insincere and the person fails my test for sincerity, I am highly less likely to want to explain.

    The 101/not 101 threads may be a very good idea.

    • mouthyb

      I should add, too, that many of the blogs I’ve read which deal with these issues keep a 101 section, so people can be referred to it, also a test for sincerity.

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

        One of the advantages I have as a blogger is that once I get tired of an argument that goes around in circles, I can write a “definitive” post on the subject. Then, when I’m tired and not up for the same old thing again, I can just point them to it. It does take some of the strain off my temper.

  • Emburii

    You’re calling out and then banning those three people for being disruptive when they get upset, while Wes and Zengaze don’t get any flak even though they were being disingenuous enough to get a lot more mocking and exasperated responses?

    Seriously. I went back and read the entire thread, and who you’re choosing to act against doesn’t seem very even-handed at all. For those three Christine and other commenters were/are consistently choosing the least charitable reading of their comments possible, while somehow the privileged crap they were responding to doesn’t even get a note of general disapproval from you. Those two (and to a certain extant Christine) didn’t feel like they were trying to internalize anything, instead every time someone offered them something substantial they just asked a finer iteration of ‘why’ or ‘but’. That’s not learning, that’s needling. But somehow they’re okay and the people get angry at these needling tactics are not?

    And it feels like somewhere you KNOW this is wrong, JT; your defensive and over-the-top reaction every time someone doubts your ally status really looks like a guilty conscience, at least from here. Consider this a derail if you’d like and bury it and me, I won’t be coming back. But I’d rather you consider your priorities instead and why you are making these particular choices.

    • Josh, Official SpokesGay

      Thank you.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Your concern is noted. The policy stands.

      I think your assessment of the comment thread is completely off, as is your assessment of what you think I know is wrong.

      If you don’t like the standard for comments, don’t come back. Enjoy yourself elsewhere.

      • Josh, Official SpokesGay

        You’re a pal, JT.

      • Robert B.

        Since responding to what people say is so important, was there any particular reason you disagree with Emburii’s assessment of the comment thread? Like some other things I mentioned in my big comment below, a flat “I don’t agree with you” is more polite than a non-responsive insult, but formally equivalent.

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

          Since Embruii has said she’s not coming back, here’s what my response would be to him/her:

          I saw no evidence of them being disingenuous. If you have a specific instance you’re referring to, point it out to me. I’m more than willing to take a look as this policy applies to everybody.

          For those three Christine and other commenters were/are consistently choosing the least charitable reading of their comments possible

          I can give countless examples where the three in question, between the two recent big threads, left responses entirely consisting of insults or accusations of privilege creating bias and nothing else. These do not require a charitable reading.

          I also do not see where they were being read uncharitably. Once more, feel free to point me in that direction.

          while somehow the privileged crap they were responding to doesn’t even get a note of general disapproval from you. Those two (and to a certain extant Christine) didn’t feel like they were trying to internalize anything, instead every time someone offered them something substantial they just asked a finer iteration of ‘why’ or ‘but’. That’s not learning, that’s needling.

          If you’re saying that comments of only insults or only pointing out privilege are justified by people asking questions (why) or finding something disagreeable (but), I’m not sold.

          If you think this is needling, then don’t respond. But I don’t. These questions are perfectly acceptable in every other thread, and they are perfectly acceptable in this one.

          And it feels like somewhere you KNOW this is wrong, JT; your defensive and over-the-top reaction every time someone doubts your ally status really looks like a guilty conscience

          Please point to where I was over-the-top. As for being “defensive”, this is a cause I care about. Admittedly, I’m probably not going to write about it again, despite it being an issue I care about, because it’s been made clear by a sufficient number of those I’m attempting to defend/help that I don’t do so in a way they approve of. Still, I do care and I view myself as an ally. Saying so is being defensive only in that I feel the need refute the idea that I don’t care about making the atheist environment more friendly to women.

          • Pteryxx

            Okay, since you asked for direct response:

            Still, I do care and I view myself as an ally. Saying so is being defensive only in that I feel the need refute the idea that I don’t care about making the atheist environment more friendly to women.

            But you’re not refuting an idea. You’re responding to someone else’s perception that may or may not be justified; but by definition, you can’t just announce that you care and you’re an ally and treat that as a fact claim that can be proven. Trust does not work that way. And privilege DEFINITELY doesn’t work that way; the basis of the concept is that a well-meaning person can perceive themselves to be completely helpful, empathetic and caring while still massively screwing up.

            Besides:

            Admittedly, I’m probably not going to write about it again, despite it being an issue I care about, because it’s been made clear by a sufficient number of those I’m attempting to defend/help that I don’t do so in a way they approve of.

            This specifically says that you’re willing to abandon the issue because the people you’re helping don’t approve enough. Explicitly. When the approval of the marginalized outweighs caring about the issue, that’s the very definition of white-knighting.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            If you’re having enough people pointing out that you are not behaving as an ally in this instance, then that is a big indicator that, however passionate you are about helping those people, you have failed to do so in this instance. Instead of being defensive about it, this might be an instance where it would be appropriate to step back, listen to what they’re saying (instead of getting angry at them), and incorporate it if you think it is correct. Apparently you think it’s worth listening to this time. If you really do want to talk about this topic, then by all means talk about it instead of acting as if it is simply impossible for you to accommodate the thoughts of those who actually live with it.

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Pteryxx,

            But you’re not refuting an idea. You’re responding to someone else’s perception that may or may not be justified; but by definition, you can’t just announce that you care and you’re an ally and treat that as a fact claim that can be proven.

            You’re right. On the subject of women’s equality I haven’t spoken much about it publicly.

            If you don’t think I’m an ally on this front, that’s your prerogative. I’m sold that I am, and mine is the only opinion I’m really concerned about on that matter. I know I care about the issue and am doing my damndest to be fair-handed in my approach to it. If someone else thinks I’m not, they’re wrong. Pure and simple.

            the basis of the concept is that a well-meaning person can perceive themselves to be completely helpful, empathetic and caring while still massively screwing up.

            I’m open to the possibility of me screwing up. However, so far I’ve not seen a good argument toward that end.

            And even if someone screws up, does that mean they’re not an ally or not on the same team? There seems to be an idea going around that if someone screws up on the subject of women’s equality it becomes an issue of their allegiance instead of their competence. I think that’s bullshit.

            This specifically says that you’re willing to abandon the issue because the people you’re helping don’t approve enough.

            If the people at the steering wheel of a movement think I’m hurting rather than helping, it seems the right thing to do to let them have control of their movement and get the hell out of the way. At least, if I care about their cause, it seems like the right thing.

            I don’t mind getting it from the other side. I don’t mind getting ragged on by people defending faith, people opposing LGBT rights, MRAs, etc. But I’m not interested in writing about this subject if every time I do I’m going to have my motives questioned by the people I’d like to help.

            I do care, but the fight, at least as far as I go, should be with the people actively keeping women marginalized, not with women. I’m going to disagree with women/other feminists (since I consider myself a feminist, even if some don’t) sometimes, just like I disagree with atheists. If we’re on the same side, we disagree in good faith. However, on this subject in particular, that doesn’t seem to be happening. The disagreement seems to be met by a very vocal group with derision and either implied or accused ill will.

            I want no part in that.

          • Beatrice

            There seems to be an idea going around that if someone screws up on the subject of women’s equality it becomes an issue of their allegiance instead of their competence.

            Have you acknowledged that you screwed up? See, there’s the difference. Everyone screws up sometimes, but you are not even contemplating the possibility, let alone admitting it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            But I’m not interested in writing about this subject if every time I do I’m going to have my motives questioned by the people I’d like to help.

            This, right here, is a huge indicator of motive. Instead of asking yourself why your motives are questioned “every time,” and instead of actually sitting down and interrogating your motives, you are more interested in discussing how hurt you feelings are by “the people [you'd] like to help.”

            No one is a perfect ally, but to be an ally you have to be willing to listen to criticism instead of dismissing it out of hand because those people just don’t understand the purity of your motives. Presumably, they have dealt with a lot of allies, and they have dealt with these things before. Try listening to them and interrogating yourself instead of assuming that all those marginalized people are just being irrational when they question you.

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Jennfer,

            If you’re having enough people pointing out that you are not behaving as an ally in this instance, then that is a big indicator that, however passionate you are about helping those people, you have failed to do so in this instance

            Wrong. It confirms the disapproval of those commenting. It does not mean they are correct. Good argumentation could do that, but I’m not seeing a whole lot. I’m seeing responses to arguments that weren’t made, I’m seeing insults, and I’m seeing accusations of privilege used as a conversation-stopper. Those are not convincing no matter how many people are doing it and no matter how vocally.

            Instead of being defensive about it, this might be an instance where it would be appropriate to step back, listen to what they’re saying (instead of getting angry at them), and incorporate it if you think it is correct.

            Can I disagree without getting defensive? I think so. Because someone disagrees does not mean they are not listening. At every step I have laid out my rationale. You’re free to explain where you think I’ve erred, but pointing out the number of voices or implying that I’m not listening doesn’t cut it.

            I’m also not angry. I’m a little disappointed in some people, I’m aggravated that threads get derailed, but disagreements themselves and arguments do not make me angry. If anything, I’m a little annoyed I’m doing this instead of making breakfast, but that’s the extent of it.

            If I think someone is correct, of course I’ll incorporate it. Why wouldn’t I? Does it not bug you that you keep having to make appeals to my motives? Do you honestly think that’s a decent way to interact with anybody?

            Apparently you think it’s worth listening to this time.

            There are some people I don’t listen to very much – because I did listen to them and they quickly burned away my esteem for their opinion. But until that time I do listen. Not just this time, but every time. This is another dig at me, and it’s exactly the problem with so many in these threads. Personal attacks, personal attacks, personal attacks. I don’t mind them, they don’t bother me, but then they want to act as though they’ve made a salient point.

            If you really do want to talk about this topic, then by all means talk about it instead of acting as if it is simply impossible for you to accommodate the thoughts of those who actually live with it.

            I am listening and am doing so with an open mind. I empathize, but empathy does not always lead me to agreement.

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Beatrice,

            I’ve not made that admission because I’m not convinced I have. I remain open to argument on this.

          • Pteryxx

            JT:

            Wrong. It confirms the disapproval of those commenting. It does not mean they are correct. Good argumentation could do that, but I’m not seeing a whole lot.

            You keep demanding argument and proof for a matter of trust with regard to your own motives. You don’t get to logically argue that your motives are pure. It’s unfalsifiable, and more to the point, irrelevant, because well-meaning people can and do cause damage all the time. (See: Intent is not magic.)

            Can you accept that other people are entitled to their own perceptions of you even when they are mistaken?

            Can you accept that perceptions you *think* are mistaken may have justifications that are valid from the other person’s viewpoint?

          • Beatrice

            JT,

            An argument? See the whole flirting thread. It’s chock full of arguments. You dismissed them all.

          • Pteryxx

            JT, note that this was your response when I said that declaring oneself to be an ally is unfalsifiable:

            If you don’t think I’m an ally on this front, that’s your prerogative. I’m sold that I am, and mine is the only opinion I’m really concerned about on that matter.

            First off, if that “you” was directed at me, I made no such statement. If that was a general “you” then disregard.

            Second, if you accept others’ prerogative to declare whether they consider someone else an ally or not, will you now accept that such a statement is not automatically a personal attack subject to censure?

            Third, if your opinion is the only one that matters to your perception of yourself as an ally, how do you intend to question whether you’re doing so effectively and correct your behavior if necessary?

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Beatrice,

            You’ll note that for several comments I said “that’s a good point” and added it to the post.

            This is not the behavior of someone dismissing all the arguments. That dog simply does not hunt.

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Pteryxx,

            You keep demanding argument and proof for a matter of trust with regard to your own motives.

            She said my actions were not indicative of an ally. I can surely ask for proof of that.

            Can you accept that other people are entitled to their own perceptions of you even when they are mistaken?

            Can you accept that perceptions you *think* are mistaken may have justifications that are valid from the other person’s viewpoint?

            Yes to the first. It’s not sufficient to make me lose sleep, but they’re certainly entitled to them.

            Sure. But if they want me to agree with them (as opposed to them just voicing their opinions) or if they want me to place any stock in their opinion, they need to give me a good reason to think their viewpoint is valid. If they don’t care if I adopt their viewpoint, why chastise me for failing to do so?

            First off, if that “you” was directed at me, I made no such statement. If that was a general “you” then disregard.

            The “you” was in the general sense. My bad. I could’ve written that better. (I’m on vacation and having to take time away from my gf to deal with this, so admittedly I’m writing these quickly).

            Second, if you accept others’ prerogative to declare whether they consider someone else an ally or not, will you now accept that such a statement is not automatically a personal attack subject to censure?

            Automatically? Of course not. However, in the way it’s been largely used, I think it is. As Josh showed earlier in this thread, even something like “you’re a pal” or “bless your heart” can be a dig/insult.

            The way I’m seeing it used seems to be as a means to introduce guilt in lieu of an argument. In that case you both cheapen the phrase and weaken relationships with those who empathize with your position.

            Third, if your opinion is the only one that matters to your perception of yourself as an ally, how do you intend to question whether you’re doing so effectively and correct your behavior if necessary?

            My opinion is bound by reason and fact, at least to the extent I’m able. Even though my opinion on my allyhood is the one that matters, it will still change given a good reason. So far I have the following objective facts:

            1. I think women have a hard time in the atheist movement.
            2. I care about that and want it to change.
            3. I’m working to the best of my ability to help facilitate that change.

            If those three things do not make a good ally, I’m not sure what does. You can argue that I’ve made mistakes (and I’ll listen), but mistakes do not negate those things.

            This is something that really worries me. As I said in my post, there are some guys who don’t care about the plight of women in this movement. We’re all against them.

            But there are many, like myself, who do care, but who see the behavior of people like Daisy and Josh (or receive it directly) when they do try to help or when they do try to get a better grasp on this situation.

            We get told we should already know the answer to questions, and have it implied that we are somehow intellectually deficient or disingenuous for asking.

            We get shouted down for even asking questions.

            If we disagree, we get told it’s because we’re privileged with no explanation for where we’re actually wrong.

            We get straw-manned. For instance, if I say I write a post asking for help with the guys who do care and who want to improve, I get accused of sticking up for “the poor menz” (you can go back and read Daisy doing it).

            We get insulted instead of engaged.

            Am I saying these things are worse than what women go through? Not at all. What I am saying is they alienate potential allies (like me). I’m also saying they too quickly make villains of people who really, really want to come in on their side.

            Now, ordinarily these things don’t bug me at all. You can insult and misrepresent my position til the end of time. It happens every day. I generally just ignore those people. I’m pretty thick-skinned. But there was such good conversation going in those threads and it was destroyed by this behavior. That bugs me.

            Because I care about this issue, I want to keep the conversation focused on what people are actually saying. I think the subject deserves/needs it. I took steps to make sure that happened.

          • carlie

            3. I’m working to the best of my ability to help facilitate that change.

            But how do you know what to do to help facilitate that change? Do you do what you think needs to be done, or do you listen to other people? If so, which people? If they tell you what you’re doing is hurting instead of helping, do you stop doing that thing, or do you tell them that you know better than they do?

          • Pteryxx

            Right – I’ll do my best to explain.

            Pteryxx: Can you accept that perceptions you *think* are mistaken may have justifications that are valid from the other person’s viewpoint?

            JT: Sure. But if they want me to agree with them (as opposed to them just voicing their opinions) or if they want me to place any stock in their opinion, they need to give me a good reason to think their viewpoint is valid.

            You’re still conflating perception with argument here. An opinion, in this case a subjective interpretation, isn’t something a person “agrees” with unless they share it. For a really simple example, certain racial insults aren’t obvious to me and don’t apply to me – I’m thinking of “boy” as a pejorative here, because that one had to be explained to me just a few months ago. When someone says being called a certain term insults and marginalizes them, I don’t need to “agree” – I don’t need to say “Yes, the evidence indicates that phrase is harmful.” I provisionally accept their interpretation as a means of informing my own interpretation. I still don’t share their perception of that particular insult; it will never sting me like it does them. I call it out as harmful because I *accept* their perception.

            When you say “they need to give me a good reason to think their viewpoint is valid” you’re not disagreeing with an argument, you are refusing to accept another interpretation. “Good reason” here is circular – refusing to accept someone else’s account of *what they perceive* is de facto disparagement of their judgment.

            If they don’t care if I adopt their viewpoint, why chastise me for failing to do so?

            Again, it’s not about making your viewpoint *the same as* theirs. Because of privilege, that’s impossible. People care that you ACCEPT their viewpoint as a valid alternative whether or not you share it.

            Even though my opinion on my allyhood is the one that matters,

            To whom?

            it will still change given a good reason. So far I have the following objective facts:

            Remember when I asked if you could accept others having different takes on whether someone is an ally or not?

            1. I think women have a hard time in the atheist movement.
            2. I care about that and want it to change.
            3. I’m working to the best of my ability to help facilitate that change.

            If those three things do not make a good ally, I’m not sure what does. You can argue that I’ve made mistakes (and I’ll listen), but mistakes do not negate those things.

            For what it’s worth, I don’t doubt that YOU think you’re a good ally. I’m arguing that ally status is not objectively determined on a scorecard somewhere; that one’s self-perception AS an ally is not falsifiable nor reliable; and that when someone states that they don’t consider you an ally, they’re probably speaking the truth. They don’t trust you with that designation. How tolerant would you be of someone in your life that you don’t trust, who’s made mistakes that hurt you, but insists on calling themself your “friend”? It’s not something you can prove. It has to be mutually agreed upon.

            Again, for what it’s worth, I have not said that you are or are not a “real” ally. I think you’re making a systemic, egregious mistake that’s pissing off a lot of the people you’re trying to help. Do you think that’s relevant to my judgment call if I do make one?

            Okay, more specifically about the thread handling:

            I’m pretty thick-skinned. But there was such good conversation going in those threads and it was destroyed by this behavior. That bugs me.

            I agree about the need to foster good conversation. I question your attribution of the cause.

            Because I care about this issue, I want to keep the conversation focused on what people are actually saying. I think the subject deserves/needs it. I took steps to make sure that happened.

            The problem here is your interpretation of “what people are actually saying”. If you mean a strict literal reading of their words, then it should be obvious that many, many insults and offenses are going to go unchecked – see the example you gave above, of Josh saying “You’re a pal”. Like you, I interpreted that as a snarky response, but not because of its *literal* meaning.

            However, if you’re going to take context into account, then context is subject to differing interpretation. Again, I didn’t see certain terms as insults until it was explained to me – not as an argument, but as an alternate interpretation informed by context, specifically the experience of the intended target. The same applies to slurs and silencing attempts.

            When you make a judgment call about what a comment “actually” means, beyond the literal reading, you are making a largely subjective interpretation. When you require other commenters whose viewpoints differ from yours to respond only to “actual” statements, you’re requiring that they respond to what YOU perceive. Your literal or good-faith interpretations of some comments are not justified, because you are unaware of context that’s informing other interpretations. By enforcing your interpretation, you’re making the (false) assumption that your interpretation is objectively true for everyone.

            Several others have tried to explain to you why asking certain questions, particularly repeated ones, is not innocent or harmless even though you perceive it to be so (and to you, it IS harmless). See carlie’s comment giving examples from the previous thread, and mouthyb’s list of indicators of good faith; but your PERCEPTION that this questioning behavior is harmless in all cases, and thus cannot be contributing to the decay of the conversation, is incorrect. Asking innocent-sounding questions can be a dig at a whole group of people. As a moderator, you have a responsibility to protect ALL of your commenters from personal attacks, including the attacks that don’t affect you.

          • pb&l

            She said my actions were not indicative of an ally. I can surely ask for proof of that.

            Some of the evidence (proof only exists in mathematics) is the way that you keep trying to control how less privileged people are allowed to express disagreement with you, and you make your support contingent upon being considered an ally:

            If you want the help of men who want to help make this an accommodating environment for women, you may want to re-think some things.

        • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

          For those three Christine and other commenters were/are consistently choosing the least charitable reading of their comments possible

          I would greatly appreciate if you would please point out where I did this so that I may fix it.

          Of course, you don’t have to. I don’t expect to be shown where I am wrong or be led there by the hand like a privileged toddler, I’m just trying to do better.

    • Dalillama

      I agree 100%

    • Beatrice, anormalement indécente

      Emburii,

      Agreed and thanks for stating it so clearly.

    • Zengaze

      It seems to me that some people believe that the purpose of engaging in commenting is so that you can be told what your opinion should be by those without “privilege”. Or those who “get it”.

      I disagree the purpose of commenting is to state your position on the topic and to argue for it, during that process you may have your opinion changed by the quality of argument from someone with an alternative position, or if the alternative position doesnt have a good argument then their position should change! Regardless of whether they are the unprivileged!

      My position on the use of “die cis scum” is still the same, I think it’s wrong, and I explained why I think it’s wrong, I have a better understanding of the opposite view and that’s great, that’s the purpose of debate, except I doubt whether my arguments changed the position of the “victimhood trumps all arguments” crowd.

      Emburii You claim my responses were disingenuous and therefore deserved mocking replays! Do you see what you did there lol. Hey the way you dress means you deserved to be raped. Check the cognitive dissonance please.

      Lastly I don’t agree with your use of the word ally, if by ally you mean someone who agrees with bad arguments made by the unprivileged. People who do that, do more harm to their supposed friend thn good.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

        First, your statement about clothing and rape says a freaking lot about you, and I’m guessing that the time spent patiently talking to you yesterday was wasted if you are incapable of even comprehending how that kind of threat sounds to someone who has actually had to live with the possibility that they will be told that. Kindly shut it about that if you aren’t going to consider how it comes across.

        Secondly, is it impossible for you to sit and consider why you might believe that the arguments of marginalized people are bad? And that privilege just might be one of those things?

      • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

        Also, I note that JT apparently doesn’t object to commenters saying that someone deserved to be raped here. That stands on its own.

        • Anna

          I am thinking that the rape thing was an extremely poorly phrased analogy for what the writer viewed as a problematic argument.

          The writer really does need to think about the appropriateness of such an analogy because I admit I stared at it horrified for several minutes.

          If it wasn’t an analogy I would ban hammer said person in about 3 seconds.

          Zengaze, really, please think before you post. That was HUGELY triggering

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

          Show me where someone said that someone else deserved to be raped.

          If you’re referring to Zengaze’s analogy, how can you possibly think that’s what he was saying? He was comparing an argument someone else made to the similar argument other people make that the way a women dresses means she deserves to be raped. He was doing this, obviously, with the understanding we all thought that argument sucked (which is why he was using it as a negative comparison).

          If anything, he’s strongly saying that argument sucks.

          You, then, come her and accuse him of saying rape is ok. This is exactly what I’m talking about. There’s been a great deal of misrepresentation in these threads, some of it so brazen it’s hard to not think it’s deliberate.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            Show me where someone said that someone else deserved to be raped.

            Already did. Whether or not he literally meant that is irrelevant, because he chose to word in a way that targeted that specific commenter rather than generally referencing the argument.

            If you’re referring to Zengaze’s analogy, how can you possibly think that’s what he was saying? He was comparing an argument someone else made to the similar argument other people make that the way a women dresses means she deserves to be raped. He was doing this, obviously, with the understanding we all thought that argument sucked (which is why he was using it as a negative comparison).

            And he did it in a way that specifically targeted that individual commenter rather than addressing the argument in general. He also chose to use an argument that would cause the maximum amount of damage if taken the wrong way, when there are other analogies that would work much better. He deliberately chose to say that a particular commenter deserved to be raped for wearing a short skirt in a context where he could say “lol jk guise.”

            If anything, he’s strongly saying that argument sucks.

            By targeting it at an individual commenter who may or may not have actually experienced that.

            You, then, come her and accuse him of saying rape is ok.

            No, and you are putting words into my mouth. I am accusing him of making a cheap rape joke at the expense of a particular commenter, under the guise of a poorly-formed and poorly-reasoned analogy that has little to do with the original post.

            This is exactly what I’m talking about. There’s been a great deal of misrepresentation in these threads, some of it so brazen it’s hard to not think it’s deliberate.

            Yes, like misrepresenting a trolling comment that targets an individual commenter with blame for their own rape as a well-formed analogy. But let’s not let that get in the way with our lolz and with our reasoned arguments (of which this commenter has paid attention to precisely zero, despite his receiving many, many generous responses to his JAQing off).

          • Pteryxx

            JT, take another look at what you just claimed.

            He was doing this, obviously, with the understanding we all thought that argument sucked (which is why he was using it as a negative comparison).

            YOU thought the subtext was merely “this argument sucks”. Three people replied by saying that’s a bad choice of analogy specifically because it’s triggering and not a statement that should be casually thrown around as a mere analogy. Can you see why people who have been raped have a worse reaction to a casual rape analogy than you do?

            Can you see why treating your own interpretation as “obvious” and “we all think” is a mistake?

      • Pteryxx

        zengaze:

        I disagree the purpose of commenting is to state your position on the topic and to argue for it, during that process you may have your opinion changed by the quality of argument…

        Do you see a problem with treating someone else’s perception of their own life and experience as an argument subject to debate about its validity?

        • http://polyskeptic.com shaunphilly

          I see it as a problem only in the sense that it has emotional consequences. People are wrong in their own perspectives, even about their own lives, all the time. Someone having an experience and having an opinion about it does not mean they are right, necessarily. They certainly have a perspective (a privileged perspective, I’m hesitant to say), but that perspective is not necessarily the same thing as the truth.

          And while it is unlikely that another person will have a perspective of more objective truth, it is not impossible. I don’t know how many times I had a view about myself, my experience, etc that was jolted by a comment, observation, or question from another person. They didn’t have my perspective, but they had theirs which included similar experiences and used their experience to sympathize and point something out that I missed.

          I suppose I should clarify that I don’t think any truth is 100% subjective. Reality, after all, has to be the standard. I also don’t think truth is 100% objective. I think its intersubjective.

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

          Pteryxx:

          Do you see a problem with treating someone else’s perception of their own life and experience as an argument subject to debate about its validity?

          That’s obviously a problem. There’s also the problem of taking someone’s personal experience and extrapolating to make points about a larger point, or privileging(no relation) someone’s perception as being beyond criticism because it comes from a member of a marginalized group. It is a complex issue, and while I tend to come down on the side of the person’s personal perspective carrying weight… in some instances the amount of weight it should be given is subject to debate, mainly depending on how far from their own personal experience they are trying to stretch their point.

          I can tell you my experience of being a Puerto Rican growing up in Mayberry in the 1980s and early 1990s, which is useful in discussions of racial bigotry in the southern American states. It doesn’t make me “Joe, Official SpokeSpanic” or something…

          • Pteryxx

            Joe, I know you’re trying here:

            It is a complex issue, and while I tend to come down on the side of the person’s personal perspective carrying weight… in some instances the amount of weight it should be given is subject to debate…

            This isn’t an issue of evidence or certainty. On matters of perspective, the issue is FAIRNESS. “Weight” here means how much credibility the speaker has. This is an extremely important, key difference because of how marginalized groups are treated by dominant ones: they are not regarded as trustworthy or having anything worth saying. To be fair, and to overcome the bias of our own perspective being the default, marginalized voices need to be accorded MORE credibility.

            Note: I never said absolute credibility. There’s no such thing in matters of viewpoint.

      • Happiestsadist

        I love how pointing out that cis privilege and sexism are things that exist and that being an ally takes more than just declaring it is enough to get me a stern (hilarious) warning, but threatening, entirely inappropriate rape jokes at women’s expense are A-OK here. Wow, I’m so glad such great allies run this joint!

        • Gen Fury

          Well, JT explained it very. very clearly, didn’t you see?

          He was doing this, obviously, with the understanding we all thought that argument sucked (which is why he was using it as a negative comparison).

          “obviously this is what he meant”. OBVIOUSLY referring to the dominant paradigm, of course. Which is set by the doodz benefiting form rape culture? Can it be? That people who benefit form something is more likely to give that something the “benefit of the doubt” than those harmed by it, and that those who are harmed would view these benefit givers with mistrust because they are aiding and abetting said harm by their benefit giving?

          Now what would one call something like that… it starts with a P, rhymes with tutelage…

          Nah. Must be my rad-femminess taking over my ladee brainz again.

          • Happiestsadist

            Oh! Now I see! My genderqueer brain may be swirled with blue, but the pink fluffy feminist brains prevent any real thought from being possible. So kind of him to explain.

      • http://idioprag.com WilloNyx

        Holy fuck what a terrible analogy.

        It diminishes the severity of rape by conflating harsh words with rape and microagression with dressing slutty. And institing that the actions are somehow “the same.”

        Harsh words is a reasonable response to microagression. Now you can quibble all day long whether the comments in the OP were actually microagressive (meaning in this instance meant to wear the oppressed side down by asking them to reanswer the same tired questions again and again) but it is obvious they were perceived as such as microagressive. Responding with harsh words at even perceived microagression is actually a reasonable response even if an erroneous one. I am still trying to decide if the perceived microagression is erroneous or not. I am less inclined to think it is the more I read.

        Whether harsh words at microagression is a reasonable response is tangential to the fact that JT gets to decide whether they are beneficial to the discussion or not. He obviously has declared that without “points” they are derailing and that is up to him.

        Now back to my horror at the above comment. Rape is NEVER EVER EVER EVER a reasonable response to anything. That you equate it with something that is a reasonable response makes me pretty fucking sick to my stomach.

      • theoblivionmachine

        Why has this comment not been ‘updated’ with a giant neon sign saying : “TRIGGER WARNING!” ; it’s bad enough having to slog through shoddy ‘reasoning’ and bad faith ‘jaqing off’ without getting triggered.

        Zengaze: Before you made that (inconsiderate, not-thought-through, hateful, hurtful, offensive) pathetic ‘analogy’, did you actually think about that? (Rhetorical, it’s “No!”.)

        The fact that you considered it ‘acceptable for use’ is very telling indeed, it tells me you don’t give a damn about anyone but yourself, all be damned just so your precious ‘fee-fees’ aren’t hurt.

        MASSIVE VIOLENT TRIGGER AHEAD

        Since Die Cis Scum isn’t nearly violent enough:
        Survive a goddamn house fire and then die of the consequences, Arsehole!

  • Cynthia

    I’ve always read the posts and the comments because I learn so much from both. The comments often go in unexpected directions, pushing my mind to conider things from a new angle. I love that about the blogs here.

    And I’m really happy to see some minimum standards enforced for comments. I like having a safe place to be, even if it’s only online. If I want to be insulted for not agreeing with someone’s position, I’ll go to family events. I don’t need it here.

    And I will try to always comment on the argument, not the person. Because screaming insults at people is reserved for driving, not commenting.

    • Josh, Official SpokesGay

      Bless your heart.

      • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

        Please explain what that sentence was supposed to convey.

        • Josh, Official SpokesGay

          Figure it out.

          • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Goodbye.

        • Cynthia

          JT,
          Seems Josh found something objectional in my comment. Perhaps he doesn’t enjoy screaming at other drivers or finds that offensive?

          But I think it’s probably linked to something he referred to on PZ’s blog tonight -

          “The main reason I like it here[meaning pharyngula]. It stands in stark contrast to certain other blogs—I’m looking at your douchey dood-bro ass, JT Eberhard, and you too, Stephanie Svan—where the marginal get smacked down if they don’t stick their tongues so far up Ally Ass™ they come out brown.”

          Guess he’s not a fan of civility?

          • Josh, Official SpokesGay

            Feel better now?

          • Robert B.

            Civility does have its downsides, you know. It’s basically just a privileged way of talking – not necessarily white privilege or male privilege, just diction privilege. I’m habitually civil because it makes people listen to me – a civil way of phrasing things gives my words an impact, an acceptability, that goes beyond the quality of my reasoning.

            But civility is also, in a way, essentially pro-status-quo. Yes, of course it’s possible to be radical and revolutionary and so on while also being polite – that’s what I try to do. But there’s a “don’t make waves” aspect to civility, a “only some things may be criticized” aspect to it. When an atheist says that, for example, the Bible advocates terrible crimes, this is decried by Christians and accomodationists as confrontational, strident – uncivil, basically. Sometimes that’s just bad habits, but sometimes the rules of civility are used as a deliberate weapon to perpetuate oppression. That’s basically the idea behind what we call “tone trolling.”

            So when someone from an underprivileged group is uncivil in demanding their rights – well, that’s not how I do it, but I sure don’t wonder why they do it that way. It makes perfect sense to me.

          • Josh, Official SpokesGay

            I’m habitually civil because it makes people listen to me

            Sometimes. Not always. If you transgress some peoples’ comfort zones enough no level of proficiency in their preferred circumlocutions will get you off the hook.

          • Robert B.

            True, Josh. To be more precise, I should have said “it makes people more likely to listen to me.”

          • Josh, Official SpokesGay

            For certain values of people, Robert:)

          • http://polyskeptic.com shaunphilly

            This is why the motto of my blog (polyskeptic.com) is “Criticism is not uncivil.” Civility has its place, and I use it often, but there are times when lack of civility is called for. But I agree with JT that even when it might be acceptable, an argument needs to accompany it.

    • John Morales

      Cynthia:

      And I’m really happy to see some minimum standards enforced for comments. I like having a safe place to be, even if it’s only online. If I want to be insulted for not agreeing with someone’s position, I’ll go to family events. I don’t need it here.

      Then you’ve misread the OP.

      Allow me to quote the relevant section:
      “So here are the new standards.  You can insult someone.  You can accuse them of being privileged.  But those things had better damn sure come attached to a response to what somebody actually said, not what you wish they would have said.”

      So, you’re either inattentive or can’t read for comprehension.

      So, did you merit my bother, I could insult you for such a naive misrepresentation of the actual proposition.

      This, because I have addressed what you actually said.

      (Bah)

  • Robert B.

    I’m kinda with Emburii, here, at least in that your response appears uneven. Christina’s attitude in that post and thread struck me as being very much about asking honest questions and listening to the answers. She clearly knew she was going into some tricky intellectual territory, and while she wasn’t perfect, it was clear that she knew that and that her objective was to do better.

    But some of the commenters in that thread? Did not have that attitude at all. At ALL. Their arguments were intensely privileged – that is, they contained hidden premises that are only possible to hold for people with unexamined advantages. For example, you can only say that there’s never cause for violence/violent rhetoric, if you routinely have the option of deciding whether or not an interaction will become violent. Frequent victims of violence do not have that option – violence is done to them, violence comes whether they like it or not. Advocating pacifism to the victims is not high-minded, it is grotesque. If it had been me, I’d probably have said what I just said rather than “You’re a privileged jerk,” but the latter is also true. It just leaves a few steps out of the proof. If you need Josh et. al. to show their work a bit more, then fine, but it makes more sense to say so Christina style (“I don’t see how X”) rather than assuming there’s no justification and bringing out the ban warnings.

    Certain commenters on one side of the debate were using insults in place of arguments. Certain commenters on the other side were using leading and evasive questions in place of arguments. There is perhaps a difference in manners between the two; there is no difference in formal validity or intellectual integrity. (Actually, I take that last part back – to insult someone openly is more honest than to insult them with apparently-courteous marginalizing questions.) And asking someone to explain something that’s already been explained is ignoring others’ arguments just as much as a non sequitur insult.

    If you want to draw a line at offensive, non-responsive comments, then fine. It’s your “house,” and I can see where responding to arguments with arguments would be more intellectually productive than doing otherwise. But it seems that you’re letting surface courtesy – which you explicitly do not require – nonetheless distort how you apply this rule. If you don’t require us to be nice, then being nice should not get anyone a pass on rules being enforced on others. Especially when this uneven enforcement happens to fall entirely on one side of a debate – there’s an intellectual integrity issue for you, if you like.

    (Tangential question: On Greta Christina’s blog, if someone’s argument is ill-intentioned or disingenuous enough, commenters are encouraged to say “Thank you for sharing” – a polite euphemism for “you are a troll, go away” – rather than responding directly to what they said. I’ve also seen “Cool story, bro” used this way. Is that practice acceptable here?)

    • http://polyskeptic.com Ginny

      For example, you can only say that there’s never cause for violence/violent rhetoric, if you routinely have the option of deciding whether or not an interaction will become violent. Frequent victims of violence do not have that option – violence is done to them, violence comes whether they like it or not. Advocating pacifism to the victims is not high-minded, it is grotesque. If it had been me, I’d probably have said what I just said rather than “You’re a privileged jerk,” but the latter is also true. It just leaves a few steps out of the proof.

      Where does the “jerk” judgement necessarily come into play? You’re absolutely right, people who in their daily lives are essentially immune to violence typically don’t understand how the world is different for people who live under daily threat. Not understanding something doesn’t make you a jerk. Speaking from my own experience, I spent most of my life believing that pacifist and defensive-violence-only principles were morally correct, and that even in a radically changed world under severe threat, I would retain my “noble” ideals. It took years of considering other people’s stories, both real and fictional, before I revised this belief.

      Responding “You’re a privileged jerk” without even pointing out how their privilege is operating in this case is not going to help them understand. If you (in the universal sense) don’t want to put in the minimal time and effort of explaining why their privilege is relevant, you certainly don’t have to. But throwing out the word “privilege” without any elaboration makes it seem like a silencing tactic, pure and simple.

      • Robert B.

        But this standard, “Don’t just insult them, explain why they’re wrong,” we don’t apply it consistently. When someone comes into one of JT’s threads and quotes the Bible at us, some people do make arguments about insufficient evidence and so on. But other people say, in essence, “nobody cares about your stupid book.” That’s basically just an insult which doesn’t explain what’s wrong with the Bible. It certainly won’t help the Bible-quoter understand why he’s wrong – in fact, a long, detailed argument probably won’t do that, either.

        Of course there are arguments and good reasons why nobody here cares about their stupid book. But they’re not actually made every time, and no one here thinks that’s strange: we all know what those arguments are, and if the Bible-quoter cared to lurk a while, they would have known them, too. The Bible is considered thoroughly debunked in this community, and there’s no obligation to actually make the arguments against it every time.

        Similarly, if someone came in arguing for a flat earth, or dropping racist and homophobic slurs left and right, at least some people would answer with nothing more elaborate than “You’re an idiot / a bigot,” and I don’t think the rest of the community would raise an eyebrow at that response.

        But arguments made from (at least certain kinds of) towering privilege are being treated differently. JT and others want to hear the refutations before those arguments are dismissed and their proponents insulted. Which I can live with, actually – it’s because there’s a different level of background knowledge in the community on this topic. Folks don’t know as much about privilege as they know about the validity of the Bible or the shape of the earth. Apparently we can’t skip steps on this subject – so, fine. But let’s not pretend that something new and different happened in that thread. Josh and Daisy Cutter and so on did something that happens routinely around here, they just did it about privilege instead of religion. It’s not fair to call that ban-worthy behavior here when it hasn’t been and won’t be on other topics. Or at least, if it’s going to be, it needs to be explicitly a special rule for this topic: “Always show your work when arguing against privilege here.”

        • http://polyskeptic.com Ginny

          It’s a matter of context. Atheism, skepticism, and freethought are major topics of this blog, and of the entire blog network. It’s reasonable to expect someone who comments here to at least be acquainted with the tenets of Freethought 101. Even so, it’s more productive to point the clueless to 101 resources than to dismissively insult them, but sometimes people get frustrated and impatient, and we generally let that slide.

          If this were a blog where trans issues are also a major topic, then it would be similarly reasonable to expect commenters to understand Cis Privilege 101 before commenting. I don’t comment on blogs and forums about trans issues, or race issues, or disability issues, until I’ve lurked for a while and gotten a sense of what the common awareness base of the community is. If it’s the kind of place where 101 questions seem to be welcomed, I’ll ask my questions… otherwise I’ll go somewhere where the discussion is closer to my zone of proximal development.

          But there have to be places where the uninformed can go to get informed, without running the risk of being jumped on for asking questions that don’t bear any obvious markers of bad faith. And everything JT and Christina have said support my assumption that this is such a place, on this particular issue (and not on issues of atheism and freethought, which are a much more central focus.)

          • Robert B.

            The problem is, some indicators of bad faith are obvious to some people but not others. Like, I read one comment by Wes questioning the particular word choice of DCS and I thought “wow, tone troll?” and then I read a second comment and thought “yup, tone troll.” With Zengaze in this thread I didn’t even need two posts – a rape joke in the second person addressed to a stranger in a public forum is just a one-way ticket to Judgement Town in my book. But apparently other folks don’t see these things as obvious danger signs.

            And it’s worth saying again, I think Christina’s behavior in that post and thread was admirable. Her questions, and more importantly her responses to the answers, serve as examples of what a good-faith attempt to learn and become informed looks like. The contrast with some of the other questions asked in the thread is profound. And, did anyone address an insult-without-responding-to-argument comment to Christina? If so I missed it, but in such a long multithreaded comment stream I could have missed a lot of things.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      But some of the commenters in that thread? Did not have that attitude at all. At ALL. Their arguments were intensely privileged – that is, they contained hidden premises that are only possible to hold for people with unexamined advantages. For example, you can only say that there’s never cause for violence/violent rhetoric, if you routinely have the option of deciding whether or not an interaction will become violent. Frequent victims of violence do not have that option – violence is done to them, violence comes whether they like it or not. Advocating pacifism to the victims is not high-minded, it is grotesque. If it had been me, I’d probably have said what I just said rather than “You’re a privileged jerk,” but the latter is also true. It just leaves a few steps out of the proof.

      And they may have been wrong (I’m not making that call atm). Their privilege may have made them wrong (I’m not making that call atm). But being wrong is not a crime.

      They were, to my inspection, at least responding to what people said. I don’t require they agree, nor do I require that others agree with them. I simply require people to not only insult or to not only use privilege as their entire argument. I also require people to avoid derailing threads by focusing on what was actually said if you choose to respond.

      Certain commenters on one side of the debate were using insults in place of arguments.

      If I’ve missed some, point them out to me. I went after the biggest offenders in my eye, but the policy applies to everybody. If others are doing this, then like those three they’ll get warnings and then banned if they keep it up.

      Certain commenters on the other side were using leading and evasive questions in place of arguments.

      Since I was asking sincere questions in the post I made and got immediately accused of the crime of asking questions (presumably because they were evasive or leading), my sympathy for those making this accusation is admittedly a little thin. I’m reticent enough to ban people for any reason, but I’m much more open to the idea for banning people for obviously derailing threads with responses to ghost arguments or only insults than I am to asking questions.

      If you don’t think the questions are made in good faith, don’t answer them. It’s not because I favor a certain side, it’s because insults and responses to unmade arguments are much easier to accurately pick out than insincere questions.

      There is perhaps a difference in manners between the two

      I’m not worried about manners.

      there is no difference in formal validity or intellectual integrity. (Actually, I take that last part back – to insult someone openly is more honest than to insult them with apparently-courteous marginalizing questions.)

      Maybe we’re not on the same page in terms of the severity of these questions. Can you point me to an example?

      And asking someone to explain something that’s already been explained is ignoring others’ arguments just as much as a non sequitur insult.

      I disagree. This happens all the time. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve had to explain Pascal’s Wager to people. New people come into the conversation and must have things explained to them for the first time.

      Or, sometimes people need to hear an explanation several times for it to sink in. Admittedly, I’ve had that happen before with some subjects, and not terribly rarely.

      But it seems that you’re letting surface courtesy – which you explicitly do not require – nonetheless distort how you apply this rule.

      Nope. I only care that two potentially productive threads got hijacked and derailed.

      Tangential question: On Greta Christina’s blog, if someone’s argument is ill-intentioned or disingenuous enough, commenters are encouraged to say “Thank you for sharing” – a polite euphemism for “you are a troll, go away” – rather than responding directly to what they said. I’ve also seen “Cool story, bro” used this way. Is that practice acceptable here?

      Sure. Knock yourselves out.

      • carlie

        JT – I can’t figure out if you don’t understand the point being made, or reject is as a point altogether.

        New people come into the conversation and must have things explained to them for the first time.

        Or, sometimes people need to hear an explanation several times for it to sink in. Admittedly, I’ve had that happen before with some subjects, and not terribly rarely.

        Neither of those things are what’s being discussed. What Robert said is that there are two ways a person can purposely shut down a conversation by making the other person mad/upset enough to give up and walk off. One is by just insulting, and not bothering any more to make any other points. The other is to do what is known as JAQing off; the definition I just linked to describes one version of it, but another is to do it simply to wear the answerer down to the point that they just can’t take it any more as described here.

        The second method is often much more effective at achieving its goals than the first is, particularly when dealing with a marginalized/oppressed group, because the members of the majority can so easily identify with what the attacker in the second method seems on the surface to be doing. “But he’s just asking a question! I have the same kinds of questions! Why is that (person who is different from me) being so mean to that guy who has some of the same questions I do and who is kind of like me?” It’s not as obvious a shutdown as a simple “fuck you” is, but it has the same effect on the other person in the conversation. That means that tolerating the second method is much more likely to harm members of the marginalized group than the first is.

        The point is that each of these methods has the same goals and the same result, but you’re specifically targeting the first and giving the second a pass. Perhaps part of your reasoning is that the written answers for people engaging in the second tactic are, nonetheless, still there for anyone who has honest questions to read. Great. I personally do that frequently when I have the energy – I know for a fact the question was not asked in good faith, but I’ll answer it anyway so that if any lurkers also had a similar question in their minds, the answer is there laid out for them. But in that case the understanding has to be there that when those second methodologists are allowed to run amok, then people will get mad and haul off with some shorthand insults here and there as they reach their own limits of dealing with it.

        I would say that if you don’t want conversations shut down that way, then you either have to disallow both the insults and the JAQing, or allow both and accept that allowing the JAQing means that the insults will follow as a part of that. But just banning people who do the first and giving the second a pass means that the conversations will be shut down, and will primarily reward the non-marginalized group at the expense of the marginalized one.

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

          I see. You’re talking more like what Glenn Beck does, and I’m thinking (from what I see) that people who really are just asking questions are getting accused of this.

          Can you point me to a violation in the other thread so I can get a better gander at what you’re looking at specifically?

          • Pteryxx

            JT: How are you determining when someone is “really” asking questions and when they’re not?

          • carlie

            Part of it is pattern recognition. And the people who are best at pattern recognition are the ones who have dealt with it a lot, namely the members of the marginalized group in question. That sounds a lot like an “I know it when I see it” argument and an argument from authority, but it is true. Sort of like if I’m watching a chess game between two masters, and one moves a pawn forward and the other goes “Ha! You are opening with Spegazzini’s double-switch attack!” and I go “Dude, he just moved a pawn, what?” I’m not the expert, but I do know that there are lots
            of strategies I don’t know about, and the master is the one who does, so they’re probably right.
            Yes, that will cause some false positives. The way I personally try to deal with those is to publicly alert that person to the thing they’re doing, so that if they didn’t mean to they can say so, and if they did mean to then it’s exposed. “You might not realize it, but what you’ve just said is a classic “gotcha” question often used by x, it’s wrong because y, and don’t be surprised if you get some bad reception to it.” I can do that, because I am floating on the ocean of privilege and have the reserves to engage in that way. But I’m not going to get mad at the people who do pounce on it, and I’ll use what they say to help notice patterns myself in the future.
            As for that particular thread, give me a little bit – I was talking more in general, but I’ll try to get some time to comb through and put something together.

          • carlie

            Ok, here’s the clearest example I found. This is all Wes.

            Right out of the gate, he’s asking questions. He starts with several variations on the same theme:

            You seem to be saying that advocating violence against a group of people is justified by being in fear of violence from that group. Does that apply to other groups? Would you be comfortable with Isrealis saying “die Arab scum” or an inner-city dweller saying “die black scum”?

            So can we come up with a reasonable formulation here? Something along the lines of “it’s ok to advocate hate and violence against a group of people if… “

            Then what is it advocating?

            And isn’t that the point? Why “Die Cis Scum” and not “Die Transphobic Scum” or “Die Intolerant Scum”? Isn’t part of the point for the phrase to be scary and provocative?

            Zel is on the murderers’ side? Because ze doesn’t support using violent language?

            There were answers in between those comments, but he didn’t really pay attention to them.

            Where it really came to a head was Anna’s comment at 28. She gave a very detailed description of exactly why she likes the phrase, being a trans person, and the first thing after that was Wes saying “Why do you favor DCS over something like ‘Die Transphobic Scum’?

            She had just said exactly why, and made it very clear in her last paragraph exactly why she preferred that phrasing.

            And then right after two people expressed dismay that he even asked that, given that she had just made it very clear what her personal reasons were, he said “I was hoping to get Anna’s perspective.” The perspective that she had already just provided in the statement he was questioning.

            Then later at 37 he said this:

            So far, I have not heard an explanation sufficient to rebut the presumption of wrongdoing. There is a significance possibility that the reason for this is because there has been so much thread-derailing so far that nobody has actually been able to have a conversation about it. There is also a significant possibility that I just don’t agree with the rationale behind DCS. I do know that I am unable to think up, on my own, a sufficient justification. I do not think that the provocation defense (i.e. trans people are constantly attacked and under the threat of violence) is sufficient to justify attacks on innocent people.*** I also do not think that “I’m so angry I don’t care what cis people think” is a sufficient justification. To be a sufficient justification, the attack would have to be the least bad option, given all of the factors. I do not think that anyone has enough information at this point to make that call, as it is my understanding that no surveys, studies, or data collections of any kind have been conducted regarding this issue. Therefore, until I have more information (or someone points me to something that I haven’t considered) the presumption will stand.

            He is saying very clearly there that nobody so far has said anything that has convinced him they have justified reasons for saying it, and he pretty much says that there is no level of explanation or information that they could provide that would make him change his mind. That’s when the conversation is really over; he’s declared that his bar of acceptable evidence is too high for anyone to reach. (And again, we’re talking about evidence in favor of how someone chooses to express themselves, not about evidence of a physical reality)

            And then he says:

            If anyone is actually interested in helping me understand, the biggest question I have (and I thank Anna again for answering it above) is – why does DCS give you more solace/empowerment/energy/etc. that a phrase like “Die Transphobic Scum” which avoids attacking innocent people? And how much more solace/empowerment/energy/etc. do you get from it as compared to comparable phrases?

            Seriously, he says that. He admits that Anna has already answered the question, but he wants other people to answer. He’s even already pre-emptively said that this answer will only satisfy him if “the attack would have to be the least bad option, given all of the factors”, and then goes on to say that those factors can’t even be determined because “I do not think that anyone has enough information at this point to make that call”. That effectively means that it can never be answered, because he is forcing someone to prove that it’s the best option given factors that he says are themselves not known.

            He’s just said that he dismisses all explanations that have been given to him, admits that in his mind there is no possible way to give any explanation that will satisfy him, and yet still persists in asking the same question again and again. At that point, it seems the only purpose is to drag people through the emotional mud and try and force them to bare their hearts and souls to him in the futile hope of convincing him that they have their own personal reasons for saying it, because it’s so important for them (apparently) to have him on their side.

            Does that make it more clear why so many people got upset with him?

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

            Carlie, JT is traveling at the moment, but he wants you to know he’s not ignoring this. He just won’t be back in front of a computer until tomorrow.

    • http://polyskeptic.com shaunphilly

      As one of the people who brought up the point about violent rhetoric, I want to clarify that I’m NOT a pacifist. I said then, and am emphasizing now, that I support defensive violence. If DCS is defensively violent, fine. However, I think it comes across as offensive (in the offence/defense sports/war sense, not the emotionally offensive way. I’m not offended by it at all.)

      My issue is whether anyone, anywhere, should use violence offensively. That’s my issue with DCS.

      • Robert B.

        Your comments weren’t really what I was thinking of. “Defensive violence only” is a fair position, in fact it’s basically my position, except that I would argue that the current level of violence against trans folk is such that almost anything should be counted as defensive. The murder rate of trans folk is tantamount to a literal war – even the most pessimistic figures on the Iraq war, for example, don’t claim we’ve killed one in twelve Iraqis. The law is punishing survivors of violent attacks. At this point, it’s valid to treat the whole society as an aggressor, especially in ways like DCS that actually address the whole society rather than picking out a particular victim whose precise level of blame is unknown.

        • http://idioprag.com WilloNyx

          This so much.

          People have difficulty seeing how defensive it is because it appears to be offensive. When taken into context and seeing exactly HOW HARD the book presses on the necks of trans people, it ought to be come more clear while violent rhetoric is understandable.

          The problem is that people keep claiming the context doesn’t matter. I believe that it is privilege of never feeling the constant fear for your life that blinds you to that point. When you consider defensive violence ok you really have to consider the rates of murder and assault done to trans people and specifically trans women to understand that being on the defense is a WAY OF LIFE for them.

          So no matter how violent the rhetoric, it is still defensive violence. It is still merely rhetoric in the face of systematic violence on trans people. It is still just a MIRROR, just a REFLECTION of reality.

          • http://polyskeptic.com shaunphilly

            I had been leaning really hard on the fence up until now, but this weight knocked the fence over. Consider me convinced. DCS is something I am behind, and I will be cheering from the sidelines, as I don’t know enough to get involved directly. I admit I’m stubborn and argumentative sometimes, but it always is with the intent to get to the truth, even when it looks obnoxious.

            Of course, knowing trans people IRL (especially two who were at my wedding last weekend, one who is now my brotehr-in-law) has helped me put this in more direct context too. It also gives me more motivation to want to be an ally.

  • John Morales

    Is that practice acceptable here?

    Look, the man wrote that they can be insulted so long as you address what they wrote, so obviously such a mild practice is not acceptable under the new code.

    You can write your little dismissive inanity, so long as you address what they wrote.

    (As I’m doing*)

    * I like rules; they can be skirted via loopholes, and they can be observed in the letter and not the spirit.

    I’m sure you’ll see a vast improvement in the commentariat, JT!

    <snicker>

    • Robert B.

      What do you mean dismissive? How was I being dismissive? That’s an awfully harsh word – it’s never okay to use words like that.*

      (snirk)

      * Apparently a post like this is okay. I’m not sure why, because it doesn’t really do anything to engage your actual argument and thinking, it just attacks your word choice and/or questions things you’ve already made clear.

      • John Morales

        :)

        Well, I’d have left it at that, but I wouldn’t wish to be misconstrued as being dismissive by not properly addressing the point you’ve introduced at this time, which itself is causally linked (if by several degrees of separation) to the original point (whatever that might have been interpreted to be by the commenter whose response to that interpretation was the ultimate root of the thread-chain and therefore perceived as somehow being in breach of the regulations to commenting so recently applied in this eponymous post — that point, being of course whether either of the locutions “Thank you for sharing” or “Cool story, bro” would (presuming they were the entirety of the response) be transgressive (though it was phrased in the converse form of acceptability) — and so, rather than leaving the mere emoticon to indicate my approval and appreciation (and, indeed, amused satisfaction) for the way in which Robert so very precisely grokked my point, somewhat indirect and allusive as I might’ve put it, I offer this clarificatory note to conclusively exhibit the manner in which I am not derailing, but rather contributing to the conversation.

  • Zengaze

    I hope this isn’t a derail, as the example I’m going to use is worthy of a whole debate within the movement.

    When we talk about privilege where do we draw the line as to when a privileged person can tell the unprivileged person, they are wrong?

    Lately there has been a lot of discussion with regards to sexual conduct at conferences, most of us I think have beliefs which uphold equality as a tenet,

    How would we deal with the bdsm community at our conferences? Would we tolerate a male towing a female behind them on a chain?! I find it wrong, but hey that’s just me and my privilege, maybe I need to check it and have the bdsm community explain to me how submission isn’t a choice it’s part of a person as much as being straight or queer is…… Seriously the cognitive dissonance that will take place around the privilege argument will be popcorn material.

    To my mind it’s whether the argument for it is valid or not.

    • ‘Tis Himself

      Just because one is privileged doesn’t mean one is automatically wrong when discussing an issue with an unprivileged person. However, the privileged person shouldn’t dismiss the unprivileged person’s points as being presumptuous whining.

      I’m quite privileged. I’m a white, cis-heterosexual, adult male, well educated, financially comfortable, and respected in my profession. I’m so privileged I’ll be spending much of the afternoon sailing in a yacht. But that does not mean I can dismiss gays, blacks, transsexuals, etc. as uppity complainers because I don’t happen to be discriminated against as they are.

      You ask if you can object to “a male towing a female behind them on a chain”. I would say no. Whatever two consenting adults do, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, is permissible for them to do. You being uncomfortable with someone else’s behavior is no reason why they shouldn’t do it. I don’t like tobacco chewing but I can’t complain about it because it doesn’t hurt me. I can complain about tobacco smoking because it does hurt me.

      • Zengaze

        I agree tis, in my view it is about the weight of reason and logic, that has to determine whether an argument is valid, I also agree that I have to attempt to understand where a persons argument is coming from.

    • Pteryxx

      How would we deal with the bdsm community at our conferences? Would we tolerate a male towing a female behind them on a chain?!

      That’s a classic presentation of inflammatory, dishonest, bad faith questions. If phrased as statements, they’d be blatant straw claims and veiled insults.

      • Zengaze

        Challenging the idea of privilege, and how it is connected to beliefs, I and others hold, is bad faith?

        Perhaps if you don’t like to debate, or the uncomfortable cognitive machinations that may emerge from it you can dismiss it as “bad faith” I suggest your comment is made in bad faith, as it contributes nothing other than your disdain for me, generated obviously by the rally sound of a horde.

        Jt I appreciate your intellectual honesty, and refusal to bow to mob pressure, which I do know can be difficult, and has actually reminded me in its intensity and form of the reactionary irrationality of the religious. Something I really didn’t expect to find on FTB.

        I have not been disingenuous, I have challenged, questioned, probed beliefs, hopefully pushed minds, and hopefully learnt from the discussions myself, in fact I’m sure I have.

        • http://idioprag.com WilloNyx

          Ok since all questions seem to be on the table here without any sort of reproach, I am asking:

          Is Zengaze really genuine, or is ze an obtuse troll who totes gets away with it cause ze is “just asking questions?”

          I really am “just asking a question.”

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

      Here’s the flip side of the problem right here:

      Zengaze is either being an extreme asshole, or is outrageously ignorant and completely missing the point of… every single thing mentioned above. Here would be a good place for JT to pop in and show everything the correct and incorrect way to respond to this person, so we can have a clearer idea of where the line is.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

        Hey, Zengaze is just asking questions, like “what if a male dom came to an atheist conference with a female sub and led her around by a chain,” and “do you understand that your argument is the same as arguments that you, Emburii, are personally a whore who deserves to be raped if you wear a short skirt? (Not that you really are, but I just wanted to compare that.)”

        Just asking questions, is all!

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

          Uh…huh. Totally not making nasty statements in the form of a question to avoid responsibility for the fallout.

    • Dalillama

      JT, the fact that you’ve done nothing about this comment and actively apologized for Zengaze’s rape comment above while castigating the likes of Josh and Daisy demonstrates beyond shadow of a doubt that you have picked your side, and that you are not in any sense an ally. It has been explained to you exactly what the problem is repeatedly, and you have made halfassed excuses and engaged in a fair bit of JAQing off yourself (i.e. the repeated demands for examples of questions made in bad faith, while ignoring the responses.) Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

    • http://strangesally.wordpress.com/ SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant

      *refreshes to see if she’s missed JT’s disapproving reply to zengaze*

      No? Wow, dude.

      Yeah, bad ally. No cookie for you.

      One thing that I don’t think you understand is that allyship isn’t something that you get to define all by yourself. If you think you’re an ally, but the people you want to ally with don’t agree with your assessment, well then you’re not an ally. It’s like credibility that way. It only exists if other people think you have it.

      It is, of course, uncontroversial to say that being an ally is your goal. As a white, straight cis woman, it’s my goal too. But insisting that your assessment of your allyship trumps that of the people you’re supposed to be helping… doesn’t actually help.

    • Happiestsadist

      Charming. I love bad-faith arguments where absolutely how people fuck and orientation are conflated. Really shows what a great grip you have on how privilege works.

      You must be so proud, JT and Co., having this asshole on your side.

  • GBJames

    Thank you, JT, for taking on this issue. All good bloggers face this problem and enforce basic conduct rules. This blog is your home and when people piss on the carpet the whole house begins to smell. And then a lot of interesting friends will visit less often.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

    Incidentally, zengaze at 8:17, complete with

    Hey the way you dress means you deserved to be raped.

    still stands, while JT continues to defend his status as an ally. This is significant to me. It is, as things currently stand, acceptable to direct rape jokes at specific commenters on this blog, but it is not acceptable to point out that people’s perceptions are skewed by privilege without providing a detailed description as to why.

    • Zengaze

      okay I’ll deal with my comment here, as this is the most blatant example of quote mining I have witnessed in a long long time, I won’t accuse you of maliciousness and hope that you genuinely do not understand the purpose of the analogy. I ask that anybody reading this, first read the sentence in context, as otherwise as it has been warped to suit, by Jenny, so that it does look like I am wishing rape upon someone! I deny this most strenuously, and I repeat, I hope to fuck Jenny isn’t doing this maliciously.

      The statement as made was as follows:

      Emburii You claim my responses were disingenuous and therefore deserved mocking replays! Do you see what you did there lol. Hey the way you dress means you deserved to be raped. Check the cognitive dissonance please

      (replays should have been replays woot for predictive text)

      Emburii stated that my responses were disingenuous, which means they were not made sincerely, this is emburii placing his/her own value, a value by the way which is unsubstantiated, and birthed in their own prejudice, on my responses. Emburii then stated that because my responses were disingenuous they deserved to be treated with contempt ( I am extrapolating contempt form the word mock).

      This is a replicant of the “you deserve to be raped because your skirt is to short” argument. The skirt being too short is the value birthed in personal prejudice, the rape being the negative consequence justified by the prejudice of the value.

      I then asked emburii to check their cognitive dissonance, as to any reasonable person the “short skirt justifies rape” argument is shit.

      I really don’t think it was soo poorly written that this wasn’t apparent, jenny has now accused me three times above of saying someone deserves to be raped, Jenny you need to stop and retract.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

        A) Refusing to accept someone’s chosen name, and particularly a woman’s chosen name, by reducing it to a diminutive, is a really common technique that people use in order to attempt to silence people. I chose my name, as it stands, for a reason, and I would appreciate being addressed by it, but I expect absolutely nothing of you since you can’t even restrain yourself from rape “analogies” (you suck at analogy, by the way) when someone makes you angry.

        B) No, I will not retract, because you could have chosen any number of analogies that did not directly involve the commenter in question being raped. You chose that one. Either you are criminally stupid and/or ignorant, in which case you deserve to have it pointed out to you that this is offensive, or that was deliberate, in which case you deserve to have it pointed out that you are behaving precisely as is to be expected from someone who doesn’t believe in privilege. Either way, you compared comments to sexualized violence against the commenter and you deserve to have it thrown in your face.

        • Zengaze

          You have demonstrated absolute intellectual dishonesty, you choose not to retract even after I have comprehensively shown you that I did not tell someone they deserved to be raped. So you just keep going and make shit up to suit whatever slant you want to present. You rock.

          • Robert B.

            Do you work in a movie theater? Because you are really good at projecting.

            See below re: what Jennifer actually said.

      • Pteryxx

        They are not equivalent, because you’re equating being mocked unjustly (for a certain value of ‘unjustly’) with BEING RAPED. Do you not see a problem here?

        Hint: Rape DOES NOT HAVE a value at which it is deserved. Even if you weren’t being a callous, insensitive ass, your analogy would still fail because you’re claiming mockery is a horrific, unjustifiable crime.

      • carlie

        Yeah, you didn’t expand your analogy out completely, you relied on shorthand. Shorthand that, in itself, was a pretty awful statement, but that you expected everyone to understand the entire background behind what you “really” meant.

        Kind of exactly how some of the other commenters used insults as a shorthand, insults that might look awful by themselves, but that had a background meaning “hell, not this again, I’m done dealing with someone who is being so obviously disingenuous, we’ve been through this several times on this thread already, I’m done now”.

        And yet your shorthand awful comment was ok, and their shorthand awful comments got them banned.

      • consciousness razor

        Emburii stated that my responses were disingenuous, which means they were not made sincerely, this is emburii placing his/her own value, a value by the way which is unsubstantiated, and birthed in their own prejudice, on my responses. Emburii then stated that because my responses were disingenuous they deserved to be treated with contempt ( I am extrapolating contempt form the word mock).

        This is a replicant of the “you deserve to be raped because your skirt is to short” argument. The skirt being too short is the value birthed in personal prejudice, the rape being the negative consequence justified by the prejudice of the value.

        What the fuck is wrong with you?

        • Robert B.

          You know, this comment is a good fit for the policy in the OP. It’s consistent with the previous warning / banning offenses, right down to the unstated extra criterion that you only get banned for arguing against privilege.

          Except, y’know, there’s three rock solid arguments right above it. And your target is pretty blatantly horrible. (To add to the abovementioned reasons why, he’s completely unconcerned with what that weird word “triggering” might mean or why it might be a bad thing to do.) We’ll see what happens, eh? Perhaps JT will regain enough perspective that he, too, will wonder what the fuck is wrong with Zengaze.

          • consciousness razor

            Perhaps JT will regain enough perspective that he, too, will wonder what the fuck is wrong with Zengaze.

            I can’t wait to see JT give a 101-style lesson to educate us all, without at the same time derailing Zengaze’s line of thought, whatever the fuck that is. I know I couldn’t do such a thing, what with being a rape victim and being utterly speechless. But I’m sure it could somehow be a fruitful learning opportunity, once JT decides to jump in to show us how it’s done.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

          Trigger warning for description of rape.

          Yes, because that time that you were made fun of for being a disengenuous fuckface was exactly the same as the time when my ex-boyfriend held me down and forced his penis into me. That’s exactly what it’s like. Of course; how silly of me.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            (In response to Zengaze.)

      • Zengaze

        I note that not one of you has actually challenged the quote mining that took place by jenniferforester ( I see below she has posted under Jennifer, who knows later it may be Jenny, but hey I wouldn’t want to silence her by misusing her chosen monicker of the minute).

        Regardless it is very telling of the bias involved, that such blatant misrepresenting of what someone said doesn’t raise an eyebrow for you when you consider yourself on their team.

        • Robert B.

          Oh my fictional God are you an asshole.

          Quote mining is when you take someone’s words out of context to misrepresent their intention. Jennifer explicitly did not accuse you of actually thinking Emburii ought to be raped. She described the quoted passage as a “joke” – that may not have been the exact context you intended, but it makes it perfectly clear that no one is to take it as your literal opinion.

          What you are missing, or more likely refusing to recognize, is that we don’t fucking care whether you meant it or not. It was still a horrible thing to say, to Emburii, to every sexual abuse victim in the thread, to everyone from a group at high risk of sexual assault, to everyone with basic human compassion and the roughest conception of how disproportionately awful rape is.

        • Pteryxx

          ^ Robert B. said it perfectly. “Zengy.”

        • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

          Trigger warning for rape description.

          Actually, no, I would argue that zengaze is wishing precisely that upon the commenter because the comment is in the context of zengaze having already been mocked for being criminally clueless. The response to that is to make a comparison between being raped and being mocked. First, it sets up a false equivalence between the two, and again, being mocked is absolutely nothing like the time I was in a dude’s van and he held me down while I cried until I stopped saying no and just let him because I didn’t have the space or the energy to fight. However, secondly, it also happens in the context of zengaze having already experienced the oh-so-unspeakably-terrible consequences of his own nuclear display of idiocy. It’s an “oh, yeah?” It’s like saying, “Oh, yeah? Well, I hope nothing bad happens to you, either!” out of spite.

          Words have context.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            (As a note, it would be less likely to come across this way if a) zengaze had not used the personal “you” in the context of the quote, thus directly addressing his big bad oppressor, and b) if he had simply used a different fucking analogy that didn’t compare his incredibly tiny problem with an epidemic of violence against women.)

          • Robert B.

            The remark was certainly designed to wound. Whether or not Zengaze would actually be happy to see someone raped, he certainly seemed to intend emotional hurt by saying so. Like you, I found it especially telling that he inserted the person he was talking to into the “analogy.”

            Ah… would it be inappropriate to express sympathy for what was done to you, Jennifer? And to… well, without getting into details, to say that I understand, a little bit, how you might feel?

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            Robert B: Meh, but thanks for the sympathy. Part of the reason that I’m comfortable telling multiple stories on this thread (and I have multiple stories) is because I’m not actually particularly triggered by my own experiences with rape. (I’ve experienced things that have been much worse to me, personally.) I’m more concerned with how it will impact others who are triggered easily, and also intellectually capable of comprehending how fucked up that sort of analogy is, and I am willing to provide reasonable examples of what it is actually like in order to hammer home how ridiculously inappropriate the comment is. But thanks.

          • Robert B.

            Thank you.

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

        Zengaze, if you’d shown up on my blog and made even just this one comment, you’d be banned. You:

        1. Misrepresent Jennifer’s position right off the bat and again at the end.

        2. Use that stupid diminutive name trick to go after her instead of her point.

        3. Accuse her of quote mining when her excerpting the line does not change what she’s concerned with.

        4. Repeat language you’ve already been told people find triggering, thus making the discussion more hostile to others with an interest in it.

        5. Explain something that needs no explanation and is tangential to the comment you’re objecting to.

        6. (personal preference only) Do so in pointlessly overwrought language.

        None of that adds to the conversation and much of it excludes.

  • http://skeptifem.blogspot.com skeptifem

    So what you’re saying is that the marginalized people have some duty to civily respond to any stupidity or bigotry hurled their way as long as the person saying it can be said to be ignorant rather than malicious. Well guess what? Almost no one says they are maliciously hateful, and it doesn’t take malice to hurt marginalized people. If there are people who are uniquely qualified to judge if a line of questioning is genuine curiosity or just assholery, I would trust the folks subject to oppression. They know from experience, not you.

    I also disagree with the idea of your comments section being a platform for random marginalized people to hand hold and educate when there are abundant resources for that available from willing people. bell hooks is a big believer in helping white people/men/whoever understand. the feminism 101 blog exists for that exact reason.

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

      “Marginalized people”? Like who?

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

        Wow… that was passive-aggressive, wasn’t it?

        I object to the entire argument being made here, and I’m not going to beat around the bush. I find that on FtB, there are people who in other places might be marginalized who find community and strength and support, from PZ and Jen and Greta and lots of other folks and their blogging communities. I also see a couple of people take advantage of it to be bullies to new people, and people they don’t know, and people they don’t like… Josh being right there at the top.

        Maybe JT just got tired of people being entitled jerks in his comments, and tried to come up with a roundabout rationale for it?

        • ildi

          I find that on FtB, there are people who in other places might be marginalized who find community and strength and support, from PZ and Jen and Greta and lots of other folks and their blogging communities. I also see a couple of people take advantage of it to be bullies to new people, and people they don’t know, and people they don’t like… Josh being right there at the top.

          I’ve found that to be the case really only on Pharyngula. I’ve been following scienceblogs for years, and comment on various blogs there and now here sporadically. I’ve found Pharyngula to be the only place where it appears you have to go through a hazing period of having every disagreement served with a heaping helping of insults by the regulars. I guess I don’t want to be one of the cool kids badly enough to deal with that.

    • Makoto

      I’m not sure where you’re getting the civility portion – he said outright that insults are fine, but you must support your argument. Marginalized people have valid arguments to support their positions, and can still hurl insults. Non-marginalized people / privileged people can do the same, and both sides can hurl insults or derail without adding to the discussion. I’d say that means if you’re getting insults in place of arguments, you should notify JT to add them to the list of people getting warnings for doing so and/or derailing, but that’s just my opinion. It seems that “You’re an idiot for that contradictory position, look here [link] and then we’ll talk” is still valid.

      “I’m asking them to respond to others instead of engaging in behaviors that serve only to destroy conversations.” – a valid response under this request is still to correct such posters, or ignore them, rather than insult without backup or derail. Or point them to resources that would help – I keep links to pages that help people understand certain points for just such occasions (mostly in my profession, not freethinking, but it still applies), so it’s not even a thought anymore. I see some comments and can immediately say “look here, it helps”. If the person doesn’t look and it shows, I ignore them. If they look, and disagree, that’s a discussion, and I appreciate it, and I hope people do the same for me.

      And really, his comment section is whatever he wants to make of it. If that means he requires all commenters to reply in the form of an interpretive dance on YouTube, that’s his right, being the owner of the blog. (Okay, I secretly hope that someday someone will do this).

      • Pteryxx

        I’m not sure where you’re getting the civility portion – he said outright that insults are fine, but you must support your argument.

        A point: sometimes the demand to support an argument IS an insult. For example, if I say a phrase is triggering to me, such as the casual mention of rape apology above, it’s a personal attack to ask me to prove it. Civility includes being considerate of others’ needs and preferences when they don’t coincide with your own.

        • Makoto

          Agreed, and I should have been clearer. There’s a big difference between insults (and even those I try to avoid, personally, I was just speaking to the post itself) and using (possibly intentionally) triggering topics/phrases, especially after being told about them.

          My impression of the earlier post was exactly that kind of thing – if I don’t know a hug might be a trigger because it’s physical contact with a guy, then I might, after becoming friends, go for a hug after a few meetings. To me, it’s a friendly thing, which I do with (most) of my friends, no matter their sex or orientation. If I know it’s a trigger, though, I won’t try until the person tells me it’s okay from me – and knowing what I know now, I ask first before even opening my arms and standing there. Knowing ahead of asking helps avoid even that trigger, with the implied “I hope you hug me” which some people expect coming with asking if it’s okay to hug them – which I want to avoid.

          I try to avoid anything that could be triggering in my posts, and if I know it could be a trigger, but it comes up in the discussion, I try to warn people so they can skip my post. I don’t care if someone calls me an idiot or otherwise simply insults, but if someone is intentionally triggering others, I want them gone from the group because they are hurting people.

          • Makoto

            And I should add, there’s a difference between intentional triggering and ignorance – some people honestly don’t know what could be a trigger for someone. I know I don’t know what triggers everyone, and sometimes I stumble. But I try. Even if something is blindingly obvious to one person, it isn’t always to another. Hopefully there’s a space to educate these ignorant triggers, so they aren’t banned or ignored before they can learn – after all, they probably don’t know of the other blogs/sites that could help them if they’re ignorant here.

            But when it becomes obvious that they don’t care to learn, or are intentionally cruel, I say get them out of here.

          • Pteryxx

            Makoto: I concur. It’s just that determining whether a particular comment is ignorant, callous, or cruel is largely a judgment call, not subject to proof or disproof. Judging it relies on each reader’s willingness to consider the full range of possibilities as perceived by other readers and to not simply assume their own interpretation is objectively correct.

          • Makoto

            I suppose the most direct answer is if it’s a gray area, even if you’re not personally triggered, is to report it as something you’re concerned about to JT. Then we burden him with the call on if it’s ignorant, callous, or cruel, but hopefully he’ll take many opinions into account when making such calls, as well as his own judgement of the person’s posts, present and past. But he is the host, so with his powers come such responsibilities. Giving him extra opinions may mean more bans/warnings, but I don’t see that as always a bad thing.

            In this case, the person/people finding it painful could privately tell JT that it is, or that it’s a trigger, and not have to provide proof behind the pain to others, who may be just here to toy with people.

            He isn’t the perfect judge, of course, which is why I hope/expect he’ll take many posts and opinions into account, but the commenters, especially those impacted by repeated cruel postings, will see more than he does, and help teach him what they find painful.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      So what you’re saying is that the marginalized people have some duty to civily respond to any stupidity or bigotry hurled their way as long as the person saying it can be said to be ignorant rather than malicious.

      From the post:

      You can insult someone. You can accuse them of being privileged. But those things had better damn sure come attached to a response to what somebody actually said, not what you wish they would have said.

      So actually, I said the exact opposite. It was even bolded, to help make sure nobody missed it.

      If you can’t respond to what the person you’re chastising has actually said, then they shouldn’t take you seriously whether you’re a woman, feminist, atheist, male, or what have you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

    LGBTQ, people of color, women (in some situations), people who lives with disabilities, people who do not practice the majority religion in any given location, the poor, fat people, and other groups whom I am forgetting. A poor black disabled man may hold privilege in a thread about problems that women face, and a gay white man may hold privilege in a thread about the problems that people of color face, so on and so forth. It is entirely contextual and intersectional. If the thread is about a group that is marginalized in a way that does not impact you specifically, then I am inclined to say that it is your job to listen to those who are so that you can learn something about their experiences.

    • carlie

      jenniferforester, can I just say you’re awesome? You’ve given really clear and detailed and insightful comments here.

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

      I’m being a little Devil’s Advocate here, but isn’t there more to this than taking what people say (and the way they say it) as above criticism simply because they are part of the group most directly affected by the issue? Listening is always a good idea, but everyone is not required to accept and agree by fiat, are they?

      After all, we’ve got MLK vs Malcolm X… and worse, we’ve got Coretta Scott King vs Alveda King. We’ve got various waves and styles of feminism. We’ve even got various flavors of atheist activism and skepticism that compete with one another. And we’ve got the recognition that there are people who we agree with on most issues and disagree with on something else, or who we agree with on everything but who we dislike personally or we just can’t stand their style.

      So I’m not convinced that embracing the style of people like Josh and Daisy should be a litmus test for anything. I’m not convinced that JT is going about this the right way either, mind you.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

        I’m being a little Devil’s Advocate here, but isn’t there more to this than taking what people say (and the way they say it) as above criticism simply because they are part of the group most directly affected by the issue? Listening is always a good idea, but everyone is not required to accept and agree by fiat, are they?

        No, of course not. That, however, doesn’t mean that it is, by necessity, to take every story or perspective someone gives about themselves and meet it with “Prove it.” When someone is making a claim that they have experienced discrimination of some sort or that their life has been made more difficult by x, they are not making an extraordinary claim, and it is unreasonable to expect them to provide extraordinary evidence in support.

        After all, we’ve got MLK vs Malcolm X… and worse, we’ve got Coretta Scott King vs Alveda King.

        I am not inclined to ignore someone’s request for me to honor their experiences until said honoring requires the oppression of others, like Alveda King’s does. I think any discussion of Malcolm veers into the territory of what rhetoric is appropriate on the part of oppressed people, and that is a very complicated topic. (As far as DCS goes, incidentally, I will be concerned about it when the hordes of rampaging trans*folk are murdering the tiny cis minority in the streets with impunity. Until then, not being under any risk of harm for my cissexuality, I have no horse in this race and no interest in censoring people who live with the very real danger of being murdered for being trans*.)

        We’ve got various waves and styles of feminism. We’ve even got various flavors of atheist activism and skepticism that compete with one another.

        I wish it wasn’t “competition”; it makes more sense to acknowledge that all of these particular aspects work together to make a better world with different types of personalities. Some are very confrontational and some are alliance-building on certain issues; some are one-issue and some are intersectional. I think it’s all fine as long as these different groups of activists aren’t excluding others based on axes of oppression.

        And we’ve got the recognition that there are people who we agree with on most issues and disagree with on something else, or who we agree with on everything but who we dislike personally or we just can’t stand their style.

        So I’m not convinced that embracing the style of people like Josh and Daisy should be a litmus test for anything. I’m not convinced that JT is going about this the right way either, mind you.

        Understood. I don’t know exactly how I feel about that, either, excepting that JT is making it clear that he is more interested in protecting the rights of JAQing bullies than he is of marginalized folks who may have lost their temper after the spillionth time of explaining. It’s easy to say “two wrongs don’t make a right,” but the imbalance of power between the JAQers and Josh and Daisy in real life is such to make these kinds of confrontations inevitable online, and I do not believe it is in the best interests of marginalized people for allies to shut down the ones who tell JAQers to find a better place to do it.

        Also, having noticed some of your other comments, I think that you’re running the risk of assuming that those who believe in listening to marginalized voices also believe that they should be treated as a hive mind. There are as many ways to be oppressed, even on the same point of oppression, as there are individuals who experience it. This isn’t so much about extrapolating universal experiences of being X (although there are patterns that emerge when you listen to a lot of people) as it is of respecting that individual’s experience of being X instead of demanding that they prove it every single time they relate some detail.

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

          I don’t know exactly how I feel about that, either, excepting that JT is making it clear that he is more interested in protecting the rights of JAQing bullies than he is of marginalized folks who may have lost their temper after the spillionth time of explaining.

          Yeah… there’s this big giant gaping painfully obvious hole in JT’s position, currently in the shape of Zengaze, that is undercutting what his original position seems to be. It is fair for JT to call for people not jumping to conclusions or immediately blasting people for asking questions that seem innocent from a “101″ perspective, but it is unfair for him to ignore people who have revealed themselves to not be innocent while attacking the people who are responding to the creeps.

          I’m starting to feel like JT is doing what some folks were doing in reference to “the list” of speakers behaving badly, which is jumping right past the victims to advocate protecting people from false claims. Yeah, there’s an issue that needs addressing but it isn’t the MAIN issue. Treating everyone like they are a bigoted troll is a problem that needs to be addressed, but not ahead of addressing the obvious actual bigoted trolls, and JT is failing badly on that IMO.

          Also, having noticed some of your other comments, I think that you’re running the risk of assuming that those who believe in listening to marginalized voices also believe that they should be treated as a hive mind. There are as many ways to be oppressed, even on the same point of oppression, as there are individuals who experience it. This isn’t so much about extrapolating universal experiences of being X (although there are patterns that emerge when you listen to a lot of people) as it is of respecting that individual’s experience of being X instead of demanding that they prove it every single time they relate some detail.

          I agree with you here, and I wish I’d managed to express myself better. And, like what I was saying about JT’s behavior earlier in this comment, whatever issue I see with weighting personal experience here is low on the list compared to the clear problem of people’s experience being dismissed or minimized, and I apologize that I didn’t make that more clear from the start.

      • http://polyskeptic.com shaunphilly

        seconded. I was, in fact, going to say something similar. I fully agree with Improbable Joe here. I hope that’s clear.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

    I like you, JT, and I actually believe that you mean well. That, incidentally, is more than you will give me, after I’ve spent a bunch of comments calmly explaining privilege instead of screaming at Zengaze’s stupid head that he is incapable of comprehending what has been calmly and repeatedly explained to him. He has repeatedly proven bad faith, culminating in his personally attacking a commenter with what you mind-bogglingly defend as a simple analogy that just so happens to involve how said commenter deserves to be raped. You, however, are more interested in protecting people who are “just asking questions,” even if they repeatedly refuse to consider the answers or not attack individual commenters with rape “analogies”.

    I think that you truly want to think of yourself as an ally, which is lovely and all. That being said, if you’re going to spend your time making it sound as if silly women can’t even understand a simple rape analogy (to what?!) because their personal experience with rape and the threat of rape just makes them too darned emotional and/or they are coming in bad faith to commenters who have repeatedly proven their own bad faith by refusing to listen to multiple explanations, then seriously?

    Check your privilege. This shouldn’t have to explained to you, and it’s embarrassing that you’re doing this. You’ve established this as a space in which it is acceptable to make gendered attacks against commenters in the form of a “question” that the commenter “just needs to ask.” If you don’t understand how this is a problem, and if that is the sort of space that you want to run, then that is, of course, your prerogative. It’s just going to be frequented by a nastier bunch than I think you would like, since you insist on saying that any commenters who refuse to brook such deliberate obtuseness and bigotry are the real problems.

  • spartan

    I fully agree with JT calling out Daisy and Josh despite them being in agreement on so many things. They’re both smart and very knowledgable, no doubt, but they both too often just respond abusively with comments that, even after stripping away the abuse, do not follow at all logically from what they are replying to. “I’m still pissed off” isn’t really an argument, and is actually fine if it accompanies an argument or at least something that relates to what they are responding to, but on it’s own it’s just pointless and disruptive. Jason T. got roughly the same response in his ‘Vilifying Dissent’ post quite a while ago, where it became disappointingly clear that it’s not always about the rational argumentation and behavior on these topics, it’s too much about allegiances and alliances and telling bloggers what they can and can’t write about and all that other irrelevant line-drawing bullshit.

    So thanks for honestly calling them like you see them and holding everyone to the same standard. And you and Stephanie have driven another nail in the coffin of the ‘FTB is just groupthink’ meme.

  • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

    I’m taking part in a discussion on another forum. This discussion spans several pages.

    One the first page, someone asked, ‘why is it victim blaming to suggest ways for women to behave so as to avoid getting raped?’

    Several people answered the question. They were polite.

    The thread then moved beyond a single page. And someone else asked, ‘is it really victim blaming to suggest a woman not dress provocatively?’

    Several people answered this question. They even stayed mostly polite.

    The thread then moved beyond two pages. And then another person asked, ‘but is saying women shouldn’t get drunk in public really victim blaming?’

    Several people answered this. They weren’t being nice about it, but were still mostly polite.

    The thread then moved beyond three pages. And then someone asked, ‘but can we really say a woman who got drunk in public didn’t somehow facilitate the rape?’

    Several people answered this. At this point, some of them began to leave niceness and politeness behind, but still weren’t really disrespectful.

    Then the thread moved beyond four pages. And then someone asked, ‘but why is it victim blaming to look at the behavior of the victim to see what provocations existed?’

    And at this point, people stopped answering the question respectfully, but still answered the question.

    The thread then moved beyond five pages. And then someone asked, ‘but isn’t it empowering to women to provide them with rape-prevention tips like don’t get drunk in public and don’t dress like a porn star?’

    And at this point, people responded with, ‘shut up you rape-supporting, misogynistic, victim blaming, dumb fuck’ instead of answering the question.

    Now, remember, the answers were there, already, in the thread, for anyone who chose to read them. Not only were answers there, but examples of how victim blaming enables rapists and makes life much harder for the victims were all over the place. Anyone who actually WANTED to learn had the ability to learn without needing to ask the question, they just had to read the thread.

    So, was it really ‘off topic’ or ‘not responding to what was actually said’, to assume the person was a rape supporting, misogynistic, victim-blaming, dumb fuck, realize that made their question not really a question but an attempt to justify the bad behavior, and tell them to knock it off and shut up?

    • Robert B.

      And then, even if you don’t think WithinthisMind’s example is a good comparison to the thread in question, this pattern exists, and it’s not rare, and the final response WithinthisMind related is indeed sometimes necessary. So, worst case, Josh and Daisy Cutter etc. committed an error of judgement, by attacking people whose assholishness had not yet been sufficiently proven. Their behavior was not intrinsically unacceptable, it was either correct and appropriate or it was merely misapplied to the wrong situation.

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

        To extend the analogy just a bit:

        Maybe JT feels like Josh and Daisy are giving a Page 5 response on Page 1, which is absolutely a fair criticism. On the other hand, JT then has the responsibility to step in more frequently and stop things before they get to Page 5… it is only fair. After awhile, if the person running the blog won’t step in then someone else will, and at that point it is way too late to pull some “both sides are wrong” nonsense.

        • carlie

          Yes, thank you to all three of you. That’s what I tried to say earlier up somewhere in all those nested comments somewhere, but wasn’t nearly as clear and understandable about it.

        • Robert B.

          Maybe JT feels like Josh and Daisy are giving a Page 5 response on Page 1, which is absolutely a fair criticism.

          Yes, that’s just what I meant, except more clearly put. (Though I might say “potentially a fair criticism” instead of “absolutely” since I didn’t intend to address the point of whether Josh and Daisy were in fact ahead of themselves or not.)

          And I’d say that, whether or not JT wants to stop threads before they get to page 5, his proper response to page 5 hostility happening on page 1 is “Hey, folks, that’s not called for yet,” not, “This behavior is unacceptable in general.”

          • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

            And honestly, when the BS question asker starts doubling down with the stupid questions, it just proves they aren’t asking honestly.

            It reminds me of my sister playing the ‘I’m not touching you game’ in the car and just doing it more and more each time I asked her to stop until I finally knocked her hands away, then getting in trouble from my mom because I was the first to ‘get physical’.

        • consciousness razor

          Maybe JT feels like Josh and Daisy are giving a Page 5 response on Page 1, which is absolutely a fair criticism.

          How many times can a person fall off the turnip truck? And exactly how likely is it that someone just did and stumbled into their first-ever discussion about feminism, etc.? Especially on FTB? If it’s not at all likely, what is fair about it?

          And I’d object to this being framed as a 101-level issue. At best its remedial, for those who’ve spent their lives farting through the elementary level because it never mattered to them, which is telling in and of itself. Is this how it works for any other sort of conversation among adults?

          • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

            —And exactly how likely is it that someone just did and stumbled into their first-ever discussion about feminism, etc.? —

            Especially in the particular thread in question, which was a response to a different thread, in which the same questions had been brought up and answered already?

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

            How big is the Internet, and how many people under the age of 21 are on it at any given time? I said small but real numbers for a reason. And I also earlier pointed out that real trolls out themselves almost immediately, which means it isn’t entirely unfair to give them one whole post before slamming them with the elbow off the top rope. Usually they fuck themselves over on Post #2 and at point I have have at them.

          • consciousness razor

            Especially in the particular thread in question, which was a response to a different thread, in which the same questions had been brought up and answered already?

            But even if it wasn’t already addressed earlier in a particular thread, we’re presumably not dealing with children, so we shouldn’t have to treat them with kid-gloves. No one who’s sincerely supportive of minorities, meaning that they’re being thoughtful and have some genuine concern which is relevant to the conversation (so that it must not be “derailed”), would ever go down that road. We need to expect a whole lot more from people, right from the start, or it’s going nowhere. If they don’t like how their bullshit gets attacked, too bad. They need to get shocked right out of their little comfort zones, the sooner the better.

          • consciousness razor

            How big is the Internet, and how many people under the age of 21 are on it at any given time?

            What’s your point? If they’re not old enough to buy alcohol, our expectations might be too high if we want them to treat minorities like human beings? Don’t teenagers have to socialize with people who are in some way different from them, at least every now and then?

          • Robert B.

            I think his point was that once in a while, it might actually honestly be someone’s first conversation addressing the problem, and we shouldn’t instantly assume they have no excuse and should know better. (I think he mentioned waiting until the second comment to make that call.)

          • consciousness razor

            I think his point was that once in a while, it might actually honestly be someone’s first conversation addressing the problem, and we shouldn’t instantly assume they have no excuse and should know better. (I think he mentioned waiting until the second comment to make that call.)

            Wrong. They don’t have an excuse. Let’s assume some random gasbag might have been living under a rock his entire life where he was raised by wolves. Why the fuck would we ever do that? And even if we did think such an assumption made any sense, how does that tell us anything about how we should respond?

            The only thing it does is normalize this bullshit that the privileged ought to be coddled, no matter what. It’s always the same shit, worded differently. And meanwhile, we’re also not wearing our Skeptic Hats™ if we don’t make the most absurdly charitable assumptions about these gasbags and cite every fucking experience with empirical data. And if we dare act emotionally or aggressively to the people who we’re assuming live under a rock; our friendly, neighborhood privileged allies will revoke our license to be a part of the conversation. Because you might remember that JT didn’t just step in and give a “criticism.” And he certainly didn’t extend this courtesy to Josh/Daisy/whoever, by gently inquiring about which rock they might be living under, because we know it’s fucking ridiculous. Instead, he reaches for the fucking banhammer.

        • Pteryxx

          Re Page 5 responses on Page 1 of a discussion… could these (damned) nested comment threads be contributing to the problem? They work for short threads, but discussions of this size and complexity get very hard to follow, and the discussions aren’t easily parse-able in a progressive order from page 1 (fresh new discussion) to page 5 (same questions answered with increasing annoyance half a dozen times already).

          • Robert B.

            Hah, that’s very possible. I was late to the last thread, and without breaking out a spreadsheet to track the timestamps, there was no way I could track what order the conversation took place in.

        • http://strangesally.wordpress.com/ SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant

          That’s a very accurate summation, I think.

  • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

    Also, once a pattern of behavior has been established, are we really in the wrong for assuming incident number 479 might just turn out exactly like incidents 1-478 instead of once again giving the privileged party the privilege of the ‘benefit of the doubt?’

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

      …which is why 101/not-101 designations would help, along with a little more moderation from the top. There are people who make honest mistakes, and how do you know if some small but real number of those 478 instances contain people making those mistakes, who then (stupidly and wrongly, but not unexpectedly) turned hostile when they were immediately dog-piled after asking an honest question?

      • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

        Ya know, I’ve been on the net a while…

        And I can’t think of a single instance where someone was genuinely jumped on for asking an ‘honest question’ in a forum like this one (and by forum like this one, I mean FTB in general, not JTs in particular).

        If you haven’t bothered to do a bit of a scan through the forum, then by default, you aren’t asking an honest question. You are either A) asking someone to do your homework for you (extremely privileged or just an ass), or B) shit stirring under the guise of asking to be educated – see http://www.derailingfordummies.com/education.html for more information.

        I could be wrong on this, and maybe I’ve misjudged somebody, but…well, I’ve been to ‘youth ministry’ classes, and I’ve seen how those type of people are ‘taught’ to ‘debate’, and I really don’t think I am wrong here. I think a few people may be in denial about their privilege, but IMHO, that doesn’t make their questions stem from any sort of genuine desire to learn.

        Because if someone does have a genuine desire to learn, on pretty much any topic out there under the sun, the information is out there. They just have to look for it. The fact that they choose not to look for it but instead just ask someone (and often smugly)to hand them the info (to their specific standards) on a silver plate (and delivered to a constantly moving goalpost), is itself proof that they aren’t interested in being educated.

        Now, sometimes it isn’t a problem. Post number 291 on how to keep white sauce from getting lumpy on a cooking forum isn’t really a big deal, there are no emotions involved (theoretically, in reality cooking forums have some of the biggest drama llamas I’ve ever seen). But on a topic like GLBT issues? Where some of us have been victims of abuse both physically and mentally? Where some of us have attended the funerals of dear friends who committed suicide due to the abuse? A higher level of self-awareness and thus compassion is required. And if you don’t have the level of self-awareness and compassion to realize you shouldn’t be asking your dumb-ass deliberately ignorant or deliberately shit stirring question, then quite frankly, I don’t see why you are welcome at the forum anyway.

        • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

          Because if someone does have a genuine desire to learn, on pretty much any topic out there under the sun, the information is out there. They just have to look for it.

          Yes. This. Exactly. This is what pissed me off about Christina’s original Die Cis Scum post. Like, fuck, you blog on the same network as Natalie Reed, who has written several (at least two, anyway) excellent articles on this addressing your exact questions. Why on earth would you write that post without at least reading those? (And maybe she did, but if so, she really ought to have talked about why they didn’t answer her questions.)

          And then treating this as an “educational opportunity” like math class? No one goes through emotional torment educating you about polynomials (I don’t think so, anyway.) As you say, no one’s going to be triggered by discussing, no one’s going to have to relive that kind of pain. These are questions that should be asked after other avenues have been sought.

          • http://overthinkingmusic.wordpress.com Jennifer

            I would also point out that this is akin to bursting into a math class that someone else is already running and demanding that they start over at the beginning for you. Assuming that by “a math class” I mean “your freaking life experiences.”

            And then they continually assert that they don’t get it, even though you’ve explained it a thousand times, and the rest of the class is angry and bored, and their doubting isn’t just directed at math, but at whether math is even a valid subject, and…and…and…

          • Robert B.

            No one goes through emotional torment educating you about polynomials (I don’t think so, anyway.)

            Yes, we do. The times I’ve come home from algebra tutoring filled with rage at the American education system… :-D

            But then again, I like to teach. In fact, as a tutor, I’ve specifically chosen to spend most of my time teaching things that the student ought to know already. But even so, it’s much harder to keep that “help everyone learn who wants to learn” attitude when the subject is one that affects me deeply. Especially when I’m taking fire from hostile idiots at the same time. I’m cis, so I wasn’t in that place on the DCS thread, but I remember what that place is like from other conversations.

          • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

            —And then treating this as an “educational opportunity” like math class?—

            When people talk about crap like this as an ‘educational opportunity’ I flash back to being a teenager and having six kids I hadn’t volunteered to babysit dumped on me as a ‘babysitting opportunity’ when I had things I fucking wanted to do with my day. Except there I occasionally got paid a buck or two.

          • Robert B.

            You may have a point about Christina, but there’s a big big difference between asking honest questions and listening to the answers when you could have just read up on your own, and JAQing off all over the conversation. I suppose that it’s not really my place to say, since I’m cis myself, but it seems to me that Christina looks pretty damn good here compared to the demonstrated alternatives.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

            The reason I asked questions in this blog format is because sometimes talking to an actual person with whom you can have a reasoned discussion is more productive than reading up on the issue. I like being able to have a back and forth where I can ask questions and seek clarification.

            Reading about Christianity is one thing. Talking to a Christian is a totes different thing. Same with reading about atheism vs talking to an atheist, or reading about trans issues vs talking to a trans person.

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

          If you haven’t bothered to do a bit of a scan through the forum, then by default, you aren’t asking an honest question. You are either A) asking someone to do your homework for you (extremely privileged or just an ass)

          Let’s stop right here for a moment. Assume for the sake of argument that the person is extremely privileged. Is it also fair to assume that the KNOW that they are privileged, or even know what privilege is? If someone doesn’t even know about the concept of privilege, how does a “fuck you, fuck YOU, FUCK you, FUCK YOU!!!” response clue them into the reason that they are wrong? Granted, trolls exist, and I’ve said a few times that they reveal themselves quickly at which point I’m on board with the slamming. But on the very first question someone asks, even out of blatant nasty privilege, how do you know that they can’t be reasoned with?

          We always say that the thing about privilege is that it is invisible to the people who have it… so how do you immediately attack someone for something that you know they can’t easily see?

          • Pteryxx

            Joe: in this case, there’s overlap between ‘privilege’ which is a rather obscure concept, and just plain being lazy. “Read the thread before asking questions” is just normal internet politeness on EVERY topic, not just ones that require marginalized people to do education duty.

            I realize that reading a 500-comment thread is a bit annoying (especially when nested, yikes) but the first test, if you will, is being interested enough to do the reading instead of expecting somebody to hand out an answer. That excuse doesn’t fly the day before the exam, either.

          • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

            —If someone doesn’t even know about the concept of privilege, how does a “fuck you, fuck YOU, FUCK you, FUCK YOU!!!” response clue them into the reason that they are wrong? —

            Why is their ignorance my responsibility?

          • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

            Slight correct -

            Why is their willful ignorance my responsibility?

            Because if you are over the age of about, oh 12, possessed of an IQ over about 80, not suffering from a mental illness that impairs your cognitive functions, and conscious, you really have no excuse for not being aware of the concept of privilege.

    • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

      I think I get it now.

      I get why JT doesn’t see it as wrong.

      Because I’ve read through this thread a couple times now.

      And he is doing the same thing.

      The whole asking for questions to which answers have already been provided, dismissing those answers, moving the goalposts, demanding the answers only be presented in certain ways, etc…

  • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

    I had to bow out of this conversation because of work, but thanks to jenniferforester in particular for some exceptionally well-written comments.

    A couple notes before I leave:

    1.)

    JT: If you don’t think I’m an ally on this front, that’s your prerogative. I’m sold that I am, and mine is the only opinion I’m really concerned about on that matter.

    That is one of the most profoundly unskeptical comments I’ve seen. As others have said, being an ally requires the groups to whom you wish to be an ally to consider you an ally. And if you really don’t care in the slightest what anyone else’s opinion is on the matter, frankly, you aren’t an ally. Suppose you, for some reason, wrote a post calling out an atheist ally for some post which betrayed deep-seated anti-atheist assumptions, and tht

    • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

      Sorry, my computer is flipping out. Either ignore or delete the comment this is in response to.

  • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Bah, this is utterly pathetic. Zengaze’s rape comment was ‘just a bad analogy’. Right.

    I’d like to think it’s because no one ever told you, ‘intent ain’t magic’, JT, but that’s way too charitable. Judging from what I’ve read here today you’ve probably been told plenty of times.

    You claim you want to be an ‘ally’ but refuse to listen to the people you want to be allies to. A woman just told you how skeeved out Zengaze’s “Deserve to be raped because clothes” made her feel, and you just pat her on the head and tell her it was a ‘bad analogy’ at worst.

    And your earlier post, wherein you ‘just wanted to educate the genuinely ignorant instead of actively malicious’ wrt to flirting? I didn’t comment there because the whole thing read to me as “Yeah yeah, we respect your wishes and personal space, now tell us how to have sex with you please!”. I could be wrong, but that’s how it came across.

    You’re not an ally, you’re a wet fart on the couch of atheism.

    • Happiestsadist

      I adore you for that, you churlish, mean, coyote.

  • Anna

    Ok, I change my opinion.

    I tried really hard to answer people in that thread. I did my best to assume the questions were in good faith. I was fooling myself. The last bunch of responses I got in the Die Cis Scum thread were not in good faith. Questions were asked. I answered. They said they wanted a trans perspective I gave it. I was patient I was polite.

    They didnt want me to explain they wanted me to apologize. No matter what I said it was ignored and the same question asked again usually in a more hostile form. I saw no indication people were even remotely listening to what I said.

    I give up. It will be a while before I put myself out like that again.

    • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

      Exactly.

      The point was missed.

      DCS isn’t an attack on cis people. It’s an attempt to get cis people to, just for a moment, put themselves in the situation GLBespeciallyT people face every single goddamn day. It’s an attempt to make the privileged caste take just a tiny moment to see things from the other side, to get the perspective of how it is for the other group.

      It goes down to the same reason ‘atheists are angry’. We’ve tried explaining nicely. We’ve tried explaining politely. We’ve tried explaining gently.

      Now some of us are just are hoping rubbing some fucking faces in it might do a smidgen of good, even if that good is just letting us get out a bit of the rage and a bit of satisfaction.

      I’ll be nice again tomorrow. But right now, I’m angry. And I don’t really give a shit that people don’t like me when I’m angry. I am not going to apologize for my anger.

      • http://overthinkingmusic.wordpress.com Jennifer

        DCS isn’t an attack on cis people. It’s an attempt to get cis people to, just for a moment, put themselves in the situation GLBespeciallyT people face every single goddamn day. It’s an attempt to make the privileged caste take just a tiny moment to see things from the other side, to get the perspective of how it is for the other group.

        But then…I’d have to be, like, scared and sad, and that would suck. Plus, even worse, I would probably have to consider how I contribute to the problem, and it’s not possible that I could because I’m, like, an ally.

        No; you’d better explain it to me again. I don’t understand.

        • Anna

          I really wanted to believe they were trying to learn.

          They jusy wanted to tell me how bad I was. How violent I was. How much I made them feel bad. I am a scary trans woman.

          I will for the last time use this phrase.

          DIE CIS SCUM. Yes really. Please

          Now cis people you win. I surrender. Silly me. I thought a little anger was better than self harm, depression and anxiety. Guess not. I made you feel bad. Thats not fair. I will go back to my regularily schedualed shitty life.

          • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

            This truly makes me sad. As a cis man I don’t know what to say. Somehow “I’m sorry to hear that” just sounds hopelessly pathetic.

          • http://overthinkingmusic.wordpress.com Jennifer

            (I’m really sorry if my sarcasm didn’t come across in the last post. I don’t want you to feel that way, and I am not at all bothered by your exercising a little righteous anger. DCS away, please.)

          • Beatrice

            Fuck those assholes. I’m sorry you have spent time, effort and good will on them. Know that at least some of us get it, as much as that’s worth.

            *hugs* if you want them

          • Pteryxx

            Anna, I’m so sorry.

          • Happiestsadist

            I’m so sorry.

          • Gen Fury

            Sending you an alot of hugz, if that’s ok. :(

          • Alexa

            Anna, you are amazing. (No sarcasm in that statement! Sincerely mean it.) It’s hard enough being a cis woman, and even harder being a trans woman. I don’t know how you are so patient, and how you deal with it all… you have every right to be angry, and to use that anger to your advantage.

        • Anna

          I got your sarcasm :)

          Was venting on everything else and since you seemed to actually get it I did it in your thread. You are fine.

          Other people in these comments not so much.

          • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

            The now banned (way to be an ally, JT) Josh: Official Spokesgay, also sends you his deepest support Anna. Feel free to drop by TET on pharyngula if you want.

          • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

            This is another part I don’t get.

            With how much fully justified RAGE we possess, isn’t it better for everyone to let us vent now and then? Bleed off a little steam? Sure, might make the room a mite warm for a minute or two, but isn’t that damn well better than the fucking alternative?

          • http://overthinkingmusic.wordpress.com Jennifer

            Withinthismind at 5:16: Nope; then you might make the allies uncomfortable, and that would be counterproductive. After all, if you want a little, you have to give a little, even if you have nothing to give.

          • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

            This is another part I don’t get.

            With how much fully justified RAGE we possess, isn’t it better for everyone to let us vent now and then? Bleed off a little steam? Sure, might make the room a mite warm for a minute or two, but isn’t that damn well better than the fucking alternative?

            And I’m ‘just bisexual’. I can hide it if I so choose. If I’m this fucking angry, what must others be feeling?

          • Pteryxx

            If I’m this fucking angry, what must others be feeling?

            One of the rules of The Patriarchy is that only the dominant class have implicit permission to be angry. Women, gay folks, minorities, etc, are not justified in being angry, by definition handed down from on high.

            See also Greta Christina’s “Why are you atheists so angry?”

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

        DCS isn’t an attack on cis people.

        Minor quibble:

        That IS kind of an attack… but us cis folks kind of deserve it, you know? Most of us are good folk and mean well and blah blah blah, and we also engage in “jokes” and other behavior that is actively or passively harmful to non-cis people. We deserve a swift kick in the ass for resting on our privilege and not even bothering to consider how our words and actions, benign or even positive as they might appear to us, might affect other people.

        I’m cool with DCS, because as a group we’re pretty goddamned terrible, and as an individual I know I’ve been shitty to people who sure as hell didn’t deserve it.

        • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

          I suppose in the same way my taking a toy away from my kid after he has repeatedly taken away and broken toys from other kids is an attack, yes, Die Cis Scum is an attack.

          But honestly?

          I view it about the same as taking a toy away from my kid after he has deliberately broken the toy of another child. And then following it up with, ‘and how did that make you feel? Consider that for a moment. Now to you understand why what you did to the other kid was wrong?’

        • karmakin

          By and large I’m not sure how helpful DCS is, but I’m not one to criticize a response to attacks on one’s self and community “reflected” right back. I think it can be counter-productive, but it’s innately human.

    • http://strangesally.wordpress.com/ SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant

      Hey Anna. Just wanted to express my own appreciation for your efforts (I’ve just been catching up) as well as sympathy from Josh, who’s still keeping up. I wish to hell things were not as shitty as they are. But they are. So, boo. I don’t know what else to say. :(

  • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

    I had to bow out of this conversation because of work, but thanks to jenniferforester in particular for some exceptionally well-written comments.

    A couple notes before I leave:

    1.)

    JT: If you don’t think I’m an ally on this front, that’s your prerogative. I’m sold that I am, and mine is the only opinion I’m really concerned about on that matter.

    That is one of the most profoundly unskeptical comments I’ve seen. As others have said, being an ally requires the groups to whom you wish to be an ally to consider you an ally. And if you really don’t care in the slightest what anyone else’s opinion is on the matter, frankly, you aren’t an ally. Suppose you, for some reason, wrote a post calling out an atheist ally for some post which betrayed deep-seated anti-atheist assumptions, and that ally responded by saying “nope, I’m an ally. Doesn’t matter what you think, atheist, and, in fact, I’d rather you not address this issue with me ever, because I know I’m an ally and I’m right.” You’d never accept that.

    2.) I notice that even after dozens of posts explaining the JAQ-ing phenomenon, you still insisted no one had done any wrong, and wes and zengaze are completely innocent. Carlie has written an incredibly detailed post analyzing one of the more egregious offenders on the last thread (carlie’s comment here.) You’ve clearly been on this thread since, but in case you missed it, there it is. And, honestly, if you still stick to your opinion that they were completely innocent of wrongdoing, I probably won’t be back here. And maybe you don’t care.

    But I think you should. Just as I think you should care whether or not we see you as an ally. Because you are an activist, and you do care, and you are on the side of minorities. And you could be incredibly effective if you would at least listen to the people you want to be allies with.

    • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

      I don’t get it, myself. All this blithering about wanting to be a good progressive ‘ally’, and yet constant talking down and getting all huffy and whining about ‘derails’ when the very fucking people he says he’s an ‘ally’ to tell him things that, if he’d honestly consider, would only make him an even better ally.

      But no, precious snowflake JT is already a good enough ally, thankyouverymuch, because he says so.

      • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

        I suppose you’re responding to the last few sentences? Yeah, I guess I still hope that JT will realize how much he’s fucked up with this.

        But probably not. So fuck this blog, I guess.

        • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

          Yeah, this nested comments thing is confusing.

          I’ve got asperger’s syndrome, I know about the awkwardness. But when I started educating myself about feminism, human rights, privilege, intersectionalism, etc, I learned so much just by actually listening to what people in the oppressed groups actually have to say about their experience.

          JT is blowing it, big time. It’s not winning any respect from me, a straight, white, somewhat shaggy guy who’d like to be considered an ‘ally’, for what that’s worth. It seems pretty clear its winning him even less respect from the people he claims to be ‘allied’ to.

          You can always turn it around, JT. You can always throw that stupid shovel down and start actually learning something. It’s never too late.

    • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

      Sorry, my computer is still flipping out. The rest of my comment:

      I also just wanted to mention that your responses here are not unique or unkown to the LGBTQ/feminist/whatever community. I’ve seen “allies” make similar posts, similar arguments, and follow similar trajectories. And this is what we’re talking about. You’ve had one Die Cis Scum post, and one flirting-at-conventions post (or maybe a few in the past, I don’t know). Most of the people you’re upset with or arguing with here have probably been through dozens of DCS discussions, dozens of flirting-at-conventions discussions. And I know this is an argument from authority, but in the sense that isn’t entirely fallacious: we’ve seen people pull the same stuff that wes and zengaze have, given them chance after chance to address us in good faith, and actively engage with what we’re saying instead of straw-personing in the guise of innocent questions……and so we know where this will end up. Experience is useful. And if you don’t want non-productive comments, that’s your prerogative and I think most of us would agree. But when you only criticize one form of non-productive comments and not another, and ignore completely the experience of people who’ve dealt with this shit before….no, you’re not helping.

      • Pteryxx

        And I know this is an argument from authority, but in the sense that isn’t entirely fallacious: we’ve seen people pull the same stuff that wes and zengaze have, given them chance after chance to address us in good faith, and actively engage with what we’re saying instead of straw-personing in the guise of innocent questions……and so we know where this will end up. Experience is useful.

        Seconded. My experience since the Watson incident has been that the vast majority, upwards of 95%, of “just asking” commenters (individuals, not comments) have been malicious. In the last ten months I’ve witnessed four or five examples of argumentative individuals actually admitting to changing their minds when the problem was explained to them, out of tens of thousands of comments’ worth of discussion.

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

          … and maybe those four or five people are worth preserving a space where those conversations can happen, where someone can be wrong and work through bettering themselves. Still, the criticism of JT is valid, because part of that space is removing the people who aren’t contributing. People being giant assholes to potential trolls is a smaller problem than actual trolling.

          • Pteryxx

            Joe: I’m only talking about commenters who ask questions and keep asking for further information, or arguing about the answers – not those who ask for a reference and go read it. The vast majority of commenters who DO show up and thank everyone for changing their minds, are lurkers whose thanks are their first comment. Several of those crop up for every one of these contentious threads, sometimes weeks later.

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

            Pteryxx:

            I get what you’re saying… now that you mention it, it IS even more rare for someone who is doing the arguing to be the one who changes their mind. Lurkers seem to be the ones who pop up just to let people know that the conversation helped them. I think my point still stands, both in not discouraging questions but more importantly in shutting down unproductive lines of discussion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/liberalism Katie Hartman

    Especially perturbing to me was the tendency – particularly, I noticed, on Josh’s part – to get offended on behalf of some other group and claim that whoever he replied to doesn’t get to be an ally to the group Josh doesn’t even belong to.

    I’m sorry, dude, but who asked you to filter allies on behalf of all women everywhere? If actually being one of the people you’re supposedly standing up for counts for anything: please fucking stop.

    • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

      I guess you missed the part where JT blatantly dismissed a woman’s genuine feelings of being creeped out by zengaze’s ‘rape analogy’. I don’t have to be a woman to recognize that him patting her on the head and reassuring her that it’s all good, just a misunderstanding, a ‘bad analogy’ is all, is fucking condescending.

      A real ally would try to at least make the minimum effort to make his comment section something of a ‘safe space’ with regards to misogynistic bullshit like that. Or at the very, very least would have listened to her actual perspective on it instead of telling her it’s wrong.

      • http://overthinkingmusic.wordpress.com Jennifer

        Naw, Canis. I’m just too stupid and in too bad of faith to understand that he wasn’t actually referencing rape; it was just an analogy, and so obviously I should just try to come in better faith when people openly wish rape upon other comme…I mean, when people make analogies, even when they have no real relationship to the post in order to make them valid analogies.

        • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

          Well now Jennifer, just be thankful that JT is such a GREAT Ally, he’s willing to explain that to you all careful-like!

      • http://www.facebook.com/liberalism Katie Hartman

        Totally disagree with Jennifer’s comment, upthread, that Zengaze was “saying that someone deserved to be raped here.” That is just not what happened, and I think mischaracterizing someone’s statements – however awful they actually are – is just not acceptable.

        I completely AGREE with Anna’s comment about how poorly phrased and horrifying it was, summed up by “That was HUGELY triggering.” Yes. Yes, it was.

        JT was right to acknowledge the former. It’s massively disappointing that he didn’t acknowledge the latter. I’m all for pointing out why this matters and why it was handled incorrectly.

        However, if I haven’t made this clear – I think JT was absolutely *right* that Jennifer’s comment was a mischaracterization. Where I think he was wrong was in not taking the time to point out something to the tune of what Anna said.

    • karmakin

      Josh is kinda on a bit of a rampage over perceived double-standards when it comes to feminist privilege fighting vs. other types of privilege fighting. That’s the way I saw it.

      Not always a constructive thing to do, however I can’t say I don’t understand why.

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

        Josh is kinda ALWAYS on a rampage, and I can see why someone would want him to take a break from posting… and yeah, I understand it too, but that’s no excuse.

        Unfortunately, JT didn’t decide to go after Josh on those grounds, he picked some pseudo-rational pretext that is currently biting him really hard on the petard.

  • xaw

    It certainly makes for a hostile environment for us, doesn’t it? At least in my opinion. What I’m getting out of this discussion is that if I ever want to speak up on this blog, I can’t say anything that might be construed as an insult to someone without carefully backing it up with an argument that might just be dismissed by the blogger, who might not even understand it. It’s not a safe space. It’s a 101 discussion moderated by someone in need of a 101 education.

    To top it off, if someone makes an ignorant, piss poor, and offensive analogy comparing mockery to rape, JT defends the analogy even though his new rule permits insults and mockery! That is, JT is defending the idea that believing bad arguments deserve mockery is comparable to believing women dressed in certain ways deserve rape. I suppose believing felons deserve jail sentences is just a bunch of victim blaming, too? No, even if JT realized what a horrible analogy that was but for some reason it wasn’t important to him to say so, what WAS important was making sure the stupid lady knew that he was just making an analogy, he didnt REALLY mean that she deserved to be raped, so its all ok. That is NOT being a good ally. This is what I mean when I say he’s in need of a 101 education.

  • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind
    • Robert B.

      It’s a good post (I’d read it already) but I don’t quite see the connection to the conversation here. Enlighten me?

      • Armored Scrum Object

        Please correct me if I’m misinterpreting, but I think this is in response to JT’s position (e.g. here) that it is worthwhile (or at least policy-compliant) to simply not answer those you suspect of being disingenuous JAQoffs. Whether that’s quite equivalent to “ignore it and it will go away” is debatable, but I don’t think it’s a big stretch to see some overlap in the accompanying assumptions/implications.

        • Robert B.

          Oh, yes, there’s the connection. Thank you. It’s getting hard to keep track of everything in this thread.

        • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

          Nope, you got it right. I award you two internets of your very own.

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

    This may be the most amazing comment stream ever. (and at the sight of my name, Josh’s apoplexy just went plaid.)

    The entitlement is overweening. It’s JT’s blog. Seems to me he can have whatever commenting rules he likes, including that all comments must be in Pig Latin. Because it’s his blog.

    Yet, we see the immediate reaction of how dare you limit MY right to comment on YOUR blog! I HAVE THE RIGHT!!!!

    No, you don’t. There is exactly one person here who has a “right” on this blog: JT. Everyone else, *everyone* else has a privilege granted to them by JT, and he has the right to grant or remove said privilege for no more or less reason than Whedon whacking a main character.

    This blog is his creation. His rules, as stated, seem clear. He seems open to questions about his rules, at least questions that aren’t entitledouche whining. Yet so many people seem to take this post as a dare to see how long you can break those rules or how close to the edge they can get without getting busted. Or how fast they can get banned, probably so they can go elsewhere and slag JT over it. Or worse, as though JT personally dick-slapped them across the chops by having any sort of restrictions on their behavior. Really?

    If you don’t like his rules, there are other places on the Internet with different rules.

    But to make him justify his rules? Lol. One might think it wasn’t JT’s blog or something.

    • Robert B.

      Wow, look at those strawmen go down. Maybe you should read the thread? Or even better, if someone is commenting in a way you disagree with, go ahead and name them, drop us a quote. This sort of wideband detail-free emotional attack makes you sound like a complete troll.

      • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

        So, let’s check out the double standards of this new policy.

        Will this post be deleted for being an off-topic attack that doesn’t address anything anyone ever said, and it’s poster banned?

        • Robert B.

          D’you mean his post, or mine?

          (To be fair, I don’t think JT mentioned deleting comments, let alone actually ever doing it.)

          • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

            His.

    • xaw

      who you talking at?

    • Bruce [Base]

      Hey look, JT, slimepit scum are oozing in so they can construct strawmen with which to defend your new policy.

      Meanwhile, you’ve alienated and flat out insulted (wihout explaining in detail why such insults are merited, but hey I guess you can break your own rules) some of the best of the Pharyngula horde.

      I realize that only your uber rational opinion counts here, bro, and I thank you for the work you’ve done with Skepticon (and other cool meatspace work you’ve done that I’m not aware of). But I’m done with this blog.

    • Just_A_Lurker

      Hey yeah, you’re right. It’s his blog, he can do what he wants and we have every right to express our opinion about it elsewhere. Just like certain bloggers edit comments on their blog, to fuck with and fuck up the people that made the comments.

      How a blogger runs their blog is their choice, it shows a lot about the blogger sometimes. Like JT not fucking helping, not listening and being a douche in general by the way he’s running his blog.

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

        Really?

        So all the good work JT has done in the past doesn’t matter, the good work he’ll do on the future doesn’t matter. He changed his blog comment policy in a way you don’t like, and now he’s a raging douche.

        If you say that out loud, does it sound as immature and silly to you as it does to me?

    • Randide, ou l’Optimisme

      Hi, I’m new here, so I just want to make sure that I am getting things straight, so as to not get banned.

      “Dick-slapped” is okay, but if I were to just say that “dick-slapped” is insensitive to anybody who might have been sexually assaulted, I run the risk of getting banned?

      Good. I’m out of here.

  • consciousness razor

    Thanks, John C. Welch. Now that you’re here, I don’t feel so obligated to derail this little trainwreck. If you’d keep reminding JT how much of an ally he is, we’ll try to remember not to feel so fucking entitled to express ourselves however we like on his blog.

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

      JT being an ally of anyone is not much of a point, other than a way for people to get angry at him.

      His larger point is pretty simple and easy to understand: JT’s blog, JT’s rules.

      At leat he, unlike many others, states the rules up front, rather than just banning people for breaking rules that he never articulates. If you don’t like his rules, you’re free to rail against them, call him out as a hypocritical asshole jerk, whatever. But, you don’t have any *right* to do it on HIS blog. You have a right to do it on YOUR blog. If your blog becomes sufficiently popular, you may suddenly gain a better understanding of where he’s coming from.

      The fact that you felt “obligated” to derail this post just to prove you can is kind of sad.

      • consciousness razor

        The fact that you felt “obligated” to derail this post just to prove you can is kind of sad.

        The fact that you don’t recognize sarcasm is sad. Maybe if you stopped trolling and fucked off, you would find an example of it somewhere else.

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

          Ah, the classic ad Hom: trolling, coupled with the even *more* classic “It was sarcasm. Clearly a lesser wit such as you is not equipped to handle the masterful subtlety of my razor wit’s awesome superiority.”

          Too bad you didn’t add in “I was JOKING, can’t you take a joke” and you’d have it win, place, and show for “has no valid points.”

          While cute, I’m unsure how your reply actually rebuts my points. However, I’ve won no less than three bets thanks to your predictable hate-boner-fueled ranting. So there’s that.

          • consciousness razor

            While cute, I’m unsure how your reply actually rebuts my points.

            You think you had points? That’s a joke, right?

  • Just_A_Lurker

    JT: If you don’t think I’m an ally on this front, that’s your prerogative. I’m sold that I am, and mine is the only opinion I’m really concerned about on that matter.

    Yeah, I just wanted to be another person to point out the self-centered assheadness of this statement. It’s just dripping with ego and privilege. Of course, you get to decide if you are our ally, men like you get to make all the decisions!

    And defending the rape analogy, really JT, really?

    Fuck you too. This place isn’t a safe fucking place. You engage in and defend some vile shit. The only difference between this place and the slimpit at ERV currently, is that commenters are fighting against you. Thank Pharyngula for the majority of that.

    You can call yourself an ally all you want, I won’t be standing next to you. The rate your going, you’re going to be standing alone in your tinfoil armor defending stawpeople.

    • John Phillips, FCD

      QFFT

      • Just_A_Lurker

        Thanks John.

        I love how slimpit denizens showed up to prove my point. They just love it here and that really tells you something about this place.

  • mobluesbr

    I’d just like to thank Anna, jenniferforrester, Natalie, The Horde ( I know I’d forget some of you :) ) et al. For generally kicking ass. I haven’t been able to post much because I’d likely have a screaming fit, if not at the “quality” then at the quantity of bullshit being spewed here.
    JT & Christina- The only hope I have now is that you will someday come to grips with your priveledge and apologize.
    Assorted other Asshats- Fuck You. You do not get to determine what is justifiable speech in the face of unjustifiable violence.

    • http://idioprag.com WilloNyx

      To be fair Christina has not done anything bad. She has actual questions. She asked them and listened to the answers. That isn’t wrong in any way.

      • moblues

        I’m not saying she has done anything directly offensive. It just seemed like she did a poor job of researching the topic, with Natalie having to repeat herself from a much better post over at her place. There were a bunch of things like “everyone can get priveledge” and parsing answers a bit more finely than was helpful that seemed to provide a way for the trolls to get a foothold. Especially since she explicitly states that it was “like a math class” then ostensibly she should be providing leadership rather than relying on other folks showing up to explain the basics. I’m just another cis fool, so if the extremely patient trans folk who participated want me to retract that, I happily will.

        • http://idioprag.com WilloNyx

          The way I see it (and I may be wrong) as Christina wasn’t asserting a position, it makes ok sense that she didn’t research. It may be a little disappointing that she didn’t look to a colleague’s already stated thoughts on the matter but that isn’t actually necessary. She showed that she was actually asking to me rather than “just asking” like many others seem to have been doing.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

            I did read her posts. I even linked to one of them in the OP.

            My questions were not answered by her posts, nor by any of the other posts I linked to which were not hers. However she DID answer my questions in the comments, so for that I am grateful, since she didn’t have to answer to me at all.

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

    I think all this “ally” talk is just a little misplaced… not that JT has done himself any favors. To be an ally of women or of the LGBT community is not to declare that you are friends with or agree with every individual woman or LGBT person. Just because you’d defend a person’s rights and freedoms doesn’t mean that you have to be willing to sit down to a meal with them or hang out over a couple of beers and shoot the shit.

    Specifically, I think Josh and Daisy are complete jerks. I don’t for a second thing it has anything to do with sex or gender or politics or anything else… I just think that they are more rude than they need to be, for reasons that I don’t particularly care about. It doesn’t mean I think that they are stupid, or evil, or even particularly bad people. I just don’t think they are people I’d like to hang out with… and I’m sure that the feeling is mutual.

    On the other hand… I don’t think either one of them is a racist. I don’t think either one of them would join in with racist attacks on me if someone started calling me names based on my Hispanic heritage. I’d like to believe that both of them would maybe even step in and say “I think Joe is an asshole, but racist comments are uncalled for” and I have no reason to believe that they wouldn’t. So on that level, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to view them as allies of mine against racism, even though they don’t have any particular affection for me as a person. By the same token, I would hope that they wouldn’t see me as their enemy in the sense of bigotry, no matter how much animosity I might show towards them personally.

    • consciousness razor

      I think all this “ally” talk is just a little misplaced… not that JT has done himself any favors. To be an ally of women or of the LGBT community is not to declare that you are friends with or agree with every individual woman or LGBT person. Just because you’d defend a person’s rights and freedoms doesn’t mean that you have to be willing to sit down to a meal with them or hang out over a couple of beers and shoot the shit.

      Huh? How about you don’t declare yourself an ally at all? If they see you as one, maybe they’ll tell you so, maybe not.

      Specifically, I think Josh and Daisy are complete jerks.

      Who cares?

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

        On one level, I care. On a different level, I agree with you. And this is an answer to several other responses to my comment. I guess I “trust” Josh and Daisy, certainly more than I would trust douchenozzles like Wes or zengaze, which was the point of my last comment. I don’t like them as people, I know they don’t like me… but I don’t think they are fundamentally evil or dishonest. And I’m well on my way to thinking JT is on the wrong side of this issue as well, so good times!

        • consciousness razor

          On one level, I care.

          Why is this about you, on any level?

          And I’m well on my way to thinking JT is on the wrong side of this issue as well, so good times!

          Well it’s too late to hear any more from anyone who JT thinks has “derailed” (still no idea how that’s supposed to work), so it’s not such good times if you ask me. And while I’d say you should listen to them rather than put forward even more of your perspective, that’s not much of an option here.

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

            Why did you ask, when you were going to attack every answer I could possibly give?

          • consciousness razor

            Why did you ask, when you were going to attack every answer I could possibly give?

            If any answer you could possibly give would warrant an “attack,” is that my problem? Maybe I should give you a cookie for bringing up irrelevant bullshit, or just politely ignore it so that maybe you’ll stay on “my side.” Would that make you feel better?

          • Pteryxx

            Joe: this,

            Why is this about you, on any level?

            was a rhetorical question intended to nudge you to ask yourself, “Am I making this all about me?” (Or if you prefer, ask yourself, “Is this insult actually an accurate critique?”)

            my 2cents: Yes, you’re talking a LOT about your own thoughts and opinions. IN MY OPINION, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Obviously I don’t speak for everyone else.

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

            @Pteryxx:

            Who else can I speak for, besides me? And why is my opinion any less valid than that of anyone else? If it is, I’ll fuck off and go away. It isn’t nearly the first time I’ve been told that I’m not worth hearing from…

            Fuck. Now my own traumatic history has been triggered. I should probably go away now.

          • Pteryxx

            Joe: I’m sorry for being triggering. If it helps, it’s got nothing to do with validity; feel free to ask me whenever you wish. Take care.

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

            Sorry, Pteryxx… it is my issue, and I shouldn’t inflict it on anyone else. Feel free to pretend I didn’t say anything.

          • Robert B.

            You getting triggered does not constitute you inflicting anything on anyone else. We get it, man, and we’re certainly not going to ignore you being in trouble.

            Be well.

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

            I feel obligated to apologize and explain myself… FFS even starting this has me tearing up and congested. No one should probably expect to trigger someone for this, it isn’t like I dealt with a real trauma or anything. It is just that I grew up in New York City, where being Puerto Rican wasn’t a big deal, and I was recognized as being really smart in a big city and was on the fast track to enter an accelerated school where I would take summer classes and enter college when I would have been 15.

            And then when I was a few weeks from turning 11, my parents moved us all to North Carolina, in a town outside of and smaller than Mayberry. And every year between then and when I was old enough to leave, adults in positions of authority would question my ability to speak and understand English. I’m actually a fairly smart person, I scored an 870 on the SAT when I was 12 years old and a 1410 when I was a high school senior. Still, every time someone heard my last name, I was treated like a recent immigrant with no command of the language. One time, I launched into Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy on the first day of class, in response to someone asking why I thought I belonged there, and it bought me a few month’s peace. But I never, ever belonged in my high school. On top of that, I was an outspoken atheist as a teenager. I had very few real friends, and couldn’t date anyone because I was Hispanic and everyone else was white and didn’t go to church.

            None of your concern. None of you have to care, and I don’t blame anyone if they don’t care or if they mock me for being open because I have a couple of decades of dealing with that can act as a buffer. But I’ll say two things:

            1) It hurts me when I’m misunderstood and dismissed, because I spent years feeling alienated and alone and on the outside looking in. I still sort of feel this way, all the years later, married to another misfit and we both still don’t have very many friends.

            2) I don’t have to have your experience to feel your pain. If I could prevent any of you going through whatever you’ve gone through I would do it in a heartbeat. Any little thing can trigger my pain, and I’ve got no doubt that other people here have gone through worse over less. As much as I hate mine, I hate yours too.

            So I say this stuff, and I’m sure someone will be around to mock it shortly, and fair enough. There’s not really any point to it, other than to say that I’m not cynical when I say the things I say, and that I’m certainly not trying to hurt anyone. I’m just trying to figure things out by having conversations about it, and trying to contribute where I can.

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

            … and anyways I’m just some asshole on the Internet who can and should just stop talking. Jesus, this is embarrassing…

          • Pteryxx

            Joe: that absolutely counts as real. Being oppressed isn’t a competition, it’s more like a map – the triggers that set me off aren’t in the same place as yours.

            I tried leaving a comment at your place but Blogger hates me. I’d suggest, drop by TET if you want to vent or get in touch, because this is getting off-topic for this particular thread.

        • Pteryxx

          Why is this about you, on any level?

          Heh… see, this is a valid critique.

          To Joe: I, personally, think that you just “think out loud” as it were, as I’m also prone to do. I think you make a lot of mistakes, but in general, you’re trying hard to listen and sometimes succeed. And, you tolerate being chastised rather well; I suspect that makes you a good example for hypothetical lurkers who have similar thoughts to yours. (Of course, I give more good faith than almost anyone, so take that with a pinch of salt.) ~;>

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

            It is cool that you give me the benefit of the doubt, which is what I’ve struggled to give EVERYONE on this, including Josh and Daisy who I have had arguments with before and still refuse to dismiss entirely… and who I sort of agree with against JT on this issue the way he has handled it.

            And as far as consciousness razor and cookies or whatever… forget cookies. You can go so far as to hate me, and I could be as angry at you as I can be based on Internet drama, and I would still be on “your side” or have your back in anything that actually matters. Maybe I can’t express myself the way I would like to, and maybe my perspective doesn’t match anyone else’s enough to make you feel like you can trust me, but if I see someone treating you badly I’m going to say something about it. If someone were doing something to you in front of me I’d do something about it. I see that JT is failing to do a good enough job of standing up for the people who deserve it, and I’m saying that he’s not on the right side of the issue.

            If I can do more, tell me and I’ll do that too. But please don’t treat me like I’m a bad guy because I’m not a perfect person.

          • consciousness razor

            Impossible Joe, I don’t hate you. But again, it’s not about you. If this discussion is worth having, it’s not about any personal issues we might have with each other. I think you’ve been trying in this thread, so I’m trying to work with you. But progress is fucking doomed here unless a lot of shit changes, so please excuse me (and I mean that sincerely) if I don’t see your personal progress as something to throw a party about.

        • Gen Fury

          I guess I “trust” Josh and Daisy, certainly more than I would trust douchenozzles like Wes or zengaze, which was the point of my last comment. I don’t like them as people, I know they don’t like me…

          (Improbable Joe)

          And as far as trustworthiness goes, the bluntness in Josh and Daisy’s comments is to me far more trustworthy and far less rude and manipulative than the apparently “polite” comments of, say, zengaze/wes/whomever.

          Skepticalmath

          I think this is such an important point, and thanks for making it.

          I adore both Josh and Daisy, but what’s more imporant is that I TRUST them and “rude”, “insulting” and “unpleasant” and whatever you want to call people who tell the truth, no holds barred, hair trigger fingers on the ready people like them. You know why?

          I don’t have to worry that they’re nice to me now but the moment I’m in trouble or something, they’ll be like *snicker, yeah that crazy girl who always whines, kick her in the cunt* suddenly out of the blue. I know they won’t be all like “FUCK YEA WOMEN’S RIGHTS” and the next moment “LOL that rape joke analogy, y u no get it?”

          I know that if I tread shit upon the metaphorical carpet by saying something stupid or bigoted, they’ll be like FUCKING HELL, YOU GOT SHIT ON YOUR SHOES! CLEAN IT OFF OR STAY OUT!, allowing me to fix my mistake.

          I know that the next time some douche-nozzle comes in and starts blah-blah-ing about how die cis scum is just like reverse racism and how women are so haaaaaaaaaaard to understand and so haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard to get to allow you to fuck them, even if I’m feeling too fragile that day to take on yet another douche nozzle, this time on the webz instead of meatspace, they will be there with their absolute RUDE replies, showing not only that commenter but the world in general that that.shit.does.not.fly.

          I find that more valuable than all the “niceness” and “reasonableness” and “science!EVIDENCE, PROOF!” in the world.

    • mobluesbr

      Um, as far as I know in Ally 101 training you get -If the people you are trying to help object then stop-
      Many so-called allies outside of the few you are fussing about have said this whole debacle is awful.

    • Pteryxx

      Joe: How about the difference between someone you like and someone you trust?

      Likable people can be really abusive. I may not agree with rude behavior, but I’ll take a trustworthy jerk over an untrustworthy likable person every time. (Note: Take that as you will. ~;> )

      • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

        Indeed.

        And as far as trustworthiness goes, the bluntness in Josh and Daisy’s comments is to me far more trustworthy and far less rude and manipulative than the apparently “polite” comments of, say, zengaze/wes/whomever.

        Moreover, @Joe, I think that along with supporting say, equal rights, or so forth, being an ally of a marginalized population comes along with it the expectation that you check your privilege, that you listen to the marginalized population, that you don’t perpetuate the power structures of the world that you are, ostensibly, trying to change.

        So, for example, in addition to supporting women’s rights, being a feminist ally requires that you don’t (as JT does) make your assistance some kind of quid-pro-quo conditional affair in which you, a man, get to make the shots. (c.f. the end of his post “For the rest who took, “give us your insight” as defending skeezy men, you’re part of the reason men like me scarcely ever touch this issue even though we realize there are problems that need to be fixed. If you want the help of men who want to help make this an accommodating environment for women, you may want to re-think some things.”)

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

          I think I’ve made it clear that my assistance isn’t based on my approval of an individual. I think a lot of people are or can be jerks, but my support of their rights and freedoms isn’t based on whether or not I like them as people. Hell, I don’t get along with everyone I’m related to… it doesn’t mean I don’t still love them or that I wouldn’t bust my ass to help them if they really needed it.

          • Pteryxx

            *whispers* Hey Joe… you’re replying to a *general* “you” statement. If it’s directed at anyone personally, that would be JT.

          • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

            pteryxx is correct.

            Sorry if that wasn’t clear, Joe….my “you” was definitely general, or pointed a bit towards JT

    • Happiestsadist

      What, I don’t get to be a complete jerk too?

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

        … if you like? I can’t recall a specific incident where you were a jerk where it wasn’t called for.

        • Happiestsadist

          I suppose it just find it genuinely odd that Daisy and Josh get shat on for saying the exact same stuff I did. I mean, I missed a lot of yesterday on a rare “leaving the house” outing, but still.

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

            If you’d like me to call you a jerk, I suppose I could. And considering the context, does it really matter? Being a jerk online doesn’t mean you’re rude to your parents or cruel to your loved ones, or that you shake babies or kick puppies or drown kittens or tip badly or do any one of a thousand things that make you a jerk to real people in the real world.

            So I could call you a jerk, and put you in with Josh and Daisy… but does it really mean anything at all? They could be the best people ever in every situation that doesn’t involve a keyboard and an Internet connection, and you could be too.

  • Oi! Take A Look At My Wad! Loadsamoney!

    I love watching the Baboons tear themselves up over the most trivial matters.

    Keep it up – I want to see you fight so much that none of you ever turn up to any conferences again. Once we say good riddance to the Baboons, sanity will return.

    Oh, and you will not be missed. Now fuck off and organise your own hate fests where you can argue over behaviour and rulez. Go on, fuck off. The skeptic/atheist doesn’t need you, and doesn’t want you. So, to reiterate – fuck off.

    • Robert B.

      Hey, look, folks! It’s a post delivering personal insults without responding to anyone’s actual words or arguments! Didn’t I just read something about comments like that…?

      • Oi! Take A Look At My Wad! Loadsamoney!

        Robert B, fuck off you stupid Baboon supporter.

        • Robert B.

          … Poe?

          • Pteryxx

            Troll. “Baboons” is what a specific group of haters like to call outspoken posters from Pharyngula.

          • Pteryxx

            *correction: Pharyngula and/or the rest of FTB, I guess. Also look for cries of “censorship”, “echo chamber”, and gendered slurs.

          • Oi! Take A Look At My Wad! Loadsamoney!

            Robert B.

            What the fuck are you still doing here? I told you to fuck off.

            That goes for all the Baboons, inc. Pteryx.

            Fuck off and leave the atheist/skeptic movement. Nobody wants you shit-filled hate-mongers here.

            PS – Fuck off.

      • Happiestsadist

        Quite. Look at him go, all comfy here.

        Funny.

        • Robert B.

          Oh, he’s banned as soon as JT reads the thread, I’m sure. We have our differences with our host today, but I don’t for a moment imagine he’ll put up with this, even if it is (I think?) defending him.

          It is funny, though, that Mr. Loadsamoney took this particular thread as an opportunity to come in and share his, ahem, ideas. Almost as though he feels something about the post or the thread constitutes an invitation. I wonder if that reveals some sort of unexamined nuance at work?

        • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

          Yeah, maybe. But the point is that JT has really only enforced his whole “no derailing/no unsubstantive insults” policy except against the people disagreeing with him in the Two Posts.

          • Robert B.

            Oh, yes, I know.

    • Antiochus Epiphanes

      Now fuck off and organise your own hate fests…

      Do you have any idea of how difficult it is to organize a hate-fest? The logistics alone are insurmountable.

      How easy do you think it is to get a convention center to sponsor something called a hate-fest?

      • Antiochus Epiphanes

        The one time we almost pulled it off was due to a typo– we’d spelled it “hat-fest” in our solicitation letter. The haberdashers union was none too pleased by the first speaker, and tore the place up. Litigation is ongoing.

        • Wowbagger, Vile Demagogue

          Yeah, they’re wanting compensation for all the mercury they bought in advance. That shit ain’t cheap.

  • http://thecanberracook.blogspot.com Alethea H. Claw

    I haven’t read all of this trainwreck, (*HATE NESTED COMMENTS*), but I must say I am gobsmackingly shocked at JT defending the rape “analogy”/”joke”. WHAT THE FUCK DUDE?

    I’ll just leave this here and fuck off now.

    • http://thecanberracook.blogspot.com Alethea H. Claw

      Oops, this: http://fuckyeahdisingenuousliberal.tumblr.com/post/20119130397

      (The other one was relevant to Die Cis Scum.)

      • Happiestsadist

        Haha, both of those sum it up perfectly.

        The rape “joke” /”analogy” is absolutely flawless proof of what a shitty “ally” Josh is. I’d rather deal with outright misogynists (like the ones who are comfortably ensconcing themselves here, seeing a comfy new home) than some asshole who claims to be on my side, then not only doesn’t help, but actively hinders.

      • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

        How have I never seen that Tumblr before.

        JT et al should read the whole thing.

  • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    I see things are going from bad to worse for poor JT.

    The slimepit crew is arriving, like flies inevitably attracted to a fresh pile of feces in high summer.

    • Oi! Take A Look At My Wad! Loadsamoney!

      Oi! Baboon. Fuck off back to Pharyngula, you blob of fecal matter.

      It is the Baboons crawling out of the woodwork that is holding the atheist/skeptic movement back, not anybody else.

      So fuck off you piece of shit.

    • Robert B.

      Oh, look, Coyote, someone wants to be your friend. Isn’t that nice?

  • Gen Fury

    JT

    I really, really like you. I’ve been meaning to e-mail you (without expecting a reply, just FYI, in case that sounded creepily stalkery) for ages, but I’m really busy. Your opinions are important to me as a person.

    I love the things you talk/write about and the way you talk/write about them. I love the talks you give (I’ve watched everything I could on youtube and I cried like a baby during your why discussing mental illness should be important one) and I think you are a really, really nice and wonderful person who is trying his best in a wild and confusing world.

    But you are wrong on this issue.

    Not (just) the rape joke, which I don’t have the mental strength to even *deal* with right now (dafuq? QQ) but the whole privileged ally thing.

    What I am seeing you doing (and it’s really hurting me) is putting your hurt feelings ahead of the very real damage caused to already marginalized and damaged people by allowing people with nefarious and clearly harmful agendas (making rape jokes? DAFUQ QQ) the “benefit of the doubt”.

    Some things shouldn’t EVER even be IN doubt.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

      Oh, sweet Ceiling Cat, THIS! And it’s making me not want to read this particular blog anymore.

      JT, I am disappoint.

  • Zengaze

    Okay last comment on this, as it has become apparent that nothing more productive can come from continued discussion.

    It wasn’t a fucking joke! I did not make a cucking rape joke, no matter how much you want to call it that rather than deal with the post. No joke, rape is not a fucking joke! Get it?

    It was demonstrating a bad argument! Saying short skirts justify rape is a fucking bad argument! To believe that my comments warranted mocking, whilst holding that view requires cognitavie dissonance!

    That was the point, you know an attempt to demonstrate logical argument fail? But instead of dealing with the argument i get misrepresented, and tone trolled by people who have absolutely no problem with “die scum” yet shreak in horror about triggers when I apply a commonly used bad justification in a classical argument.

    Selective application of offence dependant upon alignment of belief, I’m surprised nobody has shouted “what about the kids!”

    • Robert B.

      Thank you for sharing.

      To reprise:

      What you are missing, or more likely refusing to recognize, is that we don’t fucking care whether you meant it or not. It was still a horrible thing to say, to Emburii, to every sexual abuse victim in the thread, to everyone from a group at high risk of sexual assault, to everyone with basic human compassion and the roughest conception of how disproportionately awful rape is.

    • Gen, Uppity Ingrate.

      Joke, analogy, potato, potahto. Horrible nonetheless, for reasons already very aptly described by more eloquent commenters.

    • quoderatdemonstrandum

      Zengaze: the fact that, after repeated explanations, you don’t understand that casual, unnecessary, references to rape are thoughtless, stupid and harmful [1] really should tell you all you need to know about your ignorance regarding privilege and why you need to shut the fuck up and listen.

      JT: the fact that you defended Zengaze but banned Josh and Ms. Daisy Cutter says a lot about you, none of it good.

      [1] even by analogy, even if it is not a joke, even if used as a negative example.

    • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

      ——TRIGGER AND SARCASM AHEAD—–

      And getting scragged in MMORPG is totally like getting raped too, therefore saying ‘dude, I’m going to rape you!’ is a valid analogy.

      • http://www.withinthismind.com WithinthisMind

        Posted too soon.

        That shit is NOT acceptable behavior, not justifiable, not excusable, and not okay. The only people for whom that analogy would be the first to pop into their heads are misogynistic douchebags. The people who would go through several analogies before settling on that one are misogynistic douchebag sadists.

        It needs to stop. If you ‘didn’t intend’ to hurt anyone via the comment, then the only correct action for you to take is a full on heartfelt no-holds-barred apology. And none of this ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ non-apology bullshit.

        The simple fact that you are defending your actions at all proves you are a jerk rather than someone who made any kind of ‘honest’ mistake.

  • carlie

    JT, this must be a bit overwhelming. These are longer threads than what you usually moderate, there are two going on at once, and it’s emotionally difficult material. I’d suggest shutting down all comments, taking a break for a couple of days, and then rereading them fresh from the beginning to see if you notice any themes.

  • anteprepro

    Wow, a little late to the game, but I’ve got to say I agree with the disagreers. The three with their head on the chopping blocks may have been snippy, but they were justified (as well as being incredibly insightful commenters over at Pharyngula). They merely escalated things, but it was clear that the people they were interacting with were rude, dismissive, cavalier, or self-absorbed to the point of ignoring the brute fact that makes the question of the main post obvious: Trans people fucking die at the hands of bigots all the time. The other fact that the relevant people perpetually failed to grasp is “privilege” and how that creates a moral distinction when talking about privileged groups compared to talking about oppressed minority groups.

    But, what’s the response to that thread? To the people who were short with those who consistently failed to understand the issues above, even when they were explained repeatedly? Yell at the people who were overly rude in the name of defending an oppressed minority. And do so saying something to the effect of “you don’t just get to scream privilege and walk away”. Which seems unnecessarily dismissive of the entire idea of “privilege,” in addition to giving to much, ahem, privilege to those thumbing their noses at the unprivileged.

    And, despite that slip-up, here you are, JT. Doubling down. Defending zengaze when he deviates into even worse territory, casually making references to rape in order to illustrate a point, which is disgusting, trivializes rape, triggers rape victims, and does so in order to strike a comparison to commenting on a blog. And you defend that shit. What the fuck, JT?

    And, as others have stated, I don’t agree that you always need to be addressing arguments in order to further a debate. This should be obvious, but I think you might have an emotional blindspot on in regards to this debacle, and just needed some excuse for why you objected to those commenters. Regardless, looking at a more general scope, two things are clear:
    1. There are some commenters who buy premises that are profoundly stupid or prove incapable of using information presented to inform their arguments. These people don’t deserve anything more than mockery, and actual engagement is a gift, not a right.

    2. It is perfectly fine to tackle someone’s arguments indirectly. To bring up something that shows an obvious contradiction, or to show how the same logic presented in the original argument leads to absurd conclusions elsewhere. Although people misuse this, it can be done as effectively as any other form of direct argumentation. In addition, I feel that bringing up previous comments by the same commenter that illustrate a contradiction in views is also fair game (and that bringing up previous cases of their stupidity, while it is an ad hom, is also very entertaining and helps for those who might mistakenly argue under the assumption that the person in question is more intellectually honest than they actually are).

    The policy of “must address the actual argument” is obviously a rigid rule if some of the comments you cited in the other thread actually break your conception of that rule. And I feel that this means that the policy sucks. I think you need to put more thought into this. Because, by this metric, I’m sure that a lot of people who have tackled trolls here are just as worthy of banning as trolls themselves. Your restriction is minimal, and that is part of the problem: It is minimalistic, and thus overly simplistic. It will either wind up being applied arbitrarily (as I believe you are currently doing, actually) or it will mean that every response that is just a succinct, jocular one-off remark will result in inching towards a ban, no matter how worthy of simple mockery the original comment was (and no matter how hilarious the joke!). Rethink your rule, rethink your assessment of the people Josh, Daisy, and Happiestsadist responded to, and possibly examine your biases on this more deeply, because this is not at all consistent with the JT I’ve seen on this blog so far.

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

    Hey JT,

    when something ends with you banning people like Josh and Daisy, that something went very, very wrong.

    You fucked up. It happens. The manner of you dealing with it will determine how much you will fuck that up again in the future. So don’t ignore this.

    Take carlie’s advice:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd/2012/05/26/want-to-keep-commenting-here-dont-derail-threads/#comment-63368

  • Nadai

    It’s probably pointless of me to say anything 400+ comments in; I’m not going to come up with anything that hasn’t been said already but I just can’t say nothing.

    I’ve read most of the Die Cis Scum thread and all of this one and I’m appalled at the stances you’re taking, JT. Bad enough that you’re singling out Josh/Daisy/Happiestsadist when all I saw them doing was being rude to JAQoffs. But to actually defend Zengaze’s little “rape analogy”? Wow. I am truly gobsmacked and I am not gobsmacked often. You have thrown down the shovel and fired up the backhoe to dig that hole and I’ve pretty much lost all interest in whether you’re going to stop digging before you hit the molten core. At this point about all you have left to do is write a Dear Muslima letter.

  • Just_A_Lurker

    Zengaze

    It was demonstrating a bad argument! Saying short skirts justify rape is a fucking bad argument! To believe that my comments warranted mocking, whilst holding that view requires cognitavie dissonance!

    You are making a joke of rape when you pull that shit.That’s rape apology. That’s victim blaming. That’s the shit I fight against as a feminist. You are not helping and not my fucking ally. You are part of the problem. JT defended you, that shows what side he is on.

    Do you defend Muslims, Mormons, and Christians when they blame women for earthquakes, rapes, etc for how they dress or are you just special in that regard? You and your comments deserve far worse than just mocking, they deserve the full attack of the shark tank, chum.

  • TwoPiDeltaIJ

    This is a very scattered post, and I am sorry for that. It is also not in response to a specific person, and so it might be viewed as a slight tangent, and I am sorry for that as well. I have been, for a fairly long time, a lurker in various atheist communities, and have only recently started to share my views. I really liked the previous post which then spawned the need for this post and was even (briefly) enjoying the commentary and considering joining in. My point in sharing is largely because I feel that my perspective on some things is apparently odd or perhaps just so naive that it is not discussed often, but also I think it should be pointed out that JT acted to make the blog more comfortable for some people and I happen to be amongst the people who were happy to see this post after reading the last one.

    I am moderately sure that some people reading what is below will think of it as either JAQing, a defense of JAQing, or some similarly frowned upon behavior. While I was familiar with this tactic in a debate/argumentation sense it is interesting to see it given what is I suppose meant to be a pejorative acronym. Consider this my sort of triggering warning to any of you that if these things bother you then stop reading here.

    I wonder how it is that voluntary participation in a relatively open forum requires that people avoid some words and phrases. The idea that someone must be owed a response online (in a relatively open forum) is false, participation is voluntary. There argument which has been put forward a few times (in this thread) that person X who is from what is an underprivileged group when not on a semi-anonymous online forum is sick and tired of answering a particular question, especially from person Y, therefore it is an acceptable act of aggression to be belligerent towards Y from X. I am not certain that the second follows from the first, for several reasons. Chief amongst these is that the belligerent response (the aggression) is still against the new policy as well as generally being poor argumentation (simply on principle). In addition, if the question is trivially answered through the use of google or links to other threads and has been answered by person X numerous times then either saying this (because Y might not know this) or ignoring Y both seem to be better responses from the point of “fairness” towards Y. X can not know the full set of privileges, disadvantages, etc. of person Y (that is the premise of all arguments involving privilege) and thus should (by the logic presented from the people arguing for the idea of taking privilege into account) assume that they could step on or trigger an irrational response from Y through aggression towards them.

    I am also curious about the label of ally. If it can be self granted by a person with more privilege than the person being allied with, what position is the person being allied with in (as far as social power or leverage) to demand a particular behavior from the ally? If the title can not be granted by the person who is to be an ally to themselves and can only be bestowed by someone of lower privilege, does this not grant them (automatically) an area of privilege? This second point relies upon the idea of an ally being of social value, which I thing it is perceived as being (though I do not understand why). If there is no social value in being an ally why does the position exist? I understand that there are underprivileged groups who gather some comfort from the idea (or hopefully the reality) of having public allies from outside their group, but to me the idea that I need the acceptance or approval of someone else for my position/prospective does not lend me any more power than I would have had if there were people who held a completely neutral position regarding my position/prospective.


    So, having asked a few questions (which I am reasonably sure will be viewed by some in a negative light) I would like to finish with one last one. Is it really pejorative to name something after a euphemism for masturbation? Should one be insulted by the insinuation that they masturbate? Should one be insulted for asking questions? Can you really read the intent of a person so well (over the internet no-less) that you can say with any reasonable certainty that they are arguing in bad faith, let alone asking questions in bad faith? The problem with human pattern recognition being as “good” as it is, is that it can hide reality from us. I would hate to infer that people are jumping at shadows and crying wolf, but then I would also hate to shame a person for asking questions of people they think could provide answers to them.

    • Robert B.

      Yes, that was rather odd and scattered. I’m going to focus in and answer only part of it, the part about being an ally.

      It seems to me that you’re missing the point of the concept of “ally.” There is a social aspect, but the real issue is ethical: certain disadvantaged groups, such as trans people, deserve equality. They struggle for it themselves, and some people from outside that group believe that the right thing to do is to help them. Those helpful outsiders are what we call allies. I think everyone would agree that the main point of being an ally is the ethical duty to give actual, practical help, not to have the social label of ally or to comfort the disadvantaged group by agreeing with them. So, the question of whether someone is an ally, or whether they’re acting like an ally in a particular instance, is not really a question of who can give a social label but a question of fact: is the supposed ally actually helping the cause? The reason that the disadvantaged group is more trusted to make that call is that they are the ones who best know their own goals, needs, and objectives, plus they’re in the best position to gauge what effect the potential ally’s actions are actually having for them.

      And by the way, to talk about the “privilege” of being trusted to judge who is and is not an ally as though you can compare that to male privilege or straight privilege or cis privilege, is to make a drastic error of scale. You’re talking about something on such a lower order of magnitude than what people usually mean by “privilege” that you’re apt to insult folks just by bringing it up.

    • John Morales

      TwoPiDeltaIJ:

      This is a very scattered post, and I am sorry for that.

      Apparently, either not sorry enough to care to unscatter it, or just incompetent at doing so.

      Which are you?

      It is also not in response to a specific person, and so it might be viewed as a slight tangent, and I am sorry for that as well.

      Fine. You’re a sorry specimen.

      I have been, for a fairly long time, a lurker in various atheist communities, and have only recently started to share my views.

      Of what relevance is your novice status?

      (I’m no novice, and that is equally irrelevant)

      I really liked the previous post which then spawned the need for this post and was even (briefly) enjoying the commentary and considering joining in.

      Irrelevant.

      My point in sharing is largely because I feel that my perspective on some things is apparently odd or perhaps just so naive that it is not discussed often, but also I think it should be pointed out that JT acted to make the blog more comfortable for some people and I happen to be amongst the people who were happy to see this post after reading the last one.


      Just as well you indicate your point, feeble as it is.

      And no, JT acted in the naive belief that it would do so.

      (And you’re happy because you’re also naive)

      I am moderately sure that some people reading what is below will think of it as either JAQing, a defense of JAQing, or some similarly frowned upon behavior.

      You cannot be “moderately sure”; you can be sure, or you can be confident in varying degrees.

      But your pre-emptive apologia (sincere or not as it may be) is duly noted.

      [1] While I was familiar with this tactic in a debate/argumentation sense it is interesting to see it given what is I suppose meant to be a pejorative acronym. [2] Consider this my sort of triggering warning to any of you that if these things bother you then stop reading here.

      1. Your supposition is, at best, unwarranted.

      2. You really are a novice!

      (Trigger warnings are supposed to be prominent, not buried in the middle of a paragraph in the middle of a comment)

      I wonder how it is that voluntary participation in a relatively open forum requires that people avoid some words and phrases.

      On what basis do you imagine this applies to this blog?

      Care to support this apparent straw dummy claim?

      The idea that someone must be owed a response online (in a relatively open forum) is false, participation is voluntary.

      On what basis do you imagine this applies to this blog?

      Care to support this apparent straw dummy claim?

      There argument which has been put forward a few times (in this thread) that person X who is from what is an underprivileged group when not on a semi-anonymous online forum is sick and tired of answering a particular question, especially from person Y, therefore it is an acceptable act of aggression to be belligerent towards Y from X.

      Your perception of the arguments so far adduced is duly noted, dim as it is.

      I am not certain that the second follows from the first, for several reasons. [blah blah]

      Your lack of certitude stems from your failure to comprehend the actual claims the arguments put forth.

      I am also curious about the label of ally. If it can be self granted by a person with more privilege than the person being allied with, what position is the person being allied with in (as far as social power or leverage) to demand a particular behavior from the ally? If the title can not be granted by the person who is to be an ally to themselves and can only be bestowed by someone of lower privilege, does this not grant them (automatically) an area of privilege? This second point relies upon the idea of an ally being of social value, which I thing it is perceived as being (though I do not understand why). If there is no social value in being an ally why does the position exist? I understand that there are underprivileged groups who gather some comfort from the idea (or hopefully the reality) of having public allies from outside their group, but to me the idea that I need the acceptance or approval of someone else for my position/prospective does not lend me any more power than I would have had if there were people who held a completely neutral position regarding my position/prospective.


      It’s not a tricky word; it means “An associate who provides cooperation or assistance”.

      Anyone can call themselves or anyone else an ally; but when those with whom this putative ally is supposedly allied deny it, the credibility of this claim is not the greatest.

      So, having asked a few questions (which I am reasonably sure will be viewed by some in a negative light) I would like to finish with one last one.

      Your pointlessly inane irrelevant (and mendacious [see below]) filler is duly noted, O loquacious one.

      Is it really pejorative to name something after a euphemism for masturbation?

      First establish your supposition, before you ask provocative questions for which you have apologised in advance.

      (Since you are an admitted novice, I tell you that you needn’t have asked this one before establishing whether your supposition had any merit, and thus you could have avoided doing that for which you have apologised in advance)

      Should one be insulted by the insinuation that they masturbate?

      That’s two questions.

      Should one be insulted for asking questions?

      That’s three questions.

      Can you really read the intent of a person so well (over the internet no-less) that you can say with any reasonable certainty that they are arguing in bad faith, let alone asking questions in bad faith?

      That’s four questions!

      The problem with human pattern recognition being as “good” as it is, is that it can hide reality from us.

      In your opinion. And by now, it’s pretty clear that your opinion is pretty worthless.

      I would hate to infer that people are jumping at shadows and crying wolf, but then I would also hate to shame a person for asking questions of people they think could provide answers to them.

      I don’t believe you, O proven liar.

    • TwoPiDeltaIJ

      Robert B:

      First, I did warn you. Thanks for replying to some of my comment (in spite of its odd and scattered nature).

      It is entirely possible I have missed the point of the intention of being an ally, though I would point out that it is a dodge of my question to totally ignore it as a false premise. To address what you wrote though: Ethical issues are going to have a lot of grey areas in a community as diverse as the atheist/freethought community. For instance, I for one see no ethical duty to assist someone with less privilege than my self. I do see an ethical duty to not stand in their way of obtaining equal status (to the best of my ability while continuing to exist). This could have the effect of requiring me to call out others for harming “the cause” of the marginalized group. It could also have the effect of requiring me to personally help “the cause” of the marginalized group. Neither of these is in my view an ethical duty or imperative. It would appear to be a sort of “white knight” behavior (to me). I would also agree that a person is best able to determine (presuming rationality) when other people are acting in their interest and to what degree, but I am not sure it extends well to groups which are not monolithic. That is a small point however and on the whole I agree with your point about who can best bestow the label, thank you. Your last point about my unintended potential insult is taken to heart, but I would ask then how one (and who is the one who gets to) determine(s) which positions of privilege are so far above others that talking about them similarly is insulting. I can recognize the examples you have listed as being target groups to be careful of making bad comparisons to/with but what about more similar levels of privilege (for instance between marginalized group members of slightly differing levels of privilege)?

      John Morales:

      Apparently, either not sorry enough to care to unscatter it, or just incompetent at doing so.

      As above, first, I did warn you, but I in fact wrote it the way I did because I wished to discuss a fairly wide array of things and not to address specific people but rather a lot of comments I had read. So, neither uncaring or incompetent, merely having a different goal than you appear to presume.


      Fine.  You’re a sorry specimen.

      I think that the use of specimen is intended to dehumanize me which is probably not a good tactic for a social activist representing marginalized groups.


      Of what relevance is your novice status? (I’m no novice, and that is equally irrelevant)

      Well, I see from above that some people consider context of comments important. That you do not is fine, though since I did not address you specifically I am not terribly sad that I happened to include one or two thoughts that you found slightly or totally off topic. In addition, if my mentioning that I am new to speaking up here is off topic and your mentioning that your NOT being new to speaking up here is very strange (since presumably you know better). The next line you quote from me is perhaps irrelevant to you, but I intended it to be read by JT and others to lend my support behind the idea of the OP which you address here:

      Just as well you indicate your point, feeble as it is. And no, JT acted in the naive belief that it would do so. (And you’re happy because you’re also naive)

      A feeble point is still having made a point, and I will take that. As to my being glad JT wrote the OP and took the actions described therein it is perhaps naive and you are welcome to think that I am, JT can speak for himself. I think naive is used as an insult here when perhaps you mean I am not cynical enough (for this blog or maybe the internet in general) but I think that the actions are in fact working since this thread has not devolved into the snake-pit of the last one.

      You cannot be “moderately sure”; you can be sure, or you can be confident in varying degrees.

      I think things of the nature of “fairly sure” are acceptable in colloquial use, and this would be a branch of that. If I were making a statement of a truly mathematical nature I would be sure to make more specific statements about certainty. I used what I thought would be an understood turn of phrase which would be mostly controversy free. Consider this particular storm in a teacup to be noted for the future.

      1. Your supposition is, at best, unwarranted.
      2. You really are a novice!
      (Trigger warnings are supposed to be prominent, not buried in the middle of a paragraph in the middle of a comment)

      If I were seriously warning someone of a potential trigger it might have been prominent. As it stands, I gave fair warning that people were going to be offended by what came next and should stop reading. I have actually done more than I think I need to by this point in the post to prevent potential grief on the part of others.
      The following response is given twice, and they have the same reply.

      On what basis do you imagine this applies to this blog? Care to support this apparent straw dummy claim?

      I presume voluntary participation to this forum applies to this blog because that is in fact the situation we are all in. Everyone navigated a browser to this post and chose to at least read this text. As to my support of this claim, it is the same as the claim because the claim was a truism. This particular truism has the effect however that people who find they are upset with comments can leave or not with no coercive effect. I think it is important to note that these problems arose from people who for whatever reason felt compelled to aggression against other voluntary members of a fairly loose social group. No one here (other than JT) can really demand anything from any of the rest of the people here since everyone is free to just wander away whenever they choose to. Even the powers granted to JT are based on the idea that people want to be here, not that they must be. So in this context, I think it is obvious what I meant by saying that ”the idea that someone must be owed a response online (in a relatively open forum) is false, participation is voluntary.”

      Your lack of certitude stems from your failure to comprehend the actual claims the arguments put forth.

      This is an excellent argument, with many valid points. Oh, wait. Much like the rest of your comment, this is just you complaining about an argument I made.

      It’s not a tricky word; it means “An associate who provides cooperation or assistance”. Anyone can call themselves or anyone else an ally; but when those with whom this putative ally is supposedly allied deny it, the credibility of this claim is not the greatest.

      See Robert B’s reply and mine that reply(above). The dictionary definition of ally is not confusing, and that is obviously not what I was implying (well, obvious to at least one other person).

      Your pointlessly inane irrelevant (and mendacious [see below]) filler is duly noted, O loquacious one.

      Ok. Do other people care when you critique them for this? I do not.

      First establish your supposition, before you ask provocative questions for which you have apologised in advance. (Since you are an admitted novice, I tell you that you needn’t have asked this one before establishing whether your supposition had any merit, and thus you could have avoided doing that for which you have apologised in advance)

      Well, oddly I had introduced my supposition all the way back at the beginning of my post while commenting on a supposed pejorative.
      The first two questions by your counting are a related question asked a few ways (and part why I warned people about possible misinterpretation of my post). The second tow of four questions were rhetorical (and also related) since they both have an obvious answer (of no incase that is unclear to you for some reason). So yes in a strict sense these are four separate questions. On the other hand, it is one question followed by more of my by now familiar locution. This was a re-visiting of the idea that perhaps some people are judging sincere questions as insincere for reasons of their own, but being wrong none the less.
I am a bit baffled as to why I am accused at several points of lying. Accusations of naiveté or ignorance are possibly sustainable, though I would argue not damnable. Accusations of lying seem, well, unfounded.

      On a slightly meta level, I think these two responses to me are an interesting view of what was being talked about in the OP. On the one hand, Robert B with whom I think I have some slight disagreements calmly and rationally responded with an argument to what I had said (minus the one thing I think was a sidestep). On the other hand John Morales responded by accusing me lying, presenting a straw-man argument, and naked ignorance.

      • John Morales

        TwoPiDeltaIJ:

        As above, first, I did warn you, but I in fact wrote it the way I did because I wished to discuss a fairly wide array of things and not to address specific people but rather a lot of comments I had read. So, neither uncaring or incompetent, merely having a different goal than you appear to presume.


        Irrelevant. This does not advance the conversation, does it?

        All it tells me is that you thought it best to do something worthy of an apology in pursuit of your goal, and that when I note that, you double-down.

        Your purported goal was, supposedly (here I quote you):
        “My point in sharing is largely because I feel that my perspective on some things is apparently odd or perhaps just so naive that it is not discussed often, but also I think it should be pointed out that JT acted to make the blog more comfortable for some people and I happen to be amongst the people who were happy to see this post after reading the last one.
”

        You could have achieved that goal by merely posting that very text I have quoted (less redundantly, you could have omitted your clarification that it supposedly was your point, since were it in fact so such clarification would be otiose); if it really was so, then all the rest was utterly irrelevant to it, and yet you believed that this extraneous stuff warranted an apology before the fact. Such an unnecessary apology, too!

        (You really don’t see how disingenuous that is, do ya?)

        On a slightly meta level, I think these two responses to me are an interesting view of what was being talked about in the OP.

        “Slightly meta”?

        <snicker>

        It’s pathetic that I feel I should explain to you that that’s kinda like being “moderately certain”.

        (bah)

      • John Morales

        I think naive is used as an insult here when perhaps you mean I am not cynical enough (for this blog or maybe the internet in general) but I think that the actions are in fact working since this thread has not devolved into the snake-pit of the last one.

        Such ignorance!

        No. Go find a dictionary, and peruse the entry for that term which you so clearly misunderstand, and become aware of its most primary senses.

        (You are not worthy of my insults, yet)

      • John Morales

        So yes in a strict sense these are four separate questions. On the other hand, it is one question followed by more of my by now familiar locution.

        Such sophistry!

        Yes, they are, in fact four separate questions, O tap-dancing one.

      • John Morales

        On the other hand John Morales responded by accusing me lying, presenting a straw-man argument, and naked ignorance.

        Behold my accusation:
        “On what basis do you imagine this applies to this blog?

        Care to support this apparent straw dummy claim?”

        (Such spin!)

      • Robert B.

        Oh, please do not confuse courtesy with agreement, our disagreements are more than slight.

        Here’s one:

        Ethical issues are going to have a lot of grey areas in a community as diverse as the atheist/freethought community. For instance, I for one see no ethical duty to assist someone with less privilege than my self.

        You can’t just declare independence from ethics like that, and decide that your duties are different from everyone else’s. That’s not a “grey area,” that’s called “being an asshole.” What gives you the right to say you have no obligation toward those you have been arbitrarily advantaged over? Why is it that your ethical duties permit you to blithely accept, and thereby perpetuate, your unearned dominant position? Do you think that just because you have something, you are automatically entitled to keep it, like a five-year-old playing finders-keepers with human rights? Do you think your god has granted you your superior status, somehow making your privilege right and deserved?

        Do you think you’re better than me?

        Or do you just not know what the word “privilege” means?

        If you don’t care for being accused of naked ignorance, then I suggest you put some pants on. As long as you continue this obliviously self-righteous pontification, the other part is unlikely to change.

        • TwoPiDeltaIJ

          I do not think I confused courtesy with agreement, though I do appreciate your courtesy. I can see how my statement could be read in that way. To clarify, I would suggest that most of the things we probably agree on are not really germane to this thread of conversation (but are likely reasons we both were reading it to comment on it in the first place), and that even here we are probably not as far apart as it may appear.

          As to declaring an independence from ethics, I would ask you who or what has imposed them upon you (or me)? I, in fact, do presume you are my equal. That is why I also presume you do not need me to be your ally, as I do not think I need you as mine. This is where an obligation would be formed, if I did think that one of us needed the other as an ally to be equal. I think this is our point of contention. I also willingly cede that as far as socio-economic power goes not all people are equal and some of them could use help reaching acceptable levels of equality.

I get to blithely accept my supposedly dominant position because I am not capable of shedding most of my privileges (except for those related to personal wealth). Why would I not accept something as true that you and I both already agree is true? I do not mean to imply it does not effect my actions at all. I did intend to be clear that I do not see it as an ethical imperative in all instances that I act in someone else’s favor for things I have no control over (and neither do they).

          I am honestly unmoved by the accusations made against me (other than puzzlement at how some of what I have written is apparently being read, though that is not by you). I will not of course claim to be an expert in any or all social justice issues, but I do posses at least a passing familiarity with some of it (beyond what has been discussed in this and other FTB posts). I also honestly held the questions I asked, and I am quite happy to have a rational discussion about them (and perhaps find answers from the people I discuss them with). I do have slight disagreements stemming from my beliefs in voluntary (non-coerced) participation of individuals in the social contract you (and others) are attempting to make the norm. I do not disagree with your goal, only some of the methods I see in use (not necessarily by you, since we have been discussing what I consider to be a hypothetical position and doing so with civility).

          • Robert B.

            Actions speak louder than words. You talk about considering us equal, but the rights and opportunities and benefits we are granted by society are not equal. And you flat out say that you don’t see the need to do anything to fix that. You can’t just look surprised and say “but what do you need my help with?” and ignore the entrenched, centuries-old systems that give gay people like me, mentally ill/neurodiverse people like me, less than other people get, do worse by us than to other people, for no good reason. (Not to mention women and trans people and people of color and disabled people, underprivileged groups that I am not in.) Assuming that you are straight and neurotypical, (not to mention male and cis and white and able-bodied) by not working against your own privilege, you are taking these unfair benefits and treatment, you are receiving and using them, like receiving stolen goods from a thief. And then you’re turning to me with an innocent look on your face and saying “But what do you need from me? I’m not doing anything wrong, I think everyone’s equal.” But you’re not acting like it. You are participating, by your acquiescence, in my oppression.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            All of this does little more than remind me of the bizarre Objectivist view that all people somehow started out equal, and so no person benefits from any other person or should be obligated by ethics to assist other people. It’s little more than the social equivalent of how Republicans scream “BOOTSTRAPS!” at every poor person they encounter, because, hey, everyone’s got bootstraps, right? (Hint: no, they don’t.) I mean, if you, or anyone else, are willing to accept benefits that were basically accrued through how minority groups have been repeatedly stomped on throughout history, and you don’t feel as if that gives you any responsibility to try to lift up the people whose suffering has resulted in your benefit, then that is certainly your decision. Just don’t expect people to call it ethical, or correct.

          • TwoPiDeltaIJ

            I will respond in the order of replies, since I could not seem to nest each reply directly to the comments.

            Robert B
            I would first state that you do not know much about me, nor do I intend to disclose all that much about me. You are (obviously) free to assume what you want. You are (also obviously) free to judge me from my actions of speaking to you civilly (which I think is all you can hold me to, as that is all the overlap we have had to my knowledge). You may, of course, still decide that I am somehow wronging you. If I were content with entrenched, centuries-old systems do you think I would consider myself an activist within the atheist community? I think it would be a bit silly of me to rage for the machine. Where I take issue is that you demand that what I would like is not as important as what you would like to have happen, when I think they are equally important. In the current system I think we agree that neither you nor I could shed our privileges (with the exception again of those related to wealth). So really, acknowledging that the world is not fair and then going back to the job of changing it is really all I think anyone can ask a person to do. While we do that though, I am not sure you (or anyone) gets to demand that I do it your (or their) way.

            jenniferforester
            FIrst, I would never have considered it an attack to respond to a person with a shortened (but recognizable) chunk of a nym, so thank you for pointing that out as I am occasionally tempted to do this (out of laziness).

            Then, on to what you said to me:
            I could reiterate what I have already said I suppose. I am not claiming Objectivism or yelling “BOOTSTRAPS!” either (nor have I hinted about a political affiliation). I would like you to clarify this sentence because I am having trouble parsing it for what you mean:

            I mean, if you, or anyone else, are willing to accept benefits that were basically accrued through how minority groups have been repeatedly stomped on throughout history, and you don’t feel as if that gives you any responsibility to try to lift up the people whose suffering has resulted in your benefit, then that is certainly your decision.

            I think what you are saying is that due to privilege I could have (coming from being in a historically powerful group) you feel it is unethical for me to feel no responsibility to help people who have been historically (or I presume currently are being) marginalized. Ok, that is what I was discussing, and I think I have explained why I disagree. I showed where I think an obligation would be formed and why I disagree that one exists. I also freely admit that my viewpoint is odd (at least it appears to be by comparison) and that I did not expect you to hold my view, but I am glad you are willing to discuss it with me. I would also like an explanation of why you think I am wrong in my view. I would point out, that the reason I think I have not seen this so far is that I have been told my choice of ethical grounding is unethical, and I have been told that basically my views are affiliated with groups that are traditionally not liked in this and similar blogs. Neither of those are arguments that would change your mind I think, and similarly they have not changed mine.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            TwoPiDeltaJ @4:58: I tend to use long nyms, or shortened versions that are not diminutives (where you add -y or -ie to the end), because I prefer to honor what someone has made clear they wish to be called. This is especially important in the case of nyms that are clearly actual names, as mine is. I have never once had someone call me “Jenny,” when I have obviously chosen to go by “Jennifer,” without their intent being to diminish me in some way. Being treated like a child does not incline me to further conversation with a person, and I stopped going by “Jenny” at seven years old for a reason. People who try to reduce me to a diminutive that is commonly attributed to children always, always, always have an ulterior motive for doing so.

            On privilege and duty: Whether you acknowledge it or not, the ways in which you have it easy in society are predicated upon others having it hard in those areas. Let’s say, to give a very extreme and clear-cut example, that I lived in the South in the 1950s. Let’s say that I was a white woman and did not personally hold any racist views, but did not discuss race. The fact of the matter would be that black men were (and are–cough, Trayvon Martin) being lynched by those who claimed to have my best interests at heart. Black men were (and sometimes still are) lynched in order to protect white people from their purported criminal intent. This is particularly true about white women, whose honor has so often been the question in lynchings. If men around me were being lynched in the name of my “honor,” do you not think that I would be duty-bound to decry the actions of those who claimed to wish to speak for me? After all, the relative safety in which I lived would be predicated upon the blood of black men who were murdered in its name. They would live in fear so that I would not.

            That is an extreme example of privilege: others living with the fear of violence so that I could live without the fear of it (whether or not whatever fear I may hold would be valid).

            Forgive me if that is poorly detailed; I am also dealing with a fussy five-year-old in my lap right now and am not thinking particularly clearly. I hope it is clear in the analogy that I do not believe that white women were, or are, in any more danger of violence from black men than anyone else.

          • TwoPiDeltaIJ

            jenniferforester:
            Thank you for the clarification (again), that is not something which I would have thought to cause as much ire as it clearly does.

            As far as privilege and duty towards others goes:
            I am not sure that comfort is a closed system such that any benefit I have can be traced directly to the suffering of another, but that is something of an aside. In your specific analogy I would consider it the moral duty of the woman to be clear to those who will kill the black male that they are acting against her wishes by condemning someone innocent of a crime to a punishment. I would not consider it an ethical (or moral) imperative for the woman to demand others near her behave in any particular way, merely that she be clear in what she would like them to do (how she would like them to act). This goes back to my odd ideas about voluntary interaction. I think that if the woman in question were to coerce behavior though an agressive act to achieve her goal of helping the black man she has committed an unethical act in the service of an ethical goal. Unless she is the one killing the black man the blame does not rest on her.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            TwoPiDeltaIJ @ 5:34: But the point isn’t that they are doing it to protect me specifically. They are protecting me as just one part of the institution of White Womanhood, and the men that they are attacking aren’t individual black men to them; they are The Rampaging Horde. That means that the dismantling of the institutions that permit lynching requires a dismantling of White Womanhood and Whiteness in general from within, rather than a simple apathy and speaking out against individual cases that might directly involve me. These problems are institutionalized; they are much bigger than just one person.

            Similarly, as half of a straight married couple, it would be easy for me to say that I am not personally homophobic, but my marriage is what the asshats are talking about when they want to Protect Traditional Marriage, and my Traditional Marriage [TM] is something that I have at the indirect expense of same-sex couples as a result. That means that, rather than simply sitting back on my laurels of insurance benefits and tax breaks and emergency room guarantees and saying that I don’t personally have a problem with gay people, I had better fight tooth and nail against people who claim to speak in protection of the institution in which I am involved. (There is also a lot to be said about the morality of being involved in something that others can’t have, but my not having insurance would not benefit queer folk and I tend to take a harm-benefit matrix on this sort of thing.) I did not choose to be involved in Whiteness, Straightness, or Cisness, but there are people willing to enact violence upon the bodies of others in order to protect my Whiteness, Straightness, and Cisness, and that means that, if I want to actually do any good for people who do not benefit from those things, I had better speak up at the top of my lungs. These things have to be dismantled from within as well as without.

          • TwoPiDeltaIJ

            jenniferforester
            I am not sure that the intent of the people persecuting others is really germane to judging the harm of the action. The action is harmful even if the intent was not, the action was harmful if it was committed directly for one person or for the idea of a people. I also have already agreed that being vocal about opposition is certainly the correct (ethically speaking) action of the woman involved. I am not yet convinced that this must necessarily then extend to all women who could be involved because I think setting this as an ethical or moral absolute for all people of any given group but not others is simply another harm inflicted through coerced action.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

            I also have already agreed that being vocal about opposition is certainly the correct (ethically speaking) action of the woman involved. I am not yet convinced that this must necessarily then extend to all women who could be involved because I think setting this as an ethical or moral absolute for all people of any given group but not others is simply another harm inflicted through coerced action.

            I will make my own position on this perfectly clear, although it is far from universal:

            If you, or any person of privilege in any given situation, are aware of ways in which others are being oppressed and in which you might indirectly benefit from that oppression, it is incumbent on you to speak out against it because the harm that this “coercion” does to you is infinitely less than the harm that is inflicted daily, through microaggressions (psychological damage is important) and through outright violence, against oppressed peoples. If you are aware of this and if you consciously choose to ignore the fact that others are suffering and you benefit from it, then you have their blood on your hands. You cannot reject the privilege that you have been handed, and it is counterproductive to simply wring your hands about having privilege. However, it is absolutely morally incumbent upon anyone who would claim to have an ounce of empathy or human decency to use their privilege to the benefit of others rather than resting on their laurels. This idea, that it is “coercion” to expect someone to act like a fucking human being and get up off of their ass in order to advocate for a group of people that suffers, like it or not, at their expense, is akin to the Objectivist idea that charity and social welfare programs are theft. That is why I connected your original post to that philosophy, and your views so far sound like a social (I can make no economic judgments here) Objectivism, and it’s repulsive to me. If you think that it is worse, a greater moral harm, to be “coerced” into considering how you might benefit from others’ harm (even if you did not personally do it), then you are a social Objectivist. Congratulations.

            My patience is done with this conversation as of this comment. I feel like I’ve indulged the JAQing to my fullest. Someone else take over if you feel so inclined, please.

          • TwoPiDeltaIJ

            jenniferforester
            I realize you have said you are done with this conversation, so I will not continue along in the discussion we were having. I would however like to address a couple things you said at the end of your comment.

            I do not consider it an insult to be labeled an Objectivist and while it is not an entirely accurate moniker for my world view I the distinctions between it and my views are nuanced. I do happen to think that coercing people into behavior is a fairly large moral harm (since I think that our interactions operate under a different social contract than you seem to want people to adhere to). I also think that neither you nor I get to dictate what it is to be “acting like a human being” (fucking or otherwise) and what is not. The idea that my worldview is repulsive to you is, of course, a disappointment. I doubt either of us is going to change our views from one conversation about that and this is probably not the thread to have that conversation in anyway. Also as a side note Objectivists typically do not think charity is theft unless it is mandated charity since the mandate is what removes the moral good from the act in addition to being its own kind of harm (since it carries a threat of violence for non-compliance).

            Thank you for a series of insightful and polite responses. I think my questions and responses have been in good faith. I have listened to what you had to say, and while I do not disagree with its reasonableness I am still in some disagreement (though again I think it is a matter of degree since we have a very similar goal).

          • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

            Wow, that was an extremely long and pretentious way to say “I got mine, so fuck you!”

            Duly noted. I can safely ignore any opinion you may have from here on out. And Thank Zod too, getting through your TL : DR bullshit is almost physically exhausting.

      • John Morales

        As it stands, I gave fair warning that people were going to be offended by what came next and should stop reading. I have actually done more than I think I need to by this point in the post to prevent potential grief on the part of others.

        Your satisfaction is more important than others’ offense, but not so much so that it’s beneath you to proclaim your sorrow for your actions in pursuit of your chosen goal, where you even went out of your way to do more than you thought you needed to do.

        Got it.

        (Such entitlement!)

      • John Morales

        If I were seriously warning someone of a potential trigger it might have been prominent.

        Your admission is duly noted.

      • John Morales
        I wonder how it is that voluntary participation in a relatively open forum requires that people avoid some words and phrases.

        On what basis do you imagine this applies to this blog?

        Care to support this apparent straw dummy claim?

        I presume voluntary participation to this forum applies to this blog because that is in fact the situation we are all in.
        [...]
        So in this context, I think it is obvious what I meant by saying that ”the idea that someone must be owed a response online (in a relatively open forum) is false, participation is voluntary.”

        (Sophistry is sophistic)

        I submit that “the idea that someone must be owed a response online” was introduced by you, and that you have just futilely tried to avoid substantiating my contention that it’s an apparent straw dummy.

        Care to try again?

      • TwoPiDeltaIJ

        This does not advance the conversation, does it?

        Has anything you have said advanced the conversation? I think I was (and maybe still am) having a very nice (or at least polite) discussion with Robert B. Do you require that all others posts answer this question in the affirmative at every line? If you do require that (since that is what you have implied), how does one enforce that on someone else’s blog?

        All it tells me is that you thought it best to do something worthy of an apology in pursuit of your goal, and that when I note that, you double-down.

        The phrase can also be used to keep locution passive. I am not sure why it irritates you so.

        You could have achieved that goal by merely posting that very text I have quoted (less redundantly, you could have omitted your clarification that it supposedly was your point, since were it in fact so such clarification would be otiose); if it really was so, then all the rest was utterly irrelevant to it, and yet you believed that this extraneous stuff warranted an apology before the fact.  Such an unnecessary apology, too! (You really don’t see how disingenuous that is, do ya?)

        Well, I could have stopped there if I had already shared my odd prospective but I had not, so I did not. I do not think this is disingenuous, no.

        “Slightly meta”? <snicker> It’s pathetic that I feel I should explain to you that that’s kinda like being “moderately certain”.

        I again disagree with your need for a strict definition here, since the “level” at which the comment was made was both an overarching observation and a completion of the internal thought of the post. As to what it is pathetic for you to fee, I am no judge. If you think you are feeling pathetic, so be it.

        Such ignorance! No.  Go find a dictionary, and peruse the entry for that term which you so clearly misunderstand, and become aware of its most primary senses.

        The dictionary I consulted happened to agree with my thoughts on the idea of naiveté, namely that it is either a lack of wisdom or an abundance of innocence (one of these would be a lack of cynicism). The lack of wisdom interpretation which I presume you are using can not really be cured by your ravings or reading from a dictionary but rather by participation (which I am doing, though you seem to not like that I am).

        (You are not worthy of my insults, yet)

        This implies hope for the future and value for your insults. I have one (in no real relation to you) but not the other.

        Such sophistry! Yes, they are, in fact four separate questions, O tap-dancing one.

        I am think my explanation was reasonable and thus not sophistry, at worst you could accuse me of inability to count to four in this instance. I think it is not unreasonably challenging to understand what I meant though.

        Really. (Such bafflement!)

        Yes, I am still baffled. You have yet to point to a lie (other than perhaps a miscounting though I have already commented on that).

        Your satisfaction is more important than others’ offense, but not so much so that it’s beneath you to proclaim your sorrow for your actions in pursuit of your chosen goal, where you even went out of your way to do more than you thought you needed to do. Got it. (Such entitlement!)

        What I think I am entitled to do is post here so long as JT allows me to, the same as the rest of you.

        I submit that “the idea that someone must be owed a response online” was introduced by you, and that you have just futilely tried to avoid substantiating my contention that it’s an apparent straw dummy. Care to try again?

        Are you contending that you are here under duress (or that anyone else is) or that someone (presumably the same person forcing you to be here) is making you post comments or replies? I made an uncontentious claim that you got here the same way I did, and everyone else here. The comment was prompted by the various arguments above involving a person having answered a question some large number of times and then upon being asked again lashing out (I think I have already pointed this out, see my original post).

        • John Morales
          This does not advance the conversation, does it?

          Has anything you have said advanced the conversation

          tu quoque

          I think I was (and maybe still am) having a very nice (or at least polite) discussion with Robert B.

          <snicker>

          Do you require that all others posts answer this question in the affirmative at every line? If you do require that (since that is what you have implied), how does one enforce that on someone else’s blog?

          So many questions!

          I require nothing, what I do is make comments.

          (Surely you’re not de-railing! ;))

          All it tells me is that you thought it best to do something worthy of an apology in pursuit of your goal, and that when I note that, you double-down.
          The phrase can also be used to keep locution passive. I am not sure why it irritates you so.

          (Such futility!)

          You deny that you thought it best to do something worthy of an apology in pursuit of your goal, though your very words are on record.

          That you mistake derision for irritation is kinda cute, but wrong.

        • John Morales

          What I think I am entitled to do is post here so long as JT allows me to, the same as the rest of you.

          This is the crux.

          You are utterly wrong; it is a privilege* to post here, not an entitlement.

          (This is true of any personal blog)

          * Perhaps JT will think I abuse it, and ban me.

          (I have ostensibly followed the rules)

      • John Morales

        [can't resist]

        So, neither uncaring or incompetent, merely having a different goal than you appear to presume.


        What goal is it that you imagine I presume you hold?

        (At most, I quoted your purported point in posting)

  • John Morales

    I am a bit baffled as to why I am accused at several points of lying.

    Really.

    (Such bafflement!)

  • John Morales

    [meta]

    So, if after my little effort tonight JT still doesn’t get the point, at least I tried.

    (Enough is enough)

    • theoblivionmachine

      John, you deserve a medal for effort, Robert B. as well.
      Evidence @ comment #27

  • Laurence

    How is one to tell whether a person is “Just Asking Questions” or whether a person is just curious and honestly asking questions? I know that if I have an honest question about someone’s position, I will just go ahead and ask the question to try to understand that person’s position. Am I entitled to an answer to my question? No, but I don’t think I deserve scorn and insults for simply asking a question.

    • carlie

      First, stop and think a moment. Is this a question that might already have been answered elsewhere in the conversation? If you haven’t read the entire conversation up to that point, stop and read it. It’s rude to interrupt a conversation and ask people to repeat everything they’ve already been saying in person, and it’s just as rude on a comment thread.

      Second, think if this is a question that could be or has possibly been answered online somewhere else. Use Bing. Or Google. See what you can find.

      Third, if you think your question has actually not been answered anywhere else, or is very specific to the person you are asking, go ahead and ask, but you’ll get better reception if you frame your question by way of what you already know or think you know, to indicate that you have put a little thought into it.

      Fourth, don’t be like this guy. Ask once, ask for clarification if you need to, but don’t harp on it. The world is not your personal tutor, sitting around waiting for you to control the conversation.

      Fifth, it would be polite to say thanks after you get your answer.

      • Laurence

        I think all of your points are really helpful although I have a small issue with #2. The internet is a huge place and sometimes it’s hard to find an answer to a specific question even with the power of Google or Bing. And sometimes search engines will give you an answer that isn’t the same as the people in the comments section would give you. But despite that small disagreement, I really appreciate your response. Thank you. :-)

        • carlie

          I had tried to add another reply before you did, but something ate my internet and required an entire computer restart to get them to play nicely again.

          I didn’t really answer your question, I don’t think – it was more how to recognize them than how not to be mistaken for one. To recognize, it’s more looking for the person who, after asking the question, keeps asking variants of it without showing any evidence of having read the answers already directed right at them. Or, alternately, says that anything that’s been provided doesn’t really answer the question, or doesn’t have enough merit for them to believe. It’s more of a “yeah, but…” thing.

          My 2 is more for general questions, rather than the specific topic-based ones here, I guess. I’ve gotten some interesting hits on random questions into search bars, though. Just typing “why are trans people so angry” gave me some pretty good essays. I think all of the points I was making were along the lines of just showing some good faith effort – asking a question, particularly an emotionally difficult one, can be a lot of effort for someone to answer (especially if they’ve been asked it a dozen times already), so showing that you’re willing to do some work to understand goes a long way towards good will.

          • ischemgeek

            For me, at the extremes, it’s the difference between someone who asks a few questions, takes the time to read the stuff you link them to, and puts time and thought into carefully considered replies and comments; versus someone who is willfully obtuse, intentionally provocative, and purposefully asks questions designed to irritate you into leaving the conversation so they can claim victory.

            Have you ever been in a class with that annoying little shit who would ask questions for the sake of disrupting class and trying to provoke the teacher into a reaction? It’s like that, only the annoying little shit is a grown-up with life experience to know how to be more subtle about their provocation, and more often than not the annoying little shit is the one with the power.

            In other words, it’s the difference between someone who wants to partake in meaningful conversation and someone who wants to “win” the conversation through sophistry.

            In other other words, you don’t get pissed off at a toddler asking an endless series of “Why?”s. It might be a bit tiring, but you know the kid is just trying to learn, and you’re a grownup and therefore omnicient to the kid. You would, however, get annoyed with a bratty thirteen-year-old asking an endless series of “Why?”s to be rude. One genuinely wants to know. The other wants to waste your time. And once you’ve dealt with both types, it’s pretty easy to tell them apart.

  • embertine

    This thread makes me sad. Except the bit where JT tells us all what a super-duper ally he is and if we don’t like it we can just piss off, which makes me angry. No-one gets to define their own ally status, and particulaly not use it to silence the group they are supposedly supporting.

    Josh and Daisy are inflammatory, rude and even obnoxious sometimes. Good on ‘em, say I, even when I don’t agree with them. If they’re being banned for creating a kerfuffle, then it’s only fair to look carefully at what set them off and see if there is more to it. Letting the banhammer fall only on one side is not being a very good ally.

  • Rawnaeris

    Yep. I now officially hate nested comments.

    JT, your blog, your rules. That is obvious.

    However, along with many other posters, I am going to say your current rule scheme is going to silence many worthy posters and encourage many insincere assholes who are talented at subtle trolling.

    I will probably keep reading your mental health posts, as I also suffer from some forms of mental illness. Unfortunately, my insurance is such that I cannot get them diagnosed professionally.
    One of the folks you banned right at the start of this went out of their way to help me in RL, even though they didn’t know me, when I was having a bad time dealing with my panic attacks.

    When a banning policy results in good people getting the banhammer, and JAQoffs getting a pass, it is probably time to sit back and review why you did the bans, and what your policy is.

  • ischemgeek

    I see both sides of this issue. On one hand, people being hostile (even if provoked) is derailing to threads (to pull an example from the thread in question, if the discussion turns from “Is what Obama’s lukewarm support of gay marriage a good thing?” to a flame war about whether or not the OP is a good ally, that’s a derail, whether or not it was intentional).

    On the other hand, question-trolling is a big and real issue. I got into an argument once with a relative of mine. He opined that we live in an enlightened era and don’t have to worry about things like sexism or racism anymore. I replied that he was wrong, because of common stats on wage disparity, hiring prejudice, etc. I finished with an anecdote about sports team funding at my high school (boys varsity got all the new uniforms, which were handed down through boys junior varsity, then girls’ varsity and finally girls’ junior varsity – so by the time girls got uniforms, they were quite worn. Likewise, equipment and practice times were assigned in those orders of preference). He asked, “What makes you think it was sexism?”

    I replied that treating girls and boys unequally was the definition of sexism.

    He asked, “Well, what if it was just a mistake? Like, if they assign funding and resources based on talent – by which I mean how well they perform – and that’s just the way it works out?”

    I explained that if you give people less time to practice, shoddy equipment and apathetic coaches, of course they’ll perform less well, and therefore the situation was guaranteeing poorer performance of girls teams even if that was the reasoning behind it, but it wasn’t. The policy explicitly stated this order of hand-me-down.

    He asked, “Well, how do you know they intended in a sexist manner?”

    And I explained that intention didn’t matter, the situation was sexist.

    He said, “Well, don’t the girls still get stuff to work with? How is that sexist?”

    And so on, and so forth. Our argument went around in circles, with him getting more amused and me getting more irritated for an hour before I cut it short. How sexist? -> Explanation of sexism -> question about intention -> explanation that intention doesn’t matter if the situation is sexist -> disregarding of explanation, variation on “how is it sexist?” -> etc.

    And that’s question trolling in a nutshell: No matter how well you frame your argument, someone will be able to pick a part of it to ask “just another question” about it. And when you finally pick up and leave, they assert that you couldn’t answer their question and therefore they must be right and you must be wrong. Even if you just picked up and left because you recognized that this would be an endless loop if you didn’t stop it. And if you get irritated, they can pretend that you’re the unreasonable one because they’re “just asking questions.”

    I’d ask that if you’re going to declare that flying off the handle is not okay (and that’s perfectly understandable), then if certain users make a habit of asking the same questions over and over and over and over (or variations on those questions), and of being purposefully obtuse, they should get a warning for being deliberately provocative. After all, a question troll derails a thread every bit as much as someone flying off the handle. They’re just less blatant about it.

    • julian

      And if you get irritated, they can pretend that you’re the unreasonable one because they’re “just asking questions.”

      And then allies pop in at the tail end and decide you’re being mean and a poor representative/advocate.

      • ischemgeek

        I get the impression it’s less a case of allies being insensitive clods and more a case of a middle-of-the-road fallacy at play: People like to assume the truth on issues is somewhere in between opposing arguments. So if A gets pissed at B and storms off, A’s assumed to be at least partly at fault unless proven otherwise.

        Which I admit is often a safe-ish assumption to make. But first of all, there’s a reason they have that saying about assumptions. And second, it’s also a big part of why people who are sexually harrassed at work and kids who are bullied have a hard time getting it addressed properly.

        But, then, walk in on a pair of elementary school aged siblings fighting and see how long it takes you to fall prey to the same fallacy. I’m sure everyone who has siblings can remember at least a time or two from their childhood when their parents assumed the fault was equal and it actually wasn’t.

    • ischemgeek

      As a note, I forgot to mention this earlier, but: Unless the conversation is entirely private, it’s not simply a matter of ignoring questions you don’t feel like answering. Social interactions don’t happen in a vacuum.

      Let’s consider a hypothetical situation: A is pro-choice, while B is one of those anti-choicers who doesn’t want to be seen publicly as anti-choice, and so makes derisive comments designed to turn people against women who need abortion, all the while proclaiming to the hills that B is pro-choice – just not pro-convenience-baby-killing. C is undecided but was an unwanted oops baby born before abortion was legal and has some baggage about it in an existential “would I still be here if abortion was legal?” way. D is an undecided male with some serious misogyny going on. E and F have no firm attitude, but are ambivelent. A knows B but has never talked abortion with B before, while C, D, E, and F are strangers to A.

      Fairly early in the argument, it will become obvious that B and D are lost causes. D will, by his own admission, choose anything that makes things harder for “those female-supremist feminazis” and tries to equate abortion with child support, saying that if the woman has the right to choose abortion, a man should have the right to choose not to pay. Pointing out that the non-physical-custodial parent is the one that pays, plus that condoms and vasectomies are options D is not considering results in a rant about how A is either a man-hating feminazi or an [insert slur here about men who aren't macho enough] depending on A’s gender. B is just JAQing off. C, E, and F, on the other hand, might be convinced.

      In this sort of a situation, if A ignores B’s questions, B can claim that A doesn’t really know the issue and that B is just erring on the side of caution because B doesn’t know the issue either and is therefore “just asking questions”, thus framing the issue as one where abortion being legal is the riskier of the two options. D could claim that A doesn’t really care about abortion – because if A cared, A would know these things – and therefore is just out to push men down.

      Thus, even if B is question trolling and A knows B is question trolling, it behooves A to let hir day be derailed by B’s JAQing – more to show C, E, and F that there is a well-supported argument on the side of abortion out there than to actually engage with B or D. B’s JAQing will become obvious to observers over time (moreso in person than online, I admit), which is when A can safely disengage by pointing out that B is being intellectually dishonest in hir discourse – not actually questioning to learn something, but rather asking leading questions with the intention of pissing off or tripping up A, essentially trying to argue through questions. B will of course retort that he’s JAQing, but most observers won’t be fooled.

      Which is why people usually JAQ off when there’s an audience. If their chosen target doesn’t have time or inclination to entertain them, they can claim victory (“well, if you can’t answer this one little question, you obviously haven’t thought it through very much! I haven’t either, which is why I’d like to err on the side of preserving life”). If the target gets irritated with their intellectual dishonesty and leaves, they can claim victory (“Anyone who gets that upset when their view is questioned is obviously not very secure in their beliefs!”). And if someone loses their temper but stays in the discussion, they can say “I’m just asking questions. Don’t know what you’re so annoyed about.” and play the victim. In real life, this strategy is often supplemented by asking a barrage of questions and not giving enough time to answer any of them and by raising straw men in the questions. Online, usually they stick to just raising straw men because you can spend as much time as you like making your responses and they can’t cut you off.

      The reason why I’m for warning and if necessary banning those who make a habit of JAQing is that JAQing is a technique of sophistry, not serious debate. JAQers turn the discussion from the original topic to any of a number of inane minor details largely irrelevant to the main topic. In case of abortion, a common JAQing off question might be, “So are you saying it’s okay for someone to use abortion as primary birth control and cost our taxpayers thousands of dollars a year?” This (which only applies in places with taxpayer-funded abortion, I admit) turns the conversation from abortion itself to a discussion of abortion statistics and/or whether or not raising that hypothetical is slut-shaming, depending on how A responds. “Are you saying babies aren’t people?” would be another one. Or “Don’t you think people who act irresponsibly should have to deal with the consequences?” And so on.

      These questions are not designed to further debate. They’re designed to trick A into conceding some part of B’s argument for B. In the case of the last question, if A answers that having an abortion is a consequence, then A is conceding B’s false assertation that women who have abortions are always irresponsible. If A answers that whether or not the person is irresponsible doesn’t matter, B can claim that A is saying it’s okay to escape consequences of bad behavior. If A tries to answer both in a face-to-face situation, B will cut A off. In the second one, if A says fetuses aren’t babies/people, B will claim A was ignoring the question. If A says of course babies are people, B will ask how A can justify murder to avoid stretch marks.

      I’m using an extreme example to illustrate my point, but you don’t have to go far for almost-as-extreme cases: if you look at some of the debates on this site – particularly ones where affirmative action or anti-harrassment policies are discussed – you’ll see a lot of JAQers in the comment threads.

      • Eidolon

        Chemgeek -
        Thanks for the comments on JAQing off. It took a bit for me to grok that term, BTW. I have encountered this a number of times and it’s rather like the “Do you still beat your wife?” question. You know there’s something wrong with it but it may not be immediately clear.

        • ischemgeek

          It’s a pun for the acronym of Just Asking Questions – pronounce it phonetically, and it sounds like “jack”.

  • B-Lar

    My brain is sometimes a bit slower than most of you guys and I find it a bit hard to keep up… I discovered that coming out of the woodwork on any point of contention is unwise.

    I would love to have an exchange of ideas, but I found that Daisy and others would rather crush anything that roughly resembles an enemy than take any time to engage, (and I know, I know, I know there is only so much politeness to go around in a world where your enemies are everywhere…) so I just lurk now and try to get an overview without taking part.

    I think its guys like me that JT is trying to help out with this post.

    I think that much like the privileged ones are unable to see their privilege untill it is pointed out, there are some farmers of sacred cows who will be unable to see any other way of life other than farming. I understand that this is an unpopular sentiment, but I share it anyway. We should be able to criticise anything to see if it holds up under its own weight… Is this not the spirit of skepticism?

    I think that all of the issues on this can be resolved by trying to understand the point of view of others. I think everyone has this responsibility. Not just the minority or majority.

    I still like JT, and I dont think he needs to apologise, even for the rape analogy thing. I wont be cancelling my subscription today. The only thing I think he made a mistake with is branding himself as an ally. You can be called an ally, but never call yourself one.

    • Happiestsadist

      Hey dude, that’s really kind of you not to be offended by threatening rape jokes, and to encourage JT to keep the dudes who make them around, while booting those who dare to question His Allyship. I guess what you’re missing is that you guys? Don’t need the help. You don’t need the “Yeah, yeah, you get harassed, now tell us how to flirt, ladies!” tutorials. You don’t need to feel that JAQing off all over is a good plan. You need to learn to STFU and listen to women and trans* people’s (oops, pardon me “sacred cow farmers”‘ experiences”.

      ” I understand that this is an unpopular sentiment, but I share it anyway.” Translation: I know this is full of shit, and I expect to be called on it, but this “disclaimer” means I’ll whine about being “misconstrued” anyway.

      You’re confusing “criticism” and “skepticism” with an inability to understand well-documented realities, and are demanding to have 101-level concepts spoon-fed to you over and over.

      • andreasschueler

        You need to learn to STFU and listen to women and trans* people’s (oops, pardon me “sacred cow farmers”‘ experiences”.

        => Well, some people would like to STFU and listen – and this would be much easier if people like you, who have nothing to contribute except for a torrent of insults for everyone who remotely resembles an enemy, would STFU as well.

        • Happiestsadist

          Because I certainly have no such experiences with sexism or transphobia. Here’s the thing, shitbasket: if you want to actually help, you’re going to have to accept that there is going to be some natural wariness of your intentions. Some of that might hurt your delicate fee-fees. I like to think of it as a natural way to weed out those who are useless faux-allies who’d rather tone-troll than actually fight. And if you fuck up, you won’t get coddled because you’ve helped in the past/are trying to help now. Also, the people who decide if you’re helping or not? NOT YOU.

          • andreasschueler

            Because I certainly have no such experiences with sexism or transphobia.

            => Well, if you do have such experiences, there are lots of people who would like to STFU and listen to you – but you are not sharing any experiences or giving any advice or doing anything productive for that matter, you are just blowing off steam.

            Here’s the thing, shitbasket: if you want to actually help, you’re going to have to accept that there is going to be some natural wariness of your intentions.

            => That´s fine.

            I like to think of it as a natural way to weed out those who are useless faux-allies who’d rather tone-troll than actually fight.

            => Look, insults are cool, I love creative insults (and I´m pretty sure JT does as well). But if you do nothing but insulting people – the problem is not your tone, the problem is that you are adding no substance to the conservation, you´re just derailing it.

            Also, the people who decide if you’re helping or not? NOT YOU.

            => I agree.

        • Pteryxx

          But that wasn’t a torrent of insults “with nothing to contribute”. The point was right in there.

          I guess what you’re missing is that you guys? Don’t need the help.

          Y’all who have never had to worry or think about this stuff before, and thus have remained ignorant, don’t need to “just ask questions” to learn what’s going on. You’ll find out just fine by keeping your questions to yourself, letting the teachers talk, and paying attention.

          Saying the minority needs to understand the majority equally, as the OP of this subthread did, is not only a flawed premise that excuses inaction, it’s insulting. The people who get punished all their lives BY the majority ALREADY KNOW. Assuming they owe you personal attention is a manifestation of the very problem you’re supposedly trying to help with. Their decision to not “take the time” to engage with you is not because you’re The Enemy by definition – it’s because you’re being lazy and rude by not doing your share of the work. When you assume you deserve their time and attention, and they have no right to refuse without you impugning their motives, you just made yourself The Enemy.

          No. “STFU and listen” IS the constructive advice on how to learn from the people who have life experience with being silenced.

          • andreasschueler

            No. “STFU and listen” IS the constructive advice on how to learn from the people who have life experience with being silenced.

            => Many people want to do exactly that, they do STFU and lurk in these threads to listen to people with such experiences and learn something. I think no one is disagreeing with that.

            Y’all who have never had to worry or think about this stuff before, and thus have remained ignorant, don’t need to “just ask questions” to learn what’s going on. You’ll find out just fine by keeping your questions to yourself, letting the teachers talk, and paying attention.

            => Let me give you an example: like Christina and some others, I had a hard time understanding what the “Die Cis scum” phrase was all about. And I was still confused after reading some explanations in the comment thread, but Natalie Reed´s third comment finally cleared it up for me. So, now I´m slightly less ignorant about this issue, thanks to Christina asking the question in the first place and Natalie Reed and others having the patience to explain it. What is wrong with that ?
            I agree with JT, people like Daisy and Josh did nothing but spewing insults and derailing the thread and thus making it much harder for us to STFU and “let the teachers talk”.

          • Pteryxx

            andreasschueler:

            => Many people want to do exactly that, they do STFU and lurk in these threads to listen to people with such experiences and learn something. I think no one is disagreeing with that.

            And they weren’t the ones speaking up to ask for basic answers, personal attention, or to be treated with extra patience. Lurking in a discussion like this is commendable, it’s productive, it gives the few oppressed persons room to speak.

            Nobody attacked people *for listening*. If you, personally, feel that snark and insults such as happiestsadist just used apply to YOU, perhaps you need to re-think your criteria.

          • andreasschueler

            Pteryxx,

            Nobody attacked people *for listening*. If you, personally, feel that snark and insults such as happiestsadist just used apply to YOU, perhaps you need to re-think your criteria.

            => No, I did not feel personally insulted at all. And I have no problem at all with snark and insults directed at other people (and I also agree that some people in the “Die Cis Scum” thread were most likely JAQing off). But I still think that this:

            You can insult someone. You can accuse them of being privileged. But those things had better damn sure come attached to a response to what somebody actually said, not what you wish they would have said.

            is absolutely reasonable. Insults are fine, but derailing a thread is not (especially not for a thread that had some great comments which should be widely read!).

          • Pteryxx

            andreasschueler: I directed a reply to JT above, as have many others, explaining why this

            what somebody actually said, not what you wish they would have said

            is liable to discount the less privileged viewpoint, thus undermining the purpose of the discussion; and further, that JT specifically is applying this standard badly, as in Zengaze’s rape comment above.

            I already pointed out why happiestsadist’s response to the OP of this subthread contained advice appropriate and relevant to what was said, and was not, as you claimed, “nothing to contribute except for a torrent of insults for everyone who remotely resembles an enemy”. That was advice directed at an individual who made a common, rude, unwarranted assumption. I’m willing to defer to her judgment on the insults.

          • Christopher Petroni

            @ andreasschueler

            I agree with JT, people like Daisy and Josh did nothing but spewing insults and derailing the thread and thus making it much harder for us to STFU and “let the teachers talk”.

            I disagree. I missed the DCS thread until after this whole thing went down, but I can say that there are at least a couple threads from which I wouldn’t have learned anything if people like Josh and Ms. Daisy Cutter hadn’t slapped me across the face, as it were. (By proxy; I’ve only ever lurked.) TET on Pharyngula will reveal other individuals who would say something similar. Now, future such learning experiences are not possible in this space. I don’t think that’s worth whatever JT was trying to accomplish by banning Josh and Ms. Daisy Cutter.

          • andreasschueler

            Christopher,

            I disagree. I missed the DCS thread until after this whole thing went down, but I can say that there are at least a couple threads from which I wouldn’t have learned anything if people like Josh and Ms. Daisy Cutter hadn’t slapped me across the face, as it were. (By proxy; I’ve only ever lurked.)

            => That´s interesting to hear. As I said, I have no problems with their tone, but I hate it when interesting threads get derailed – and my impression was that those two were the main culprits (and this is not the first time that happened). I thought other lurkers feel the same, but apparently I´m wrong ;-).
            Then it really is unfortunate that they were banned.

        • carlie

          but Natalie Reed´s third comment finally cleared it up for me. So, now I´m slightly less ignorant about this issue, thanks to Christina asking the question in the first place and Natalie Reed and others having the patience to explain it.

          But the thing is, if Christina had listened in the first place, she might not have had to ask the question. As skepticalmath and moblues mentioned, Natalie made a couple of really extensive posts herself on the very same topic just recently. In fact, I assumed when I first read Cristina’s post that she had gotten the idea from Natalie’s posts, but there is nothing in that OP that even hints that she had seen anything about it at Natalie’s. That’s what everybody means by listening and doing your own work first and good faith effort. Even if she had missed Natalie’s posts about it, it doesn’t take much effort to think “I have a question on this issue that affects trans people. We have a blogger in my own network who blogs specifically about such things. Perhaps I should go search her site to see if she’s said anything about this.” That’s just baseline doing your own homework. And if she had done that, she might not have had to ask. Or if she did do that, referring to what she’d read in the post itself could have framed the question and made it more specific and therefore the answer more direct and helpful.

          • julian

            That was one of the things that irritated me. There was already a very lively (Natalie almost lost a few long time commentors because of how personal it got) and thorough discussion of DCS here at FtB. Most of the bases were covered and there was nothing that brought up anywhere in that thread that hadn’t already been covered and addressed in Natalie Reed’s post.

            If there had been actual questions, some new dimension to DCS that hadn’t already been looked at there probably would have been less antagonism.

            Instead it was a group of cis people getting their fears of the dangerous trans people assuaged. The absurdity of that would be enough to set the more passionate commentors off.

          • andreasschueler

            But the thing is, if Christina had listened in the first place, she might not have had to ask the question. As skepticalmath and moblues mentioned, Natalie made a couple of really extensive posts herself on the very same topic just recently.

            => Yes, she probably did not read those posts before writing her own. And also yes, that probably means that she should have done more homework. So, how much homework do you have to do until you can post a question about it ? If you google “Die Cis Scum” – most of the hits correspond to cis people wondering what the phrase is supposed to mean or to angy youtube videos (the first helpful explanation from a trans person was on page 4 of the google results when I checked).
            Yes, it is unfortunate that she missed Natalie´s posts since she is blogging on the same network – but Christian is a guest blogger, and why should we except her to follow all other blogs on the network ? (I didn´t follow Natalie´s blog before that – which was a big mistake as I now realize ;-) ).

          • http://www.facebook.com/ziztur Christina

            I assumed when I first read Cristina’s post that she had gotten the idea from Natalie’s posts, but there is nothing in that OP that even hints that she had seen anything about it at Natalie’s.

            I linked to Natalie’s post. Perhaps I should have been more clear than that to hint to people that I had read them.

            Granted, I didn’t read all of the comments (I admittedly skimmed), but still.

            Natalie has also answered the questions that I had about die cis scum despite reading her posts, in the comments.

      • B-Lar

        I don’t mind being misconstrued. There are always going to be people who will translate what you said into something that fits in with what they want you to have said to rationalise an attack (which is kinda the point of the OP, no?), and there is always the possibilty that I may have not gone into enough detail. I think this situation falls into the first category, for the reason that:

        I said I don’t think JT should apologise. I did not say that I was not offended by rape jokes. I think that such humour is in very poor taste, although because of my lack of experience it does not trigger me. I think that “Zengy” was a fool to use that as en example and that he could have picked a less inflammatory remark given that any mention of rape is quite understandably a trigger, and feels like someone is trivialising your traumatic experience. He could have gone back in, apologised to the hurt parties, and provided a better example to address his observation of cognitive dissonance so that his point was not lost.

        Anyway. It is my belief that for a conversation to have any meaning other than being a cock-waggling contest, both sides have to be willing to listen and take an opposing point on board. Privilege is a huge obstacle in this regard, but so are sacred cows. If you want your conversational partner to examine his critical faults then surely you must be willing to examine your own? When someone reaches straight for the snark it is usually an indicator that this process is lacking. I think this is what JT is trying to address.

    • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

      You make the same fucking privileged mistake as JT. You fucking fail.

      You’re not an ally either, you’re just another intellectually cowardly piece of ratshit. Fucking afraid of confronting your own privilege. Talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk.

      your ‘alliance’ is unnecessary.

      • B-Lar

        I fucking funkyshit fuck piss cheesy cock ring fucking ally menstrual blood cheesecake.

        I am not your ally. I am only interested in figuring out what the truth is and you appear to be an obstacle to that.

        I hope to see you around these parts again! I think that if you are around I should stop lurking, because its the only way to encourage other lurkers to come out and converse. Everyone needs a safe space until they have been shown to be trolls. You WILL let me sit on the couch.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

          I’m going to give you an idea that might just completely blow your mind:

          You just might have cultural blinders on that make it impossible for you to ascertain what the pure, unadulterated truth (as if that exists socially) is. The only way for you to get a more complete -picture is to pull your head out of your ass and consider what marginalized people tell you about their experiences so that you get an idea of the whole concept. I’m not talking about some mystical woo bullshit; I’m talking about what people live through every day. I know, it’s shocking that you don’t personally have all of the information, and that all of these irritating fucking peons actually want you to listen to them when they say that you maybe don’t actually have a grip on it by yourownself, but it’s something you’re going to have to get used to if you’re actually as dedicated to “truth” as you claim.

          No, I’m not a relativist, but I think that that reality of human interaction is very much the elephant and we’re all stumbling around trying to figure it out. It’s just that some of us are stuck under the elephant’s asshole and trying to explain that we’re constantly being shat upon. Since our brains are puny and limited, we have to count on other people to give us some account of what we’re missing, and maybe, just maybe, it would behoove us to listen to the people who are being shat upon so that we can learn that there is, in fact, an asshole to all of this.

  • Oi! Take A Look At My Wad! Loadsamoney!

    Robert B.

    You still haven’t fucked off yet, you piece of fecal matter.

    Get your baboon ass back over to Pharyngula where the other cesspitters reside.

    Oh, and I’m considerably richer than you!

    • Robert B.

      *whispers* Dude, you’re overdoing it. I know you’re trying to point out how unfair the moderation is, by demonstrating that the most incredible douchebag conceivable in the minds of humankind still won’t get banned if he agrees with JT. I appreciate the help, but you gotta be more subtle about it. No one’s going to believe that an actual human being would ever write like this. You sound like a chatbot programmed by Montana Max.

      Hey, why don’t you try some rape threats⸮ Those get a lot of response, and if you camouflage it as a rhetorical device, JT will even defend you!

      • Alexa

        And if you’re a woman who objects to his defense of said rape threat, he’ll say you’re deliberately/brazenly misrepresenting a poor,socially awkward man and looking for offense where there is none. (Likely because we women are just SO unreasonable/oversensitive, am I right?)

  • Marta

    Eesh, you got a policy where you banned Josh and Daisy and Happiestathiest, but John C. Welch from the Slimepit is ok?

    Really?

    • carlie

      It is a holiday in the States today, so I’d give him the benefit of having family things to do; he probably hasn’t seen the last several hours’ worth of comments yet.

      • Armored Scrum Object

        Stephanie Zvan (I think) said in a comfortably snug comment nestled somewhere upthread that JT is traveling and won’t be in front of a computer until tomorrow.

        • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

          My STARS, won’t he be surprised! :D

    • Oi! Take A Look At My Wad! Loadsamoney!

      Marta, fuck off with your double standards.

      Josh and Daisy and Happiestathiest were all baboons, and they were abusive trolls. So they deserve to get kicked.

      Any more Baboons out there can fuck off as well. The pieces of fecal matter.

      The atheist/skeptic movement doesn’t want or need the Baboons involved. So just fucking fuck off.

      • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

        Why don’t you suck a fart out of my ass through a straw? Don’t mind the chunks…

  • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Oh JT, how will you deal with this latest shitpile you’ve created?

    You could stop digging. You could look at the slime currently infesting this thread, (present company excluded of course… hehehehe) decide which side you actually want to be on, you could walk the walk after talking the talk in your ‘flirting at atheist conventions’ fiasco, WHICH I may drunkenly add I’m becoming more and more certain was just a pathetic plea for pointers in how to hit on girls without being ‘that guy’ (hint: If you have to ask, don’t.)

    Unlike other pharyngulites who have declared their intention to never return, I think I’m gonna like it here. It feels like the kind of place I can put my feet up on the table and fart right out loud. Maybe even light up a doobie or two and pour myself a beer.

    Yup, I think I’m gonna enjoy whatever comes next.

    • http://twitter.com/zelinator ZeL

      From the movie Alien:
      Ripley: “I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. “

    • Turehu

      Yeah JT. You’re either with us or against us.

      /snark

      • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

        Well Turehu, JT is pretty sure he’s an ‘ally’. Several times, members of the groups he claims to be ‘allied’ to have given them his perspective. Two were banned, and one was patted on the head and told ‘chill, it’s just an analogy.’

        I say again, JT isn’t an ally. He’s just another smug, privileged turd who wants to sound liberal and ‘progressive’. Talks the talk, but doesn’t even crawl the walk.

        • Alexa

          Agreed! He’s an ally, alright… to socially awkward, privileged men who’d like to get laid at conventions and make rape analogies. Certainly not to women, transpeople, gays and lesbians. I’m a woman, and I certainly do not consider him an ally.

          Online, one of the main tactics men have used over the years to dismiss my concerns over sexism was to silence me: the people in charge of the space would ban me (even when I’d still be in polite mode), tell me I’m being “off topic” (“What does sexism have to do with atheism/videogames/etc.?”), demand I leave the forum, delete my posts in reply to men’s sexist comments, you name it. This is nothing new – it’s another common silencing tactic men use when they are in charge of the space where discussions of male privilege take place. It clearly happens with cis/trans and straight/gay interactions as well, as we can see here. Privileged person hears something that makes them uncomfortable? Given criticism on how they can improve instead of a cookie for their marginal efforts? Privileged person silences the ungrateful woman/transperson/gay/lesbian/POC.

          JT needs to realize that a major part of being an ally is taking criticism from the marginalized people you mess up. So frustrated!

          • Alexa

            people *WHEN you mess up

          • The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

            Right on. This is exactly the sort of stuff JT should be paying attention to.

            Thank you Alexa.

          • Alexa

            Thank YOU, for being a genuine ally!

          • andreasschueler

            Privileged person hears something that makes them uncomfortable? Given criticism on how they can improve instead of a cookie for their marginal efforts? Privileged person silences the ungrateful woman/transperson/gay/lesbian/POC.

            => Right, that´s exactly what happened. Josh and Daisy hurt JT´s feelings with their constructive criticism and got banned for it – just keep telling yourself that until it sounds true.

          • Alexa

            You’d be surprised how often privileged people’s “hurt feelings” factor in. (Google “White Women’s Tears” sometime.) I’m pretty sure JT’s little comment about how he thinks he’s a good ally, and that’s all that matters is pretty telling. He clearly needed to comfort and reassure himself on how “good” of an ally he is after a good number of marginalized people came forward to criticize him on his approach instead of giving him a cookie for his efforts.

            Let’s not forget his diatribe on tone here:

            “We get told we should already know the answer to questions, and have it implied that we are somehow intellectually deficient or disingenuous for asking.

            We get shouted down for even asking questions.

            If we disagree, we get told it’s because we’re privileged with no explanation for where we’re actually wrong.

            We get straw-manned. For instance, if I say I write a post asking for help with the guys who do care and who want to improve, I get accused of sticking up for “the poor menz” (you can go back and read Daisy doing it.

            We get insulted instead of engaged.

            Am I saying these things are worse than what women go through? Not at all. What I am saying is they alienate potential allies (like me). I’m also saying they too quickly make villains of people who really, really want to come in on their side.

            Essentially, the classic “Women/Transpeople/POC/Gays are just so mean and impolite when they are defending themselves against ignorant privileged people’s offensive opinions. It hurts my feelings when they talk about privilege like that! Maybe if they weren’t so mean about it, I’d listen…”

            The Angry Black Woman has a a great reply on the privilege of demanding politeness from marginalized people after you’ve said something offensive.

            Is it not obvious JT’s feelings were hurt? He didn’t get the reaction he expected. He wasn’t lauded as being a wonderful ally for his post, and instead, was criticized for the obvious faults in his essay and the subsequent comments he made. Josh and Daisy come in his comment thread, guns blazing, calling him out on his privilege, accusing of slapping on the title of ally while not living up to the title – and with good reason – and he couldn’t take it. He wants to think of himself as a progressive, good ally very badly; stamp of approval from actual marginalized people not required, apparently. So, he silences them.

          • Alexa

            The Privilege of Politeness, by The Angry Black Woman.

          • andreasschueler

            Alexa,
            no one here is demanding politeness. No one here gives a fuck about politeness. JT´s new rule is “You can insult someone. You can accuse them of being privileged. But those things had better damn sure come attached to a response to what somebody actually said, not what you wish they would have said.”
            He is not asking you to be polite, he is not asking you to not call him out on his privilege and he is not asking you to not hurt his feelings and give him cookies instead. He was asking people like Josh and Daisy to stop derailing threads – if you think the new rule sucks or if you think that Josh and Daisy were not derailing the thread, then just stay that (and be as impolite and hurtful as you please while doing that).

            you say:

            Is it not obvious JT’s feelings were hurt? He didn’t get the reaction he expected. He wasn’t lauded as being a wonderful ally for his post, and instead, was criticized for the obvious faults in his essay and the subsequent comments he made. Josh and Daisy come in his comment thread, guns blazing, calling him out on his privilege, accusing of slapping on the title of ally while not living up to the title – and with good reason – and he couldn’t take it.

            => Have you read the comments of those two ? Daisy just said that this Blog is a Joke and that she wants to be banned (I´m not being sarcastic, look up her comment) and Josh spewed a bunch of cryptic one-liners and refused to actually respond to anything that anyone else said. No one was banned for being mean, no one was banned for calling out anyone´s privilege and no one was banned for not giving cookies and questioning ally-status instead. Again, the new rule has *nothing* to do with politeness.

          • http://www.facebook.com/alexa.joy89 Alexa

            Have you read the entirety of this thread yet? Or are you only basing your reactions of Josh and Daisy off of what you have read here?

          • andreasschueler

            The link doesn´t work for me, did you mean the “Die Cis Scum” thread ? If so, yeah, I read that.
            And, at least for this particular thread, I would agree with JT that those two were derailing the thread (which has nothing to do with their tone). But there are apparently lot´s of others who were not bothered by the thread being derailed or did not have the impression that the thread was derailed at all – so I would agree that banning those two might have been a bad idea.
            But even if it was a bad idea – that still has nothing to do with silencing anyone who hurts JT´s feelings or calls him out on his privilege.
            I mean, you did it just a few comments ago – you did criticize him, called him out on his privilege and questioned his status as an ally – and by doing that you did *not* violate his new commenting policy and no one is going to silence you. You would violate the new commenting policy if you would just reply with “STFU you privileged piece of shit” to every comment you did not like without ever making a point.
            I think this new rule is perfectly reasonable – others seem to think that it is unfair or would silence the less privileged position.

          • carlie

            no one here is demanding politeness. No one here gives a fuck about politeness.

            An awful lot of mindfuckery can happen with probing, repetitive questions, which is what’s being argued about here, not about politeness. Many issues are really emotionally trying to members of the marginalized group being questioned; their experience is in things that have happened to them personally, and those experiences may have been very traumatic. As an analogy, imagine a person who has been beaten up by their partner, and who goes to report it to the police. The investigator may be quite polite and is just asking questions, but that itself can be done in a horrible way even without meaning to (TW abuse): Tell me exactly what he did to you. No, I need more detail than that. But how did it make you feel? No, I need to hear more. You haven’t quite convinced me of how much he hurt you yet. How do I know if I can believe you? Nobody else has said that about him. I haven’t seen a summary graph of all the times he’s hurt people in the past. Really, how much did it hurt exactly? How scared are you? You really need to lay it all out for me if you want me to help you. More detail, sweetie. More.

            Am I being over the top? Yeah. But look at this exchange with Katie. Wes eventually backed off and realized what he was doing, and stopped. But Katie kept right at it, forcing it back into why why WHY and refusing to accept the answers. And she probably wasn’t doing it on purpose to try and mess with anyone’s head, but the end result is the same. And if the moderator doesn’t notice it going on and put a stop to it, then commenters will come in and try to verbally bash that person into stopping, and might not be friendly about it. What’s being objected to is those people being censored for the way they try to stop it, and not the person doing the questioning.

        • http://www.facebook.com/alexa.joy89 Alexa
  • http://giliellthinkingaloud.blogspot.com/ Giliell, not to be confused with The Borg

    JT, I think you’re framing this question the wrong way.
    The question isn’t so much whether people want to keep commenting here, the question at the moment is more whether people want to keep reading here.
    Be aware that you have to sleep in the bed you’re making and at the moment it’s got slime-pit bed bugs.

  • msironen

    So there you have it, JT. Either you let the Pharynguloids run your comment section according to their “lofty” standards, or they take a big collective shit on your blog and “nuke it from orbit” as so succinctly put somewhere above.

    • http://skepticalmath.wordpress.com skepticalmath

      The Pharynguloids are, at least, still debating the topic and following the (letter of the) rules.

  • http://grimalkinblog.wordpress.com Grimalkin

    JT, you need to realize that you yourself are coming from a position of privilege in this discussion. You have never had to deal with the endless “101″ level questions directed at yourself. You don’t have the experience to know what’s an honest question and what’s a trap to try to get you to slip up. You do not know where the people you’re warning are coming from.

    And because of that, in my opinion, you don’t get to say “sorry, (insert marginalized group here), but that question directed towards you was actually legitimate, and you’re wrong despite having considerably more experience in this arena than me.” Not without being called out as wrong for it anyways.

    As others have pointed out, the first step of being a good ally is “STFU.” You have to recognize that you are entirely out of your element, you have to realize that you do not have the intellectual authority in these discussions, and you have to let the people who are actually of the group that you’re allied to tell you when you’re wrong. You aren’t doing that though. You’re seeing a thread full of people you’re “allied” to disagreeing with you, and you’re ignoring it. If you actually gave a shit about being on the side of women, gay people, and trans people, that would be a huge red flag that you messed the fuck up. But instead you’re getting self-righteous at those who are disagreeing with you, telling people who have lifetimes of experience with the issues at hand that they’re wrong and that you know better about dealing with their issues, when you clearly do not.

    It makes me wonder, are you familiar with the term “mansplaining?” I’m rather surprised that it hasn’t come up yet, since that’s exactly what you’re doing here. “What would you know about dealing with bigots? They’re just asking questions, it’s not like they’re doing anything wrong! Geez, calm your pretty little heads.” You’re assuming that you understand feminist/queer issues better than ~actual feminists and queers~, and then getting mad that they won’t do things your (wrong) way.

    What if this were a different scenario? What if, say, someone was cooking, and an oil fire broke out? Now, this person knows what they’re doing, and they start to deal with it… right as you come up and try to pour water on it. Because that’s how fire works, right? And they push you the fuck away, because no, you’re wrong and you don’t know what you’re doing, and you’ll fuck it up.

    And then you get mad at them because of how mean they were about it. You weren’t trying to make the situation worse, you were just trying to help! Why do they keep misrepresenting your position like that? Never mind that they have considerably more experience than you do.

    Oh, and two final points;

    On the topic of Zengaze’s rape analogy, “You claim my responses were disingenuous and therefore deserved mocking replays! Do you see what you did there lol. Hey the way you dress means you deserved to be raped.”

    I didn’t read that as a threat of rape. I read it as “Claiming my responses are disingenuous and deciding I deserve to be mocked is like saying that the way a woman dresses means she deserved to be raped!”

    Which is still, y’know, a fucking terrible thing to say. It’s still putting “Being mocked for a disingenuous response” on the same level as “Being raped for wearing the wrong clothing”. How the fuck is that not problematic, much less ~completely fucking fine~?

    Second, nobody, nobody, gives a flying fuck about potential allies. A potential ally is not a potential help, it is an ~actual hindrance.~ It’s someone who says “I’d like to be on your side, but why don’t you take the time to hold my hand through ‘being a decent human being 101′ first.” or “I’d help you if you’d just be niiiiicer to meeeee!” or my favorite, “No, I don’t have to listen to you stupid minorities, I’m ~potentially an ally~ right? You all need to worship me!”. People like that are a dime a fucking dozen. Seriously, if women all had a fucking nickel for every time they heard “Gosh, I could get behind your silly feminism thing if you’d stop being so shrill!” it would solve the whole fucking pay discrepancy problem.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

      To clarify, as I did once upthread: I don’t take it as a rape threat, but I do believe that it implicitly wishes rape upon the other commenter because zengaze had already experienced the mocking, and the tone was along the lines of “Well, it sure would be a pity if something bad happened to you, too.” That’s not my larger point, but the fact that the post a) used the personal “you,” b) chose a rape analogy specifically when others would have worked, and c) occurred after zengaze had experienced the “negative consequences” of his stupidity are points that I believe stack up against him on that count.

      Nonetheless, that’s not the most important point overall. I just wanted to clarify.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.forester jenniferforester

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