Harassers of Stephanie Zvan, Rebecca Watson, and others are jerks.

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I got linked a post by Stephanie Zvan where she talked about responding to a comment on my post about Greg Laden the other day.  The comment was:

If you’re really about supporting Stephanie, why didn’t she tell her “husband,” Greg, that in the first place, since she wears the pants in that “family.” And, contra Chimako, Laden regularly has such fails, usually deliberate.

Stephanie was upset that an insufficient number of people had responded.  But I did respond.  Like most people I had no idea what he was talking about.  I suspected it might be a childish and inept dig like someone commenting under the name Sleezy Lyers and said that if that were the case that it was pretty weak.

It turns out that the commenter is a guy who has asserted that the only reason Greg Laden would agree with Stephanie is if they were having sex, and this is an extension of that assertion.  So, let me again be as clear as I possibly can: Stephanie Zvan is a great person who has been very good to me in my interactions with her.  She cares very deeply about those around her.  I like and respect Stephanie.  The harasser in question is an asshole and his remark was childish, spiteful, meant to hurt, and contained no argument worth hearing.  The harassers of women, the slymepitters, are bad people.  I have been unequivocal about this.

If an asshole leaves a comment on my blog, especially when I haven’t had my eye to the comments because I’m trying to enjoy the limited time I get with my brother, I think it’s entirely unfair to take the existence of the comment as my endorsement of the comment.  Surely people understand that not every comment on a blog represents the opinions of the blog’s author.

I read through some of the rest of the comments on Stephanie’s post and there’s one I want to address while I’m on this.

As far as I understand, JT thinks he’s being fair/doing something good. He thinks that’s the way to go and that he’s being an ally to women with this legitimization of harassers. He can be the voice of reason in the great “are women inferior to men” debate.

Fuck them. The amount of ‘allies’ who think they have the full vision of power dynamics because they occupy the high ground is getting ridiculous (and of course the solution is ‘hug your harasser’). Nugent, Lindsay, now JT.

In my post about CFI and about what Greg Laden said I have been as clear as I can possibly be that there are slimy people in this movement who should be denounced, chief among them being harassers like Justin Vacula and the guy who left the comment about Greg and Stephanie being married.  Part of my point has been the worry that people have about commenting on feminist issues is that their comments will be interpreted in the worst possible light, their devotion to fairness (not a failure in method, but their devotion to equality) will be questioned, etc.  My position is not that harassers should be hugged (or even liked, or anything other than rebuked), but that doing things like that alienates people who are not the harasser archetype.  I’d like to see it stop, and I don’t see how that is controversial.

I wrote a post saying I thought many people made an error in approach to the CFI situation.  I never said anybody was a bad person (in fact, I reiterated how I thought everybody involved were actually very good and admirable people) or an enemy to fairness, just that I thought many got it wrong in that case.  Since that time the response has often been implications or flat out assertions that I am opposed to equality, absent compassion for those around me, tolerant of harassers, lacking of intelligence, or otherwise worthy of contempt.  Can you not see how this would might negatively impact the way many people who are not completely and utterly bad people might view your cause?

So I don’t see how I’ve legitimized harassers by saying they are slime that should be kept at bay from the larger movement.  That seems to be the opposite of legitimization to me.  If you read a statement like:

I also think that most of the people who inhabit the slymepit are, well, slime.  I read some of their comments upon my engagement and it was elementary school rage at a social enemy’s happiness all over again.  I have no love for that group.  Chief among them is Justin Vacula who I consider to be one of the most childish, obtuse, and despicable atheists on the planet.  He’s a cruel person and I don’t like him.  I’m not here to defend Justin Vacula or his ilk.


To the slymepitters, calm the fuck down.  Stop poking and prodding for the sake of antagonizing people you disagree with.  You know you do it, and it just makes you assholes.  Also, ditch Vacula.  Don’t let personal grudges become more important to you than social injustice.  That’s not the way to become “brave heroes” (the most redundant pairing of words since “tasty delicious”).

And you hear “hug your harasser”, there’s not much more I can say to you.  Why do you think I included so many disclaimers and clarifications in my CFI post?  I did it to avoid saying “I don’t think what Ron Lindsay said was as bad as it’s being made out to be (even though it was bad)” without having that get turned into “JT supports the harassers of women”.  Can you not see how this type of thing is not only a bad way to interact with other people (people who have worked and written in favor of women’s rights/equality), but a bad way to make your movement appealing to good people who are getting eyes on it for the first time?

So here’s where I stand: I want us all to call out bullshit when we see it.  The harassers of women?  They’re bad people.  When I talk about alienating potential allies I have been as precise as possible in reminding people that I’m not talking about harassers and misogynists.  Pitters and harassers are no more potential allies in the cause of women’s equality than theists are potential allies in the task of destroying faith.  That they harass especially good people like Stephanie Zvan makes me loathe them all the more.  When I talk about my worry of people becoming silent, neutral, or alienated, I’m talking about the people who have zero love for the pit, who empathize with the inequalities facing women, but who worry that by speaking about the issue they’ll be accused of snuggling up to harassers or of saying things they didn’t actually say.  I don’t see how anybody could possibly think I want to see this resolved for any other reason than the success of the feminist cause (which would happen at the expense of the harassers and pitters, much to my elation).

For years I have considered myself a friend of most of the FtB writers, have praised the site, and have asserted without repentance that I miss everybody there.  I continue to do so.  And yet when considering talking about the issue of tactics within feminism (all the while affirming the cause of feminism) even I have had the fear of being cast as a villain for making a critique in good faith.  And comments like the one above, and there are plenty of them, are the reason that worry exists.  I don’t point it out because I’m an ally to harassers.  I point it out because I think it’s doing legitimate damage to the cause of the good guys (and gals).

I also want to see people in the feminist movement do the same as me.  Stephanie, you know me.  Surely you know that I’m no friend to cruel people or to cruelty in general and surely you don’t think I see you unhappy and brush it off without a care.  So when you see someone asserting that I want you or anybody else to hug a harasser, can you call them out on it too?  I’m not asking you to delete any comments, but at least call them out the way I have made efforts to call out Vacula and the pitters (and not just in my recent posts, remember when I went after the SCA for bringing Vacula on board?).

Unless you actually believe that my message is that we need to be more friendly to cruel people.  In which case I’m pretty sure all I can do about that is be sad.

PZ came into the comments of Stephanie’s post after I had offered to rebuke the commenter and did the right thing.  After I had said I didn’t know what the commenter was talking about, PZ explained it to me:

JT — this is a really common theme. Learn to be aware of it.

I am constantly informed that the only reason I support women is because I want sex from them. I have been sent pornographic sagas about me having sex with Rebecca Watson, a woman young enough to be my daughter. This recent noise from Adelaide featured Mark Senior claiming I had groupies and that I was ogling them lasciviously…all stuff in the mind of that author.

It is one of the first and most common accusations these assholes — and I definitely include Steve Snyder among the assholes, even if his ego is so colossal that he refuses to side with the slyme, despite sharing the same attitudes — that they attempt to discredit every effort at equality by imputing their motives to others

And now I know and can be on the look out for it in the future.  He said “learn to be aware of it” and now I’m well on my way.  PZ’s comment treated me like I was someone who didn’t know something, not as somebody who was applauding cruelty.  If PZ Myers, god of all things uncivil, can do this (and presumably see the value in treating people like they want to help/understand), then surely we all can.

Not knowing things is not a crime.  In all areas every single person will have things of which they’re unaware.  This shouldn’t stop them from having opinions or from vocalizing opinions, otherwise nobody would ever be able to say anything.  Life is a learning process, and for causes we care about we should help well-intentioned people along that road.

Another comment that deserves attention is this one:

I know one prong of his moderation policy, at least, is to ban people who are mean to him by telling him he’s not being the super duper bestest ever ally.

Like with Pharyngula, a brief perusal of the comments section of my blog will reveal several comments from people who don’t like me and who go to great lengths to make it known.  They’re not banned and they’re not deleted.  Not liking me and not agreeing with me are not crimes.  I’ve even banned people who like me but who were disruptive to the site.  So I don’t think the commenter “knows” this.

My comment policy is pretty loose.  As long as somebody’s not derailing a thread, I don’t moderate much (probably the product of growing up reading Pharyngula).  In fact, I think I’ve banned more atheists from my blog than believers (4 atheists to 3 theists).  But this only goes if I’m reading the comments, and I haven’t looked at the comments on the Laden post since there were about thirty.  I’m enjoying family time right now.  And, admittedly, I get bothered that someone who has known me, who knows my character, would first assume I’m endorsing shitty people instead of not reading the comments until the next day (or even later).  :(

Stephanie said of the comment section of my Greg Laden post::

Providing a forum for more abuse to go unchallenged while simultaneously telling us how to behave.

My comments sections tend to be a forum for theists, atheists, feminists, everybody.  If people are getting out of hand with insults, I’ll delete their comments if I see them.  But a lot of times that doesn’t necessarily happen immediately.  The comment sections on my blog are no more a forum for assholes who assault Stephanie’s character as they are a forum for people displeased with my thoughts on the CFI kerfuffle who assault mine.  I’m no more intentionally providing a forum for the latter than for the former.

What’s more, as far as making suggestions for how to not alienate potential allies (phrased by Stephanie as “telling us how to behave”), why do you think I didn’t devote a lot of time and words to the pitters on how to make their side more appealing?  I don’t care if their side becomes more appealing because I don’t agree with them.  The reason I did so for people in my camp is because I do care about whether or not people are inadvertently ostracized from feminism.

After I offered to rebuke the commenter, Stephanie said:

I don’t want a blog post. I don’t want more words. I want the comment section in which I am now being abused by several people from the slime pit because I objected to the abuse of one person being allowed to stand to be dealt with. I’m done with words. I’m done with disclaimers. I want action.

Had Stephanie sent me an email that said “Hey, this guy’s comment bothers me for x, y, and z reasons and I didn’t think your rebuke was strong enough, probably because, like you said, you didn’t know what he was talking about” I would’ve just gone and deleted the comment and maybe even said something.  But instead I got sent a blog post by somebody I like (and who I hope likes me, but that’s up to her) impugning my compassion over it.  I can’t hardly delete it now because it’s being so talked about.  What I can do is rebuke it in full and express my disdain for the comment, the commenter, and those like him.  In this case words are actions: they are the action of responding to the comment and rebuking it, which is what Stephanie asked for in her blog post.

This is what I can do.  It’s something I’m happy to do, as I’ve never shied away from expressing my contempt for bad people.  I’m sorry if it’s not enough.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Stephanie Zvan

    What you can do is address that comment/er directly and all the others (mostly pitters) who are sticking up for that behavior in that comment thread. Show, don’t tell.

    • JTEberhard

      I pulled him into a blog post and addressed the comment directly and unequivocally for all the world to see. Is this not doing? :

      • Stephanie Zvan

        No, you didn’t address it directly. You addressed it here. It’s still sitting there unchallenged by you, as are all the pitter comments that followed. If any of those people happen across this blog post, they might figure out how you feel about them. Not one person reading the old post will.

        • JTEberhard

          Went and posted the link.

          Do you have nothing else to say about the contents of the post?

        • Laury Plant

          I’m trying to figure out how to view this in a charitable light, but it sounds a lot like ‘you didn’t show (don’t tell) the way I think you have to’, regardless of the effort JT’s already put into it.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Laury, can you explain to me how this post and a lack of any direct response to all those commenters is going to change their behavior?

          • Laury Plant

            This…is… a direct response to ‘all those commenters’. How is it not? Does JT have to go charging in guns ablazing into the already cluttered comment field there and expect everyone to see because you say so, or making a whole blog post about it that draws direct attention to the situation not count?

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Okay. Read this blog post. ^^ Tell me what’s going to happen to Steve, Claus, and all the pitters in that thread. Tell me what consequences they face for swarming that post and my comments.

          • Laury Plant

            So you’re not questioning JT’s response, but JT’s comment policy then? Well past the time for effective moderation? I get your concern with it, I really do, but if you had a problem why did you not bring it up with your friend in private, rather then attribute malice when ignorance (of that specific reference) better fit? That seems very uncharitable.

          • Metaphoenix42

            Ban them! Punish them! Make them go away!!! I want control of the comments section on a blog that is not my own!!!!!!!

          • baal

            Meta, stfu. Name calling and extra exclaims are annoying. You also indirectly are supporting Stephanie Zvan’s point about a halo of harassers regardless of the accuracy (or not) of your comment.

          • Metaphoenix42

            If no one is allowed to say anything that anyone else finds annoying, both you and Stephanie Zvan should stfu as well. :)

          • JTEberhard

            Baal is right. I won’t pre-ban comments, even if they’re rude and even if I disagree. You’re attempting to make a roundabout point with which I disagree, and you’re being a jerk, but that’s at least why your comment stands here.

            If people are being abusive (a distinction I draw apart from someone just being a jerk), I’ll deal with it.

            There’s nothing wrong with wanting a reprieve from harassers (even if there are bad ways to go about expressing that).

            And, seriously, you’re being a jerk. Don’t think that because I don’t delete every comment I find distasteful that I support you or think you are right in this case.

          • Metaphoenix42

            Yes, I’m being a jerk. This is intentional. I don’t expect or really care if you agree with me or not, I and I alone am responsible for my comments, and the same goes for you and everyone else.

            The point, as you very rightly noted, is that I’m not being abusive. This is a distinction that Zvan and others routinely fail to make.

          • Loqi

            You’re also being obtuse. I am unsure if this is intentional. The skill with which you miss the point of everything everyone says is impressive, and I can’t tell if it’s a honed skill or if you’re a savant.

    • http://www.geekexile.com/ Brian Fields

      I’m unsure as to how someone could read the now three posts JT has written so eloquently on the topic and come out the other side believing that JT in some way supports this kind of harassment, even by not responding to it.

      • Stephanie Zvan

        Writing eloquently is telling, particularly in pieces that are more than 50% about how people are wrong in how they talk (or might talk) about JT. Actually confronting the harassment that is happening in his space and providing consequences for it is showing.

        • http://www.geekexile.com/ Brian Fields

          Because confronting trolls works so well. I was unaware that JT had something to “show” here. Is he responsible for taking on every person who says something he disagrees with in his comment section?

          • Stephanie Zvan

            JT can do anything he wants in his comment section, including allowing it to become a second slime pit. If he’s going to do it while making blog posts about he wants something else to happen and he thinks people should respect him for it, I’m going to point out that he’s being ineffectual–because I’m the one being harassed.

          • http://www.geekexile.com/ Brian Fields

            The person made an idiotic comment, I’ll grant you that. But I would have seen it as not worth commenting on – Because it was absolutely ridiculous and disjointed and who the hell knows what he was trying to say?

            Are you seriously saying that every negative thing someone says about you requires a response from every one of your friends, even if it’s completely idiotic? Or just JT because it’s his blog? I do recall JT saying something like “I don’t even know what the hell it is you are trying to say”. At the time, I had to agree with him.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            That person has made 2-1/2 years of the same idiotic comment, and he’s followed up substantially in that thread. He’s still welcome everywhere, and there are now more comments aimed at me for expecting JT to do something about his comment section than there are telling that guy that, no, what he said is not socially acceptable. Go, priorities!

          • http://www.geekexile.com/ Brian Fields

            What he said was not even coherent. If you are concerned about anyone taking him seriously, I think your concerns may be a bit overextended. I do not think you are being fair to JT.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            I am concerned about continually having to deal with the same bullshit in the spaces of people who call themselves my friends.

          • Metaphoenix42

            If you don’t like something, no one is forcing you to read it. Stop being a drama llama.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Yes, JT certainly has the option to tell me that his comment threads are just going to be like that, so I shouldn’t read them.

          • Metaphoenix42

            Or, you can decide for yourself. But when you (and others) constantly call for bans of people you don’t like, you just look childish.

          • EllenBeth Wachs

            I seem to recall you coming into a thread and instead of defending me from much more vicious attacks than this one nobody really understood, telling me to STOP and leave the thread. I ASKED for your help. You admit your shut me down. Turning point for me.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            EllenBeth, stop the distortions. I tried to warn you away from a comment thread that had turned toxic. I have the message I sent you on the topic, the one that says why I think the thread went bad and what I wanted PZ to learn from it. (I then went on to talk to him about it too, by the way.) I can publish that if you try to turn this into another talking point like your “letter-writing campaign”.

            The only thing I’ve shut you down on was the idea that one comment thread going toxic means that Pharyngula as a whole can’t handle disagreement. I offered you quite a bit of support and sympathy. Documentation on that still exists too. So just stop.

          • EllenBeth Wachs

            Distortion? People can actually go to that thread and see your words to me. People can then come to my blog and see your words to me once again. Please point to what I said that was a distortion?

            And here you are again telling me to stop? No, Stephanie, The only place you get to tell me to stop talking is on your blog, which you have done and I have honored.

          • ildi

            Wait a minute; people disengaged with you in an earlier thread because you said these conversations are triggering for you. Now you’re back on the topic. It doesn’t seem kosher to try and have it both ways.

          • EllenBeth Wachs

            No, I didn’t say that. Go back and re-read what I actually said. I never said I wasn’t ever going to talk about this topic again. You can be quite certain I most assuredly will.

            You are coming here obviously in very bad faith. I don’t know who you are and don’t want to.

          • ildi

            Disagreeing with you is not the same as arguing in bad faith. What does it matter who I am? I have been following a lot of these threads and conversations and I’m not going to let your version of events stand when I disagree with them. If you don’t want to go there, quit bringing it up.

          • EllenBeth Wachs

            Yes, you are arguing in bad faith because you aren’t even disagreeing with me. You are outright lying.

            You aren’t going to let my version of the events stand? My version of what events?

            That I was upset in that thread? You don’t get to decide that. Only I do.

            Obviously it matters who you are because it is quite apparent you have some agenda.

          • ildi

            “Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”

          • KacyRay

            Right. What matters most is not how vocally JT speaks up for your cause. What matters most is whether or not he addresses each and every post from every single commenter who says anything mean about every single one of his friends. Amirite?

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

            Oh bless your heart, you’re pulling out the “big guns” now? “HE’S LETTING IT BECOME A SLIMMMMMMME PIT” What’s next, the Marc Lepine analogy? You should wait on that one, because shooting your wad too soon never works out well.

            You’re not being harassed, it’s just that unlike on sites where you control the delete button, no one is rolling over and showing you their throat because The Queen Is Not Amused. That’s not harassment. It’s commenting on a site you are in no way, shape, nor form compelled to read or even acknowledge.

            Here’s the trick, (and I am somewhat impressed that I must explain this to a supposedly grown adult. Well, more de- than im-, but definitely pressed: If a comment thread isn’t going the way you like, don’t engage with it, don’t subscribe to it, don’t read it.

            You know, do that thing you tell all the eeeeeeevil pitters who are so totes upset about things said at FTB:

            “Don’t like it? don’t read it

            Funny how it’s such good advice you cannot help but ignore it.

          • Loqi

            Whether or not confronting trolls works depends on your goal. If your goal is to get them to stop being assholes or go away, then no, it’s probably not going to work. If, on the other hand, your goal is to expose them to the world as assholes, let readers know that shit doesn’t fly here, and/or support a friend, then confronting trolls actually works rather well. And no, he’s not responsible for taking on everyone in his comments section. Nobody ever said he was or expects that of him. But it is comforting when your friends go to bat for you, and disappointing when they don’t (or when they only sorta do).

        • Christopher Stephens

          In my experience, JT certainly doesn’t allow outright abusive and harassing comments. I read that same abusive comment, and I couldn’t piece together what that jackass was trying to actually say, either.

          Now that JT has been made aware of that abusive commenter’s intent, he’s condemned them in the harshest possible language. You’re strongly implying that JT was well aware that this commenter was being deliberately abusive, but let the abuse stand because he didn’t care. Is that what you’re saying?

          • b33bl3br0x

            I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but perhaps she’s upset that he didn’t immediately delete the comment and ban the commenter when she pointed out what the insult was.

            I can understand from a purely conversational point why one might allow it to stand since so much attention has been paid to it and it generates conversation, and to allow people to see what the whole thing was about, but the target of the attack might not care about that, and could see it as a personal insult that a friend would leave it for people to see.

        • JTEberhard

          But I am confronting it. I’ve denounced it constantly in the past, I denounced it in the CFI post, I denounced it here. I went and posted the link to Gadfly.

          Your contention seems to be that a person couldn’t rightly be convinced that I don’t abhor the harassment you have received because I don’t go to war with all of them individually. That’s impractical and unfair.

          It’s also very uncharitable to a person you probably considered a friend a week ago.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            What are you doing about these people who used your comment threads to abuse me, JT?

          • JTEberhard

            The same thing you’re doing with people in your comment thread saying untrue and demeaning stuff about me: ignoring them.

            No, not even ignoring them. I condemned the comment before you said anything. And when you said the comment was not responded to and had it pointed out that it was, in fact, responded to, then my response wasn’t enough. So I wrote a more direct response. I have at least condemned him and his ilk even if I’m reticent to delete the delete/ban him. But even so, I’ve at least done something with regards to your dishonest and mean-spirited detractors on *my* site.

            That was one of the major points of my post: the way this issue is being framed is inconsistent and places a different set of standards upon me. I at least reacted when you voiced your displeasure (though not personally, in a public piece). I at least demonstrated that I was listening to what you were saying, impugning of my character and all, and responded and acted.

            You, on the other hand, have had zero to say about anything in my piece. You’ve only reiterated that I should delete the comment and ban the person (which I may yet do) all while insinuating that if I don’t go that far that it must mean I don’t care, and responded to nothing else. Conversations are not a one-way street, Stephanie. I’ve at least responded to much of what you had to say, demonstrating that I’m at least listening and that I think you deserve a response, even if I don’t agree with some of your reasoning. I’ve acted on some of it. I’ve not only acted like I respect you, but also that I assume your intentions are the best based on my past experience with you, rather than the worst.

            You have not extended the same courtesy. You have responded to nothing I’ve said, you’ve assumed the worst possible motivation of me, as if I’m paying lip service to feminism and your feelings just so I can secretly subvert it with the same people I’ve said repeatedly that I despise. All of this after I have been nothing but good to you for years.

            That’s what I’m doing.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            I have not told you to delete the comment. I haven’t told you to ban anyone. I have not said anything about your motivation.

            I did tell you I didn’t want a blog post. I did tell you I wanted the comment section dealt with. You quoted me.

          • JTEberhard

            You said:

            “You can simply tell the people who make obviously nasty comments about
            the people you claim to care about–directly and without fuss–”Not
            going to happen in my space.””

            So you want me to tell them that comments like his won’t fly, but you don’t want me to ban anybody or delete comments?

            Ok, so I took you wrong there (and in similar comments). My bad. But surely you can understand how I might get that impression. Perhaps I confused you with some of the other people calling for deletions or bans. If so, I apologize.

            So you don’t want me to delete the comment or ban the commenter (or maybe you do, but haven’t said so directly, choosing to instead insist that I “deal with it”, which I’ve done, though clearly not to your satisfaction), yet I’m providing a forum for people to harass others. That is the accusation, isn’t it? So how can I avoid making it a forum for harassing others if not by deletion or banning? By expressing my disdain? Did it. By allowing the commenters to downvote and express their disdain (which you glossed over entirely when you said his comment was left unchallenged)? Did it (and you’ve had this pointed out to you). By summarily rebuking everybody like him? Did it. Link the offending party to the summary rebuke? Did it.

            The only remaining option I see is that you could want me to go rebuke each of them individually. I’m not going to do that. Not only is it impractical, I don’t think it would produce a different result than the summary rebuke. Also, I don’t even rebut everybody who says something untrue or mean about *me*. I simply don’t respond to every jackass on the internet.

            And you haven’t assumed the worst possible motivation of me? You have repeatedly insisted that condemning the person who insulted you is insufficient, and that if I want to prove that I actually care that I need to do something else…that apparently isn’t deletion or banning. Initially it was to post a condemnation, which many people have noted I had already done (you’ve still not said “whoops, my bad, I guess the comment that I said was left uncontested had been contested by multiple people”). Then, when that wasn’t enough, I posted a summary condemnation. Then you wanted me to post it in that particular thread, so I posted the link to Gadfly in the particular thread. None of it has been enough to convince you that I don’t care a lick for a friend of the last few years. If you are not casting aspersions on my motivation, then why no “I understand you’re trying, but I’d really like to see you do x, y, and z (you said “deal with it”, which apparently doesn’t mean responding to the comment, blasting the commenter on my blog, linking the commenter to the blast, or deletion, or banning)”? Why the accusations that me caring is an unbelievable proposition despite everything I’ve done in response to your very uncharitable, factually errant blog post if my motivation is not in question? Why the insinuations that I’m not repulsed by harassers if my motivation is not in question?

            Stephanie, I have listened to everything you have said. I have responded to each point in your complaint and many of your subsequent ones. I have acted. It should be clear to any fair party precisely where I stand.

            You, on the other hand, have still yet to respond to any concerns I’ve laid out in my post. None, zilch, zero. You’ve not engaged in the same rebuke of detractors on your site that you demand of me (and have appeared thoroughly resistant to doing so, even though I immediately produced the rebuke you were insisting on). You seem content to let falsehoods and insults directed at me be dispensed on your blog but are outraged when people insult you on mine, even when I initially condemned the comment, and even when after you demanded more I acquiesced. Given all of this, I do not see how anybody can still think that I’m the one acting as if they don’t care.

            This is not fair. This is not how reasonable people resolve conflict.

          • Lilandra

            The issue here may be exacerbated by the limitations of text. Text also escalates quickly we all know this. Perhaps, it would be better to skype this so intent isn’t lost, and it can be resolved rather than escalate further.

          • Celticwulf

            JT, I think you’re missing the point…you’ve spent more time saying you’re upset that Stephanie is mad about others comments, and that you feel this is wrong, than you’ve spent making sure that the idiots making the comments stop. They’re still posting more and more on that previous thread, which could be considered an issue to anyone being insulted.

            Having lurked here and FTB for a few years, I can for sure say that PZ is quicker to ban or send people who are DOING the harassing direct messages to let them know it isn’t allowed on his blog than you are currently doing.

            Basically, stop worrying so much about peoples opinions of yourself, and spend more time worrying about taking care of idiots who harass people in your comments. Actions, not words.

          • baal

            PZ moderates for political ideology over harassment or abusiveness. He also has a sliding scale where his OMs are pure and good and can do no wrong. If the goal is less abuse, PZ is the last person you want to use as a model for moderation.

          • Celticwulf

            Still more moderation than has been seen in regards to this…and I’m not the one using PZ’s model…JT comments on it in the post.

          • invivoMark

            The words of a friend can always cut deeper than the most putrid verbal vitriol of an enemy.

          • baal

            “Basically, stop worrying so much about peoples opinions of yourself, and
            spend more time worrying about taking care of idiots who harass people
            in your comments.” objection. Facts not in evidence.

            Rather than make meta-level generic complaints, could you ground your hate of JT in more specific terms based on the facts?

            I find it telling that you choose to go the meta-route and a check list approach rather than dealing with real issues with action.

    • Improbable Joe

      Stephanie, I see what the problem is: you’re a piss-poor ‘feminist ally’ ally. Don’t you understand that sometimes you need to put aside your personal needs and the needs of women in general, so that you can better advance the goals of ‘feminist ally’-ism? You need to accept that the priorities of feminist allies aren’t often going to be your priorities or the priorities of feminism… and which one is really more important? Stop trying to hijack feminist ally-ism with your feminism nonsense!

      • Guest

        Not sure, but based on Improbable Joe’s comments below…I have a feeling you’re either an impostor using his name, or Joe’s discuss account got hacked…

        yeah…JT…this would be another thing to look for

      • Celticwulf

        ignore previous reply…missed the sarcasm tag *sigh*

        • Improbable Joe

          Yeah, that was me being sarcastic. People spend lots of time telling Stephanie how much they support feminism and how charitably they should be treated, and not much time supporting Stephanie in a way that would show support for feminism and proving that they deserve charitable treatment.

          • Celticwulf

            I completely agree :)

  • Improbable Joe

    Here’s what I see: ~1800 words where you studiously avoid using the name of the commenters harassing Stephanie and your other “friends”, and a whole lot of declarations about how awesome you are an a feminist ally and how you’re going to do really awesome things and take really awesome stands.

    If someone was harassing me, and you were my actual friend and.or gave a shit about harassment, you know what I would expect? A reply to each of those people in that thread saying “This is out of bounds in my space, knock it off or leave.” Not only is it doing/showing rather than making yet another proclamation of your awesome intent, but it would have saved you a whole bunch of typing.

    • Hibernia86

      JT has a life outside of blogging, Joe. You can’t expect him to read every comment and analyze it to decide if they should post or not. If a problem is brought to his attention he can deal with it, but asking him to screen every single comment immediately is ridiculous. Depending on how many comments a post had, he might never have time to do anything else.

      • Improbable Joe

        It has been a couple of days, and would take less time than the amount of writing he’s done INSTEAD of what I mentioned. Your comment is nonsensical.

      • TaylorMaid

        Except that he did read it. In his own words: ” I suspected it was a dig at you and said that if it was that it was pretty weak. But I didn’t know.” (from Stephanie’s post) His response to the insult he suspected was that it was a poor attempt at an insult. Not “If that’s what you’re saying, knock it off”, which would indicate he found it inappropriate.

        • JTEberhard

          That is actually my fault. I used “weak” to mean “deplorable”, not to mean “inept.” It was vague, which was my fault for not being clear.

          • TaylorMaid

            Aha. That small change makes a big difference, to me anyway.

  • Mark Nichols

    JT, this post, and several others hit right to the point of why I do not comment on posts regarding Feminism. Those people that actually know me personally know exactly where I stand on the matter. I am for equality and respect in nearly every social area, save religious/scientific nonsense. Yet, those times I do comment, and don’t speak to every conceivable aspect of a particular topic, many are quick to jump on the words, but not the spirit of the conversation. Moreover, any attempt to convey sarcasm or brevity are also pounced upon due to the nature of the written over spoken word dialogue exchange. That said, the topic of moderation on the internet seems to be a lose-lose in general. Either you go full bore and restrict all comments, thus seeming like you can’t take criticism, or you allow all comments-including those you may disagree with, thus appearing to agree with everyone else’s words because they remain in view or you moderate and get the worst response to those two extremes anyway.

    Your point that you are not watching every comment as they come in because you have other things to do in life should never be a reason to attack your intentions or opinions. Furthermore, since when is it your responsibility to clarify the meanings, intentions, or motives of others. You talked about this the other day regarding the Laden post. I fully agree, none of us have access to that knowledge, but instead of attempting clarification (generally speaking of course), the first instinct of some -not all- is to jump all over the words -generally as quote mining- and attack the writer as not fully aware of the topic in general or that the author must tacitly agree with the comment. This to me seems to be a characteristic of a non-skeptic/free-thought mindset. I didn’t realize I was in the presence of someone that knows everything about everything. If so, why the hell are you commenting on some blog and not fixing the problem by tomorrow.

    Basically, those people that are not commenting for the sake of meaningful discussion can go get fucked. Trolls, harassers, and troglodytes that come to poke for the sake of their own ego or personal issues, are, in my opinion, not worth the time to address individually by the author. Otherwise, how would you get anything done at all.

    It couldn’t be more clear that you support the cause and importance of feminism, nor could it be more clear that you are a person that attempts to discuss and learn more about nearly every issue that comes across your plate.

    The sheer volume of things each of us don’t know about due to education, life experience, etc is nearly insurmountable. Yet, instead of discussion based expanding knowledge, the conversation -through comments-turns to “well you just don’t know what you are talking about so you must have negative or evil intentions based upon your lack of that knowledge, so fuck you asshole.” How about instead, “have you considered x,y, and z?”

    My main concern with all of this, is that there are simply too many assholes in the world in general, and they have unfettered access to the internet. But it is their right to speak their minds, even if it is mean, or unhelpful. However, commenters, often behind the veil of anonymity, do not speak for everyone, nor do they speak for the author of the posts, they only speak for themselves, and barely at that. I am not in business of censorship, and I’m pretty sure you are not
    either. There doesn’t really seem to be any way for this not to be the
    case for a skeptical person. Even bad ideas or speech deserves some place at the table lest one be labelled fascist.

    The words of a few disgusting people do not speak for a whole group of people. If they were honest about exchange they wouldn’t hide behind pseudonyms. Moreover, if they were really honest about understanding, they might ask the author directly for clarification before running off at the mouth, and before you, as the author have a chance to response.

    • Magicthighs

      “My main concern with all of this, is that there are simply too many assholes in the world in general, and they have unfettered access to the internet. But it is their right to speak their minds, even if it is mean, or unhelpful”

      No, they really don’t have any such right on someone else’s blog.

      • Mark Nichols

        A blog which is in an open forum and accessible to all that sign up to comment. The determination should come after the comment is made, not before. If you don’t like the comment, down vote, report, or retort. Those are options as well.

        • Magicthighs

          You assume blogs are by definition open forums. They’re not, they’re personal spaces. The owner of the blog gets to decide which comments, if any, to allow.

          • Mark Nichols

            Search for blog on subject x, easy to register for comments, and post comments pretty much freely. That’s pretty open at least in the original sense. Yes the owner is free to drop the ban hammer.

            I mentioned in my comments the inherent problems with moderation for comments in general. If a blog owner wishes to restrict who can comment, then of course they can do that on their own space. However, given the nature of the traffic here, it would be difficult to pre-approve every post. So either the blog owner can attempt that approved restriction measure, in which case all conversation is slowed down, or the blog owner can keep it open for all, and address those comments which are objectionable as they are able. This of course assumes that the blog owner is capable of knowing what is and is not objectionable to every other reader all the time. It also assumes that the author is monitoring all comments all the time, just in case. This seems to be asking for perhaps a bit too much. How about going after the people that make the comments alone, unless there is a distinct knowledge that the blog owner in fact agrees with the comment in question. Not acknowledging a particular post is not tacit agreement with that post. That seems to be what JT is trying to say.

          • Magicthighs

            It seems you don’t actually think everyone has a “right to speak their minds, even if it is mean, or unhelpful”, as you originally stated. You seem to agree that the owner of a blog has a right to ban people, maybe even preemptively, delete comments, etc.

          • Mark Nichols

            And I’m not the blog owner. I think that people can say whatever they want. That does not mean there will not be some type of consequence to those words.

            If JT wants to ban people, fine, he can do it. I certainly can’t stop him. However, the OP was about his support or non-support of ideas said by others, not himself, and to put the onus on the blog owner to police every single word seems unreasonable given time involved. That doesn’t discount that people are free to say it, nor does it suggest there will not be consequences for saying it, only that they are able to say it and consequences follow an established pattern of words already stated, not yet to come. Beside, whatever the comment was, it was behind a fake name easily changed to appear as someone else down the road. The ‘Gadfly’ name sort of implies troll behavior anyway. More than that, one could just down vote the shitty comments into oblivion, or spend one’s time responding to every crazy thing some stranger says, or ignore the troll.

            How do you propose we stop inappropriate behavior on the internet? Honestly, I would like to know.

          • Magicthighs

            Ah, ok, so you mean that anyone has the ability, not right, to post on a blog that allows comments, until the owner of that blog decides they’re no longer welcome. I agree with that.

            What can we do to stop inappropriate behaviour on the internet? We can all start with calling people out for it, deleting their comments, deleting their accounts, banning their IPs, prohibiting them from voicing their opinion on your own personal blog space, blocking them on twitter or what have you, clearly voice your disapproval of their behaviour, warn others that such behaviour is not tolerated, explaining why such behaviour shouldn’t be tolerated, etc.

          • Mark Nichols

            That seems like an extremely time consuming process without some help. Moreover, it seems they will just be replaced with someone else until that new ‘person’ is discovered to be an asshole.

            One point though is how to distinguish between someone who is just wrong, or ignorant, and those that are trolling for other reasons, regardless of the motivation. This is what seems impossible to determine in the practical sense. I mean, gadfly cold just use a different computer, or a different name, or slightly change the tone, or simply become more clever in the comments. This Poe aspect combined with the nature of the written word versus in person context is really the problem for for keeping assholes in their place. Moreover, it suggests, because they have a negative attitude about some things, then they have nothing to contribute on other things.

            I guess my ultimate problem with this wide spread banning approach intends to stifle speech that any one person, or group has objections to (they could be wrong). Considering that none of us have a perfect way to behave, think, interact, etc I’m not sure whom should make those rules.

            Sure call em out, but it doesn’t mean they’ll listen. You can ban them, but it doesn’t mean they won’t find another way. You can tell others that so and so is acting this way, but your allies/friends/whatever may not believe, you, or interpret it differently, or may not care.

            This is why I think the default position is say what you want. ‘We’ can sort it out later, if possible. But given the anonymity, ease of use, and distance involved with the internet, a widespread plan of countering this behavior seems unworkable except against people who are willing to change their minds. Those willing to change their minds don’t seem to be in abundance.

          • Magicthighs

            Yes, it is time consuming, running a blog pretty much is. Commenters can help, though, by doing some of the things I mentioned, like calling people out on their shit.

            There’s no clear line between someone who’s “just wrong” and a troll or Poe. Someone can be “just wrong” on some pretty fundamental stuff, like racism, sexism, etc. That doesn’t mean they should have a voice on any specific forum.

            I’m not interested in anything Gadfly has to say. They might have interesting opinions on some utterly unrelated issues, but their childish behaviour displayed here means I’m not willing to listen to anything they say. First they’ll have to grow the fuck up. I have no problem stifling their speech in any way whatsoever.

            This is not about making them listen. Their behaviour suggests it’s too late for that. What we can do is make fucking sure other people understand that displaying such behaviour means you are ousted. You are no longer part of the conversation. And again, I have no problem with that.

            What I think is interesting is that when it comes to overt (or not so overt) sexism I keep hearing these same arguments, that people have a right to be heard, that it’s hard to moderate comments. I never hear that about racists, for instance.

          • Mark Nichols

            I agree with the discounting of individuals especially the more obvious ones. I also agree that in most senses the childish behavior overwhelms anything positive. Thus the consequence, but only, if and when able. For example, JT seems to have taken the day off. I hope he enjoys the time with his family. However, this is an opportunity for the assholes to attack, and should he not get back in time, is he therefore responsible for not acting quickly enough? Or will the regular commenters handle it for him? This seems to be part of discussion in other parts of the comments. When and how such consequences are handled is a sticking point all unto itself.

            The last paragraph I will respond to but need to time to consider for clarity. Like I said originally, I don’t comment on the topic of feminism and sexism often because it is difficult to be clear about an already nuanced discussion in an online forum. I wouldn’t want to be misconstrued, and I hope to address the differences in challenging the language differences between racism and sexism as you have written.

            I’ll try to be back for this one. You make an interesting point.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            As I recall part of the original complaint was that the harassing comment had been let sit while responses had been made elsewhere. So it appeared that there had been opportunity to see and respond to it.

          • Mark Nichols

            I see. Fair enough, but does not acknowledging a comment add credence to some kind of agreement? I guess more to my original post, does JT, or any blog author, have a responsibility to respond every comment?

            I understand that Stephanie has been subject to a long-term hate campaign by a bunch of crazies. That is unacceptable for sure. It also seems like to address each of those people is both time consuming and not particularly effective. I mean, they are uncaring assholes, or trolls, or both. They crave attention, why give them more? It seems JT had just a few options, ignore the nonsense, ban the commenter, or say, “that’s rude, stop it”. I guess he choose poorly? Is that the complaint here?

          • JTEberhard

            I usually go with “ignore”. I don’t place any stock in the insults of people for whom I have no respect. That’s why it took someone asking my opinion of the comment before I gave it.

            But for the most part, I don’t like validating people who insult me or others. Has nothing to do with not thinking they’re assholes and everything to do with the fact that insults on the internet are a dime-a-dozen.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            “…everything to do with the fact that insults on the internet are a dime-a-dozen.”

            This may be a big part of the problem. You’re seeing it as just one more of some piddly insults on the Internet. But to a harassment victim it’s viewed more as yet one more stone amid the avalanche and they want it *all* to stop. They’re already black and blue from the pounding, so even the small stones are hurting a lot more than someone that’s not been so abused.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            I think to a certain degree leaving statements unchallenged can indicate some level of either agreement, or at least not caring enough about it being wrong. And there’s also an issue about the company one keeps. If your comment threads are full of climate change deniers and they’re left unchallenged it can appear you’re sympathetic, for example.

            I don’t think there’s some objective responsibility. I think a blog author (or anything similar) should choose their responsibilities. What JT is responsible for in his comment thread, for example, is going to vary depending on things like whether he wants certain people to think he treats them as a friend. Or whether people view him as a staunch ally of ferret rights versus merely espousing vague support for ferrets.

            There’s a lot of strong arguments that ignoring “trolls” isn’t very effective. Something I’m well aware of from being a kid. If they get their jollies from bragging with their friends about what they did, the fact that you try to ignore the harassment, and that the friends and adults around also ignore the harassment, isn’t going to make the harassment stop. What it *will* do is make the victim of a harassment campaign think they don’t have support and that their friends aren’t very good friends.

            I think JT had more options than that. But it does seem to me that the complaint is that JT’s response doesn’t look to the victim like it’s directly challenging the abuser, or only weakly doing so, while spending a lot more time defending himself from the criticism than actually doing something to invalidate the criticism.
            Part of it would be different views on what it means to challenge the abuse. This post starts with condemning the abuse, before going on at length on the separate topic of defending JT’s actions. I haven’t been back to the other thread yet, but the comments make it sound like there’s not as much direct challenging of Gadfly and ‘pitter types in *that* venue where the abuse is happening. It sounds to me like Stephanie is mostly expecting a stronger response in *that* venue.

          • Mark Nichols

            I see. Fair enough, but does not acknowledging a comment add credence to some kind of agreement? I guess more to my original post, does JT, or any blog author, have a responsibility to respond every comment?

            I understand that Stephanie has been subject to a long-term hate campaign by a bunch of crazies. That is unacceptable for sure. It also seems like to address each of those people is both time consuming and not particularly effective. I mean, they are uncaring assholes, or trolls, or both. They crave attention, why give them more? It seems JT had just a few options, ignore the nonsense, ban the commenter, or say, “that’s rude, stop it”. I guess he choose poorly? Is that the complaint here?

          • JTEberhard

            The initial charge was that the comment had seen no response. Then it was pointed out that I had responded.

            Then the claim was that my response was insufficient, even though I’ve spent the last week renouncing that brand of commenter. So I made a blog and reiterated my disdain.

            Now the problem is that I’ve not banned and blocked the commenter.

            So yes, there was time to see and respond to it. I did see it and I did respond to it. Then…all this happened.

      • Rational_Feminist

        Right! We all choose who we allow into our lives. That includes into comment sections. Waiting until after they comment isn’t necessary. Voting down is still giving voice.

  • invivoMark

    The first and foremost requirement of an effective insult is that it must be coherent.

    The post from Socratic Gadfly was anything but. Given the commentariat at this website, whom I feel I know fairly well, bullshit doesn’t fly here. Insults, unjustified attacks, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry are called out just as often as theological bullshit.

    The exception, of course, is when we can’t figure out what the fuck a commenter is even trying to say. The fact that Gadfly’s comment was met with silence says a whole lot more about the comment than any refutation could have.

    I feel I should note that, prior to this post going up, Disqus says that Gadfly had a mere 15 upvotes in a total of over 300 comments – an abysmally low number (compare that to any other poster!). Now that attention has been drawn to the comment, Gadfly’s upvotes have more than tripled (46 as of this posting). Drawing attention to a shitty commenter’s offensive post has unfortunately done more to achieve that commenter’s goals of attention and legitimacy than ignoring it.

    I’m sorry, Stephanie, but I think you’re wrong. You don’t give JT or his commentariat enough credit. I wish you would give us more of a chance before judging us. And I’m having a hard time trying to find a way not to feel a little bit insulted.

    • Stephanie Zvan

      Now that you’ve had your say about how I’m wrong in how I react to 2-1/2 years of sexist bullshit, what are you doing about SocraticGadfly?

      • invivoMark

        WTF? Stephanie, what were you expecting to accomplish with that post? You know that isn’t a fair interpretation of what I said. If you have any legitimate criticism of my post, you are welcome to provide it. But I suggest you refrain from dishonest tactics like intentionally misinterpreting what I say in the future. I won’t put up with that bullshit, not even from you.

        What am I doing about SocraticGadfly? Nothing. Do you honestly think there’s something I could be doing to fix as shitty and broken a person as him? If so, I would be very eager to hear about it. But keep in mind, if I’m to respond to his posts, I would probably be a lot more effective if I can actually tell what he’s trying to say. At the time, I definitely couldn’t.

        • Stephanie Zvan

          You can now plainly see him in that thread claiming that what he’s saying is socially acceptable. You are choosing to do nothing about that. You are, instead, telling me I should not be angry that no one did anything about that comment because you couldn’t figure out what it said. You are doing this where other people can read it and decide what the priorities in these comment threads are.

          • invivoMark

            You can be angry all you want. You clearly did understand what that commenter was trying to say, and so if you assumed that everyone else also understood it, you are very much right to be angry. I am explaining why a lack of response to that commenter was not unreasonable.

            You may choose to ignore my explanation, and assume that JT and his commentariat are misogynistic assholes who agree wholeheartedly with everything that SocraticGadfly says, or you may accept my explanation and accept the fact that most of us here are very much supporters of feminism and highly critical of harassment and bigotry. I will tell you that one of these reactions would be more correct than the other. I leave it up to you to figure out which one.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            I can stop being angry at people for continuing to do nothing even after they know what’s going on or I can think “JT and his commentariat are misogynistic assholes who agree wholeheartedly with everything that SocraticGadfly says”. Hmm.

            Maybe I can just think you’d prefer to be comfortably miffed at me for pointing out a problem than to take action after it’s pointed out. Yes. I think I can do that.

          • invivoMark

            There you go intentionally misinterpreting what I write again. Cut the bullshit, Stephanie. I thought you were a better person than that, but perhaps I was wrong.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Now, now, invivoMark. Several people in this thread are urging charitable interpretations and a lack of mind reading. Surely that applies to me as well as to JT, right? I am giving the best interpretation of I can of your words in the context of everything that has happened to this point. If something is wrong, tell me what.

            I’ve told you you can still make a difference by explicitly saying, where it will be seen by the people who see the original crap, that Steve is wrong about his statements being socially acceptable. You’re continuing to tell me how mad you are at me instead. Where am I wrong in what I’m saying?

          • invivoMark

            So you’re saying that “accept the fact that most of us here
            are very much supporters of feminism and highly critical of harassment and bigotry” = “stop being angry at people for continuing to do nothing even after they know what’s going on”.

            You’re saying that’s “giving the best interpretation [you] can”.

            I call bullshit. And your patronizing tone isn’t helping. Also, you have conspicuously avoided answering my question: “Do you honestly think there’s something I could be doing to fix as shitty and broken a person as him?” Unless you can answer that question, I reject the notion that I “can still make a difference” anywhere in that other thread.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            No, I don’t think you can fix Steve. I think he’s a lost cause. I think JT should ban him if he doesn’t want the exact same thing happening again.

            What I’ve told you you can do–which you continue to decline to do in favor of telling me I should stop being angry–is register your disapproval in that thread so that anyone else reading it knows that it is not, in fact, socially acceptable in these parts to do what Steve did.

          • invivoMark

            Look, I never once said you should stop being angry. Stop saying that I did.

            And stop telling me how to deal with bigots and trolls. It’s like you’re setting up some “test” of my feminism, and if I don’t act in just the way you think is appropriate, then I’m an enemy. Well fuck that. I don’t need your approval. I will continue to support feminists and feminist causes. And I will do so in whatever way I think will help. Not because I seek validation, but because it’s right.

            You know what I did to the shitty comments on the other thread? I down-voted them. See, I could have refuted them, but I really couldn’t think of much to say other than, “Yo, that’s a shitty comment. You should probably stop.” And doing that after every single post (and then going back two days later to do so again to every new post they put up) isn’t something I felt like doing. Thankfully, Disqus is really clever. They came up with a way that I can say essentially the same thing with just the click of a mouse button. And like magic, I have already shown my disapproval of all the shitty comments that were there the last time I visited the thread.

            I’m not sorry if that doesn’t qualify under your criteria for an appropriate response.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Thank you for down-voting them.
            What is your first comment telling me I’m wrong about if not being angry?

          • invivoMark

            You’re wrong about JT’s motivations. You’re wrong about JT’s blog being “a forum for more abuse to go unchallenged”. You’re wrong in your assessment of the commentariat of this blog. I think you’re wrong to criticize JT’s comment policy. And I think you’re wrong about the best way to react to Gadfly’s post, for all the reasons I outlined in my first post.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            I have spoken about JT’s behavior, both here and in dealing with the comments on that other post. I have spoken about the behavior of the commentariat on that post and this post. If you don’t like the implications of the behavior I’ve noted, suggest that people change it.

            I’ve been dealing with this harassment for years now. I’ve been listening to women in these movements who see behavior like Gadfly’s and wonder whether they still want to be a part of a movement where they have to deal with that crap. They tell me it helps to see it challenged directly. As someone who has been on the receiving end of this abuse for 2-1/2 years, I’m telling you that seeing it challenged directly helps. But if you like, you can go ahead and tell me that I’m wrong about what kind of difference it makes to see someone stand up on my side just because you feel something that requires less effort from you would be better.

          • invivoMark

            I post on this website for many reasons. Making you feel better is not one of those reasons.

          • Jason Thibeault

            Your goal isn’t to make things better for Stephanie? Well, that’s good that that’s actually defined in your set of reasons. Then, perhaps, you should try to avoid actively making things worse. (By, for instance, telling her to stop challenging people who are doing things that demonstrably harm her.)

          • invivoMark

            (By, for instance, telling her to stop challenging people who are doing things that demonstrably harm her.)

            What in all the fucks? When the hell did I ever say anything that could be interpreted as resembling anything even remotely close to that!?!

          • Jason Thibeault

            invivoMark: you’ve repeatedly told Stephanie — on the receiving end of ongoing harassment from a number of ‘pitters who seem to have interpreted JT’s inaction as a welcome carpet for them to shit on his rug at discourse’s expense — that she’s being unreasonable for asking JT to take a stronger stance in not allowing the ongoing harassment and rug-shittery. He quoted her saying she didn’t want him doing a blog post about it, she wanted him to actually stand up for her when he’s claiming to support her. So he did a blog post. She said that was not useful. You said she was being intemperate.

            You’ve strawmanned everything she’s asked for here, suggesting that through JT’s repeated laissez-faire attitude about the malice aimed at her that she’s calling you and everyone else misogynists. As though we feminists call just about ANYONE misogynists, even when we’re calling actions expressly misogynistic.

            You’ve said that downvoting shitty comments — evidently quite some time after they appeared, and only after Stephanie herself finally lost her shit at the people who are too willing to ignore grossly misogynist attacks (come on, you seriously didn’t think “husband” was implying a relationship was behind their agreement on things!?). so long as they’re making fun of the publicly-accepted whipping boy that is Greg Laden who, despite being absolutely right about a shit load of things, says an impolitic thing now and then that still itself has a kernel of truth.

            And meanwhile, everyone taking Stephanie to task for standing up for herself is also standing up for JT in claiming that he’s standing up for her, when he’s demonstrably not. Not in any way that makes a real difference — like the ways she suggested and he didn’t actually do. And which, by the way, are not the false dichotomy of “let them post their rug-shittery” or “ban them and call them misogynists and possibly also take their balls off”.

            And you’re claiming that people are reading your mind, when really, they’re judging your actions.

            When did you say anything that could be remotely interpreted as being against Stephanie challenging things that are demonstrably harming her? Do any of the things that I’ve listed here count?

          • JTEberhard

            “JT’s repeated laissez-faire attitude about the malice aimed at her”

            This is flagrantly untrue. I have condemned it repeatedly. I’ve done everything up to ban/delete and am still considering that.

            This is just flat out unfair.

          • TaylorMaid

            Can you turn comments off over there? Then they wouldn’t be shitting on the rug anymore.

          • JTEberhard

            Yeah, good call. Will probably follow suit here later today.

          • Jason Thibeault

            “This is just flat out unfair.”

            No it isn’t. Elsewhere:

            “I usually go with “ignore”.”

            You have the option, because it’s not an ongoing and targeted harassment campaign against you. The insults that are a dime a dozen on the internet are not disproportionately aimed at you for being a woman daring to talk about feminism — so you get to ignore it. Her especial hurt here, frankly, was because you made a show of supporting her in the original post, and yet the assbags are allowed free reign to shit on your rug. And the follow-up blog post saying they’re jerks, yes, that’s right, but it’s toothless. And misplaced, where you blockquoted her as saying that *was not what she wanted*.

            She wanted — and deserves, if you truly do support her — at least some demonstration that the spittle-flecked invective (aimed at her) that started making its home in your blog is unwelcome. And you do that by putting some teeth behind your statement. Challenge directly the comments that are made *where they are made*, either by saying “that bullshit is unwelcome here” at the very least. Consider maybe focusing your pugilism on those people who are actually making life miserable for your warm and sweet and empathetic friend and ally, instead of on her, honestly, very mild criticism of your choice of targets.

            And while you’re at it, learn to take criticism better. You do like to make a good show of liking honest criticism, but when you get it, you get really hyper-focused on what damage the argument is doing YOU. Don’t do that. That’s why people keep calling you a bad ally.

          • JTEberhard

            *Usually* go with ignore, which I did not do in this case. So my attitude in this case cannot be called laissez-faire.

            “She wanted — and deserves, if you truly do support her — at least some
            demonstration that the spittle-flecked invective (aimed at her) that
            started making its home in your blog is unwelcome. And you do that by
            putting some teeth behind your statement. Challenge directly the
            comments that are made *where they are made*, either by saying “that
            bullshit is unwelcome here” at the very least.”

            This has been done. It has been demonstrated by my initial comment of contempt, it was demonstrated further by my blog post, and was demonstrated even further when Steph asked that I post it in response to Gadfly and I did.

            Steph has said she doesn’t want banning or deletion. I’ll actually copy/paste what I said to her:

            “So you don’t want me to delete the comment or ban the commenter (or
            maybe you do, but haven’t said so directly, choosing to instead insist
            that I “deal with it”, which I’ve done, though clearly not to your
            satisfaction), yet I’m providing a forum for people to harass others.
            That is the accusation, isn’t it? So how can I avoid making it a forum
            for harassing others if not by deletion or banning? By expressing my
            disdain? Did it. By allowing the commenters to downvote and express
            their disdain (which you glossed over entirely when you said his comment
            was left unchallenged)? Did it (and you’ve had this pointed out to
            you). By summarily rebuking everybody like him? Did it. Link the
            offending party to the summary rebuke? Did it.”

            As for…

            “Consider maybe focusing your pugilism on those people who are actually
            making life miserable for your warm and sweet and empathetic friend and
            ally, instead of on her, honestly, very mild criticism of your choice of

            I did it. I just didn’t do it without also demonstrating concern for the double standard, or the factual errors, or any number of other things that are also bad.

            “And while you’re at it, learn to take criticism better. You do like to
            make a good show of liking honest criticism, but when you get it, you
            get really hyper-focused on what damage the argument is doing YOU. Don’t
            do that. That’s why people keep calling you a bad ally.”

            I have done most of what Stephanie asked for. I’ll copy and paste what I wrote to her:

            ” Initially it was to post a condemnation, which many people have noted I
            had already done (you’ve still not said “whoops, my bad, I guess the
            comment that I said was left uncontested had been contested by multiple
            people”). Then, when that wasn’t enough, I posted a summary
            condemnation. Then you wanted me to post it in that particular thread,
            so I posted the link to Gadfly in the particular thread.”

            I heard the criticism, took it in much, much better (and more factually accurate) stride than it was given, and acted on it. The argument seems to be that defending myself whilst doing so invalidates this. I don’t think that’s the case.

            If that makes me a bad ally, fine. I’m a bad ally.

          • corvelay

            Bad ally! You’re a very, very bad ally! Someone spray JT with the water bottle!

          • invivoMark

            Well, that’s a lot of text. Let’s do a line-by-line. It’ll be fun!

            you’ve repeatedly told Stephanie — on the receiving end of ongoing harassment from a number of ‘pitters who seem to have interpreted JT’s inaction as a welcome carpet for them to shit on his rug at discourse’s expense — that she’s being unreasonable for asking JT to take a stronger stance in not allowing the ongoing harassment and rug-shittery.

            No I haven’t. I never said anything like that. Of course, Stephanie never simply “ask[ed] JT to take a stronger stance” – she did a whole lot more than that, and that’s what I’m criticizing.

            You said she was being intemperate.

            No I didn’t.

            You’ve strawmanned everything she’s asked for here, suggesting that through JT’s repeated laissez-faire attitude about the malice aimed at her that she’s calling you and everyone else misogynists.

            a) No, I didn’t; I explained why the behavior of JT and the other commenters is not unreasonable. b) JT has never had a laissez-faire attitude toward bigotry on his blog, and it’s incredibly dishonest of you to imply such.

            You’ve said that downvoting shitty comments — evidently quite some time after they appeared

            You have no idea when I downvoted what, so you have no basis to be making such claims. Knock it the fuck off.

            and only after Stephanie herself finally lost her shit at the people who are too willing to ignore grossly misogynist attacks

            Yes, because giving 20 downvotes to something is tantamount to ignoring it….

            (come on, you seriously didn’t think “husband” was implying a relationship was behind their agreement on things!?)

            I honestly had no idea what the fuck that was supposed to be a reference to.

            so long as they’re making fun of the publicly-accepted whipping boy that is Greg Laden

            I couldn’t even tell who was being made fun of, but I wouldn’t stand for misogynistic insults in any case, and neither would the commentariat of this website.

            who, despite being absolutely right about a shit load of things

            You know who else is right about a shitload of things? MRAs are. Flat-earthers are. They’re not right about the things they’re passionate about, but they’re still right when they say the sun sets in the west.

            says an impolitic thing now and then that still itself has a kernel of truth.

            Ah, so you think there’s a “kernel of truth” in Greg accusing JT of just pretending to be a feminist so he can get laid?

            And meanwhile, everyone taking Stephanie to task for standing up for herself

            Ah, yes, you definitely understand the situation and that is exactly what is happening here. Suuuuure.

            is also standing up for JT in claiming that he’s standing up for her, when he’s demonstrably not.

            Yep. JT never responded to SocraticGadfly’s post. Except he did and you’re wrong.

            Not in any way that makes a real difference — like the ways she suggested and he didn’t actually do.

            Such as what? I’m actually still not clear on this.

            And you’re claiming that people are reading your mind

            I did!? Where??? I must be a horrible skeptic if I believe in mind-reading!!! What’s my penance? Do I have to say fifty Hail Randis?

            when really, they’re judging your actions.

            Just like you are. You’re judging actions that I never made, ever.

            When did you say anything that could be remotely interpreted as being against Stephanie challenging things that are demonstrably harming her? Do any of the things that I’ve listed here count?


            Jason, you’ve made an accusation against me, and when asked to back up that accusation, you wrote a meandering post that frequently went off-topic, was full of inaccuracies and false accusations, and was entirely lacking in substance. If you honestly think I’ve done something wrong, point it out! Use quotes! Be specific! I am all about correcting my own mistakes. I know I’m an imperfect human being, and an imperfect feminist.

            But if you keep up these false accusations and distractions, you aren’t helping anyone.

          • Jason Thibeault

            invivoMark: Oh, we’re doing the thing where if I say the end result of your argument, where you’re trying to PROVE Stephanie is being unreasonable and intemperate, that that means I’m lying because you never SAID the words “unreasonable” or “intemperate”? So I guess I’m a liar, and you aren’t actually SAYING that Stephanie’s being unreasonable or intemperate, you’re just spending hundreds of words in an attempt to SHOW that. Unless you’re not? Unless you’re just trying to prove that Stephanie shouldn’t ask people to stand up for her? Maybe YOU should clarify what YOU want from this instead of calling people liars for trying to extrapolate, when they can’t get your actual intent!

            And do spare a word for the people you’ve ignored thinking that that’s the “worst consequence” for them. The “trolls”, you called them. Like the one that you didn’t realize was patently sexist bullshit because you thought Gadfly was confusing, even though you very likely saw the same sentiment from Greg aimed at JT and thought that was beyond the pale. (Yes, they’re both using the same trope: that men agree with women because of that sweet sweet feminazi sex. If it’s wrong when Greg does it, why is Socratic Gadfly’s example just “confusing”?)

            I suspect that even if I showed the exact blockquotes that led me to the conclusions that you’re far more interested in defending JT against Stephanie’s anger than you are in defending Stephanie against the patently sexist bullshit, this isn’t going to go anywhere except you digging in your heels, and me wasting my time and eroding my own name as you chip away at it by saying “liar” over and over again. Even when there’s good reasons for me to believe what I say. Like, for instance, the 24 hrs between Gadfly’s comment and when Stephanie called it out, during which there were two down votes, one of whom was Stephanie, giving me good reason to believe that you downvoted it much after its existence as I stated and you said I have no reason to believe. Or the fact that Disqus lets you look at a person’s comment history and you can see patterns in what you challenge and what you don’t. But hey, destroying my credibility to save your own is fun!

            Therefore, go right ahead, keep arguing against Stephanie while ignoring the sexist assbags. There’s zero I can do to make you understand how that’s kinda a shitty way to prove you’re on the side of angels here.

          • invivoMark

            Well, it’s a good thing I don’t support feminism in order to feel validated by you or Stephanie. I don’t have to prove my feminism to anyone.

            But it’s good to know that I’m being judged by you for how I spend my time. I spend more time drinking beer than I do verbally abusing bigots, so clearly I just don’t care about bigotry, right? It’s a “pattern” of behavior, so obviously we can conclude that I’m just fine with bigotry, and I would love for this website to become a safe haven for them to spew their hateful rhetoric. If I don’t call out every single instance of bigotry I see, even when calling it out would do nothing to change anyone’s behavior, I’m just not a good enough feminist for Jason Thibeault! If I ever criticize even one thing that a woman says, then I’m no True Feminist(TM)!

            To hell with that.

          • Jason Thibeault

            “If I don’t call out every single instance of bigotry I see, even when calling it out would do nothing to change anyone’s behavior, I’m just not a good enough feminist for Jason Thibeault!”

            The standard you walk by is the standard you accept.

          • Dan Wolf

            You are socially retarded Jason. If you displayed the attitude you do here in real life where I am you would have a very hard time making friends to say the least. Your understanding of social interaction could be overshadowed by a kindergartner. You sound like a parrot squawking out lines. I know it’s your hobby and you love it but maybe give us a rest and get into building birdhouses or something?? Please.

          • Verbose Stoic

            I presume, then, that both you and Stephanie will point out where you refused to walk past Greg Laden’s comment about JT that started the whole mess? Or should we therefore just assume that you accept it because you walked by it?

            An additional problem with this is that it depends on an interpretation of “standard”, or at least the acceptability of it. In this case, most people walked by that comment because it was utterly incomprehensible. Walking by that in that case seems fair since no one really knew what they would be addressing.

          • perplexed

            This is complete crap.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Yes, it is very, very clear that you do not prioritize making me–or the other women who do not want to participate where harassment goes unchallenged–welcome here.

          • invivoMark

            Fuck off. That is simply unfair, and you have NO grounds for saying that. You have not read every comment I have ever made, you do not personally know me. You don’t know how I act or what I say beyond what little I have said in this thread. I will not stand by and be insulted by you. This “conversation” is over.

          • http://www.facebook.com/wonderist Thaumas Themelios

            Thank you, invivoMark, for your posts. They were very helpful IMHO. I believe you are honest and sincere and have tried your best to be charitable to both Zvan and Thibeault, only to have them attempt to walk all over you and put words in your mouth and thoughts and motivations in your head. Kudos to you for not putting up with it!

            I think this thread has revealed just how reactionary some people can become over these topics, and how uncritically they begin thinking about the issues and even about other people (including people’s thoughts, intentions, and motivations). It’s clear in this thread that Zvan and Thibeault simply conjured their accusations against you and JT straight out of their imaginations, entirely disconnected from reality. Again, I applaud you (and JT, come to think of it) for standing up to this kind of unskeptical, uncharitable behaviour.

          • invivoMark

            Thank you. I think I ought to clarify a couple things for the record though.

            I never set out to attack Stephanie. I understand the reality that she is harassed by some truly vile people. I know how infuriating that can be, and I truly cannot blame her for raising hell over seeing them pop up on a colleague’s website. But what I saw from her was effectively a unilateral condemnation of everyone who writes for, reads, or comments on this website. And I know there are good people here who do not deserve that treatment.

            So I initially set out to defend those people. I thought my comments were as reasonable as I could manage, but I was disappointed to have become the focus of attacks by Stephanie. I don’t feel those attacks were at all justified, and toward the end they obviously got a bit nastier than I was willing to put up with.

            I still don’t hold it against Stephanie, though. I don’t know her very well, but she is probably ordinarily a good person. Even though she probably despises me by now, I won’t hold a grudge.

            Jason, on the other hand… I honestly have no idea what was going through his head at any point in my exchange with him. I think that almost everything he said was straight-up irrational or dishonest, and that worries me. I also don’t know Jason enough to judge him too harshly. Maybe he just had an off day, and really felt like antagonizing someone.

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            Here’s what I don’t get about your response: You keep saying that SocraticGadfly’s post went unchallenged. Looking through the comment thread, it seems guest, JT, TCC and RowanVT all challenged it before you posted anything and IIRC, there were 20 or so downvotes at that point. I think you and JT have very different ideas about what challenging troll commenters looks like. It may help if you spelled you what you expected.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            As I said when you posted the same damned thing on my blog, don’t make shit up to feel better. “Guest” is someone to whom I commented privately, two hours after the comment had gone up and only one person besides me had even down-voted it, that it sucked to see it sit there being ignored. JT’s incurious comment followed before I wrote my post. Everything else came after that.

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            That still leaves TCC and RowanVT. Also, I don’t think I understand how you are interpreting JT’s comment. I took him to mean that SocraticGadlfy’s attempt to insult you was so pathetic that it wasn’t even clear what angle he was taking. (You had to be familiar with Slymepit memes to even understand what the insult was supposed to be and JT apparently wasn’t.) You wrote how you interpreted it, but I’m having trouble connecting that to his actual words.


            I agree with what Heina said here. I think everyone who has told you not to feed the trolls and that if you pay attention to them, you are just giving them what they want is wrong. Peopel who say this are in fact giving the trolls what they want: you getting blamed for your own harassment, or at least the fact that it bothers you. People who say this should mind their own business and stop telling other people how they are supposed to feel about shit.

            I also agree with what she said in the comments though: People aren’t obligated to engage ignorant bigots or trolls if that’s not their thing. I do normally engage, but didn’t in this case because they were clearly arguing in bad faith, so i had no chance of changing their minds and there was no risk bystanders would mistake them as people making good arguments that no one was addressing. It seemed like a waste of time and sanity, so I down-arrowed the comments that were there at the last point I checked (important to show that their views do not reflect that of the general readership), then moved on.

            If it serves a useful purpose, like letting you know that someone has your back, I can go pick some fights. I just don’t think it’s fair to read lack of support into someone not doing that.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            As Christina notes, you don’t have to be immersed in the pit to know this. You just have to pay attention to what happens to those women you claim to care about. You only have to be paying attention to what they’re saying happens to them.

            You don’t need to “go pick some fights” for anyone. It’s not like the fights aren’t all over the place. You don’t have to make long protestations. You don’t have to get buried in details. You can simply tell the people who make obviously nasty comments about the people you claim to care about–directly and without fuss–”Not going to happen in my space.”

            Really not very hard at all.

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            I’m not getting the distinction between “not going to happen in my space” and banning people, which you said you aren’t calling for, unless he’s just supposed to say it and not do anything to back it up.

          • bigcheeese

            Except she later explicitly said she wanted JT to ban him… “No, I don’t think you can fix Steve. I think he’s a lost cause. I think JT should ban him if he doesn’t want the exact same thing happening again.”

          • Stephanie Zvan

            “Not going to happen in my space” is being effective. That’s it. I don’t care how JT draws the line and refuses to accommodate harassment. I care that he does it effectively. I care that he stop telling me how it makes him feel and show me that he’s willing to make it happen.

            Alternately, he can tell me that two threads now overrun by those slime pitters he says are terrible people do not actually matter enough to him to fix. He can tell me that stopping the harassment in these movements does not actually matter enough to him for him to make the choices and take the action necessary to stop it. He can tell me he’d rather have people harassing me than implementing any of the alternatives he can come up with to fix it.


          • Ace_of_Sevens

            I should clarify. I think your criticism that JT comes off here as trying as not being the kind of person who thinks it’s OK to harass you more than trying to defend you as someone who it’s not OK to harass is valid, as I’ve said elsewhere. I just don’t think that equates to him doing nothing about your harassment. He has done something, even if you don’t like his motives.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Additionally, you’re aware that there are still slyme pit members commenting over there, right? I’ve told him what I expect, and he’s called me uncharitable.

          • perplexed

            JT..what Stephanie has done is not the way friends act nor is that a person deserving of respect. She could easily have reached out offline in any number of ways to discuss this with you, get your perspective and come to agreement regarding action. You mentioned you even sent her an email tht went unanswered. Instead she chose to call you out publicly and hold herself up as a professional victim with no one coming to her defense. Why do you think that is? That topic in and of itself could be it’s own post regardless. I do not like the way Stephanie plays. We had a name for friends like her where I grew up, we called them “roaches”. If a person is judged by their friends you may want to reconsider.

          • bigcheeese

            Stephanie: Let me start out by saying that I have no earthly clue who you are. Until reading this post, I had never heard your name. But, from JT’s account, you seemed to be a good, level-headed person.

            And then I read your comments here. Now I know wxactly who you are, and that’s someone I refused to believe existed. As a frequent reader of FTB and supporter of PZ, Rebecca Watson, etc., I always assumed that all these tales of feminists being so irrational as to actually drive sympathetic men and women from their cause were confined to the ultra-radical feminist fringe groups. And then I saw your posts here.

            Stephanie Zvan, judging from the only evidence I have to judge you by, your actions here, you ARE the type of feminist that is hurting the movement. You ARE an “either you are doing it EXACTLY as I telly you to do it or you are against me” person. And, to top it all off, you are a bold-faced liar. And a pretty bad one too.

            From your third post in this thread (responding to Ace_of_Stevens claim that you wanted JT to either ban the troll and/or delete the offending posts): “Nowhere have I said those are the only two options. Nowhere have I even suggested deletion.”

            Form your sitch post on this thread: “No, I don’t think you can fix Steve. I think he’s a lost cause. I think JT should ban him if he doesn’t want the exact same thing happening again.”

            So, Stephanie, I still don’t know who you are (nor do I have the least bit of interest in finding out, except maybe to avoid you). I will certianly not tolerate people insulting or harrasing you, ebcause I won’t tolerate people doing that to anyone, and I certainly won’t tolerate it from people like the slyme-pit. But I will also tell you that you need to take a very deep look in the mirror. Because you ARE part of the problem.

          • perplexed

            Well said. I have always found it interesting that people become the monsters they are fighting.

          • see.the.galaxy

            I must disagree. The key is in the 1st paragraph: you never heard of sz till now. The implication may be made that you aren’t aware of the larger context and history. That said, I think jt has gotten way too much grief over this. I value the work of them both.value the work of them bot

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            JT said in this post that it isn’t socially acceptable. He has done something in that regard. You seem to be implying that the only legit way to deal with socially unacceptable commenters is to delete or ban them, but I don’t see why this would be.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Nowhere have I said those are the only two options. Nowhere have I even suggested deletion. I have said there is a difference between telling and showing. If there are no direct consequences, behavior is accepted, thus acceptable. Confrontation and ridicule are also consequences, and they are consequences that JT has no problem using when the topic at hand is religion rather than feminism. He is spending his time defending his reputation rather than applying those consequences in this case.

          • invivoMark

            Being ignored is also a consequence. To a troll, it is the worst possible consequence.

            And as I have said elsewhere, the words of a friend can always cut deeper than the most putrid verbal vitriol of an enemy. I don’t blame JT at all for addressing your post.

          • Loqi

            Being ignored is also a consequence. To a troll, it is the worst possible consequence.

            Are we talking the Usenet “get off my lawn” definition where a person is espousing a belief he/she doesn’t hold in an effort to elicit an emotional response, or the more colloquial definition where a person *actually holds* the awful belief that is causing the emotional response? If we’re talking the former, that may be true. If we’re talking the latter, I think it is most definitely not true. Being opposed is much worse. They have a goal that’s bigger than harassing a single individual. They think they’re right, and they want everyone to see it. What could be worse than the whole world looking at it and instead saying, “No, your belief is wrong?”

          • invivoMark

            If I go to a religion-based website, and I comment on how all religious people believe in stupid superstitions, and they just haven’t grown up beyond the point of having imaginary friends, then I would be a troll.

            Being a troll isn’t just about what you believe. It’s about your intent on a forum. If your intent is to provide rational discourse and, perhaps through the honest exchange of well-argued ideas, to persuade others to see the world from your perspective, then you are not a troll, no matter what your viewpoint (within reason, of course; sensitive topics like suicide or mental health would be obvious exceptions). However, if your intent is to spew insults and ridicule for their own sake; to post disagreement without the intent to follow up with evidence or reason; to antagonize other posters or persons; or to use the venue as a personal soapbox for your own favorite issues, then you are a troll.

            And believe me: to those people, being ignored is the worst response, and the quickest way to make them leave. Attempting to reason, critique, or otherwise engage with these people is the best way to ensure that they stick around.

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            On the original post, he mocked SocraticGadfly’s weak attempt’s to insult you. When he found out you were upset by how you handled it, he made a post calling SocraticGadfly an asshole and saying harassment isn’t acceptable and he strongly condemns it.

            I get if you are upset with him about other things he said, like his criticism of how you handled the situation, but I don’t get how you can imply he hasn’t done anything about SocraticGadfly. (which is btw, a troll handle if I ever saw one. It perfectly captures the attitude of “I’m going to JAQ off, then flounce without answering anything questions asked of me.)

            When you ask “What are you doing about SocraticGadfly?” it implies that whatever he’s done thus far is insufficient and I’m at a loss as to what else he’s supposed to do other than delete/ban. That’s why I said you were implying that only these things were an acceptable reaction.

            I apologize if this isn’t what you meant. What did you hope JT to do about SocraticGadfly.

          • TCC

            As someone who did actually confront and ridicule the troll in question, I think that this is unfair to those of us who did point out that the statement seemed nonsensical (although the statement makes a little more sense with added context, which feels like I’ve had an inside joke explained to me). I don’t necessarily like engaging with people who are clearly arguing (and I use that term loosely) in bad faith, at any rate; you’ll notice that one of the first things Snyder did was to direct me to his site, which I refused to do. I would be surprised if I’m the only one, but somehow, the lack of commenting means that people who rolled their eyes and ignored Snyder’s asinine comment somehow failed you because they didn’t know the history of harassment. It is one thing to get frustrated that someone repulsive isn’t automatically persona non grata in a space that you think should be protected by a professed ally, but I can’t help but think that you’ve doubled down way too far and continued to be uncharitable to JT’s response. I don’t even know what you intend to accomplish anymore.

          • TaylorMaid

            I agree here. I don’t like to use “charitable” because it reeks of judgment to me, but I feel that JT is trying to do what he feels is best. He didn’t initially react in a way that I would have wanted, and it took some time for him to address the issue, but as he has said, he is spending time with family. Once your (justified) frustration was noticed, he tried to address it. But what you wanted from there, I couldn’t tell. You asked that he do something about the harassment, but when he attempted to do so, you stated that it wasn’t enough. And then refused to clarify what more you were asking for. You said you didn’t want them banned, and that his statements hadn’t gone far enough. I’m confused as to what would have? You said direct confrontation, not a blog post- was linking to the blog post insufficient? If so, why? The only things I can see missing here are closing down the comments and/or banning the nasties. You’ve said you don’t want one, but won’t clarify what the hell you do want. As a chronically shy lurker, I am on your side against the harassment, and try to call it out when I can- it’s abhorrent. However, I truly feel this reaction has gone too far.

        • MosesZD

          Welcome to the club. It’s how she, and a few others, at FtB work. Out of context. Uncharitable interpretations. Flaming and screaming. Quote mining. Lying.

          • ool0n

            Detecting some potential new butthurt recruits to the Slymepit here Moses? InvivoMark has stated xyr feminism is not based on acceptance from Stephanie and Jason etc… Something the pitters could have done with learning a long while ago. Disagreements with some feminists is not equal to feminism being wrong!

          • Steersman

            While I’ll generally agree that “disagreements with some feminists is not equal to feminism being wrong”, I wonder why it seems that so many so-called feminists react to any criticisms of even some aspects of feminism with the accusation of “misogynist”? A notable case in point being Ophelia Benson’s tweet (1) that “connecting ‘virulent’
            with ‘feminism’ is misogyny”. A rather unskeptical blanket statement, wouldn’t you think?

            But that case is, I think, only the tip of the iceberg due to the all too common and decidedly problematic tendency – on both sides of the “Great Rift” (no doubt, likely to produce two entirely different species) – to leap to conclusions on very thin evidence, to make categorical statements where there is no justification for doing so.

            1) http://i47.tinypic.com/wk5pxf.jpg

          • ool0n

            JamesMcDonaldMMA railing against his man-hating straw feminism? Yeah misogyny sums it up nicely in the same way that mischaracterising the civil rights movement would be racist. Might not be his intent, he might not “hate all women” … But its damaging to women’s rights in its own mosquito like ineffectual fashion and he should know better.

            BTW that is not a “notable case in point” either since Ophelia said that is “misogyny” not that he is “a misogynist”. Many on FTB would never call an individual *a* misogynist or racist etc for reasons that are defined here -

            You might want to have a word with Michael Shermer who wrote a whole blog post about how we are all racist. We are also all misogynist and homophobic and transphobic etc etc… Have a go at the Harvard implicit tests he was writing about. I’m not labelling anyone that BTW just describing our behaviours.

            So really the “decidedly problematic tendency” is to seemingly willfully not understand the points above. They are well known and simple to grasp, but many seem to purposely misunderstand and whine about labelling.

      • John H

        Stephanie, (I think – I can’t read your mind) I completely understand why you assume the very worst intentions possible in any comment with which you might disagree (as a response to years of dedicated harassment, where much of what is directed at you IS intentional abuse). I also understand that you don’t want to simply Don’t Read the Comments, because then your harassers have silenced you in a given space. However, your behavior is frequently harmful to (what I understand to be) your own cause (one that I share, that of actual cultural equality for women in all spaces, i.e. a broad-based intersectional variety of feminism), as it actively alienates well-intentioned and even well-spoken allies and in doing so lends structure to the straw arguments put forth about ‘feminists’ simply dismissing everyone who disagrees with each of their (our) personal opinions without actually considering any good-faith engagement. You actively make yourself extremely difficult to like. I’m not going to tell you what to do, as that’s entirely your call, but don’t be shocked that people react badly when you intentionally shit the bed and then intentionally misrepresent their objections. People don’t like collateral damage, even when you’re fighting terrorists – that’s why so many of us object to drone strikes.

        • athyco

          John H, I posit confirmation bias in your evaluation beginning “However, your behavior is frequently harmful to (what I understand to be) your own cause….” Examine the fact that part of the dedicated harassment to which you refer has a hand in that. That harassment, while directed primarily at a target like Stephanie, also takes aim at the larger group of people who haven’t full knowledge of Stephanie’s output, plenty of which has nothing to do with the jackanapes and caitiffs. If they’ll take time to realize how unbalanced their view, members of that “well-intentioned and even well-spoken allies” group may have to change their minds about the number actively being driven away. They may put into their calculation the number being attracted by the change possible from “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

          There have been times that I’ve felt angry or exasperated about Stephanie’s reaction to something. (It’s usually a Greg Laden to-do because I’ve been around since the “somebody wrote lucidly about the Congo” days.) That hasn’t led me to tell her anything like “You actively make yourself extremely difficult to like.” Laughably naive would be the kindest thing said of anyone who wanted to try out such a sentence at most male atheists, now wouldn’t it?. It also hasn’t kept me from agreeing with her position in other areas. It hasn’t kept me from helping out with a video transcript (especially when I’d already begun it for my own purposes). In other words, if it didn’t hurt people, then I let the “cause” take care of itself.

          As soon as I read her name in the OP with “Greg Laden” in the title, I recognized the seizable pretext for assclams like SocraticGadfly. Clearly, JT hadn’t intended linking the two, but a post about a sex comment from Greg Laden with Stephanie Zvan mentioned in the text? What a facepalm moment making JT look clueless. Like, really? Talk about how horrible the harassment is, not even know enough about it so that the post itself opens opportunity for more of it. Then, hold out not understanding when the next in an endless series of pokes is delivered as a reason to be cut some slack.

          I don’t know what kind of ally you want, but I want mine to help me conserve my energy for our mutual goals, not require handholding and “there, there, I know you meant well” reassurance.

  • http://www.dougberger.net Doug B.

    I wasn’t aware that there was a purity test running 24/7. Reminds me of theists crying when a Ten Commandments monument is removed from a court house – they complain that if government isn’t cheerleading for them 24/7 then it is the enemy. I reject such tests. I like to see a pattern of behavior before I pass judgement. YMMV

  • Christopher Stephens

    My wife and I are good friends of JT’s. She is a contributing writer here, and words and thoughts of mine have been posted, as well. In several cases, my words, or Christina’s words, have been vehemently disagreed with, and some of those disagreements have been nothing more than insults.

    I absolutely don’t want to compare relatively isolated insults aimed at us to the gross and horrifying harassment aimed at many women like Stephanie simply for being outspoken feminists.

    That said, it would never have even occurred to me that JT deserves blame for not deleting/banning/directly replying to every such insult aimed at me or Christina here on his blog.

    Stephanie, I’m a big fan; I check your blog every day to try and keep informed of the harassment that gets aimed at you. Even so, I couldn’t figure out exactly what kind of abusive bullshit that half-bright jackass was going for. JT is very careful to moderate outright abusive comments, in my experience. This looks to me like an abusive commenter that was so incoherent, it just wasn’t smacked down as quickly as we might have liked.

    • Stephanie Zvan

      And all the slime pitters in that comment thread?

      • Christopher Stephens

        Given how dedicated and persistent the slime pitters can be in flooding a seemingly vulnerable forum with bullshit at a moment’s notice, it seems reasonable, or at least charitable, to assume that JT simply hasn’t had time to clean up the mess yet? He is only one guy trying to moderate all this shit by himself, and trying to spend time with his family right now, to boot.

        • Stephanie Zvan

          I’ve told him to do something about them. He’s here telling me I’m being uncharitable instead.

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            There are lots of kinds of comment policies. I think what’s unfair is telling him that caring about the issue means he has to have a certain kind of comments policy.

            This strikes me of the mirror of when a bunch of people jumped on Libby Anne for setting a comments policy that you had to be nice to other commenters, even if they were arguing that gays go to hell and abortion is terrible and such. They took not ripping into people as equivalent to saying their views were OK.

            Quite a few FTB people, including PZ, said she can have whatever kind of comment policy she wants in her space and you can’t reasonably question her views based on this. Do you disagree with this view? I’d lean toward the idea you can reasonably assume someone disapproves of comments which are deleted and commenters who are banned, but not vice-versa. Bloggers can have their own way of dealing with such people and JT’s is to let the other commenters mock them and tear them a new one as they feel is appropriate.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Who’s mocked? Who’s torn anyone a new one? Aside from the people who came over from my blog, that is? It didn’t happen. What has happened instead is that a bunch of people have jumped on me for pointing out that this didn’t happen for 24 hours after a shitty comment went up.

            JT can have an ineffective comment policy if he wants one. What he can’t reasonably do is cling to that ineffective policy and have me believe how much he cares when he clings after having its failure pointed out to him.

          • ohnugget001

            An “ineffective comment policy” is merely a matter of opinion, and you have voiced yours, and I find it wanting. If JT wants to drop the ban hammer, fine. But YOU took him to task that he didn’t do it in the time frame you wanted. And you did it publically. And you’re doubling down on your aggression by continuing to defend your action to call him out without using a back-channel to tell him that he had a troll or slimy person commenting that you would appreciate him addressing. YOU are making this all an issue bigger than what it is – a weird comment that I couldn’t understand, that didn’t get taken care of because JT has a life outside of his blog and is currently visiting with his brother. Is it possible that you are just having a bad day and lashed out at a friend without thinking? I get that people harass you – I get they are horrible to you.I don’t like that either. But alienating JT isn’t the answer. Tell him what the comment really meant, ask him to address it, and everything is fine. This isn’t worth losing a friend over, in public no less, and jeopardizing losing supporters because of your callous actions/words.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            JT doesn’t actually use backchannels for this stuff either, or hadn’t you noticed?

          • JTEberhard

            I don’t think that’s true or fair. If I have an issue with a friend, I usually do contact them directly.

            In this case you went public first, which left me with the need to defend myself publicly. In the case of Ron Lindsay, the boycott was already under way and I felt I needed to say something because it was a public issue.

            But if a friend of mine is doing something that bothers me? Yeah, I send them an email. I sent you an email after I posted, Stephanie, and you’ve not responded.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            I’ll respond to the email after you actually deal with the *ongoing* situation in your other comment thread. Show, don’t tell.

          • ohnugget001

            Interesting way to deflect away from the content of my post. And how would you suggest I notice the lack of use of backchannels/prove a negative?

          • Stephanie Zvan

            The same way you did for the rest of your comments on the topic?

          • ohnugget001

            More deflection. More obfuscation. Speak plainly. Call me out on a specific item. Don’t be shy :)

          • Beth Clarkson

            I’d have to say you mocked and tore what-his-name a new one. I’d say it was justified given the history. And doesn’t it feel good to let loose and let someone know exactly how despicable you find their behavior!

            I think JT may feel you have torn him a new one. If not you, then other people who have done that over this.

            I think JT has a history of allowing that sort of behavior on his blog.

            I suspect you feel that plenty of strangers do that to you every day. You appropriately call them your ‘harassers’.

            It’s still harassment when you do it to other people. I think such behavior is exactly what folks like whats-his-name (I can’t be bothered to look it up) want to provoke. Or alternatively, they get their opponents to shut up. It’s a win-win scenario for them.

            I trying to think of a strategy to combat it and turn it into a behavior that makes it a net loss for them. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I think Adria Richards tweet might have been the kind of move to accomplish that.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            It is not harassment to respond to 2-1/2 year of sexually demeaning lies with an honest, rude comment.

            Adria Richards’ tweet took her situation public because she didn’t trust the response from the conference organizers if she tried to handle it privately. I, in fact, took her as an inspiration. If this is not a net loss to Steve Snyder/SocraticGadfly, that’s because our movements continue to turn on the people who say there’s something wrong while giving the people making these spaces unwelcoming free rein.

          • Beth Clarkson

            I don’t agree that you haven’t harassed your harassers back. An honest rude comment can also be harassment. Those are not mutually exclusive descriptions. If someone had sent you that comment, you would properly classify it as harassment. I don’t think it’s reasonable to claim something is harassment when said to you but not when you say it to someone else.

            I agree with your assessment of why it’s not a net loss to whats-his-name. I think associating an RL name with the nym is going in the right direction. It’s not a name familiar to me, but if I knew him personally, I’d give him my opinion of this behavior. We can hope someone who knows him is willing to do that.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Beth, I don’t think we’re using the same definition of harassment if you think one response to 2-1/2 years of behavior counts. Could you please tell me how you’re defining the term?

          • Beth Clarkson

            I think insulting someone personally is harassment regardless of the length of time or number of comments or previous behavior of the person being disparaged.

            My impression is that if someone sent you a comment describing you as a

            putrid, obsessive, pointless, sexist smear of slime.

            you would consider it part of the harassment you endure on a daily basis even if you had never heard from the person previously. If that isn’t how you would define such a comment when targeted at you, then we are not using the same definition.

          • Phil Giordana Fcd

            Yeah, you told him! Not your fucking blog, not your fucking prerogative!

            Got it now?

      • Pitchguest

        You mean me and another? You’re a fucking genius.

        Stop being obtuse and requesting censorship where you can’t control the content.

        • John H

          Yes, you and a couple others. I wish JT would ban you as well, as I don’t like you fouling up what’s been a pleasant hang-out space for me for a while now. Then again, I’m not really in a position to dictate what JT does with his moderation; if I don’t want to be where the misogynist fuckwit brigade starts congregating and is allowed to do so, I can leave. I’m honestly not quite sure what to do, because I think you’re awful, I think Stephanie is frequently awful for radically different reasons than her longtime harassers, and I think JT is wrong about Ron Lindsay (and I also usually agree with Jason except when he’s excusing Stepahine’s intentional distortions and collateral damage in fighting her harassers). You’re also using the word “censorship” wrong.

      • eccles11

        How about we just judge comments by their content. Do you think Al Stefanelli should be banned from posting here, and any contribution he may have, removed?

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          I respectfully disagree. Not about Al Stefanelli, specifically, but about SocFly. His one comment here, in isolation, isn’t ban-worthy. His one comment here, in context of 2.5 years of harassment, is totally ban-worthy.

          I think it should take a pretty egregious history to be banned for one comment, granted, and it’s not exactly easy to draw a line. SocFly is way, way over that line, though.

          • eccles11

            I don’t necessarily disagree, regarding SocFly. I was talking specifically about “slime pitters”. I don’t know if SocFly is a slime pitter, but I think someone deserves to be banned from posting here for being a slime pitter as much as someone deserves to be banned here for posting at Greg Laden’s blog. I brought up Al, because Al posts/has posted at the Slyme Pit.

            I think people’s comments should be judged by their content. I don’t think that necessarily negates banning SocFly, if JT did choose to take that action in his comment section.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Fair. I’ve only heard about the slyme pit but have never taken a peek at that corner of the Internet. If the people posting here from there are any indication, I don’t want to check it out either. I agree that they shouldn’t be banned solely based on their other affiliations, though. I might use it as a deciding factor if I was weighing in my mind if their comments were bad enough to ban or not.

            It’s like race in college admission, I guess. It’s not the sole factor, but it can be a deciding one.

          • http://www.facebook.com/wonderist Thaumas Themelios

            How do you know who posting here is from the SlymePit dot com message forum in the first place, if you’ve never been there? Just curious.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            They claimed it, or others pointed it out. I’m sure there’s several posters here who are slymepitters that I don’t know are.

  • Zugswang

    Everyone needs to chill out for a minute.

    I really can’t believe the stuff I’m reading, seeing such misdirected vitriol at one another and deconstructing complex thoughts into sentiments entirely detached from their original statements. This isn’t the kind of thing I’d expect to see from people who’ve been good friends and strong allies united in many a common cause.

    All of a sudden, a blog post about not throwing the baby out with the bathwater and not being quick enough to stamp out another’s jackassery are enough to call into question years of friendship and advocacy?

    I know that when we have to deal with a constant influx of finely directed malice, we tend to shift our perspectives to where we begin to see those we once considered friends as enemies in order to protect ourselves from being hurt further, but a difference in opinion or not acting in accordance with one’s expectations is not tantamount to betrayal.

    I find this whole fiasco is as disheartening as it is absurd.

  • Improbable Joe

    … And to be as charitable as possible to you JT, I think you are “answering the wrong question” in all of these posts. The question isn’t “Is JT a good person, or a bad person?” The question is “Is JT using the right tactics to be a good friend and ally to people who he respects?” I think you’ll get a lot further if you divorce one from the other, because when you treat criticism as a referendum on your worth to others, you wind up coming off as making everything about you and forgetting the very people you set out to help.

    • Keane Sanders

      This. People who want to be allies need to heed this.

      • Msironen

        What they need to is read this thread and realize the millstone they are trying to get hung around their necks.

        • Keane Sanders

          I know! being an ally is *such* a burden–people actually expect you to, like, do stuff and not just say sweet things.

          • Msironen

            Indeed. No longer can you fight for what YOU think is right and worth fighting for; instead you make yourself a serf of some movement or the other and its self-appointed magisters. The only reward you will reap is scorn from both your masters (for never being quite good enough of a lickspittle) and your opponents (for being the whipping boy that you are instead of an actual adversary).

            Being an “ally”: totally worth it.

  • Kareem Jordan

    You went out of your way to say how much you loath “slymepitters” in a blog post not about them, and then you’re attacked for not responding to a silly troll comment soon enough or in the right way. And now you’ve found it necessary to write a wall of text to explain yourself.

    Why? Is all this worth it? Are the people you’re trying to impress really worth it even if you agree with their overall goal?

    • JTEberhard

      Most people who know me know I’m not the “out to impress” type. Impressing anybody or making friends is not my motivation. If that were my concern I’d wear a suit when I spoke and use far less colloquial language (and less profanity). I also never would’ve breached this topic.

      Because I have seen and experienced tremendous kindness and empathy from Stephanie I feel compelled to respond to her. I like kind people and, even if I disagree with them, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt (and I never forget the kindness they’ve demonstrated in the past).

      • Kareem Jordan

        Then I’m wrong and I apologies about implying you were out to impress anyone.

        Still, it seems you’re going through a lot for something someone else did.

        • JTEberhard

          No worries. :)

      • KacyRay

        You may not be “out to impress”, so to speak.. but you are going way out of your way to curry favor with them, are you not? You are bending over backwards to demonstrate solidarity, despite the treatment you’re receiving.

        And this in spite of the fact – a fact which grows clearer and clearer by the hour – that nothing short of absolute capitulation of your comment moderation policy will satisfy Zvan.

        This can hardly be denied at this point. She is demanding “action” – but you’ve acted. Clearly when she says she wants to see action, she means she wants to see actions she specific prescribes.

        Do you think it will stop here, JT? Do you think that, if you were to give in to her here and now and start blocking/deleting/hard-moderating your comments section as she does. that it would stop there and she would then be satisfied?

        There is no such thing as *doing enough*. Up until now you were able to ignore this fact because none among the Tribe had placed any demands upon you that caused any real imposition. And I’m sure that you’ve always assumed that, if ever you did have a minor disagreement on how to handle a particular situation, the fact that you are, in principle, allied to their cause would afford you the latitude you merit to handle situations as you see best, particularly where YOUR OWN BLOG is concerned.

        Now you’re seeing their true colors come out, and I hope you don’t cover your eyes to it. Nothing short of full compliance will be required on your part. And it won’t end here. It will remain that way as long as you hope to remain an “ally”. *Nothing short of complete compliance will suffice. Not now, not ever.*

        See? It’s not about supporting political and social equality for women. It never was. It is about power. It’s about control. And you are now at a crossroad where you’re going to have to decide to either stand your ground and assert the same sovereignty over your blog as every other feminist in the movement has, or capitulate it to Stephanie Zvan and become owned for real.

        If you choose the former, you’re going to find out with the utmost of speed that you are now and have always been dispensable to them. You’re going to find yourself being called every name in the book. See how you’re being treated while still considered an an “ally”? Imagine how you’ll be treated when you aren’t.

        If you choose the latter, you will have to live with the implications. I feel for you, regardless of what choice you make. Good luck.

        • zenspace

          I’m still skimming the comments, but this is the single most concise, on target description of the real game in play I’ve seen yet. Well done, KacyRay.

          JT – I’m not a follower of your blog and this is my first and possibly only comment on it, but pay particular attention to KacyRay’s comment here. There is a deep truth in it. I say this a former FtB follower who left in disgust at their worsening behavior and tactics. Seeing them try to spread their control into the larger community with targeted smear tactics has finally motivated me to become more active in raising awareness as to the threat they actually represent to the greater atheist/skeptic community. Svan’s behavior here is only the harbinger of things to come for you.

          Good luck out there and watch your back.

        • perplexed

          Absolutely agree and well said!!!

    • John-Henry Eric Beck

      I think part of the problem is going to be characterizing such things as “a silly troll comment” compared to being one more pebble in an avalanche of abuse.

      I think it’s even been explained pretty well that making individual bits of harassment look like no big deal to bystanders is part of the strategy of harassers. So, in the end, minimizing one piece of harassment looks to the victim to be a lot like siding with the harassers – or, at least, not being much of a supportive friend.

      • JTEberhard

        I can see that, but I also don’t see how I minimized it. I condemned it in no uncertain terms.

        • John-Henry Eric Beck

          I was replying to Kareem on that one, and quoted the minimizing part.

          Though I think elsewhere you (or Mark?) made a comment about insults on the Internet being a ‘dime a dozen’. Which does sound like minimizing to me.

      • see.the.galaxy

        This looks to me like a very good point indeed.

  • Ace_of_Sevens

    I read over some of SocraticGadfly’s other comments. It looks like his whole MO is to try to bait social justice types into fighting each other. There’s what JT quoted here, plus some attempts to accuse people of being too willig to discuss social justice issue, which means they are up for debate, so they don’t really support them. This particular attempt seems to have worked.

    • see.the.galaxy

      The guy (socratic gadfly) is behaving despicably. Every time a troll of this sort makes a comment, it is an opportunity for a good person to overlook something, to usea suboptimal choice of words, or make some other mistake. Whether or not we condemn him as a horse’s ass (which I am glad to), support Stephanie Zvan’s blistering retort to him (whichI thought was splendid and well deserved), the fact remains that SocFly was the winner of this, because his shitspittled remark caused dissension. This must be fixed, and his trollwork undone.

  • Eli

    Can I just add my perspective/opinion, as someone totally on the outside of this? I’m pretty new here, so take this how you will, and I don’t know Stephanie except to have seen her name mentioned a number of places. But I saw that comment and remembered it because I had no idea what the commenter was trying to say either. Now I know, it was obnoxious, and it sounds like you two are having a disagreement about how to handle/moderate something like that? Maybe you two need to talk this out in private instead of arguing back and forth like this, assuming the worst of each other, and forcing your readers to take sides. Then write some blog posts about the issue and just what happened and how you each think a problem like this should be dealt with, how to create a welcoming/safe space, AFTER you’ve reached some sort of conclusion, either mutually or independently?

    • JTEberhard

      I’d love that.

    • ohnugget001

      I bet JT would like to do that – but let’s remember, Stephanie could have gone offline with her objection to the one commenter first. She didn’t have to call JT out so publically. That was a backchannel discussion that should have been had if I’ve ever seen one.

      • JTEberhard

        And, for the record, I did send Stephanie an email. I’ve not heard back.

        • ohnugget001

          Then I (and I suspect many others) submit you have done everything you were supposed to do when a friend misinterprets reality and you need to be proactive to address it. Look JT, you did nothing wrong. She took offense and overreacted. You reached out with another post – an unnecessary post IMO as this should have been handled back channel – and you’ve sent her an email. You attack the enemy, defend your ally, and try and convince other prospective allies to the gender equality cause. If Ms. Zvan cannot see this, then she wasn’t the friend or ally you thought – and I truly hope that isn’t the case.

          • JTEberhard

            To be on the level, the email I sent was after the post was up and included the link. It also included affirmations of how I feel about Stephanie (positive).

          • ohnugget001

            The timing is less relevant (to me) than the intent. She posted negatively w/o backchannelling you. I hope she understands the reality of this whole situation after some reflection, but, you can’t be held responsible for someone’s comment on your blog that you don’t understand. And how can you be expected to denounce said comment, regardless of the time that has passed, if it is unintelligible to you? You can’t. That’s the whole point. When you learned its meaning, you took action. You’ve done nothing wrong – don’t back down – if she is your friend, she will recognize your timely action and apologize, and it ought to be publically since she went after you publically. If she doesn’t, well, I guess you need to ponder that scenario if/when it happens.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            I think we should be careful how we chide harassment victims about their reactions to individual events. It seems to me that there’s a good bit of failure to empathize with what it’s like to be dealing with a torrent of abuse.

          • Eli

            I agree completely. I don’t think it matters “who started it,” and I don’t think we should be taking sides here. That’s all between them, and for them to talk out, not for us, the readers of these blogs, to decide if one’s person’s feelings or not are justified. At least, certainly not in this situation, between people who presumably are friends or at least know each other.

          • ohnugget001

            I know abuse. My mother, a victim of ongoing domestic violence when I was child. My wife, raped as a child, raped as an adult. Me, assaulted domestically on multiple occasions by an abusive partner. My daughter, raped at 17. Etc. Please don’t attempt to tell me about “chiding” when I am actually being more aggressive and attacking a person’s position because it is incorrect. And they made it public so we can scrutinize it. If JT and Ms. Zvan work things out offline, that’s great, but if she airs her grievances publically, she needs, she must, accept blowback when she is wrong.

          • Eli

            No one “needs” to be criticized. Sorry to hear you and your family have been through so much, but I still do agree that I’m not going to criticize someone who is I think in a position to understandably overreact. There are better ways to handle talking to someone if you really think it’s necessary.

          • ohnugget001

            Lot’s of people’s actions, not themselves, need to be criticized. Otherwise, you’re right – like Ms. Zvan perhaps talking to JT offline. I mean it – you’re right, and I’m not being facetious.

      • Loqi

        That was a backchannel discussion that should have been had if I’ve ever seen one.

        I disagree. Conversations like this should be had in the open, where everyone can read and hopefully learn from. It sucks that dirty laundry gets aired and tempers rise, but large-scale cultural problems do not get solved in private conversations behind closed doors. Stephanie’s choice of communication channels was not an accident. While I hate seeing it happen because I consider JT a friend and I know it’s killing him, I fully agree with her choice.

        • ohnugget001

          I disagree, politely but firmly. The larger conversations about equality, misogyny, and the fact that there are undesirables that harass/denigrate/cyberstalk women on the internets should definitely be addressed publically.
          Private disagreements over a cryptic post on one person’s blog by another person mentioned in said post, especially if they consider each other friends, is a backchannel topic – period. Put yourself in Ms. Zvan’s place. Imagine how YOU would ethically react. Send an email? Make call? A text? Probably not a public callout on her blog – and then on his. Now put yourself in JT’s place. Do this exercise honestly. If you sincerely do this employing empathy, I ask you to reply to this post with your results.

          • Eli

            I agree completely, that’s why I said to write blogs about these issues after they’re worked out. This sounds like a personal disagreement that can lead to thoughts on those topics, but doesn’t need to be an argument that everyone reading gets involved in.

          • ohnugget001

            Yes, but, a blog posting was written, it was commented upon, another blogger took exception to (at least) one post, and this was all done publically. Are you saying we cannot comment and offer opinions when we see something wrong.

          • Eli

            Everyone can do whatever they want. I was just giving my suggestion for what I thought would be most effective in resolving, or at least, mitigating, the problem. I happen to not think that just because something was made public, that that was a good idea or that continuing everything publicly is the best way to continue from there.

          • Loqi

            Put yourself in Ms. Zvan’s place.

            I am, unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately…), unable to do that. I’ve never been harassed. I have no idea what it is like to put up with the shit she does. Absolutely none. I can’t even begin to fathom what it is like to have my name dragged through the mud everywhere, to open my inbox to see it flooded with crap every day, or to have a group of assholes hound me wherever I go (online or in person). I think I have a pretty well-tuned sense of empathy, but when I try to imagine that, it just overloads and breaks down.
            If someone came on to JT’s blog and trashed *me*, Loqi, then yeah, I’d react differently than Stephanie. I’d let it roll off my back without giving it a second thought. No defense or denouncement necessary. But that’s not comparable to someone trashing Stephanie. When someone insults me, it’s generally a drive-by jerkoff whom I will never see again. When people insult Stephanie, it’s a persistent campaign of assholes out to not just make fun of her on the internet, but to actually make her life miserable. I honestly can’t say how I would react. Maybe I would react differently than Stephanie. I don’t know. But I do know that I’d need a strong network of friends around me, because it’s emotionally draining just being a bystander and watching what’s going on (I’ve literally cried reading some of this shit), nevermind actually being the target. Those supporting friends would have to good..no, great…no, goddam superhuman friends in order for me to get through life, to the point where it’s downright unfair that they have to do so much on my behalf. They’d have to defend me everywhere, they’d have to be available to talk at odd hours of the morning, etc. Perhaps what Stephanie’s friends have to do is unfair. But it’s necessary.

          • ohnugget001

            You’re asking for special dispensation for someone who puts themselves regularly in the public eye, apparently. I don’t even know who she really is at this point expect a blogger who appears to get a lot of harassment/hate mail/etc. I do know her attack on JT was unjustified from what is publically shown here on THIS blog. The enemy of my enemy may not be my friend, but they are a potential ally. Why alienate them?

          • Loqi

            No, I’m asking that people look at this in context. That’s larger than what you see on this blog.

          • ohnugget001

            OK. I thought I tried to see the context. I’ll exit this thread still shaking my head and not having changed my mind. But, I do thank you for engaging me. You were one of the more polite people. Thanks again.

          • Loqi

            Downvoted myself for poor and melodramatic writing, but the point remains. Putting yourself in Stephanie’s shoes requires more than “how would you react if someone called you a name on a blog.” To ask that question is to completely ignore years of context.

        • TCC

          No. You have the conversation if there is a genuine disagreement, not this “You didn’t react quickly or strongly enough” crap. That’s a personal matter that is frankly nobody’s damned business but the people directly involved, and when we on the outside do get involved, it’s not a “conversation” – it’s drama. Stephanie did not handle this professionally, and while I’m willing to cut her some slack because of the harassment, there is a point at which reacting strongly to someone who triggers an emotional response should not necessitate castigating an actual ally for not reacting in exactly the way you wanted and doing so in a very public way (which, let’s face it, is bound to be as ineffectual as SZ claims that JT’s moderation policy is).

  • Silent Service

    Well JT, I now truly believe that this is the one subject that should never, ever be broached on line. No matter what your opinion, the moment you post about feminism the slimepit sharks will swarm your page trying to drag you down to their level. And there is no way to keep it clean or make all members of the feminist and atheist+ movements happy since the intent of the sharks is to create disruption and chaos. You can’t clean the threat or vilify the slimepitters fast enough to keep control without shutting the thread down, and there will inevitably be at least one person that thinks you should terminate all dialog no matter what way the discussion is collapsing (it always collapses). I really can’t see anything but a disaster here.
    I think the hurt feelings will heal with time between true friends. But it is going to be a while since the topic is so charged and emotions so wound up on all sides that true understanding and efforts to find common ground are doomed for the foreseeable future. That said, the idiot that posted the half-witted and incoherent insults probably does deserve a final warning if not an outright ban. He really did show up only to stir the pot just like this.

    • JTEberhard

      He may very well. I will get into that post and dig through it eventually. Right now I want to make sure I’ve taken enough time to make sure I can be fair.

      If, at that time, I determine people need deletions or bans, I’ll hand them out.

      • Silent Service

        More than reasonable to me. Unfortunately, the amount of time some consider to be fair and reasonable to make such a decision is going to vary greatly. And the level of charity some are willing to grant others as they make such decisions is also going to vary. Good luck cleaning this muck up. You’re going to need it.

  • Axel Blaster

    JT, listen carefully to people telling you how to moderate the comments in your forum. The grievances will escalate and this turns very bad for the blogger that fails to listen. Except, of course, for the blogger most infamous for having the most ruthless and uncharitable commenters, this blogger has been grandfathered from doing something about the criticism.

    • JTEberhard

      Stephanie is not PZ Myers. She should not be held liable for how PZ runs his comment. (And, for the record, I tend to lean towards PZ’s approach to comments of letting the commentariat and the down votes do the work).

      And yes, she’s suggesting how I should run my comment section, and I’m free to agree or disagree.

      I have criticized PZ in the past. He has criticized me. We still work together and, to my knowledge, still like each other. PZ is not above criticism nor does he try to silence criticism of him.

      • John-Henry Eric Beck

        I thought I saw Stephanie specifically say up above in the comments (though I don’t know about timing) that things like public scorn *are* a valid response that provides consequences for such behavior. It sounded to me as though her complaint was that it appeared that his comment, and other ‘pitter comments, had been left unchallenged in the venue they were left, in that comment thread. (I suppose I may have to go back to that thread – I don’t usually try for repeated visits, especially one that was already huge.)

        • JTEberhard

          All of those things have been said.

          But it’s easy to see by checking that people had responded to Gadfly, myself included, either in text or by downvoting. All of this long before her post.

  • lynneb

    JT, as I understand it:

    - You took Greg Laden to task for his comments to you. Greg can be abrasive, he has a temper, and he has been known to say stupid things, so, ok. You reiterate that you ARE a feminist ally, not playing one.

    - In the comments of that post, SocraticGadfly showed up with his “If you’re really about supporting Stephanie” comment.

    - Stephanie Zvan immediately spotted this, since it has the by-now-known history. She waits for someone, anyone, to do or say something about this.

    - Commenters on JT’s blog, including JT, apparently looked at that, thought “wtf is that all about?” and ignored it. It stood without response.

    - SZ, with the feeling that “people who are genuine allies do not leave harassing messages sitting there unchallenged” snapped.

    - People jumped on SZ for overreacting.

    - Slymepitters and their defenders descend.

    - SZ, angry and hurt, keeps getting more people telling her not to be so angry and hurt than there are people challenging the sexist comments and the ones putting up more strawmen about who said what.

    - Situation gets nasty, more.

    That sums up the series of events as I see it. JT: I get the impression you’ve said a lot about giving people the benefit of the doubt. I think your legitimate complaint is summed up as “Had Stephanie sent me an email that said “Hey, this guy’s comment bothers me for x, y, and z reasons and I didn’t think your rebuke was strong enough…”. But then your case is weakened by the fact that SZ sees you’ve spent a lot of words defending yourself here, and far fewer time and words smacking down the people who are trying to be hateful and hurtful, so I personally can see how she would interpret your priorities on that. I can see, or at least I think I can see, that you are pissed off at having someone you considered a friend turn on you. Can you see how it might look like someone she considered a friend betrayed a trust, the trust she had that you would actually stand up against this kind of nonsense?

    Also: from personal experience, the one way to keep making somebody angry is to tell them they’re not supposed to be so angry. I’m pretty sure you’ve noticed that yourself as something that happens on every conceivable side of every fence. Note how many comments there are telling SZ, specifically, not to be so angry…..and think how that might be making her feel about you and this right now?

    I hope that makes sense. I’ve had 2 hours sleep in the last 48, so I am no longer sure.

    • JTEberhard

      I don’t see anybody tell Stephanie not to be angry. Certainly not me. In fact, in my posts I’ve said several times that I don’t want to take anger away from people like Stephanie. Her anger is justified.

      Nor am I telling her not to be hurt. I’m not sure anybody has said that, but I certainly haven’t.

      However, I don’t think that all actions taken out of justifiable anger are themselves justified. Nor do I think that people who are justifiably angry are always fair. Nor do I think that people who are justifiably angry always act in the best interest of a cause.

      This is why I have lambasted the commenter as Stephanie originally requested in her post. He deserved it. It’s also why, when discussing the issue, I’ve focused on what is being said and done – none of which included a call for less anger from, well, anybody. Again, I’ve actually said the opposite.

      As for correcting all the wrong things that have been said, well, that’s just because they’re wrong.

      • lynneb

        “I don’t see anybody tell Stephanie not to be angry.” — Um. Commenters clauslarsen and Jim, at least, spent a lot of time and effort in there to tell Stephanie not to be angry; you surely can’t have missed ALL that.

        Edit to add: I’m not saying that you are responsible for what they posted, I’m just pointing out that what you’ve said unfortunately also occurs in the context of those posts.

        • JTEberhard

          Ah, I actually could’ve. I’ve not yet gone back and read through all the comments.

          If they are telling Stephanie to be less angry, they’re certainly wrong. However, that shouldn’t get translated into me thinking or saying Stephanie shouldn’t be angry (or anybody else in this thread). That’s what I was after there. Sorry for being unclear.

      • lynneb

        Also, “However, I don’t think that all actions taken out of justifiable anger are themselves justified. Nor do I think that people who are justifiably angry are always fair. Nor do I think that people who are justifiably angry always act in the best interest of a cause.”
        –Ok, and I get what you’re saying. Obviously this applies to Greg Laden and a whole bunch of people everywhere, too. But do you get how this is not helping right now? How about leaving aside lecturing anyone on the best interests of the cause just for a little while why you deal with the fact that you and a friend are both mad and hurt? Or do you think that adding “reacting like this doesn’t help secularism or feminism” actually ever cools tempers?

        Personally, I would think that if you wanted to just cool the situation down, you’d be better off saying something simple like “I didn’t react to this fast enough because I didn’t understand what was going on, sorry.” and then just leaving it there until a cooler conversation can be had.

        Isn’t it fun to be on the receiving end of well-meaning “wise advice”? ;-D

        • JTEberhard

          And I take it well. :) The way such advice should be taken. ;-D

          • lynneb

            Well, a genuine suggestion: go catch up with reading that thread and this one before the hole gets deeper.

            (Sorry, this was meant to be a reply to your comment that you might well have missed a lot of comments.)

  • SleeZee Lyers

    “I suspected it might be a childish and inept dig like someone commenting under the name Sleezy Lyers and said that if that were the case that it was pretty weak.”

    Fuck you asshole. You owe me an apology, that doesn’t describe at all the nature of my posts.

    If you’re going to be a shit for brains, at least try to be accurate.

    • http://natehevens.wordpress.com/ Nathan Hevenstone

      Not only does it describe the nature of your posts, but it describes the nature of your pathetic handle, too.

      SleeZee Lyers.

      It’s weak, inept, inane, pathetic, sad, and very revealing about the content of your character.

      JT was right on.

      • SleeZee Lyers

        Show me where, at this blog, my responses to others have been digs. Or if they have been, where the person dug at hadn’t first been attacking me with name calling and ad hominem.

        • http://natehevens.wordpress.com/ Nathan Hevenstone

          Let’s start with the pathetic nym you post under…

          • SleeZee Lyers

            Hey fuckface, you made the claim, now you have to distance yourself from it.

            What an asshole.

          • http://natehevens.wordpress.com/ Nathan Hevenstone

            I’m not distancing myself from anything, fuckface (hey! I can do it, too!).

            You want me to show you your digs. I’m starting with the most obvious one that I don’t actually have to dig (hah see what I did there?) for:

            Sleezee Lyers

            If you have a problem with that… well… it’s your problem, not mine.

          • SleeZee Lyers

            You started off your personal attack against me by writing this:

            “Not only does it describe the nature of your posts,”

            So prove it.

            Oh, you can’t.

            You’re just another typical A+ Theist blowhard.

          • http://natehevens.wordpress.com/ Nathan Hevenstone

            We’re starting with your nym, asshole. I’m feeling too lazy to go slogging through your fucking disqus profile right now. I’ll get to it once we’ve first dealt your fucking childish, inept, dishonest dig of a name.

            If you have a problem with that, you’re welcome to go crying to your mommy at the ‘pit like a good little 2-year-old. Otherwise, own up to the fact that your fucking PSEUDONYM is a goddamn dishonest, childish, bullshit dig!

            And in case I’ve hurt your precious fee-fees, you started it…

            With “fuckface”…

            And that nym.

          • see.the.galaxy

            Sorry, but anyone who calls him or her or itself ‘slee zee lyers’ simply forfeits all claim to be taken seriously. Them’s the breaks.

        • Magicthighs

          Your nym is a dig. Defending it by claiming PZ has attacked you first is a tu quoque.

          Now kindly go fuck yourself.

          • SleeZee Lyers

            Reading comprehension, get some.

    • JTEberhard

      Wait, are you saying that having the name “SleeZee Lyers” is not childish? If so, I’m not sure your assessment of even the obvious is trustworthy, much less whether or not I owe you an apology for stating the obvious.

      Maybe the kids who called me “JT Everfart” in second grade were actually paragons of maturity.

      • SleeZee Lyers

        Well, if you’re not going to be honest about what you did, you should subhead your blog, “This is not a blog for people persnickety about honesty.”

        You didn’t just say my nym was childish, you attributed to me “childish and inept dig”s.

        And clearly, if you go back and see how I have commented at your blog, that is the furthest from the truth.

        It’s this constant lying and bullshitting and smearing from you A+ Theists and the bullying and harassment egged on and encouraged by PeeZee Myers that leads me to conclude, in quite an adult fashion, that you folks are mostly sleazy liars, despicable and unethical.

        Carry on, business as normal for you social justice warriors.

        • Park James

          Seriously, you are a stupid fucking asshole, and don’t deserve any response from anyone. Go fuck yourself.

          • SleeZee Lyers

            I’m upvoting this, because Nerd of Redhead, that’s you, right?

        • TCC

          The fact that you use that nym is a “childish and inept dig.” JT didn’t refer to your posts; he referred to your nym. Take your own advice and read for comprehension.

      • niemzo

        If I saw such a name in LoL, knowing they were referring to a particular person, I would report it.

  • Cubist

    JT, I can’t read your mind. But I can read your words, including those of your words which describe your actions. And from your words, I can make deductions regarding your opinions and the state of your mind and yada yada yada. Whether or not said deductions are in any way accurate is something else again, of course. So, for what it’s worth…

    From what you’ve written, it’s pretty clear that atheism is the thing which lights the fire in your belly, the thing which gets you up in the morning, the thing which inspires you to action. This is totally cool.

    From what you’ve written, it’s also clear that feminism… isn’t. Feminism is something you agree with on an intellectual level, but it really isn’t on your radar, activism-wise. When push comes to shove, feminism just isn’t that important to you. This, too, is totally cool. Not having it in you to be fired up over something which just doesn’t fire you up is not a problem, because nobody can be an activist for everything; there is no shame in being an activist for cause X instead of cause Y… well, assuming it’s not one of those nasty “cause X”s like the Religious Reich support, but you know what I mean.

    When people like Stephanie Zvan criticize you for falling short in the area of feminism, they’re treating you as if you actually were one of those people for whom feminism lights the fire in their belly. I’d be willing to bet that they do this because you do, from time to time, go out of your way to make sure everybody knows that you’re a feminist and you support feminism and blah blah blah… but feminism does not light the fire in your belly. And this lack of fire-in-the-belly shows, in what you do and what you don’t do.

    Thus far, your response to criticism of your lukewarm feminism seems to have been that you expend an ever-greater quantity of verbiage complaining about the fact that you’re getting criticized for your lukewarm feminism. This… is not likely to result in any cessation of said criticism.

    Another possible response might be for you to step up your game, and actually become, in reality the feminism-supporter that you claim to be, but largely aren’t, at present. This won’t be easy for you—and it’s not at all clear that you even can go this route, for reasons explained earlier—but if you go this route, you will not receive any more criticisms on the basis of lukewarm feminism. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that the criticisms you’re received have included pointers to useful, relevant educational resources; if you haven’t taken advantage of said resources, well, failure to learn about feminism would support the proposition that feminism just isn’t all important to you, wouldn’t it? Again: It’s okay to not be an activist for feminism. What’s problematic is wanting to be treated like an activist for feminism without actually being one.

    Personally, I suspect your best course of action would be to make an announcement somewhere in the neighborhood of Look, I agree with the goals of feminism, I agree that women should not be abused… but I just don’t have the spoons for anything but atheism. So until I do have the spoons for it, I’m going to leave feminism for the people who do have the spoons for it, and then focus on atheism without (what, for you, amounts to) the needless distraction of feminism.

    Like I said up front, I could be totally wrong about all this, but it’s what I’ve gleaned from your writings. So… do with this comment as you will.

    • JTEberhard

      If someone says I don’t care about the cause, what recourse do I have but to provide the evidence that I do or to let the inaccurate statement stand?

      There is a lot of criticism that seems to circulate around me defending myself from what I certainly consider to be unfair criticism (for all the reasons I list) and from people saying I said something when in reality I said the exact opposite. When this happens, it’s natural to want to defend one’s self. Stephanie and Rebecca do the same.

      Part of my words were doing exactly what I was initially criticized for not doing (unfairly and quite uncharitably in my opinion) and lambasting bad people. There seems to be quite the grudge that I also defend myself as well, and this is perplexing to me.

      Also, people act like I’m not listening to Stephanie. I am listening. I believe it’s clear that I’m listening. I’m just not in complete agreement. And when I am in agreement, I act. For instance, even though I had already denounced harassers, I went ahead and did it again when Stephanie asked/insisted I do so.

      “I’d be willing to bet that they do this because you do, from time to time, go out of your way to make sure everybody knows that you’re a feminist and you support feminism and blah blah blah…”

      I’m honestly not interested at all in convincing people that I’m a feminist. I know what I consider myself, and that’s sufficient. What I’m very interested in is making sure people know that I don’t make the critiques I make out of spite or out of a lack of care, and they way to do this is to cite the work I’ve done in the past and to assure people that I believe their cause is just and their anger justified. It’s not to earn a label from anybody who doesn’t care to give it to me.

      “Thus far, your response to criticism of your lukewarm feminism seems to
      have been that you expend an ever-greater quantity of verbiage
      complaining about the fact that you’re getting criticized for your
      lukewarm feminism. This… is not likely to result in any cessation of
      said criticism.”

      What you call “criticism of my lukewarm feminism” I consider to be unfair or untrue things people have said that I’m trying to get cleared up. An example from this post would be the person who thinks my solution to harassment is to hug the harasser. That’s not true, so I said so and explained it.

      Yes, this is not likely to result in the end of the criticism, or in the unfair and untrue things that gets said, but I still don’t feel any shame in answering it.

      After all, isn’t the point of all of this largely that people shouldn’t have to be quiet in the face of criticism? What’s more, I don’t see trashing harassers and correcting other feminists when they say something wrong to be mutually exclusive. So when people suggest I should spend less time “touting my feminism” and more criticizing of badness, all I can say is that I both correct bad arguments made against me and denounce badness (which I have done in Ron Lindsay and the harassers).

      As for…

      “Another possible response might be for you to step up your game, and actually become, in reality the feminism-supporter that you claim to be, but largely aren’t, at present.”

      There seems to be an unwritten standard for that that I think is both inconsistent and unfair. I tried to highlight the inconsistent part in the post. Stephanie certainly saw the comments on her blog saying wildly untrue things with relation so me and didn’t do a thing. Yet when I denounced a comment about her that on the surface deserved to be ignored for incoherency (I don’t feel the need to rebut every lame insult on the internet, whether it’s about me or a friend), but not to the extent she wished, it was suggested that I somehow supported the antagonizing of a person I like. Surely you can see how this isn’t right, no matter how much I agree with Stephanie that harassers suck?

      As for the unfair part, I largely ignore insults when they come my way and I didn’t check the comments on that post for an entire day (and still haven’t checked them until I’m positive I’m in a place to be even-handed), and I did the same with Gadfly’s. When asked my opinion on it, I gave it. I have said that Gadfly is an asshole and publicly denounced him. This may not as yet be the extent to which Stephanie would like to see things done, but it can’t be argued that I’ve done nothing, it can’t be argued that I have ignored Stephanie, and it really can’t be argued that I don’t care.

      Yet these are the things I’m being accused of. If all of this can still result in the idea that I’m a friend to the people I’ve repeatedly said suck, it leaves me with the impression that nothing will be good enough. That leaves me satisfying my own conscience on things and not trying to live up to someone else’s standard of what makes a True feminist.

      Hope that helps.

      • Improbable Joe

        Nope, no time to police your blog here… unless you feel attacked, in which case you have time for yet another very long defense of yourself. I don’t have to read your mind to know your focus and priorities… just your word count.

      • Cubist

        “If someone says I don’t care about the cause, what recourse do I have but to provide the evidence that I do or to let the inaccurate statement stand?”

        What ‘evidence’ have you provided? Words, sure. You’ve definitely talked the talk. When it comes to walking the walk… not so much. You clearly think you have walked the walk, and you clearly think it’s unreasonable for anyone to expect more of you that what you’ve done… but what have you done?

        How many feminists have to tell you you’re doing feminism wrong before you entertain the notion that you might actually be doing feminism wrong… as opposed to spending another 1K words or so defending yourself from the charge of doing feminism wrong?

        To repeat myself: It’s okay to not be an activist for feminism. It’s okay to not have the spoons for some particular strain of activism, whether than be feminism or whatever else. You’re damn good for atheism, and anyone who insists you must do anything more than that is a fool. Hell, PZ Myers has explicitly denied being part of Atheism Plus, and you don’t see anybody getting on his case for that, do you?

        I still think feminism is, for you, secondary at best. And I still think this particular kerfluffle is due to the difference between how important you believe feminism should be, on the one hand, and how important it actually is for you. Wouldn’t be the first time there was a mismatch between a bloke’s values and their opinions regarding their values. And if I’m totally wrong about this, and you? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time for that, either.

        • JTEberhard

          “What ‘evidence’ have you provided? Words, sure. You’ve definitely talked
          the talk. When it comes to walking the walk… not so much.”

          “Examples were given in this very post.”How many feminists have to tell you you’re doing feminism wrong before you entertain the notion that you might actually be doing feminism wrong… as opposed to spending another 1K words or so defending yourself from the charge of doing feminism wrong?”

          You are assuming that most of the emails/comments I’ve received on the blog and elsewhere are accusing me of doing feminism wrong. That assumption is incorrect. At some point I must say that one group of feminist’s standards are unfair/unrealistic, and I’m doing that here with Stephanie.

          “And if I’m totally wrong about this, and you? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time for that, either.”

          Amen. :)

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Unfair/unrealistic standards = Take action on those things you’re telling the world are pissing you off.

          • JTEberhard

            I did take action. It has yet to be the action you wanted (well, it was the action you initially wanted), but you cannot honestly say I’ve done nothing.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            You took the action you quoted me saying I didn’t want. I’ve already said that elsewhere, so we’re down to repetition now, which means I’m done. Let me know when you’ve decided what you’re going to do with the pitters in your other thread.

          • JTEberhard

            I already have. Repeatedly.



            You’re either not listening or being deliberately obtuse.

            Yeah, you said you didn’t want a blog post. I felt it was the best way to provide the rebuke you wanted. Then you asked me to post in the original thread and then I did that. You act like I’ve not done what you’ve all-but-demanded repeatedly. But I have.

            And if you get around to adopting even a portion of the same standards you’re trying to foist on me, let me know.

          • JTEberhard

            And one more thing about double standards.

            Days ago Greg Laden left an abusive comment about me on Teen Skepchick. I reposted the comment on a post I *know* Stephanie has read.

            Stephanie said nothing. She didn’t rebuke Greg. And that’s ok! I don’t take her lack of doing so as a personal attack on me. Maybe she agrees with Greg’s inane comment, maybe she doesn’t. I don’t know because nothing was said (and I assumed she didn’t because, well, assuming the best and all).

            So clearly, failing to denounce people who verbally abuse friends is not an indication of betrayal or uncaring.

          • http://www.facebook.com/wonderist Thaumas Themelios

            JT said: “Stephanie said nothing. She didn’t rebuke Greg. And that’s ok!”

            This requires more than just an upvote. It seems clear based on this information that Stephanie is indeed operating by a double-standard. An unintelligible comment from a relatively obscure troll: action must be swift and decisive to denounce and remove it! An obvious attack from a *well* known blogger: no response at all is necessary. This seems to me like clear hypocrisy.

          • Cubist

            Two points, and then that’s it for me on this topic.

            One: As has already been noted, the question here is not “is JT Eberhard a Good Person?” Anybody with a pulse, a body temperature somewhere in the neighborhood of 98.6°F, and at least a vague awareness of what-all you’ve been up to with respect to atheism, already knows the answer to that question, and said answer is “yes”.
            Rather, the question is, “is JT Eberhard doing right by people he calls friends?” Different question entirely, and the answer to this question is not necessarily going to be identical to the answer to that other question.

            Two: There are various axes upon which you can judge people who deal with you. One such axis is respect; there are people whose opinions you generally respect, and people whose opinions you generally don’t respect. In the context of this here current kerfluffle, another such axis is the degree to which they agree with you re: how well you’ve handled the stuff you’re getting flack over. You may want to consider the degree to which agreeing-with-you-re:-this-kerfluffle correlates with possession-of-opinions-you-respect.

          • blondein_tokyo

            I think JT is doing a pretty fair job of being a feminist. He makes mistakes sometimes, but don’t we ALL? I’m not a perfect feminist, either. Find me someone who is.

  • ohnugget001

    I come to Patheos for JT, Hemant Mehta, and others to try
    and stay current on events in the atheist community, news events that are an
    affront to my secular humanism, etc. I am also one of feminism’s allies that JT
    spoke to in his original post; feminism to me being supportive of gender

    I was originally curious why he was so demonstrative, going way
    out of his way to assert his support of feminism. He then, reasonably, calls activists to be receptive
    to allies who may disagree with some on certain points, but are sincerely committed
    to the concept and achievement of equality between both genders. I now
    understand why after reading Stephanie Zvans’s posts on her blog and here why
    he was so reticent to even approach this topic.

    Here is how I see this series of events chronologically.
    1) Stephanie and JT are (presumably) friends
    2) Stephanie has been the recipient of harassment for her activities supporting gender equality
    3) JT recognizes there are enemies of gender equality in a post and suggests that
    there are truly hostile people to it – people he finds repulsive
    4) JTalso notes there are others who are supportive of feminism but may hold
    different views on one or more of the finer points
    5) Someone writes a cryptic comment on JT’s post
    6) Stephanie does not like it and believes JT should have addressed it as harassment and posts it in public
    7) JT attempts to defend that he has a private life and is visting with family now
    and cannot police his blog comments 24/7
    8) Stephanie does not seem to care
    9) JT writes a second blog post addressing this comment, among other comments
    10) Stephanie still thinks JT is unresponsive to her needs

    Remember, I am one of those allies that JT speaks about in
    his first post. And what I see here is JT being taken to task, in public, on
    her blog and his, for not understanding a weird comment nor addressing it fast
    enough to suit her – on his blog, not hers. How are we even supposed to see
    Stephanie as being credible in this attack. She takes invivoMark to task when
    he calls her out on the same same, then misrepresents what he says.

    I do not know Ms. Svan and if this is indicative of her modus
    operandi, do not wish to. I am not her enemy on gender equality, but I am
    certainly not her open ally if this is how she treats someone who thought he
    was her friend.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      It seems to me (and I could be totally off-base here, since I don’t actually know any of the involved parties) that Stephanie made an assumption. She assumed that JT knew about this SocraticGadfly person and how he’s been cyber-stalking her. JT didn’t know that, so what looked to him (and to me) like a terribly unintelligible insult of some sort that can be left alone looked to her like the sort of comment that needed to be shut down, hard, before things spiraled out of control.

      I think the betrayed feelings on both sides come from Stephanie’s public anger at JT for not responding to what was, to her, an obviously abusive commenter and JT’s honest bewilderment at what was so uniquely bad about this particular comment which, in isolation, isn’t unusually bad.

      /takes off amateur psychiatrist hat

      • ohnugget001

        I listed the baseline chronology of events in another post and you hit on some of the first of them. This is just so silly. JT obviously is supportive or he wouldn’t have written his original post to begin with. He wouldn’t have distanced himself from the slymepitters so effectively and vociferously, in writing on his own, respectable blog, if he wasn’t supportive of gender equality. Ms. Zvan is the aggressor here and I and others are calling her on it. JT did nothing wrong and, from what I see, everything right – except he didn’t understand some weird comment or respond to it in a way that Ms. Zvan wanted. He’s already responded and reached out to her to resolve this, again, silliness. I call on Ms. Zvan to recognize what she just did, publically, to JT and admit it was an overreaction. Really now, Ms. Zvan, regardless of how much harassment she has had in the past, is being publically harassing now and she needs to recognize it, concede it, and address it. She called out an ALLY, for not being omniscient on commenter’s cryptic meanings and then not addressing said unknown meaning to her liking. Is there no one else who doesn’t see the progression of events as something that JT should not be indicted for?

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          I don’t think JT should be indicted for any of the earliest events. I don’t think Stephanie should be either. I think that Stephanie made the earliest mistakes and is more in the wrong, but she does have a valid viewpoint. None of this means that there aren’t hurt feelings on both sides. I think the worst possible outcome would be for their friendship to end on a tidal wave of blame partly fed by us commenters.

          • ohnugget001

            Ms. Zvan and every other woman in this nation (USA) are right to have the viewpoint that they are often treated as less equal than men, and are even harassed, denigrated, and treated horribly, even in our atheism-related community. That is a valid viewpoint. But just because others attack you does not justify attacking an ally publically for a crime he didn’t commit. And we commenters have power – we can choose to recognize the reality of events, call out enemies of equality, support friends of equality, people like JT, AND call out our own when they misinterpret or otherwise cause discord – and on this last point I mean Ms. Zvan. Her posts have been needlessly rude and offputting despite her position on being historically harassed apparently true. I hope they work this out, but I hope JT doesn’t back down from defending his original post and his inability (I share it) to understand a cryptic message. She owes him an apology if she regards him as a friend – I’d do it if I was her.

  • Ace_of_Sevens

    And JT, the post probably would have gone over better if you left out the parts implying that she was being unfair to with her blog post. I realize that’s how you feel, but that pretty much guarantees you’re putting her on the defensive. I think you were trying to do the opposite and fix the issue that made her upset with you. I think this sort of thing is a large part of why people keep misreading you.

    • ohnugget001

      Unless I am misreading the series of events, she WAS being unfair and was already on the offensive against JT for not addressing a commenter who wrote a weird, unintelligible comment. I can find nothing that JT has done wrong to incur her public call-out on him.

      • Ace_of_Sevens

        It doesn’t matter whether she was right or not unless he wants to make that the wrong topic. If the goal is to make good with Stephanie, not rally people to tell him he was right and she was wrong, then trying to impress on Stephanie what she did wrong is counter-productive. Does no one learn this outside of customer service anymore?

        • ohnugget001

          I disagree completely, though respectfully. This is not a problem to be viewed though a customer service paradigm – and it is a problem. She is not his customer, nor he hers. This is an adult relationship which requires honesty, not meekly recognizing someone is hurt then deciding to ignore the hurt is from a misinterpretation of events, etc. He needs to address his grievance with her and she needs to admit she overreacted and did so publically. Anything else merely ignores the original problem she had, and undermines what he talked about in his first post about allies and not alienating them.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            Actually, this is a relationship in which he’s made me a talking point, telling the world how much it pisses him off that I get harassed.

          • ohnugget001

            I concur. JT has voiced an opinion on his blog regarding his support for you, the greater community of gender equality activists, and just the whole concept of gender equality. Thank you for recognizing that. I appreciate you conceding that he is your ally and acting appropriately.

          • Stephanie Zvan

            You’re dishonest. Worse than that, you’re transparently, ineptly dishonest.

          • ohnugget001

            That’s not dishonest, that was thinly veiled sarcasm – not quite transparent. As for being inept, that made me smile – I’m obviously not inept if I saw the reality of this series of events, called you on your reaction to it, and got the response from you that I just got. Look, you’ve made a mistake. You punching wildly at friends, foes, and people like me that you don’t even know that are rooting for you in general. Please, just stop. Review your position. You can be better than this and a better reflection for your cause.

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            If you have a disagreement with something Stephanie actually said, say so. Trying to put words in her mouth serves no purpose except to bait her by accusing her of contradicting herself and set her up for further harassment along this theme. If you don’t have any of substance to contribute, then go away.

          • ohnugget001

            You replied to this after I already responsibly responded to you in another thread. The comment you are referring to here is sarcasm and should be recognized as so. It was meant to rebuttal to the previous Ms. Zvan comment on rebuttal, to JT’s rebuttal – we could all get lost here if we’re not careful. I’m not happy with the comments Ms. Zvan has made to me, but I’m still trying to be honest and truly engaging here despite that. I am trying to be substantive.

          • JTEberhard

            What’s the difference between a “talking point” and having to constantly rebut the notion that I’m cozy with the same people I’ve repeatedly called assholes?

            Yes, I’ve said repeatedly that harassers are slime. People have said (with erroneous logic) that harassers don’t piss me off repeatedly.

            Why am I to blame for defending myself? Do any other bloggers get blamed for saying “Hey, that thing you said about me isn’t true”?

          • Stephanie Zvan

            If you tell them to go away, you don’t have to rebut anything. It rebuts itself.

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            I see where you are coming from, but you always need to worry about how the person you are addressing is going to react, not just in customer service situations. If you say things that are obviously going to piss someone off, then say it wasn’t your fault because you didn’t intend to piss them off, then you’re a piss-poor communicator. We just went over this with Ron Lindsay. I think JT is making the same mistake here, though not nearly as badly.

          • ohnugget001

            But, did JT “say things that are obviously going to piss someone off, then say it wasn’t your fault because you didn’t intend to piss them off”.
            I truly don’t see where he did this, though I agree with you that this should be avoided. Please enlighten me.

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            My job is to explain to other employees how the screwed up and how to avoid screwing up in the future while keeping them convinced I’m helping them, not putting them down, so I’m probably more attuned to this than most. The main issue is that JT criticized Stephanie for calling him out publicly while in the midst of doing the same thing to her. I know he said this was necessary elsewhere in the thread, but I don’t buy it. It sound more like he’s trying to get back at her. That may not have been his intent, but when you consider her current mood and why she was upset, she’s pretty much guaranteed to take it that way.

            My suggestion would have been to take out all the parts that sound defensive and focus on how he detests harassment and what he does about it. This doesn’t have to be a blog moderation policy change or something, just something that makes it clear that his opposition to harassment does affect his behavior. E-mail Stephanie privately and apologize that he didn’t know slimepit memes, so he didn’t get the insult, which is why he reacted the way he did and ask her to please contact him if something like that happens again. It accomplishes the same objectives publicly and privately without making Stephanie madder, which I think is the opposite of what he was trying to do here.

          • JTEberhard

            “It sound more like he’s trying to get back at her.”

            Why did it sound like I was responding out of spite and not to respond to something said publicly? Do you think I still would’ve felt the need to clear up accusations if they weren’t already public?

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            You can clear up accusations by addressing their substance without talking about how unreasonable and unfair the people making them are. Doing what you did puts Stephanie in the position of having to defend herself, which does a lot to get in the way of trying to get her to understand your point of view. That’s a sure way to come across as hostile, which is what you are concerned about feminists doing as well.

            This perception of hostility comes mainly comes from not thinking about how people are going to react. I think Stephanie’s correct that the overall effect comes off more trying to defend yourself than defend people who are being harassed.

  • MosesZD

    Wake up and smell the coffee, JT. You’re a pawn in their game and the second you’re of no use, you’ll be thrown under the bus or be forced to grovel like everyone else they’ve thrown under the bus.

  • ohnugget001

    Having read a number of other threads here where Ms. Zvan engages other commenters who honestly find fault with her calling JT out publically, I have to admit a great deal of misapprehension with her credibility. Unless she is having a really bad day, how could you possibly misunderstand, and then misstate other’s opinions so incorrectly. Ms. Zvan, in a number of threads is obfuscating and almost deliberately stating that people are saying things they didn’t. Am I the only person noticing this trend on this posting of JT’s or am I missing something? I’m not trying to start a fight, but, but, but, this is infuriating to someone who really believes in understanding another person’s position and engaging their true position, not something else I claim it to be when it obviously isn’t.

    • John-Henry Eric Beck

      I think you’re missing quite a bit.
      For instance, I don’t think Stephanie is misstating, much less obfuscating, what others’ opinions are. I think she’s pointing out what those statements look like to the victim of the harassment.
      So it looks to me like you’re doing a very poor job in trying to understand Stephanie’s position.

      • ohnugget001

        OK. I maintain that in one thread here Ms. Zvan misrepresented or at least absurdly misunderstood what invivoMark was saying and was being argumentative. That’s just one example other than her telling me I’m being “ineptly dishonest” when I contend I am not.
        Communication is bi-lateral. I believe I understand her position, and am willing to take input on how to better, but, I will admit that I don’t understand how grating it might get at times which might make me strike out at people who I otherwise wouldn’t. Like she has at JT. I admit this freely. Forget about her doing the same to me here. I’m not all that relevant except I have an opinion and I believe it to be worthy of consideration. JT supporting her and then getting publically taken to task is not appropriate. If we can’t agree on that, despite the position of the person who did it, even empathizing with their position, then we’re not having a reasonable conversation, IMHO..

    • Ace_of_Sevens

      She is having a really bad day for totally understandable reasons. This is just the latest flare-up of a long-running harassment campaign. It may not be fair to be angry at JT, but she has lots of reason to be really fucking angry.

  • Christina Stephens

    So um, I write for this blog! People have posted asinine sexist comments about me here too, including that the only reason I’m allowed to post here is because JT and I have slept with each other.

    If someone ever says something asinine about me on the blog, JT can defend me if he chooses, but is under NO obligation. I am a big girl and can take care of myself, I don’t need the menz to stick up for me.

    In fact, I would kind of find it insulting if he took it upon himself to delete asinine comments about me. I’d rather respond to them myself then have him protect me.

    • John-Henry Eric Beck

      From what I’ve seen of Stephanie’s posts she’s not demanding deleting comments specifically (or even preferably). But that *some* action be done, rather than leaving something to sit unchallenged. I think it’s a valid view that however silly attacks on someone’s credibility are, the more they’re made and left unchallenged the more they build up and have some effect on reputation. In contrast to having a bunch of friends who will step up and shout down those attacks whenever they see them.

    • Stephanie Zvan

      Oh, I’ve seen you take care of yourself. I know full well what you’re capable of and I approve.

      I, on the other hand, get told to be nicer and less “dogmatic”. I get told to tone things down because I’m scaring people off.

      If someone’s going to tell me that–if they’re going to disapprove of how I handle that shit–they’d damned well better step up to do something effective that meets their own criteria for nicer, more welcoming, and less dogmatic.

      • Christina Stephens

        Hey… well.. thanks!

        I can’t say anyone has ever really told me to be nicer, less dogmatic, or less scary. Weird – I don’t think we approach things much differently.

        • Stephanie Zvan

          I agree. I think the only difference is that I’m explicitly talking about feminism. I don’t think your talk about disabilities and sexuality is as threatening to as many people.

          • Christina Stephens

            I think you’re probably right about that. I actually don’t think I’ve ever blogged about feminism here. I can’t think of a time when I have done so, anyway.

          • JTEberhard

            Feminism is not threatening to me. Bad arguments and untruths are annoying to me no matter who uses them.

            And also, when people repeatedly twist other people’s words, make claims that they hold positions they’ve consistently rebuked, and such, I do worry that those things chase people off.

            But not passion for a cause. Not anger. Those things don’t scare me.

  • Ace_of_Sevens

    JT, is an accurate & charitable summary of your position?: You don’t think Stephanie should be harassed and you condemn people who do it. However, you also value a generally open commenting policy where people are free to demonstrate to the world that they are assholes if that is their preference. You are not willing to change you comment policy to prevent Stephanie from being harassed because it woudl have negative effects that outweigh the positive of Stephanie and others not being harassed in one place, especially since there are plenty of other venues where it would continue. You have the time to personally call out every harassing comment.

    • Pitchguest

      Because posting comments here about Stephanie is not actually harassing her, Ace.

      You people really need to learn the definition of harassment.

      • TaylorMaid

        If the comments are offensive bullshit, it’s harassment.

        • Metaphoenix42

          Offensive comments are not harassment. No one has a right to not be offended.

          • TaylorMaid

            1) Yes they are, and 2) I never said they did.

          • Metaphoenix42

            Who decides what is offensive?

          • FreezePeach

            I do, because I’m offended first.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            The same people who decide what is beautiful, or what is tasty, or what is disgusting, etc.
            (Hint: All of us, individually.)

            You seem to have some idea that there’s some objective measurement of what is legitimately offensive? That we can compare to this standard as to whether something is okay or not okay?
            That’s not how it works. People feel offended or they don’t. The question is whether you wish to cause them offense (or other related harms), and whether you mind being castigated for offending them.

          • FreezePeach

            Right, so whoever takes the initiative to be offended first wins.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            That’s just ridiculous. I can’t imagine reading comprehension or communication being that bad, so it’s very hard to believe you’re being even remotely honest.

          • FreezePeach

            And your either completely unobservant or totally disingenuous if you don’t know that claiming offense first to gain initiative in a situation is a known tactic. This is not always the case, it’s not even to say it’s unwarranted, but it does happen.You’re definition of offence invites it. I don’t have a better one, but what I’ve pointed out is a serious drawback to it.

          • Metaphoenix42

            Ok. So if I’m talking to a religious person about how awesome atheism is, and how God doesn’t exist, and he responds with, “I don’t like hearing about atheism, it offends me and makes me uncomfortable!”, am I harassing?

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            If you’re going to continue speaking to someone that doesn’t want to talk to you that’s going to turn harassing pretty quick, yes. (Though how long until it’s legally actionable harassment might be longer.)

          • Metaphoenix42

            Ok. What about talking *about* how dumb religious dude’s beliefs are on a forum which he doesn’t have to read, but he goes and reads them anyway, and then complains about being harassed?

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Well, did our hypothetical anti-theist troll (ATT) follow DRD (dumb religious dude) around the Internet, and every time DRD said anything on any blog, ATT popped up and said nasty things about him? So that no matter where DRD went on the Internet, he always had to worry that ATT would show up and derail things, which some people would them blame on DRD even though he’s not at fault? Because yeah, that’s harassment of the highest order.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            Whether or not religious dude actually reads it is not actually very relevant.
            We also haven’t been talking about discussing beliefs.

            If you’re running around all over the place talking about what an awful pedophile religious dude is, that’s going to be harassment. It’s worse when it’s to friends and associates of religious dude. Worse still when they’re going to easily run in to it with their normal socializing.

            I could buy air time on every tv channel to talk about what an awful pedophile Metaphoenix42 is, and you could turn off the tv. I could chat about your love of little boys at the pub with your friends, and you don’t have to go to the pub. I could buy billboards all around your city claiming you’re a pedophile, and you can look away or avoid those streets. I can host a meeting at your workplace to show photoshops of you molesting kids, and you can ignore the meeting invite. But don’t you think at some point that might be harassment?
            (Shorter version: the ‘on a forum which he doesn’t have to read’ is a ridiculous and pro-harassment argument.)

          • Pitchguest

            – No, if it’s harassment then it’s very, very relevant if religious dude actually reads it or not.

            I don’t think you actually understand what harassment really is.

            Also, who said anything about going around talking shit about him to his friends and associates? Shifting the goalposts much?

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            “I don’t think you actually understand what harassment really is.”

          • Pitchguest

            Ooh! Oh. Ouch.

            Is this what they call a “tu quoque”? A “NO U”? “I know that you are, but what am I?” “I am rubber, you are glue?”

          • Metaphoenix42

            I’ve not seen anyone do this, or the equivalent of this, to Stephanie Zvan. Citation needed.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            I can only assume you haven’t bothered to read the OP yet.

          • Pitchguest

            Yes, you’re harassing them. Haven’t you been paying attention? If we’re going to put it in understandable terms, in this case, the atheists are the Slymepitters and FtB are the theists and everyone knows that any discussion where a Slymepitter is involved is automatically tainted.

            As per Stephanie Zvan, who wished to censor any comment made by a ‘pitter — “all of the Slymepitters” — in the previous thread. (Although you can tell she’s gone a bit senile, considering only two of us commented there – me and Phil – but that’s for another time.)

        • Pitchguest

          No. If it’s offensive bullshit, it’s offensive bullshit. Offensive bullshit doesn’t make it harassment, dipshit. And calling you a dipshit doesn’t make it harassment, either, because harassment is a constant niggling at your most personal space. At your blog, your personal email, your home address in meatspace.

          If I’m not constantly writing to you calling you a dipshit, at either of those places, then I’m not harassing you.

          Posting something here where she’s not forced to read it, or forced to comment on it, or forced to acknowledge it, does not make it harassment. That’s like saying that writing something about her in my diary — and she later comes across it — means I’m harassing her. You people need to learn the definition of harassment.

          Oh, and no one has a right to not be offended.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            JT’s blog is not your personal diary hidden under your bed. It’s a public forum that all sorts of people read.

            Going around to public fora spreading nasty rumors and ridiculous insults about someone is definitely harassment.

            Your definition of harassment is excessively narrow, leaving lots of room for harassers to keep up their harassment.

          • Pitchguest

            *My* definition of harassment? It’s mine? Funny. I thought I was using the commonly accepted definition of harassment, both sociologically and linguistically. Namely, that harassment has to be constant and personal. Posting something nasty about her on a nameless blog she would never read does not constitute as harassment, no matter how nasty and ridiculous it is.

            If she’s not forced to acknowledge it, it’s not harassment. If she’s not forced to read it, it’s not harassment. She can easily ignore it, it doesn’t pervade — or invade — her personal life. She can turn off the computer and be none the wiser. In other words, NOT HARASSMENT.

            The dictionary definition says thus:


            And who’s going around to public fora spreading nasty rumours and ridiculous insults?

            What’s *your* definition of harassment? (Since apparently we’ve gone beyond sociology and language into a whole other realm.)

          • John H

            And as all of you who have never commented here before suddenly showing up demonstrate, this is ongoing. The continuing focus on Stephanie demonstrates it’s personal. Ignoring the definition you just offered shows that you’re lying, engaging in categorically bad faith. Go back to your shitty pit.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            It’s libel, though. Spreading false rumors about someone, even in a medium they won’t ever read, is considered so serious as harassment that it is actually a crime. Whether the harassment Stephanie faces rises to actionable libel or not is legally questionable, but yes, spreading rumors on nameless blogs that Stephanie will never read in an attempt to ruin her reputation is still harassment.

          • http://www.facebook.com/wonderist Thaumas Themelios

            Ah, that’s interesting, Feminerd. So would spreading false rumours about someone being a harasser count as harassment, then? How about false rumours that someone supports harassment?

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            If they’re actually false, and being spread in multiple places with obvious intent to smear, then yes that is harassment. I haven’t seen it here, but the behavior you describe is not ok.

          • http://www.facebook.com/wonderist Thaumas Themelios

            Well, funny enough, the behaviour I’m describing occurred on Stephanie Zvan’s own blog, where I was accused of supporting bullying and harassment (which I most certainly do not).

            When I tried to defend myself against these accusations, Zvan, misreading what I had written, put any of my further comments into permanent moderation, so that as it stands today, the false accusations against me stand, and my rebuttals of those accusations are in permanent mod limbo.

            Here is her blog post, linked to my first comment, objecting to some of the characterizations of SPs, including myself, that were made by some commenters in her blog comments thread: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/03/31/working-together-on-core-issues/#comment-222480

            After several of my comments, Zvan put me in moderation. Here is a link to the second (and final, I’ve not posted to her blog since) of my comments Zvan relegated to mod limbo: (JT, I hope you don’t mind this brief link to the pit where I posted my rebuttals (having nowhere else to post them), I promise not to make a habit of posting pit links, but this one is directly relevant not only to my own case, but I think to the core of this current discussion as well) http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=81381#p81381

            If you read the comments I made in her thread, including the rebuttal, I challenge anyone to find any form of inappropriate behaviour in my posts. Anything that would reasonably justify leaving false accusations in the thread and blocking my rebuttals? I cannot see it. I don’t think anyone reasonably can. It seems clear to me she misread what I wrote (missing a key word, ‘supporting’), jumped to a faulty conclusion, and then simply put me on ‘permanent ignore’ so to speak.

            As is her prerogative! Of course, it’s her blog, she can run it how she chooses. But I don’t have to approve of how she runs it. If she chooses to run it in such a way that reasonable dissent is not allowed, then I will criticize that for being unreasonable. And, having no better word for it, I’ll call that dogmatic behaviour: intolerant of questioning, dissent, or critique.

            And, at the end of the day, I find it very ironic, that Zvan complains about harassment from the likes of people like me, while she allows the kind of character-smearing accusations against people like me to permeate her blog.

            So, Feminerd, by your own criteria of what constitutes ‘harassment’, I submit to you that Stephanie Zvan’s own behaviour fits that criteria. According to the criteria that “spreading false rumours about someone being a harasser, [or] that someone supports
            harassment, [...] if they’re actually false, and being spread in multiple places with obvious intent to smear, then yes that is harassment,” then Stephanie Zvan herself has engaged in harassment of myself and most of the members of the SlymePit dot com message forums.

            She has spread these rumours in multiple places (her own blog, here on JT’s blog, in numerous other FTB blogs, on podcasts, in public Google Hangout videos, etc.

            I have never harassed *anyone*, and I *do not* support harassment or bullying. I’m explicitly against them. Yet these false accusations are spread about me and many other people based on prejudiced stereotypes of a large and diverse group of people (I seem to recall her using the phrase “all slimepitters”). Furthermore, she allows accusations by others (commenters on her blog) to stand publicly, while I am explicitly denied any recourse to have them challenged.

            If Zvan’s gripes against JT have any merit, then surely my complaint against Zvan must also have some merit as well. Right?

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            No one appears to be accusing you, personally, of harassment. They accuse you of enabling and condoning it by hanging out with and defending those who harass. Considering other quotes I’ve seen from other ‘pitters, that seems fairly accurate to me. If someone hangs out with a group of people, some of whom make racist jokes, people will be right to wonder if ze is racist too and if not, why ze hangs out with those people. If ze defends the group as good people who aren’t all racist, some of them are but ze’s not one of them, that really doesn’t make hir position any better. Ze is still hanging out with, condoning, and defending racists. You see why that would be a pretty severe problem and why people might judge hir for that?

            That fact that you, personally, don’t harass people is good. It’s basic human decency, and you don’t get a cookie for it, but yay you I guess. I’m not seeing you being accused of harassing anyone, though, and the accusations of association are true. I’m also not seeing a concerted campaign of following you around the Internet, wherever you post, by people who pop up and say “don’t listen to Thaumas, he’s an evil misogynist and you shouldn’t listen to him ever”. That’s just not happening. Being accused on one blog post, one time, even if prevented from responding, isn’t harassment.

            In other words, you can’t compare your treatment on Stephanie’s blog, whether fair or unfair, to the harassment Stephanie has received by cyber-stalkers.

            You sound reasonable, but your very reasonable seeming belies some serious twisting of words and ideas. You seem to be waiting to pounce on something I say to suggest that Stephanie either deserves what she gets (totally not true) or that she’s just as bad (equally untrue). If you’re the nice side of the Slymepit, who’s the mean side? SocFly, with 2 1/2 years of cyber-stalking? What counts as unacceptable Internet behavior to you?

          • ool0n

            Very good analysis of Thaumas/Wonderist there… In the comments he chirps the usual line of “Guilt by association fallacy!”
            Thing is that fallacy refers to *irrelevant* associations, its not at all irrelevant when you decide to hang out at a forum and are friends with people who produce this -

            Then spend a lot of time defending it all as just a “joke”.. or “just disagreement”. Thaumas and the rest are full of it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/wonderist Thaumas Themelios

            “No one appears to be accusing you, personally, of harassment. They accuse you of enabling and condoning it by hanging out with and defending those who harass. “

            I specifically asked you about claiming that someone ‘supports harassment’. In that thread, at least two people accused me directly of such support, in replies to me about what they imagined I must be thinking.

            But even if they don’t mention me by name re:harassment per se, they are still be referring to me by group affiliation — when they make broad claims earlier in the thread about the members of the SlymePit dot com forum, and specifically the participants of the Nugent dialogues (of which I was one of only a handful) — however loose in reality that affiliation is, they make it out as if it is uniform and monolithic in their mythologizing of ‘the slimepit’. You yourself have a strongly negative view of the members of the slympit dot com message forum, despite knowing very little about them. Where do you think you got that impression from, if not from the people like Stephanie Zvan and others (including Oolon in this thread as you’ll note). It is equivalent to saying “all blacks are x” or “all women are x” or “all engineers are x” or “all Democrats/Republicans are x”. We’re not even as uniform as *Democrats/Republicans* are, and yet we’re still lumped into the same mythological monolithic identity of “slime pitters”. I’ve been a member of the SP forum since only a couple of days after it was switched over to slimepit dot com (very nearly 1 year ago now), so any generalized smears you’ve heard about ‘the slimepit’ and ‘all slimepitters’ since then are including me in those smears. Many people refer to this kind of indirect smearing by group affiliation as ‘splash damage’. Apparently it’s supposed to be a big no no. Unless, it seems, the damage being splashed is upon one’s opponents. Then it’s okey dokey, I guess.

            If all you knew about me were the claims of Stephanie Zvan and people like her who spread these false rumours, wouldn’t *you* assume that I was a misogynist harasser? Seriously, wouldn’t you?

            She is smearing her opponents. Demonizing them, dehumanizing them (as ‘slime’), and I *happen to be* one of those people she’s targeting with her ‘splash damage’ smear-campaigning.

            The facts stand: In *that specific blog thread*, accusations were made against *me*, Thaumas, that I ‘support’ harassment and bullying. Zvan allows those *false* accusations to stand, and has *denied* me any recourse to challenge them at all.

            At least JT bloody bent over backwards to denounce SGF’s attack on her (which I do not support, by the way). Stephanie has done ***nothing*** to even denounce the accusations against me. Accusations which are ***far*** more clear than the attack from SGF.

            I restate: If Zvan has any legitimate complaint against JT, then surely I have a legitimate complaint against Zvan. By your own standards.

            To give onlookers some context, I will requote the sections I quoted to Zvan in my rebuttal comment (which she blocked):

            Based on these prior quotes from rorschach (#30)

            if not actively contribute to the harassment and bullying of Ophelia Benson and Rebecca Watson, to name but two persons, then at least to defend and enable such practices.

            And this one from LeftSidePositive (#37)

            And even if you didn’t actively take part in harassing people (and I just plain don’t know you so I don’t know if you have personally said or done anything odious), if you notice that the Slymepit is harassing people, and you choose to stick around and be friends with them, you are enabling them. You are giving them social support for their views.

            Remember, those quotes were addressed in reply to *me* in that thread. They are speaking about no one else there. Check the original thread yourself (I encourage anyone to check the sources to see for themselves what kind of harassment (according to Feminerd’s criteria) occurs on Zvan’s own blog.

            They accuse you of enabling and condoning it by hanging out with and defending those who harass. Considering other quotes I’ve seen from other ‘pitters, that seems fairly accurate to me. If someone hangs out with a group of people, some of whom make racist jokes, people will be right to wonder if ze is racist too and if not, why ze hangs out with those people.

            Perhaps right to ***wonder***, but right to ***accuse***? Instead of making an accusation like that out of hand, why not *ask* first to double check one’s assumptions, and engage in dialogue, rather than stopping conversation altogether?

            Are you also accusing me of supporting harassment and bullying? Be careful. Your words might come back to embarrass you. If you truly feel I support harassment and bullying, of course you should say so, but don’t be surprised when I disagree and demand that you *prove* your accusations against me. And I would hope JT doesn’t follow Zvan’s lead if it comes to that. But again, his blog to run how he chooses, and I respect that right to choose, though I might not respect the final choice itself in the end. I would hope that he’s beginning to see why someone like me would go to such lengths to oppose people whom I would normally support, but whom I believe are causing great damage to our community through these divisive smearing and silencing tactics.

            Even if one doesn’t agree with my stance on this particular incident, I would hope that one would be able to see things from my perspective and see that from my POV I’m engaging as reasonably as I can for reasons I feel are just and good. Indeed, I’m not even *primarily* concerned with my own reputation here; I’m primarily concerned about the harm to the community and the detrimental effects these divisions are having on our *overall efforts* toward a reasonable, ethical, secular society. I’m just using myself as an example. There are many other people who’ve experienced harm from these smears. But for the sake of specificity, right now I’m sticking to my own case (and only a single episode at that).

            If ze defends the group as good people who aren’t all racist, some of them are but ze’s not one of them, that really doesn’t make hir position any better. Ze is still hanging out with, condoning, and defending racists. You see why that would be a pretty severe problem and why people might judge hir for that?

            Not a person who is making judgments reasonably, IMHO. A reasonable person would realize that that is a Guilt by Association fallacy. *Especially* when I’m *right here* to talk to you to clear up any misunderstandings. As I was *right there* to talk to Zvan et al before she permanently blocked my comments.

            Do you think it’s reasonable to terminate a conversation based on fallacious reasoning? Personally, I don’t. Especially when it would come down to making a faulty judgment about another person. I would be especially careful not to make too many assumptions and to double-check those assumptions before feeling too confident in my conclusions, because as we all know, nobody’s perfect and we all make misjudgments (rather frequently actually, and I’m no exception of course).

            Second of all, you have *no good reason* to believe that the members of the slymepit dot com forum are *actually* racists or misogynists or serial harassers *except* for Zvan et al’s anecdotal claims against us. But now you are talking to a real live member of that forum (actually there are several in this thread who have already demonstrated that they are not raving maniacal harassers of any sort). So now you have an opportunity to test your skeptical skills and test your current beliefs. I am direct empirical counter-evidence to Zvan et al’s claims that ‘all’ the SPs are as she claims they are.

            And if the SlymePit is not *actually* filled with sexists and harassers and misogynists (it’s not, not even close), then your insinuation that I’m *defending* harassers just falls right through the floor. You have to demonstrate who these harassers are and *that* I actually defend them.

            So, who, specifically, am I ‘supporting’ as a harasser or bully? Please if you really think I’m defending or supporting harassment, let’s get specific. Who? Where? When? What?

            If you’re put off by these challenging questions, then maybe you might want to re-think making such an accusation against me. But if you *really* think it’s true, then I *challenge you* to prove it. (I know you’ll fail the challenge, but in trying to succeed you will learn something important: that you cannot succeed, because it isn’t true.)

            It’s basic human decency, and you don’t get a cookie for it, but yay you I guess.

            I’ve been ‘not supporting’ harassment for my entire life and have not asked for or expected any ‘cookies’. I have not asked for any here either. Nor do I expect any. Why do you think I do?

            My concern is not ‘cookies’. That is an insult in itself, even if you don’t realize it. My concern is that people: stop spreading false character-smearing rumours about me and others. Do you think that’s an unreasonable concern?

            I’m not seeing you being accused of harassing anyone, though, and the accusations of association are true.

            Whoah whoah whoah, hold on right there. You have *not* demonstrated that they are *true*. You have only asserted your own *speculation* that they are true. Is it not possible that you could be wrong? Do you have evidence to support your view?

            Are you *so certain* in your view that you are willing to go on the record to say that I, Thaumas Themelios, aka Wonderist, am *actually* guilty of supporting harassers/harassment/bullying?

            Please think very carefully before answering that. A knee-jerk reaction would be very telling, I assure you. And I will challenge you relentlessly to prove your accusation if you should make it.Just want to be up front and clear on that.

            In the mean time, in the interests of not starting any *entirely unnecessary and unjustified* drama on JT’s blog, could you kindly refrain from stating explicitly or implicitly any claim that I’m actually guilty of supporting harassers, harassment, or bullying? In fact, why not let’s just cut out all the unfounded accusations altogether, shall we?

            I’m also not seeing a concerted campaign of following you around the Internet, wherever you post, by people who pop up and say “don’t listen to Thaumas, he’s an evil misogynist and you shouldn’t listen to him ever”. That’s just not happening.

            Splash damage. Your claim is false. If all you knew about me was that I was a member of the SP forum, then *you know* that the message has been spread far and wide, “don’t listen to [slime pitters], [they're] evil misogynist[s] and you shouldn’t listen to [them] ever”.

            Please. Just re-read JT’s own blog above. That smear has gone far and wide. To deny that would be just ridiculous blindness to reality. Do you want me to post a whole bunch *more* evidence? Because I can.

            Being accused on one blog post, one time, even if prevented from responding, isn’t harassment.

            You assume it’s only on one blog post, one time. Your assumption is false.

            In other words, you can’t compare your treatment on Stephanie’s blog, whether fair or unfair, to the harassment Stephanie has received by cyber-stalkers.

            I never did, so I don’t see your point. The only comparison I made was in Stephanie’s complaint to JT over SocraticGadfly, vs. my (silenced) complaint to Stephanie over commenters on her blog. I’ve made no comparison to any other situations.

            And this is irrelevant anyway, because I specifically asked *you* what *you* would consider harassment. I’m using *your* stated criteria. Anyone reading this can see that. It does you no good to deny it.

            You sound reasonable, but your very reasonable seeming belies some serious twisting of words and ideas. You seem to be waiting to pounce on something I say to suggest that Stephanie either deserves what she gets (totally not true) or that she’s just as bad (equally untrue).

            I would caution you to slow down and not jump to conclusions. One of the major problems of these conflicts is that too many people are too willing to ‘read peoples’ minds’, and having *guessed* what they think the other is thinking and what their motivations are, they then mistakenly *presume* that their guesses are correct.

            Instead of assuming my motivations, why not just ask me? I’m right here, I’ll answer any question.

            To start off, I’ll pretend your speculations about me were actually questions instead: No, neither of those are my motivations. My motivation is to address the major conflicts that have been occurring in our communities for far too long, and to try to motivate people to be more self-skeptical about what they think is true (I try to do this myself, all the time; I’m not perfect, by far, but I think I have some useful insights that might help some people (and not just ‘the other side’, either) in this regard). I actually have nothing against Zvan personally. Just like I have nothing against theists when I confront them about their beliefs and behaviours. I only think Zvan is wrong about some things, and that she’s behaved in some instances unskeptically and/or irresponsibly. I think some of her behaviours have contributed to long-term harm in the community. But I have no desire to harm her or anyone. I don’t hate her and don’t think others should promote hate against her. Some other people may personally hate her. I don’t. But merely hating another is no crime, only a feeling. It’s only a problem if actions are taken based on that hate to do harm. I want no part of such actions and if any Slymepitter proposed to engage in such actions, or if I knew that they had engaged in such actions, I would oppose those actions as strongly if not more strongly than I’m opposed to the rumour-mongering smear campaigning I’m seeing from Zvan et al. And yes, I can back up that accusation of smear campaigning with evidence, of course. I’ve got links and links and links. And more links. It happens quite a lot, actually. Very shameful, IMO. Very harmful, too. I’m against it.

            If you’re the nice side of the Slymepit, who’s the mean side?

            A ***very*** good question. In fact, I got kicked off Zvan’s blog right after asking that very same question. Funny that.

            SocFly, with 2 1/2 years of cyber-stalking?

            As far as I’m aware, SocFly, is not and has never been a member of the Slymepit dot com message forum. I used to get in arguments with him/her back when I was allies with, and a fan of, Ophelia Benson during the gnu/accommodationist conflict. I consider SocraticGadfly a well-known concern troll and generally a pain in the ass. If he/she *were* a member of the SlymePit, I’m absolutely certain he/she would be the butt of so many jokes and critiques that he/she would probably run away like Oolon did. Oolon is another well-known concern troll and general pain in the ass, obviously.

            I have no love for SGF, and I could probably dig up old comments to prove it if they still exist and google can find them.

            What counts as unacceptable Internet behavior to you?

            That is a fair question, but so open-ended I would have to write an essay to even *start* to address it. Thankfully! I already *have* written more than one essay on that very topic. Here’s one from a long while ago. Please take careful notice as to how little my stance has changed since then: http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/wonderism/forum/topics/wonderism-and-activism

      • Ace_of_Sevens

        I’m unclear what you are trying to say. Is “Because posting comments here about Stephanie is not actually harassing her,” what you are saying or an attempt to summarize my attempt to summarize JT? If the former, fuck you. If the latter, I don’t see how I implied that at all. I said the opposite.

        • Pitchguest

          I’m sorry? What? I think some sentence fragments went missing when you replied to me.

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            Are you trying to say the comments in the previous thread do not constitute harassment or are you trying to paraphrase me as saying that?

          • Pitchguest

            It was a direct response. Posting comments here about Stephanie is not actually harassing her. No, it does not constitute as harassment. If I poked you once and you didn’t like it, that wouldn’t be harassment. If I kept poking you after you said you didn’t like it, it would be.

            However, if I went somewhere else and talked to someone how I wanted to keep poking you, would that be harassment?

            Here’s a hint: NO, IT WOULDN’T.

          • Ace_of_Sevens

            That analogy doesn’t match what happened. A lot of those posts are aimed at spreading memes intended to discredit Stephanie. They would have a negative affect on her even if she didn’t read them if other people did and took them seriously.

          • Pitchguest

            Negative effect? How? Like one day she’d wake up and have leprosy? What are you talking about?

          • Pitchguest

            Oh, and the analogy is very apt. The Slymepit isn’t exactly in the corner of your eye. It’s easily avoidable. And guess what? Some people *on* the Slymepit avoid eachother. How? With an easy to use ignore button. Now you see them, now you don’t. Fucking ignore buttons; how do they work?

            Hell, if I post something on my own blog about Stephanie Zvan and she reads it, would that be harassment? Would it be harassment if I posted something about her on my own blog repeatedly? Constantly? Let me think about that a second, no, it wouldn’t. Sadly, it’s only harassment if it’s constant and in their face. My hypothetical blog would be away from her face, and she doesn’t need–or is forced–to read my blog and to give advice that Stephanie once bestowed upon the rest of us, if you don’t like it, don’t read it.

            Simple as that.

          • B-Lar

            Its harassment if its obsessive, negative, and in the same universe as you.

            You might not come up against it directly, but others who you might come into contact with will. They can then regurgitate the poison that they have been given to carry, and also spread the sickness to others, increasing the chances of finally meeting the target.

            Its a highly effective strategy, because the original harasser achieves plausible deniability as long as they are willing to suffer the mild indignity of appearing like a disingenuous buffoon when they pretend that they don’t know that this is the outcome of their actions.

            Stochastic, rhymes with fantastic, and also ecclesiastic.

          • Erik Johansson

            By that measure, wouldn’t we have to conclude that most people in the atheist movement have viciously harassed creationists like Kent Hovind and Ted Haggard for quite some time?
            There’s a ton of material created and shared by internet atheists, aimed at discrediting not only their (seriously flawed) arguments, but that discredit and ridicule their persons. Much of it far more vicious and aggressive than any comment about or to Zvan I’ve read here so far.

            How come songs like “Ted Haggard is completely heterosexual” and “Tribute to Kent Hovind” is completely ok, but Skepsheik’s parody comic “Peezus and O” is harassment?

          • Steersman

            Good point; well said: nobody complains until it is their own ox being gored. PZ – and company and Silverman – talk a great game about nobody having the right to not be offended. Until the comments about their behaviour and values become rather pointed and telling.

  • amycas

    I find it rather amazing/annoying that people are expecting anybody to go back and read every single comment on all of their blog posts–especially when the blogger has said they are trying to spend time with family.

  • Richard Sanderson

    Justin Vacula has not harassed anybody, JT. Stop drinking the Baboon Kool Aid and question their “harassment” narrative.

    Further, you owe Justin an apology.

    • Ace_of_Sevens

      Justin manages to play plausible deniability on the harassment issue quite well. It’s almost impressive. That’s not quite the same as not harassing people.

      • Richard Sanderson

        I see you can’t actually back up the claim that Justin has harassed anybody.

        The Baboon Brigade have justified their year-long campaign of bullying, victimisation, and intimidation against Justin Vacula based on the mistruths sprouted by the likes of Zvan. Zvan comes over here screaming for protection (censorship) while her supporters (and JT) quite happily repeat the myths about Vacula.

        • Loqi

          And you and your ilk follow her everywhere she goes. What’s that called again when you follow someone around everywhere they go when they don’t want you to?

          • Richard Sanderson

            Who is “my ilk”? Who have I followed around?

            Typical of the Baboons, you’re just full of BS.

  • http://bigthink.com/blogs/daylight-atheism Adam Lee

    With the proviso that I’m not trying to tell you how to run your comment threads, JT, please allow me to offer my two cents on this.

    The strategy of either ignoring a stupid comment or responding with mockery is one that works well when you’re dealing with people who at some level have a genuine desire to convince others of something, even if their arguments are terrible. It works well with religious proselytizers, for example, and with anti-science crackpots, and with all the other woo-woo types that we atheist bloggers have lots of experience in dealing with.

    The slimepitters and pro-harassment cheerleaders, however, are coming from a different direction entirely. They don’t have any desire to convince anyone of anything. No one who read that slime trail of a comment by SocraticGadfly could seriously believe his real goal was to persuade others of his opinions about who Stephanie was or wasn’t sleeping with.

    No, comments like that are a show of force, a power play. The intended message to the target is, “You can’t make me go away. I can follow you all around the internet. Wherever your name is mentioned, I’ll be there to taunt you, to shame you, to cast sleazy aspersions on your personal life and gleefully tell everyone that your opinions are worthless because of what you look like or who you’re having sex with.” It’s a silencing tactic whose clear intent is to communicate to the target that the only way they can make it stop is to withdraw from public life entirely. This is especially true when the harassment is persistent or long-standing, which seems to be the case here.

    Dealing with harassment like this is a lose-lose situation. Ignoring these people reinforces their foul belief that they can say whatever they want and face no consequences. Responding is better, but it can also have the unwanted side effect of drawing more attention to them.

    I know we all have different policies for our own sites, and most of us don’t have the time for hands-on moderation of an entire comment section – I can’t always read all the comments posted just on my own site, although I do try. But the only really effective way of stopping slime like this, I find, is to cut it off at the source. Ban the commenter, delete their comments, or edit them into unintelligibility. It frustrates the harasser in their objective of making every space unsafe for their target, and it sends a message to them and to others that such behavior won’t be tolerated and that they can’t use your blog to advance their own ends.

    • JTEberhard

      Upvoted. I’m not sure I agree. I’m still poring that over. But at least you’ve come in without assuming ill-intent and attempted to converse with me about it. You also made your case fairly, without assaulting a position I’ve constantly denied.

      You’ve not made demands. You’ve not abandoned your own standards. This is how conversations happen. This is how we resolve differences without destroying relationships and alienating people.

      • Keane Sanders

        Passive-aggressive bullshit like this is one of the many reasons people come to the conclusion that you are not the ally you say you are.

        And that makes me sad.

        • JTEberhard

          It would be passive aggressive if I hadn’t directly expressed my disdain with all these things to the people who I think are using them. But I have.

          No, I really meant it as praise for Adam in context.

          • Keane Sanders

            I don’t doubt you meant it as praise for Adam.

            But that’s not all you were communicating, and it wasn’t just Adam you were talking to–claiming otherwise communicates to me that you honestly don’t know how that comment comes across in context of this thread, or that you honestly think that a gay boy from an old Southern family can’t spot unsubtle passive-aggressivism from miles away.

          • invivoMark

            In my mind, it’s the “you’re not a REAL ally” rhetoric that is far more problematic.

            To my knowledge, JT has done nothing for as long as I’ve been reading his writings to indicate that he is not an ally to feminism. That doesn’t mean I agree with his every opinion – I certainly don’t, and I’ve let him know where our opinions differ without insulting him, without making an enemy of him, and without accusing him of not actually being an ally.

            That sort of rhetoric would never convince someone that their views are wrong. It only serves to scuttle friendships, alienate colleagues, and generally piss people off.

            And as far as passive-aggressive behavior, implicitly impugning someone’s motives (such as by accusing them of not really supporting something that they claim to support) is certainly up there.

          • Keane Sanders

            After having straight person after straight person try to tell me what a fantastic ally they are to the QUILTBAG community (of which I am a member) while in the same breath othering, reducing, and belittling that same community, I am all sorts of sick of shitty allies refusing to be told by the community that they claim to support that they aren’t being terribly good allies and should maybe fix that–and saying “in my mind, it’s the ‘You’re not a REAL ally’ rhetoric that is far more problematic” tells me that you really don’t fucking get it.

            And here, it’s JT claiming to be such a fantastic ally while engaging in a pattern of behavior in which this debacle is only a part that shows that, no, he isn’t and he doesn’t seem to be listening to the community he claims to support.

            That you’re okay with that and seem to think that it’s some passive-aggressive act to overtly call that bullshit out says mighty unflattering things, honeybunch.

          • aweraw

            I don’t understand why you’d reject someone who wants to help you with your cause on the basis that they aren’t participating on your terms. Why?

          • Keane Sanders

            It’s cute that you think that not being supportive and saying all the right things and wanting pats on the back but not actually do the damn work entailed is just “[not] participating on your terms”.

            Really fucking adorable.

          • invivoMark

            I strongly suspect that you have intentionally misinterpreted my post – unsurprising, since it seems to be happening a lot in this thread by people who feel they have something to prove.

            If someone is “othering, reducing, and belittling” a community they claim to support, then sure, they’re doing it wrong, and that’s bad. Is it worse than the “You’re not a REAL ally” rhetoric? Yes!

            And I never said it wasn’t! I wasn’t comparing those two things. I was comparing that rhetoric with passive-aggressive behavior. Since, y’know, that was the entire topic of the post that I replied to. I wasn’t suddenly changing the topic without warning. I was sticking to the topic on which you had decided to focus. That topic being passive-aggressive behavior.

            You know, the sort of behavior along the lines of saying, “Hey, maybe people don’t think you’re such a great ally because of your passive-aggressive behavior.”

            That sort of passive-aggressive behavior.

          • Keane Sanders

            I find it interesting that the person criticizing me for “impugning someone’s motives” then turns around and does much the same–but on far shakier grounds.

            You seem to be under the impression that a single instance of using praise to passive-aggressively criticize others can make one a bad ally; this is flatly wrong–it’s a repeated pattern of behavior that does so.

            You also seem to think that the implications of reducing actual criticisms of actual behaviors to petty “well you’re not a REAL ally” *rhetoric* and condemning those valid criticisms by such belittlement in defense of the one being criticized (and trying to equate criticism with passive-aggressive behavior) are lost on me.
            They are not.

            You also seem, given how you use the term, to not grasp the distinction between passive-aggressive and actual overt criticism.

    • TaylorMaid

      “Ignoring these people reinforces their foul belief that they can say whatever they want and face no consequences.”

      THANK YOU. It also leaves those reading the threads with the same impression, and the people being harassed feeling abandoned. Letting them continue to babble on reinforces that perception. I don’t think Mike Nugent intended for that to happen on his “mediation” threads, but it did.

    • Verbose Stoic

      I don’t disagree with this, but there’s a slight issue here: to use this as a policy, you have to have some sort of objective and determined criteria for determining who are the people who are only doing this to drive someone out of a space, and those who might just make crude, stupid and off-topic comment replies. If you don’t, then you might as well just say that you ban the latter and ignore all the arguments you’ve made here.

      So, let me try this out as a definition of a harasser (wrt comments, let’s leave Twitter out of this):

      - Posts comment replies anywhere that person comments or is mentioned (even tangentially), a significant portion of the time (shouldn’t have to be universal).

      - Posts the same accusations whether they are relevant or not to the topic.

      For this case, we certainly have the accusations being irrelevant for this case, and have a tangential mention. The only thing left is the thing that I can’t judge, which is how frequent it was.

      I think this is good as a first blush attempt; I don’t see too many simply crude commenters being caught by it, but you should eventually be able to identify — and then pass around — those who are simple harassers. Harassers who still want to post things would then have to get around the bans by … actually posting relevant discussion, which shouldn’t be a problem.

      BTW, there’s an issue with deleting comments. If this is supposed to extend to new blogs — ie places where the individual hasn’t yet done this — the comments have to be documented to demonstrate the pattern, or else you start getting right back into a simple banning because you don’t like the person as opposed to for the reasons you give. And that has to be “in-place” to avoid accusations of lying. Putting yourself for a minute in the position of someone who is at least trying to be semi-neutral, without that then it’s a “one side/other side” situation, which is not good for those blog moderators. So the best thing to do would be if this is identified to leave the comment and reply to it with “In accordance with the comments in these places, this person is banned”.

  • Pitchguest

    So you would delete a comment on your blog because someone was offended, JT?

    All right.

    Take it away, Steve Hughes.


    At the 3:20 mark.

  • Pitchguest

    I also think that most of the people who inhabit the slymepit are, well, slime. I read some of their comments upon my engagement and it was elementary school rage at a social enemy’s happiness all over again. I have no love for that group. Chief among them is Justin Vacula who I consider to be one of the most childish, obtuse, and despicable atheists on the planet. He’s a cruel person and I don’t like him. I’m not here to defend Justin Vacula or his ilk.

    This is the most hilarious thing you’ve ever said, JT. You cannot be serious.

    • John H

      Go back to you crappy corner of the web. You are not wanted nor liked here, except be the cavalcade of slymy compatriots that have joined you to harass Stephanie.

      • ool0n

        Absolutely! Also one of the worst things about PG and friends is how boring they are. They circle jerk at the slymepit then come out with pretty much the exact same comments over and over. Some originality would be nice for once rather than tu quoque + bad faith.

    • eccles11

      What is he referring to? Were you guys assholes or not? Is there a link or something I can search for to see the source material.

  • Pitchguest

    Pitters and harassers are no more potential allies in the cause of women’s equality than theists are potential allies in the task of destroying faith. That they harass especially good people like Stephanie Zvan makes me loathe them all the more.



    When I talk about my worry of people becoming silent, neutral, or alienated, I’m talking about the people who have zero love for the pit, who empathize with the inequalities facing women, but who worry that by speaking about the issue they’ll be accused of snuggling up to harassers or of saying things they didn’t actually say. I don’t see how anybody could possibly think I want to see this resolved for any other reason than the success of the feminist cause (which would happen at the expense of the harassers and pitters, much to my elation).

    You couldn’t possibly be any less of a sycophant by saying this.

    An ally, Justin Griffith, was being alienated by Greg Laden and his friends Jason Thibeault and Stephanie Zvan was cheering him on — offering him a toast — throughout the whole process.

    Stephanie Zvan has alienated many women in the atheist community by calling them chill girls – women whom she thinks do things to get the affection of men.

    Meanwhile, women who post at the Slymepit are deemed to be pro-harassers, and ineligible as potential allies in the cause for women’s equality. Apparently their agency is not important to the splendor that is Stephanie Zvan. Skep tickle gets doxxed on FtB, Stephanie Zvan doesn’t bat an eye. In fact, instead of condemning it — like she did with the Surly Amy issue — she muses on if it’s okay to reveal someone’s personal information.

    Astounding. Absolutely astounding.

  • aweraw

    My own treatment at FTB in comment threads turned me, in a similar fashion to Ellen Beth Wachs (though it happend a long time before her), into an opponent of FTB.

    The thing is, I consider the vast majority of ideology that bloggers at FTB are proponents of as elements of my own sense of ethics. On the other hand, I see a lot of what goes on over at FTB as being damaging to the acceptance of those ideas by a broader cross section of society, as the behavior of the proponents plays right into the dominant narative of atheists/skeptics/liberals being viscious, uncaring, bastard assholes.

    Am I an accomodationist? I don’t think so… on the other hand, I can’t see the value in purposefully alienating/maligning people who otherwise support the exact ideologies you’re trying to promote, but employ or suggest methods you are uncomfortable with.

    On that note, the slymepit – the mythos surrounding that place is just incredible. Sure, there’s a bit of mean spirited behavior going on there, but it’s for the most part no worse than the fang-baring that goes on over in FTB comments threads over so many ill percieved interactions. It makes me wonder how many people are able to actually cast off that mythos, and try to view the place through neutral googles; because the narative that absolutely everyone there is a terrible person is, I think, one of these claims that will in time serve to alienate people who share secular values but are able to take a look at it without being predjudiced with regard to its very existence.

    • John-Henry Eric Beck

      People who defend so vociferously the “right” to throw around slurs without being called bigots for doing so, as well as being pretty rabidly pro-harassment, among other faults, are not people who share my secular values, and not people I wish to associate with in any way.

      • aweraw

        “Rabidly pro-harrassment”? Really? I’m going to have to ask from where you acquired that impression, because I’m just not seeing it. I can see a lot of justified mockery; what I don’t see is anyone condoning the harrassment of others within the secular community on the basis of race, gender, or socio economic status.

        I also don’t understand how you can’t see that most people who hold “secular values” have a pretty big intersection in their ideal picture of society; maybe not identical to what you want, but at least similar enough that we should be able to work together on them to get closer to the goal of deprecating religions role in society. Right now, to use some figurative language, we mainly seem to be arguing over how best to structure the government of the utopia we’re no where close to realizing.

        • John-Henry Eric Beck

          It’s okay to harass people until people like Vacula and Pitchguest deem it harassing enough to put a stop to is quite a lot further from ‘maybe not identical’ than you seem to think. To me, it’s quite a wide gulf.

          So pro-harassment ‘pitters like Vacula and Pitchguest are anti-theists too? Sure, we agree that the world would be better off without theism. I expect I also agree with the KKK that Communist autocracy is bad, or Muslim fascism is bad, but that doesn’t mean we’re really allies on what makes for an ‘ideal picture of society’.

          We aren’t arguing over an ideal government. We’re arguing over whether it’s okay to hound and harass other atheists across the Internet. We’re arguing over whether it’s okay to spew slurs at people as if they’re just another insult. We’re arguing over whether conventions should make an effort to avoid sexual (and other) harassment. We’re arguing over whether to take harassment victims seriously when they complain about harassment. And so on.

          • Pitchguest

            If you’re going to keep talking about harassment, then kindly learn what harassment means first. Then come back to me and we’ll talk.

          • aweraw

            Your analogies are not making much sense to me.

            A person doesn’t seek to join the KKK based on their desire to denounce communisim. They join because they want to be racist biggots. Similarly, people don’t seek to join the secular community on the basis of their stance on gender feminism; they want to join because they hold common secular values.

            To turn around and say that we should exclude people from the secular community based on criteria not directly related to secularism is just hamstringing yourself and your cause.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            Say I wanted to build coalition against a Muslim theocracy.
            The KKK agrees that they’re bad and are eager to attack them.
            But then don’t you think that quite a few people will avoid joining my coalition because they don’t want to associate with the KKK?
            And then what’s the defense when the theocrats go pointing at the KKK as welcome members of the coalition and claiming to bystanders and people of color and whatnot that, hey, their theocracy isn’t as bad as what the KKK and friends would set up?

            I find it ludicrous that welcoming in bigots and haters to a coalition makes it stronger. It just drives people away and makes you look like all the awful stereotypes that your opponents paint.

          • Pitchguest

            Your pseudo-intellectual arguments are tiresome as hell.

            What you’re saying is exactly akin to what many theists are saying about atheism: “But Stalin was an atheist! And Pol Pot! And Mao!” So fucking what?

            Here’s the thing. If I’d built a coalition against a Muslim theocracy and members of the KKK had turned up, I’d think, hey, that’s descipable, I don’t agree with this at all. But balancing the removal of a Muslim theocracy and my hurt fee-fees, which one do you think would take precedence? I mean, for crying out loud, do you think everyone who goes to, say, an American Atheists meeting all hold the same fucking views?

            Similarly, if I made a secular group and theists sought to join my group, should I turn them away?

          • aweraw

            You’re advocating ideological purity (as defined by you) as a prerequisite to membership in the secular community.

            How far are you going to push that? If someone thinks right wing politics are all good, would you reject them? What about if they promote violent sports, like UFC? What if they like to eat veal? I don’t particularly approve of any of those things, but I’d be remiss to assume that a person who does has less of a commitment to secular values than I do.

            The network effect of ideological purity tests within a community is fragmentation. Divided we fall.

          • MosesZD

            Vacula is not ‘pro harassment.’ He has never been ‘pro-harrassment.’ That was a load of horsecrap made up about him.
            Sadly, he lets Svan and Benson play their little games with him and when he pokes back, they tell YOU how he’s harassing them.
            Like when Benson kept posting on his Facebook page about something he didn’t do and no control over and he finally had enough and said “Go home Pineapple.”
            Then Benson used that to claim harassment along with her prior claims of harassment that had nothing to do with him… Really, look at the EVIDENCE not the PROPAGANDA.
            FtB has created a toxic environment that needs a handy enemy to keep whipping up the ‘us vs them’ tribalism.

          • John-Henry Eric Beck

            Vacula’s pro harassment position is quite clear from his own statements. For example his recent podcasts with Finke and Silverman.

            Vacula *says* he is against harassment. I think he even believes he is. But then he spends a whole lot of time minimizing and dismissing actual instances of harassment until harassment is defined away as some rare thing which allows harassers to go right along harassing people. And that makes Vacula pro harassment.

            You, MosesZD, do the same thing in your post I’m replying to. You’re eliding details and distorting events in order to rationalize harassment as not harassment so that you and others like Vacula can keep harassing while claiming not to be harassers. This isn’t some FTB thing. It’s the same sort of bullying I got as a kid. You’re just more bullies trying to justify your bullying by claiming the victim deserves it and that the stuff you’re doing isn’t really bullying because only bad people are harassers and harassment is something worse than what you do.

            It’s pretty much the same thing as rape apologists who say they’re against rape, and that rape is awful, but then go and define most versions of rape as not really rape.

      • Pitchguest

        Good for you. I’m not quite sure what that has to do with sharing your secular values, however, but I’ll bear with it. I post at the Slymepit and I’m not pro-harassment, rapibly or otherwise, and I’m pretty sure most who post there aren’t either, nor do I think most women who post there, even if their agency is being erased by people like Stephanie Zvan [as chill girls] and JT Eberhard.

      • Steersman

        The problem with that particular argument is that the definition of what you call slurs is predicated on the entirely bogus concept of “splash-damage”, that everyone who happens to identify, even remotely, with the person directly targeted with the insult because they share some attribute in common which is highlighed in the insult – gender, race, age; even type of hat – must necessarily
        feel insulted as well. And if you subscribe to or believe in that view – largely without evidence as I’ve never seen any studies, nor any definitions which support it – then the charge of bigotry – hating a whole class for some “reason” – naturally follows.

        However, as there are a great many people – including no few feminists – who don’t actually give much if any credence to that
        opinion, we are left with the question as to why you would
        think that your opinion – particularly without any factual evidence to support it – should carry the day.

        And while I think that SocraticGadfly’s comment was a cheap-shot, and maybe somewhat of a sexist one, as well as a rather egregious ad hominem, I hardly think it was beyond the pale largely delimited and defined by the rather wide spectrum of insults condoned, if not promoted, if not made de rigueur, by Pharyngula and Skepchick (1, 2), by the free use of the equally sexist “chill girls”, and by the all too frequent use of “misogynist” (3) without any justification. And while I certainly don’t think that insults add much to a conversation or a dialog, and that their use should be deprecated, I figure that those who sow the wind with them should probably not be surprised to reap the whirlwind in response.

        And in which case, considering the roots of that community “standard” – “the standard you walk by is the standard you accept”, I find it decidedly risible that anyone should be getting up on their high horses and be complaining about the consequences of their own actions. Karma.

        1) http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/#comment-140078
        2) http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/22/adria-richards-did-everything-exactly-right/comment-page-2
        3) http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/24/accepting-apologies-and-moving-on/#comment-942816266

        • John-Henry Eric Beck

          Splash damage is not, as I understand it, merely about ‘feeling insulted’. It’s because you’re using membership of that group, as defined by immutable characteristics (like sex, race, etc) as an insult, thereby at least implying it’s bad to have that characteristic.

          As I see it that ‘carry the day’ thing is nonsense. It’s whether you care about harm you’re doing, and whether you care that you’ll be thought of as a bigot. No one is stopping you from calling women ‘cunts’ and ‘bitches’ to your heart’s content. You just have to understand that lots of us will consider you sexist or even misogynist for doing so. Don’t like that? Don’t use gendered slurs. Pretty simple.

          And I’m sure it’s been pointed out to you repeatedly that ‘chill girls’ was coined as a self-descriptor. Someone that was basically bragging that she didn’t mind the sexist treatment, unlike those icky feminists. On top of that it’s not insulting someone for being a woman, or too much like a woman, so it’s not ‘equally sexist’.

      • Richard Sanderson

        I guess you are eager to call out and disassociate with those who throw around slurs over at FTB and Skepchick, then?

        I guess you condemned the “petition” to get Justin Vacula thrown out of an organisation, based on a pack of lies?

        I guess you condemned the slurs and the dogpiling of EllenBeth Wachs on Pharyngula?

        The list goes on and on and on and on…

      • MosesZD

        Maybe you should stop drinking the kool-aid and look for yourself. As a former Pharnygula regular and B&W regular I did. And what I discovered was that I was being lied to by Myers, Svan, et.al.
        They were, by far, worse than the SlymePitters in their conduct – both explicit and implicit.
        And this is not to say there aren’t jerks there. There certainly are. But they’re certainly not worst than FtB and, in most cases, are far less judgmental and assholish as they lack the certainty of the True Believer.

    • KacyRay

      I could have written this exact comment. Well said.

  • KacyRay

    What a display! Zvan is stamping her foot and placing demands on you as to how to run your comments section, and you are teetering on giving in.

    If it isn’t painfully clear to you by this point, you are going to be alienated unless you meet their demands to the letter. You are about to find out, like EllenBeth did, what happens to those who do not immediately capitulate.

    You’ve bent over backwards to show support to your feminist allies. Now we just have to see if you’re willing to bend over the other way.

    • John H

      You’re misrepresenting feminism-at-large and following Stephanie around to harass her. That’s not okay, whether her behavior is justified or not; fuck off.

      • aweraw

        No one’s following Zvan around, that’s fantasy – the mere fact that some people who disagree with each other visit the same places doesn’t mean that any harrassment is taking place. KacyRay has as much right to post here as Steph Zvan does, as long as he lives up to JT’s standards.

        • athyco

          Following around is not a fantasy. CommanderTuvok has made more than one comment to that effect at the Slymepit. This one in January is probably the most direct:

          This is why I have said that if a forum outside of their control opens up, and it is possible to engage and respond with the Baboons – DO IT. Hit the boards and give them hell. Make them scarper back to the safety of their Baboon cages. Make them get a sense of reality – that the atheist and skeptic communities despise them.

          • aweraw

            I still don’t see how that’s harrassment. Is it harrassment to “engage and respond” because he’s suggesting it be done somewhere other than on their home turf?

            The fact that some people don’t like to talk to or hear from certain others doesn’t mean that those certain others are obligated to just keep their mouths shut anywhere their accusers might be present. Additionally, the mere presence of an opinion given by someone you don’t like doesn’t constitute harrassment by them either.

          • athyco

            I will certainly agree that “engage and respond” is neutral in value. If that’s all there were to that comment, then I wouldn’t have posted the quote to show you that your “that’s a fantasy” was not accurate.

            However, there would need to be clarification on how the vocabulary choices of “Baboons,” “give them hell,” “communities despise them” comport with the neutrality of “engage and respond.”

            Neither of the sentences in your second paragraph have been the argument in either the OP or the comments. As JT quoted himself, it’s more focused:

            To the slymepitters, calm the fuck down. Stop poking and prodding for the sake of antagonizing people you disagree with. You know you do it, and it just makes you assholes.

          • aweraw

            Yeah, I’ll concede those are not neutral terms. I also recognise that they’re fairly equivalent in their sentiment to the kinds of things the some of the bloggers and commenters at FTB say about people they disagree with. Would you go as far to say that they harrass their ideological opponents with this language?

            Lastly, I am a slymepitter. Please, tell me who I am “poking and prodding for the sake of antagonizing”? Am I an asshole for merely expressing my opinions here? Is this line of questioning harrassment?

          • athyco

            The crux was “follow around” in your original objection, was it not? It’s not until the “follow around” part is no longer tenable that you switch to a tu quoque about equivalent language.

            I hadn’t a clue that you were a slymepitter, and it makes no difference to me now. If I’m interacting with a ‘pitter (as I have in the past) who argues in good faith–without inaccuracies, hyperbole, elisions, attempts at mind reading, and/or logical fallacies–then it does not matter. I interact with you thinking that you have the same foundation–that it does not matter if I am or am not a FTB’er.

            I do my best, however, in a thread in which the pit is discussed in the OP and its members are present, to stay away from the better known of the site’s “hot button issues” like guilt by association. The words you put in quotation marks, I remind you, were not mine. I quoted JT. He and I may differ in which comments may be “poking and prodding for the sake of antagonizing,” but I don’t think that yours have reached such a mark.

          • aweraw

            Yeah, “follow around” was my original objection, you then quoted commander tuvok and pointed to his confrontational language as an example of a slymepitter condoning harrassment – but there’s nothing there about stalking or following people. I read it as saying that where there’s neutral ground, don’t allow false naratives to propagate. I think you’re projecting the worst possible motive you can onto what Tuvok said.

            So you didn’t know I posted on the slymepit – you don’t seem to think I’m a straight up asshole, but you appear to have bought into, at least partially, the narative that all slymepitters are scum…. but hey, what’s a little collateral damage in the spirit of maintaining the narative?

            This is what many slymepitters are most angry about.

          • athyco

            Please be accurate in the flow of our discussion. My first comment said nothing about the language. You then responded by quoting three words (one being “and”) as though the entire paragraph from CommanderTuvok was one about “the mere presence of an opinion”! It was then that I pointed out that the rest of the language didn’t comport with such an interpretation. How strange: I called his words “direct.” You called them “confrontational.”

            I need for you to quote for me what motive–let alone the “worst possible motive” that I’ve projected on what Tuvok said. I submit that you cannot, and I ask, as that is the case, that you withdraw the statement as it is a projection of your own.

            I also need for you to quote for me what portion of my comment references–even partially–any narrative that “all slymepitters are scum.” I submit that you cannot, and I ask, as that is the case, that you withdraw the rhetorical insinuation in your question that I am willing to or interested in or indifferent about causing “collateral damage.” That one is notably egregious since I plainly said that your commenting locations make no difference and that I try my best to stay away from “guilt by association.”

          • aweraw

            > I need for you to quote for me what motive

            Following around is not a fantasy. CommanderTuvok has made more than one comment to that effect at the Slymepit.

            Said in response to my assertion that people following Zvan around for the purpose of harrassment was fantasy. You say Tuvok was calling for people to be followed around, where in the context of this discussion, that would mean he was calling for people to be harrassed.

            I will however withdraw the “slymepit scum” and “collateral damage” bits though. My bad.

          • athyco

            Thanks for the withdrawal of “collateral damage.”

            I said that Tuvok “made more than one comment to that effect.” No, it wasn’t a direct call for the goal of harassment, but just as the Slymepit is not a monolith against which “guilt by association” is applicable, neither is it a monolith of discussion free from poking or prodding in order to be antagonizing.

          • http://www.facebook.com/wonderist Thaumas Themelios

            @athyco: Hope you don’t mind me jumping into the conversation.

            First of all, I don’t always agree with CommanderTuvok, so I’m not quite sure why you’re using him as a single anecdote to represent an entire forum of hundreds of people, of which Tuvok is only one member, whereas I’m a different member altogether.

            I disagree with some of Tuvok’s tactics and some of the things he says. But if we are taking the position of one person to represent the whole group, does that mean, because there is at least one person (me) who thinks Tuvok’s tactics are sometimes ill advised, that therefore it must be the case that the *entire* Slymepit dot com forum disagrees with Tuvok on those points? No, right? It would be silly to extrapolate from cherry-picked quote data about one person to make conclusions about an entire group of several hundred people, right? Right?

            I hope you agree that making such an extrapolation would be unfounded.

            Second of all, even if I might happen to fully agree with Tuvok’s suggestion there (for the record, I don’t fully agree with it), imagine if the same thing were said on an atheist forum about the members of a forum of creationists (e.g. the Discovery Institute, for example). Would you still consider it to be a call for harassment? Here’s a copy of the same comment by Tuvok with respective words changed to fit my analogy:

            “This is why I have said that if a forum outside of their control opens
            up, and it is possible to engage and respond with the [Creotards] – DO IT.
            Hit the boards and give them hell. Make them scarper back to the safety
            of their [Creotard] cages. Make them get a sense of reality – that the
            atheist and skeptic communities despise them.”

            I only had to change *two* words, and now it seems like something that might *very well* have come from the fingertips of PZ Myers himself.

            It is not a call for *harassment*, unless by ‘harassment’ you mean ‘engagement and response in public internet forums and blogs’. I would agree that the “despise them” comment is over the top, and that is largely where I would disagree with Tuvok; I don’t despise the people I am disagreeing with here (e.g. Zvan, Myers, Benson, Watson, et al), and I don’t think we should encourage others to despise them (and yes, I have confronted Tuvok over issues like these on the Slymepit). But that just goes to show that the people at the Slymepit are *by far* not a monolithic entity; we all have very diverse opinions on a great many topics, *including* how best to engage in debate/confrontation over these important issues which are dividing our communities.

            Instead of lumping all SPs into one monolithic group and committing a Guilt By Association fallacy, let’s try to focus on *specific* incidents of alleged harassment. If you have evidence of any specific incidents, I would be most interested in seeing it, because I consider harassment unethical and I am strongly against it. However, I have yet to see any actual evidence of *actual* harassment. There are lots of *claims* of harassment, and it may even be true that some people are *feeling* harassed, but feeling harassed is *not* the same thing as someone else being guilty of actual harassment. It takes more than someone’s feelings to suffice to condemn another person as guilty of *unethical behaviour*. More evidence is needed than a mere accusation.

            So, to summarize: I disagree with your interpretation that Tuvok is calling for actual harassment. My interpretation is that he’s calling for confrontation over the *issues* which are dividing our communities, *not* personal attacks against someone in order to harm them or cause them to fear harm. I base this interpretation on having interacted with Tuvok repeatedly and having seen how he conducts himself outside of the SlymePit. I have *never once* witnessed Tuvok harassing anyone, only confronting people in dialogue/debate over issues. Yes, he may use insults and whatnot, which many people do. I myself may engage in petty insults and whatnot in the Pit and other ‘anything goes’ forums, but I choose not to indulge in that kind of tactic when I’m engaging people in the general blogosphere, and especially not when I’m a guest on someone else’s blog (such as here on JT’s blog), and even less so when I’m engaging over these issues. I think such vitriol is counter-productive and causes more harm than good. And yet, I’m a member of the slymepit dot com message forum. We are not *at all* all alike. I do not represent anyone there, and no one there represents me. It’s more like a pub where anyone can hang out and discuss topics which tend to be considered ‘taboo’ in other venues, such as, obviously, FreeThoughtBlogs.

          • athyco

            No, I don’t mind.

            I have quoted CommanderTuvok to point out that the statement “that is fantasy” about following around is inaccurate. You would agree that the quote does that, wouldn’t you? It can’t be fantasy if at least one person has advocated for it multiple times. We may have a discussion on what those who agree might do in light of its disdain, but I haven’t (and wouldn’t) ask you to agree that the quote represents everyone.

            Noting that he made it at the Slymepit was a convenience to those who would like to follow it up. I am ridiculously inept at linking, but the name of the commenter, the location of the comment, and a paragraph from the comment (which included opining that an offensive tweet directed at Ophelia Benson was probably from a FTB sockpuppet) would be enough lead most to the original via Google.

            I must ask you to do the same as I asked aweraw. Quote me to show that I’ve done the “guilt by association” thing you write about to great extent. I submit that I’ve already mentioned having discussions with others who are members of the forum. One of those interactions is mentioned there by Justin Vacula (but it must have been quite boring since no one ever discussed it). A couple of times I’m mentioned as a commenter on different blogs.

          • MosesZD

            Reading comprehension is clearly not your forte.
            Tuvok wrote:

            This is why I have said that if a forum outside of their control opens up, and it is possible to engage and respond with the Baboons – DO IT. Hit the boards and give them hell. Make them scarper back to the safety of their Baboon cages. Make them get a sense of reality – that the atheist and skeptic communities despise them
            All he is saying is FIGHT BACK if you meet them on neutral ground. Don’t let them push you around. Don’t allow a false narrative. Don’t let them win because you surrender.
            There is no call to follow these people around and harass them. Despite your false claim to the contrary.
            This is what’s wrong with the FtB crowd. Having been conditioned by the FC(5), they stop thinking about what’s been said and go with the propaganda and demonization. And then they repeat it, here, there and everywhere.
            And some people are gullible enough to fall for it. Like you. Like the others who are right now going “he told them.”

          • athyco

            Yes, I quoted all that originally, and I said “comment to that effect to identify that it didn’t use the exact words “follow around.” I have used the quote against the claim of “fantasy.” I have not used the quote to prove an opposite claim of universality. Even the evaluation of “confrontational” for it was from aweraw, not me. All I had to do was note that the connotation of the majority of the word choices and phrasings did not comport with the neutrality of a pulled compound verb.

            My reading comprehension won’t ignore the absence of qualifiers like “some” while referring to a group as “Baboons.” That sounds like “propaganda and demonization,” and we know that the term is repeated “here, there and everywhere,” including here with “Baboon Kool Aid” and “Baboon Brigade.” My reading comprehension won’t ignore that the final quoted sentence doesn’t deal at all with ideas or concepts; it says “despise them” with a clear reference to those scampering back to their “Baboon cages.”

            And it’s noted that you yourself state what’s “wrong with the FTB crowd.” Is it not dissonant to say that while the discussion includes the guilt by association concept?

      • KacyRay

        I haven’t said anything about feminism-at-large, so I have no clue what you’re talking about.

        And what I’m following with much interest is not Stephanie Zvan, but rather the playing out of the inevitable. JT is simply next in line for the Myers/Watson power-play, and I saw this coming a long time ago.

        I think that, eventually, almost all of the males and many of the non-compliant females are going to be systematically squeezed the way EllenBeth was, and the way JT is now, until none are left but the “purest”.

        I think that Carrier will survive the process, but I suspect PZ will not. Sounds crazy, but I suspect he will be the last one to go. This faction eats its own, and the purity test is all but codified.

        The only reason they haven’t turned on Brayton yet is because he keeps his mouth shut about it for the most part.

        So no, I’m not following Zvan around. I’m following the storyline.

        And thanks for the “fuck off”… it clues me in on who to take seriously and who not to. This will be the first and last response you ever receive from me.

        • mikelf

          Actually, they won’t ever go after PZ and it is for the same reason they don’t go after Ed (despite his lack of public support. Ed and PZ created and own Freethoughtblogs, the platform that gives Stephanie her significance. Go after them and she is, once again, one of a endless multitude of people with a Blogspot and no audience.

          Think about it. Do you think Justin Griffith would have survived at FTB if he pulled the Michele Bachmann corndog stunt PZ did? Not a chance. But, PZ gets a pass ‘cuz he holds the keys to the kingdom.

        • MosesZD

          You want to see the great feminist leader, PZ Myers for what he is, this is 2006:

          Definitely not safe for work
          Posted by PZ Myers on October 29, 2006

          A reader sent me a link to a site I hesitate to reference, just because I know some people will be aghast at the exposed mammalian flesh and weird exploitation of women…but it’s got tentacles everywhere, and molluscs, and even a few arthropods and a giant salamander. The title, Tentacles of Desire, and the list of organisms tells you what it’s all about. If you’re easily offended or squeamish about slime or freaked out by perverse fetishes, don’t go there!

          Otherwise, though, just consider it a celebration of biodiversity.


          The link in that post is broken. The blog was taken down by Blogger for TOS violations.

          However, the wayback machine has a crawl:


          Rape porn. Beastiality porn. Fisting. Degradation of women. Objectification of women. Women giving blow jobs. Women with semen dripping out of their mouths.

          But it had a picture of an Octopus (or maybe it was a squid) raping a woman. So Myers played his ‘all things tentacle’ schtick and linked it.

          You tell me, what kind of ‘gender feminist’ would link a thing like that?

          My contention is that it is one who is a phony. One who is a demagogue with no firm, fixed belief in gender feminism but is just pandering for blog hits. One who picked a side a blog-fight and went ‘all-in.’

          I can’t prove it. It’s just an opinion. But it is what I believe based on his years of sexist comments and behaviors that suddenly became forbidden when he White Knighted for Rebecca Watson.

          Thing about the Internet is… Well, when you’re a ‘big blogger’ you can’t erase your past. Even if you can delete your posts….

          • ool0n

            You are pathetic, dig up a post from 2006 that links to some arty-farty porn. You do realise FTB are not fucking sex-negative feminists?

            Seemingly you have issues with porn and fantasy, fortunately that is not copied on FTB. Have a read of Richard Carriers blog post on porn where he is positive even in regard to even some more “extreme” porn such as Sacha Greys love of gagging. http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/925/

            Try not to be such a nasty prude and sexist asshole in future. Your “opinion” about white knighting is as disgusting as the comment in question. So no “gender feminist” would link to such a blog, but then there is no such thing. Try learning just a tiny bit about feminism and you might not come across as such an epic douche. Your greatest hits ->

            “Rape porn. Beastiality porn. Fisting. Degradation of women. Objectification of women. Women giving blow jobs. Women with semen dripping out of their mouths.”

            Won’t someone think of the *children*!!! Grow up.

      • MosesZD

        Nobody is following Svan around. I don’t read her blog because she’s a shitty blogger. I do, sometimes, read here. I virtually never post.

        But Svan has laid a big turd in the middle of this comment thread and is stinking it up with her authoritarian bullshit. And I, for one, am getting goddamn sick and tired of her running around the Internet attacking people and causing flame wars then crying victim and harassment.

  • Keane Sanders

    After reading through this thread, and the thread before, and the thread linked to in that post as an example of how you just can’t please everyone, I have to agree with the Cubist’s interpretation of your actions as a whole–but I’ll actually ask a different question:

    How many feminists have to tell you you’re being a bad ally before you entertain the notion that you might actually not be the fantastic ally you seem to think you are?

    Because after having straight person after straight person try to tell me what a fantastic ally they are to the QUILTBAG community while in the same breath othering, reducing, and belittling that same community, I am all sorts of sick of shitty allies refusing to be told by the community that they claim to support that they aren’t being terribly good allies and should maybe fix that.

    • http://www.geekexile.com/ Brian Fields

      OK, so first:

      Is JT a feminist or a feminist ally?


      Is criticizing the group you consider yourself a part of for behavior you find questionable “being a bad ally”? Check that – JT didn’t criticize the group. What he did was criticize certain behaviors he found questionable. If members of that group find that criticism objectionable, that doesn’t mean he’s not a good feminist – It means that some feminists disagree with him. It also does not mean he’s not a feminist.

      What exactly remains for JT to fix? He’s done everything that has been asked of him, and more. All that is left is a small bit of criticism and mounds of love and support he’s given in these posts.

      • Keane Sanders


        So, that’s good allyship? and, combined with his behavior in the comments here ant his post on Laden, and the post of Lindsay, and the Post here–does it seem to you to establish a pattern of behavior one would expect from someone who should be considered a good ally?

        Even if JT did or has magically set everything right from this particular debacle, it still wouldn’t absolve him of his pattern of behavior: just like no single fuck-up makes one a bad ally, but a continual pattern of them do, so too does a single unfuck-up not make an ally.

        • http://www.geekexile.com/ Brian Fields

          JT said something was off-topic to the original post to keep things on track, at least that’s what’s apparent to me. I don’t see anything objectionable in that post. He also said that BOTH activities are wrong (Sexual harassment of men and women). I’m sorry I disagree with you as to your perception of the situation.

          As far as “establishing a pattern”, I can’t agree with that. He’s addressed every concern that’s been brought up. Your presumption that he’s “wrong” and has to set something “right” speaks volumes as to your presuppositions in this – But I’m extremely surprised to see you tick his calling out of Laden for abhorrent behavior in the wrong column. How can anyone possibly defend that behavior on Laden’s part?

          • Keane Sanders

            If you’ll look at that link again, you’ll find that the dude who decided his club experience of unwanted touching is as bad as systematic sexism is of course on topic, when we other women bring up serious questions about the underlying assumptions, they’re “derailing.”

            That’s weird–but by itself is likely little more than thoughtlessness.

            Fast forward through the whole thread there, and his Lindsay post (and now here!), and I find that I’m finding it really, *really* hard to disagree with the line “I just read, and it was very very hard to read, JT’s post on his blog i which he tries to let everyone know that he really is a feminist, yet he also really agrees with Ron that feminists are doing it wrong”.

            I want to disagree with that statement, but the longer this wears on, the harder I find it to disagree with it. It is irrelevant to me who said it and if that person said it with a shitty attitude or while standing atop of a pile of dead babies after declaring the holocaust perfectly moral and it is equally irrelevant to me if JT went through were to totally take down that assertion and decry the pile of dead babies and the shitty attitude (or, in this case, Greg’s tasteless remark about only being a feminist to get laid)–There’s a fundamental dissonance between word and deed that the above statement points out and remains valid regardless how distasteful the wrapper it came in.

            I don’t give a shit about this debacle or another–I give a shit that someone I admire doesn’t seem to be listening to the community he’s stated he supports, and instead seems to be doubling-down on his mistakes.

          • http://www.geekexile.com/ Brian Fields

            I respectfully and strongly disagree. I think that criticism is important to ANY movement, including feminism. Criticism will bring disagreement – It always does. Allowing the existence of the disagreement to dictate that the criticism is right or wrong is an easy way to allow any movement to get off track, including feminism.

            I think that people should consider words and that are spoken and ideas that are expressed, and to evaluate them on their own merits. JT was quite clearly NOT completely agreeing with Ron, but expressing concern over a single point that Ron brought up. That does not validate the context in which Ron spoke them or the various other ways where Ron did “the wrong thing”. If you disagree with JT, then I suggest the moral thing to do would be to actually address his points, rather than attack his character.

            If Feminism requires a lock-step agreement with everyone who professes to be a feminist, rather than the core concept of promoting equality and egalitarianism, then I would rather shed the term “feminist” myself and work on those goals without the label. THAT is what JT was getting at. People of GOOD nature are being turned away from a very worthy movement because of personal attacks taking precedent over reasoned discussion and common cause.

            Never mind the idea that apparently Godwin’s law once again seems to take hold here – It’s absolutely ridiculous to use the holocaust as a metaphor here. I’m not even clear as to how that relates to JT’s posts.

            If Hitler said “You know, we really should treat each other well” – The fact that Hitler said it does not negate the moral truth of the claim. I’m not really sure who exactly is claiming that the holocaust was moral though.

          • Keane Sanders

            I’m not talking about whatever criticism, I’m talking about how when people call him out on bungling feminism, he doubles down.

            Criticizing a movement is one thing–is another thing entirely when one refuses the criticism of the pattern of those critiques.

          • http://www.geekexile.com/ Brian Fields

            The “pattern of behavior” you cite is largely his criticism, as far as I can tell. If I’m missing something, please feel free to let me know.

          • Keane Sanders

            I have. Already. But fuck it–I’m done.
            I don’t have the spoons to keep arguing with you. I’d ask that maybe you start keeping in mind how his posts and his behavior in the comments (which seems largely invisible to you, hence the futility of asking) are coming off.

            Alternately–since he won’t–when you read a response of his to a person of a marginalized group telling him he’s fucked up, mentally append “I’m sorry, I’ll keep that in mind for the future” (and your favorite conjunction), and count up just how many times you have to append that apology, and in what similar contexts.
            It might never dawn on him that maybe the problem is more on his end–but it might just dawn on you.

          • http://www.geekexile.com/ Brian Fields

            It’d probably have a better chance of dawning on me if you took the time to address the questions that I’m asking rather than presuming you’ve already addressed them. Part of communication is not just speaking, but actually getting your point across to the person you are speaking to. I don’t think I’m a complete idiot (of course I could be wrong), so I think I’m perfectly capable of understanding you if you take the time to try and catch me up.

            If it’s “invisible” to me, you might consider that perhaps I’m not alone. How do you expect to convince anyone if you are unwilling to take the time to make an argument?

            I’m all for offering apologies when appropriate – I do it all the time. I’m certainly not perfect. I’ve personally witnessed JT do it as well, so as far as I’m concerned, I still don’t think you are being fair.

  • perplexed

    So here’s Stephanie in the Greg Laden thread telling Claus and Phil to “fuck off” because they disagreed with her point. Must have been frustrating she couldn’t block them for disagreeing as that seems to be the mortal sin.
    Regardless, I have come to realize one great truth for me, the atheism, skepticism and free thought movements and their intersection with feminism that I hold dear do not in anyway resemble the actions and hyperbole of Stephanie and Jason.
    In my view, these very public fights hurt brining people into the fold that struggle with religion and they insist anyone that lacks their mindset regarding feminism is a horrible person for not fighting that point with the same vigor they offer. I am an Atheist who happens to be a feminist but my primary goal is atheism and helping people find their way into the atheist community.
    If Stephanie and Jason have an issue with that, tough shit. Really.
    We have a small diverse group that meets regularly and we discuss these types of public humiliations and in unanimous agreement say they think this is not only a distraction but detrimental. Their perspective, and mine, is if we wanted to be feminist activists we can join NOW or other groups with that mission. The primary goal at the top of JT’s blog is, “Fighting religion tooth and claw”. Seems like that would be the mission of the atheist, skeptical and free thought communities. This type of senseless bickering and open feuding harms us.
    We should have and be a safe space for everyone that wants to be in this community but clearly there is a divergence of opinion of what that means. Fair enough, but in the end this community’s primary task is about religion, not feminism no matter how much Stephanie and Jason want it to be.

  • Improbable Joe

    Not for nothing JT: the people defending you are the people you claim you oppose, and the people criticizing you are the people you claim to respect. Doesn’t that give you pause AT ALL? You’re letting those people shit all over your allies RIGHT HERE IN THESE COMMENTS. You have time to complain that you’re being treated unfairly, and no time to say anything about people treating your friends unfairly?

    Or is all of this just about you and your ego and how great you feel about calling yourself a feminist and an ally, and nothing to do with actually doing anything to earn the labels?

    • http://www.geekexile.com/ Brian Fields

      Is one a feminist for what someone does, or for who someone agrees with?

      If the latter, I think you’re doing it wrong.

    • Msironen

      You do realize what a convincing case you’re making for rejecting the label “ally”?
      Anyone choosing to ASPIRE for such a label after all the authoritarian rhetoric displayed in this thread deserves nothing but scorn.

      • Improbable Joe

        Not at all. If someone asks you to do them a favor, you need to do it on their terms or not at all. If I ask for a ride home, and you take me to a random address, you haven’t helped me. If you offer to buy me lunch, and you come back with a handful of screws and a stuffed raccoon, you haven’t helped me. If you’re going to help me paint a room in my house, and you buy the wrong color paint and use it on the windows and carpet, you haven’t helped me.

        If JT wants to be a friend and ally to Stephanie, it requires that he actually does things that are helpful to Stephanie. If he’s not interested in actually being helpful to Stephanie, that’s fine… but then he doesn’t get to claim to be her friend and ally.

  • Jasper

    I’m not an “ally” of feminists in the strictest sense that we’ve signed an alliance treaty where we’re obligated to come to each other’s aid, when in trouble. In a looser sense, as in “we’re on the same side” and working towards the same basic goals, then sure, I’m an “ally”, even if my effort may only be a fraction as the others, and my methods may not match.

    I’ve described myself as a “fair-weather” feminist, which is not something I’m proud of, but there it is. There’s a number of factors that lead to me inactivity on this “war front”.

    1) First and foremost, my privilege where I just don’t have to personally deal with it… mix that in with “out of sight, out of mind”, and not a whole lot happens.

    2) I don’t understand the issues, and often just don’t have a lot of input, other than “Yeah!” or “That’s dumb”.

    3) The baggage chaos – the “other side” (I think does this more), brings in side tangential issues to chastise anyone who dares speak up. I try to explain the concept of privilege to someone, and all of a sudden, someone’s arguing at me about something Ophelia said in a blog post years ago that’s barely relevant. All of a sudden, I’m responsible for every dumb thing “my side” has ever supposedly said (or been misinterpreted to have been said). This is very tiring.

    4) “Our side” appears to have a significant “Scorched-Earth Policy” towards any amount of dissent. Civility versus non-civility is not a binary issues – there are degrees. I have no problem with people being uncivil when it’s called for… but the fact I may have fallen asleep in a foxhole in the front lines is not a basis for having my own side napalm me.

    The question of whether we’re civil to each other, and whether the “other side” is civil towards us, are two separate questions. I don’t mind the idea that there’d be a contrast between the two sides.

    Like it not, but the reality is, if you attack people (instead of merely correct/critique), it’s going to work against you. That’s just life. The more my own side attacks me for not doing things the way they want me to, the more apathetic I become… and the more inclined I am to just address the issues my own way, and ignore the apparent frothing extremes… or just opt-out altogether. That’s not something to be proud of. That’s just how life works.

    Whether these people comment here, or elsewhere, isn’t particularly important. They’re going to comment, and you’re never going to catch them wherever they comment. There’s no magic behind this.

    • Jasper

      TLDR: While there are factors that influencing me to “opt out” of these discussions… an increasing factor is my own side… not anything the other side is doing. Mine.

  • Axel Blaster

    Well, while I rolled my eyes initially at Dan Fincke’s civility pledge, now I think that is the probably the best alternative available if you don’t want you blogs to degenerate into the mess we are witnessing too often.

    • Steersman

      While I sympathize with your argument there – and with Fincke’s, I tend to the view that it is too simplistic and unrealistic. Seems to me that a far better and more workable model is afforded by a modified version of “tit-for-tat” (1) which has some basis in game theory (2). The first link argues:

      An agent using this strategy will first cooperate, then subsequently replicate an opponent’s previous action. If the opponent previously was cooperative, the agent is cooperative. If not, the agent is not. This is similar to superrationality and reciprocal altruism in biology.

      That is, relative to the question of insults of one sort or another, if someone doesn’t want to be subject to nasty insults then they shouldn’t level them at someone else. And the modification (3) comes from the fairly credible concept – Christian, one might note – of “turning the other cheek”: one might be forgiven one or two transgressions – everyone makes mistakes or there’s noise in the system, but after that one should expect to get stomped all over with hobnail boots.

      And that is where I find the commenting policy of, for example, Pharyngula particularly odious. It allows certain insults that, apparently, roll off the backs of commenters there like the proverbial water off a duck’s back, but insists on anathematizing those that, apparently, seriously unhorse the lot of them. An amusing case of totemism in a
      supposed bastion of skepticism and critical thinking. But an egregiously
      hypocritical policy in my view. And one conducive to promoting a rather toxic and unproductive environment. With, unfortunately, some rather far reaching consequences.

      1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit-for-tat;
      2) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/game-theory/#Repeat;
      3) http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/06/18/game-theory-and-the-golden-punishment-rule/

      • Axel Blaster

        I do understand where you’re coming from Steersman, but if we are going to move away from the rage-, drama, outrage- blog posts I see no better proposal for small or medium size blogs.
        BTW, I’m a an equal opportunity lurker, I’ve seen you often enough to wonder why you haven’t written a blog yourself.
        Unless ownership is the [s]criptonite to the Incredible Bulk?

        • Steersman

          I also agree that moving away from the “rage, drama, outrage posts” is a good idea. I just disagree about
          the most effective way of reaching that goal. Fincke’s “civility pledge” has its place, but it doesn’t seem like it has gained much traction – in part because many want to keep an “ace-in-the-hole” with which to express there “displeasure” – which suggests a different model is required. You might want to take another look at that “tit-for-tat” article, in particular the linked article there on “mutual assured destruction”, this bit seeming to be of some relevance:

          The strategy is effectively a form of Nash equilibrium in which neither side, once armed, has any rational incentive either to initiate a conflict or to disarm
          (presuming neither side considers self-destruction an acceptable outcome).

          Seems to me that the best method – at least given the circumstances – of preventing gratuitous insults would be the realization that nothing is off the table. I think that is part of the reason why the Pit works as well as it does: there is really no restriction on insults so everyone tends to “pull their punches” a little, or are more circumspect. Although that is just kind of an impression.

          BTW, I’m a an equal opportunity lurker, I’ve seen you often enough to wonder why you haven’t written a blog yourself. Unless ownership [of] the [s]criptonite to the Incredible Bulk?

          :-) More bang for the buck by commenting on the blogs of other people. Maybe if I develop enough of a readership then I’ll create my own blog – and link back to some previous comments.

          • Axel Blaster

            I think your game theory model will fail for the following reason. The people won’t hold back. The Slyme Pit is not a commenting section on a blog, even if it started that way. The Slymepit is a forum, the worse nightmare of the people that wanted it shut down. For better or for worse, a forum is a more versatile beast than any comment section in any blog… there are [A+]xceptions to the rule, of course.

            But why do I say that people won’t hold back in a commenting section of a blog:

            The stakes are too high, because there is so little to lose.

            Think about it. The worse that can happen is the OP banning the offenders. They have very few options *sarcasm*:

            a. Tweeter

            b. YouTube

            c. Forums

            e. Reddit

            f. Friendlier -to them- blogs

            g. nth social media outlets

            h. All of the above and much, much, more

            How well has that turned out for those that wanted censorship in the age the internet? Information wants to be free in our era, and even totalitarian governments are having a hard time fighting against this trend.

            To be honest, Fincke’s Civility Pledge will work better than your suggestions because it offers no stimuli for the no-good-faith contrarians and name-callers. It’s also dry enough to prevent emotional attachment and delusions of a close relationship between the blogger or OP and their commenters.

  • Steersman

    JT said:

    Pitters and harassers are no more potential allies in the cause of women’s equality than theists are potential allies in the task of destroying faith.

    As much as I’m “on board” with and commend many of your arguments and comments – notably the ones about “… acting on that anger disproportionately in ways that have become commonplace within the feminist movement”, and the related ones – I think you really might want to consider that your “Pitters” comment above qualifies as some seriously questionable categorical thinking, and not one that one would expect to hear coming from anyone who seriously calls themself a skeptic. For instance, you might wish to actually peruse “The Pit” in some depth – rather than, apparently, relying on hearsay evidence and a discussion on your own actions. You might also note the Skeptical Woman “petition” (1) which was signed by some 170 women, a large percentage of whom post with some regularity in “The Pit”. You seriously think they are going to qualify as harassers and misogynists and foes “in the cause of women’s equality”? You seriously think they are all suffering from the “Stockholm syndrome”, and are deluded about the company they’re keeping?

    But, from a somewhat broader perspective and relative to your “disproportionately” comment, you might be interested in the following from Michael Shermer’s The Believing Brain (highly recommended):

    As we saw in the previous chapter, politics is filled with self-justifying rationalizations. Democrats see the world through liberal-tinted glasses, while Republicans filter it through conservative shaded glasses. When you listen to both “conservative talk radio” and “progressive talk radio” you will hear
    current events interpreted in ways that are 180 degrees out of phase. So incongruent are the interpretations of even the simplest goings-on in the daily news that you wonder if they can possibly be talking about the same event. [my emphasis]

    1) http://www.skepticwomen.com/welcome-statement

  • https://twitter.com/Aneris23 Aneris

    “The harassers of women, the slymepitters, are bad people. I have been unequivocal about it”


    Right. So many falsehoods in your article above, the second I’ve ever read by you, that I am curious as to why you claim you have issues with bad arguments and untruths. The whole incident was about Stephanie Zvan, Greg Laden and a user named “Socratic Gadfly” none of these people are in a way affiliated with the Slymepit. Stephanie Zvan only made a story about it, to divert attention away from Greg Laden’s previous fit (where the comment in question appeared)

    Can you do better, or provide some good arguments, or evidence for any of your claims? Because it looks more like you wanted to win social points among the Atheism Plus clergy by patting their backs and by demonizing “Vacula and Slymepit”, which is like the secular version of Satan and Hell (and people “who just like to sin”). Note that Vacula is just a normal member on the Slymepit, who also is featured in plenty of parody images.


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

    Clearly people should comment in a way that Stephanie both supports and defends. They should find a veteran that disagrees with them, and threaten to kick their ass while trying to trigger PTSD incidents.

    Stephanie CLEARLY approves of that behavior, so does Jason T. They must, given that both have actively defended it on multiple occasions.

    So, saying things Stephanie Zvan doesn’t like? Mortal sin, burn the heretic. Threatening physical violence and playing games with potential PTSD issues as long as the target is on Stephanie’s shit list? TOTES okey-dokey.

    Oh, and emailing someone’s employer to silence them is just fine as well. As long as the target is on Stephanie’s shit list.

    So, things that Stephanie Z. and Jason T. approve of, as long as the target is a Suppressive Person, or “SP”:

    1) Clear, unambiguous threats of violence.
    2) Clear, unambiguous attempts to trigger PTSD
    3) Trying to get someone’s employer to make them take down blog entries they disapprove of.

    Fair Game Indeed.

  • Dan Wolf

    I wonder JT how you can make such a blanket statement such as “The harassers of women, the slymepitters, are bad people.” over and over I have heard you say things like this where you seem to think you have the ability to judge every single one of the over 600 members of the slymepit forum as bad or unworthy of any consideration. The first thing that comes to mind is you must have psychic powers. Take the James Randi Challenge JT…THEN I will consider that maybe you know for a fact the reason and rational of everyone in the slymepit forum.
    What you are doing JT is dangerous, ignorant, and a bit egotistical. Be smart enough to realize what you can not know and responsible enough not to spread disinformation. It is clear you feel some strong emotions about this, could those emotions be clouding your judgement? I’m not saying that everything or anything posted in the slymepit is good or bad but I take each and every post on it’s own merit. No one is wrong (or right)100% of the time JT. For you to expect people to believe everything that is posted in the slymepit is an attempt to harm or harass women is silly really. The kind of emotional rhetoric you have posted here is not helpful and it does not provide an accurate or fair view of the situation.
    Is there any one subject you can get 600 random people to agree on JT? The slymepit has no formal mission statement and no written rules. What miracle has been performed where a basically unmoderated forum of that size can be as focused as you claim them to be? Please give intelligent people a break and quit listening to PZ Myers and his paranoid ramblings. How is it any one single act that PZ has a problem with suddenly becomes the objective of anyone who is on the “other side”? If one person posts a pic of PZ’s head on a woman’s body then everyone in the slymepit is busy making pics of PZ’s head on a woman’s body? Give me a break chicken little, enough already!
    As long as people keep making such irresponsible emotional, egotistical, and asinine remarks there will continue to be problems. This is a simple fact. You can keep on arguing from emotion or you can start understanding the truth is always in the middle and be more objective. I trust you can figure out which is a more mature way to go.

    • Axel Blaster

      The Slymepit has produced a lot of “shit” like Silverman likes repeating over, and over, and over. The Silverman Mantra.
      But, on a case-by-case basis, things get problematic for a blanket statement such as JT’s. But JT is defending his friends, I’ve got the privilege of not being in his position.
      I’ve got better things to do than be the Devil’s advocate, but there has been a lot of exaggerations in the “Schism”, I would check the primary source before offering an opinion about a group or individual in this never ending secular flame war.

    • Richard Sanderson

      Notice how harassment from FreeThoughtBlogs and Skepchick never gets called out?

      Perhaps JT should ask some of the “chill girls” and “sister punishers” who have left the movement DIRECTLY because of intimidation and harassment from members of FTB, Skepchick, etc.

  • Steersman

    Jason Thibeault: since you’ve blocked me on your blog for having the temerity to raise questions you refuse to answer (1), I will state here that your comment – “and so people take [JT] to task for letting a specific misogynist dig at Stephanie by Socratic Gadfly slide” – in your recent diatribe (2) against JT qualifies you as an A-class dickhead.

    More specifically, pray tell how do you get that that comment by SGF qualifies as “misogynist”? How is that manifesting hate for all women simply because they are women? I’ll readily agree – and have already stated so – that it probably qualifies as an egregious ad hominem, possibly libelous, and probably sexist, at least in the sense of being based on a stereotype. But you really might want to do something about reducing your rather profound ignorance on the topic – maybe starting here (3) which notes that sometimes there really is some truth in those stereotypes. It really shouldn’t take much thought or reflection to realize that, yes, men and women both sometimes use sex to influence others in ways and to certain ends that are not particularly credible. The question isn’t whether there is truth in such stereotypes, but whether there is any justified applicability of it to the discussion to the point where SGF made that comment.

    But, in any case, it is one very long way from being a misogynistic comment – except maybe in the fevered imaginations of those who have turned some credible principles of feminism into dogmatic schlock.

    1) http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=98258#p98258
    2) http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2013/06/29/pattern-recognition/
    3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype

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