Response to Jen McCreight – on social justice, Bria Crutchfield, and the “third group”.

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If you’re uninterested in the dust up between myself and Bria Crutchfield, consider scrolling to the bottom to read the meta of this post.

Jen McCreight wrote a response to my piece about Bria Crutchfield.  This post was linked to by Greta Christina, Rebecca Watson, and countless others in that camp, many saying “Jen wrote exactly what I wanted to say!”  Let’s take a look at what many people wanted to say.

Right from the start of Jen’s post in response to my own about Bria Crutchfield, from the very title, the misrepresentations start to flow.  The title was “On silencing anger to silence minority voices.”  The implication is that I want people to not be angry or offended at injustice or ignorance, when I never said anything of the sort.  In fact, my post was full of statements like:

Like I said earlier, I’m the last person to say that a good tongue-lashing is never appropriate.

I have reiterated time and again that most anger in our movement on the subject of race and women’s equality is justified anger, so the idea that I want people to curtail their anger is disappointing.  What I have said, however, and what has yet to be addressed, is that not every action taken on account of justifiable anger is necessarily a justified action.

Another implication is that I was trying to silence somebody.  Again, I have always written that we must be vocal and that we must challenge bad ideas with honesty and fervor.  Are we so detached from nuance that saying “Taking over another speaker’s Q&A to verbally berate somebody is inappropriate and unnecessary” becomes equivalent to “That person should be silent”?  Had Bria pulled out a bullhorn to shout the questioner down I would’ve thought that was out of line too, and it would have nothing to do with silencing her.

And that’s just the title.  Let’s get on to the rest of the piece.

My favorite thing to wake up to in the morning is white straight cis men insisting they get to decide who your allies are and that you should not ever get angry, but rather calmly explain basic topics to hostile questions from every person that wanders across your path as if it were your personal duty on this earth.

Whenever somebody like myself criticizes feminists of the Jen McCreight variety, our innate features are always swiftly trotted out.  I’m a white, cis, male.  Yup, I sure am.  Not that this makes me wrong.  Now, you could argue that it makes me more likely to have blind spots to particular issues, and you’d be right.  But if those features have produced an ignorance in me that has caused me to use a fallacious argument, then the argument should be easy enough to defeat on its own without recourse to well-poisoning, ad hominems, and red herrings.  But merely pointing out the traits with which I was born does nothing to bolster one’s arguments, nor should they prohibit me from saying a black person or a woman did something wrong as swiftly as I would say a white person or a male was doing something wrong.

And, once again, I have not ever said that people shouldn’t get angry.  Repeatedly, until I am positively blue in the face, I have said most of their anger is justified.  I have shared Greta’s atheists and anger talk and quoted it repeatedly.  I think anger is necessary to be an activist.  What fair-minded and objective person could possibly glean that I think people should not be angry?  I don’t even think Bria was wrong to be angry and I told her so.  What I did say was that justified anger doesn’t permit every action.  I thought I was perfectly clear on this when I wrote:

That we are hurt does not always justify us hurting others.  That’s why the words “justice” and “revenge” are not synonyms.

But apparently not.

Furthermore, I don’t think the question was hostile.  In her post, Jen asserts that my opinion on the hostility of the question must be derived from psychic powers, as if body language and tone are meaningless indicators.  But I’m not only operating off of her body language and tone (which I think would be sufficient by themselves), I also spoke with the woman afterward.  I even messagd Mandisa to see if she thought the question was malicious and Mandisa told me “I definitely don’t think the question was intentionally malicious, or even malicious at all”.  Nor do I think it’s the responsibility of every black atheist to answer every ill-informed question they are posed, as Jen asserts (although, if you’re trying to make it as a public figure with the stated cause of dissolving ignorance about race in the secular community, it might be a good idea).  However, I do think it’s ethically better to not treat every manifestation of ignorance as if the person hates black people or women, etc., and I definitely don’t think every manifestation of ignorance merits public humiliation.

Mandisa and I have spoken about this.  Neither of us believe the audience member’s question was hostile, even though we both believe she did a poor job in avoiding offense (which can happen unintentionally).  The question was offensive and Mandisa and Bria were certainly not remiss in any way for being offended.  That’s why I never condemned anybody for being offended.  What I did condemn, and still do condemn, is when a person is offended inadvertently and considers it fair or even morally right to purposefully embarrass the person.  This is especially true when Bria said, in her outburst, that part of her outrage was that the question embarrassed Mandisa.  If embarrassing others in a crowded room is immoral when done by mistake, it shouldn’t be considered moral to do it on purpose.

This is why I wrote:

Can ignorance still hurt?  Sadly, yes.  We all have hurt others without intending to do so.  But it’s the difference between someone stepping on your foot by mistake and somebody stomping on it on purpose.  While the effect is the same, one person is far more ethically dubious.

My position is that Bria was the one who was more ethically dubious, even if her offense was perfectly understandable.  Do people do wrong things when they’re mad?  Sure.  I’ve done them.  We all have.  But that only makes them understandable and usually immediately forgivable once remorse is shown- it doesn’t make them right.

JT’s psychic powers allow him to know that the woman asking the question on black on black crime is naive and not racist.

I addressed this earlier.  One does not need psychic powers to interpret a person’s tone, body language, or to speak to them afterward to try and understand.  All of which I have done, none of which Jen has done.  And yet, Jen still feels perfectly justified being convinced that this person was being intentionally racist.

This is despite that particular question being one of the most common, racist, debunked talking points from the far right. Even if 99% of the time that question is thrown out precisely to be hostile as a racism “gotcha”, we’re to assume this case is different for no good reason.

Wrong.  Nobody is challenging the idea that it’s an ill-formed question.  Nobody’s denying that hatemongers use it.  But to say that we’re assuming that in this case the person had no ill-intent is a mere assumption for no good reason is simply untrue.

His psychic powers also make him certain that Bria’s intent was to humiliate and embarrass, and he dismisses that Bria or other black atheists have any good reason to feel unwelcome at the conference.

Again, one did not need to be psychic to glean that Bria’s friend had been embarrassed and that she was going to return it in kind – one only needed to be in the room (and if/when the video of Bria’s outburst is released, it will confirm this).  But I was still willing to give Bria the benefit of the doubt (practicing what I preach, as it were), by speaking with her in private.  I posted how that conversation went, and it became clear to me that Bria (who flat out said she didn’t care about changing the woman’s mind) wanted to publicly shame her.

I also didn’t say black atheists didn’t have a good reason to feel unwelcome at the conference.  What I did say is that while offense at the questioner’s ill-informed question was understandable, that I didn’t feel like a question that carried no malicious intent should convince someone they’re unwelcome.  There may have been reasons Bria or another black attendee felt unwelcome and, if so, I’m very sad/sorry about that.  If those reasons exist, I am as of yet unaware of them.

After all this, JT has the gall to pull Bria aside and explain how he thinks she should have handled the situation – aka, be more nice and calm, and keep your disagreements to private discussions with the individual. This is so condescending it blows my mind.

I realize Bria was upset, and the reasoning is not lost on me.

I don’t think Bria being upset was wrong in anyway.  I despise the same things that likely led to her being upset.  She was undoubtedly hoping for an event where she wouldn’t have to put up with the products of racial ignorance in our culture, even if they manifested without intention.  I can imagine her disappointment at finding out this would not be the case.

I am also aware that my perception is colored by natural biases.  A good article on this comes from Sikivu Hutchinson writing about Kiera Wilmot (which I also covered) on the fact that black female students are far more likely to be expelled and such:

“In many American classrooms black children are treated like ticking time bomb savages, shoved into special education classes, disproportionately suspended and expelled then warehoused in opportunity schools, juvenile jails and adult prisons. Yet, while national discourse on the connection between school discipline and mass incarceration typically focuses on black males, black girls are suspended more than boys of every other ethnicity (except black males). At a Georgia elementary school in 2012 a six year-old African American girl was handcuffed by the police after throwing a tantrum in the principal’s office. Handcuffing disruptive black elementary school students is not uncommon. It is perhaps the most extreme example of black children’s initiation into what has been characterized as the school-to-prison pipeline, or, more accurately, the cradle to grave pipeline. Stereotypes about dysfunctional violent black children ensure that the myth of white children’s relative innocence is preserved.

Nationwide, black children spend more time in the dean’s office, more time being opportunity transferred to other campuses and more time cycling in and out of juvenile detention facilities than children of other ethnicities. Conservatives love to attribute this to poverty, broken homes, and the kind of Bell Curve dysfunction that demonizes “welfare queens” who pop out too many babies. Yet there is no compelling evidence that socioeconomic differences play a decisive role in these disparities. The fact remains that black children are criminalized by racist discipline policies regardless of whether they’re privileged “Cosby kids” or are in foster care or homeless shelters. According to Daniel Losen and Russell Skiba, authors of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Suspended Education” report, “ethnic and racial disproportionately in discipline persists even when poverty and other demographic factors are controlled. …When it comes to black girls, the widespread perception that they are dangerous, hostile and ineducable is promoted and reinforced by mainstream media portrayals. Historically, black women have never been regarded as anybody’s “fairer sex” because white women have always been the universal standard for femininity, humanity, and moral worth.”

The NYT reiterates this:

Although black students made up only 18 percent of those enrolled in the schools sampled, they accounted for 35 percent of those suspended once, 46 percent of those suspended more than once and 39 percent of all expulsions, according to the Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 statistics from 72,000 schools in 7,000 districts, serving about 85 percent of the nation’s students. The data covered students from kindergarten age through high school.

One in five black boys and more than one in 10 black girls received an out-of-school suspension. Over all, black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.

And in districts that reported expulsions under zero-tolerance policies, Hispanic and black students represent 45 percent of the student body, but 56 percent of those expelled under such policies.

Also, there is plenty of psych research confirming that we simply see people of our own race as better motivated and people of other races as worse motivated.  Whites and blacks alike have been shown to exhibit this prejudice, which sort of cuts against both myself and Bria. She’s naturally more likely to read the worst of a white person in an ambiguous case and I’m naturally more likely to think better of them.  So while Bria and I share the premise that this community should be better, I was more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to this community member and Bria was more likely to be wounded by her ignorance.  I get that there are natural biases in place to overcome, and getting it gave me tremendous pause before I reached a conclusion on the matter.  We all have biases.  They simply make it harder to get at the truth – they do not necessarily make us wrong.

This is why, when I spoke to Bria, I insisted several times that I didn’t think she was a bad person or that her anger was unjustified.  But if I’m out of line about any topic, from mental illness to religion, I do always appreciate when people (fairly, and in good faith) attempt to apprise me of it.  I may not always agree, but who thinks it’s condescending to convey to a peer that you think they made a mistake?  I guess you could say it’s condescending to believe that you perceived something they didn’t, but isn’t that an inherent case in any opinion a person might hold?  In my case, I spoke with Bria privately (away from any eyes) to express my opinion, not as a paternal figure, but as a concerned peer who assumed that atheists, just like religious people, should welcome being treated like they have the spine and integrity to withstand good-hearted criticism as a sign of respect.

When doing so, I did not implore Bria to keep all her disagreements private.  Obviously, having written about Bria’s outburst (and yes, it was an outburst), I think sometimes these discussions must be had publicly.  But not always, and not always in the middle of a conference, during another speaker’s Q&A, and not always with screaming and intent to embarrass, etc.

There are certain things that are out of line.  I know for a fact that Jen thinks people who get up during Q&As to make statements rather than ask questions are at least close to that line.  Nobody denies there are certain behaviors that are both bad ideas or unethical (using a bullhorn to talk over another speaker, punching a person you disagree with – extreme examples, but used to make the point).  My position is that shouting down an audience member who had a genuine ignorance and who meant no offense, even if her ignorance was offensive, didn’t make it acceptable for Bria to cross the line with impunity.

And yet, when this is said using very clear language, immediately I am accused by Jen of trying to silence minorities (presumably out of lack of sympathy or empathy), castigating people for anger, using psychic powers, etc.  This is why there are so many silent people in this movement on social justice issues.  It’s not because they don’t care, but because any disagreement is bound to result in these types of mischaracterizations from the Jen McCreights, Greta Christinas, Jason Thibeaults, Stephanie Zvans, and others like them that they think it’s not worth the effort.  People feel as if they must condone this type of behavior in order to be a feminist or a social justice advocate, otherwise they don’t get bestowed with that all-important “ally” title.  Of course, Jen and crew are not the arbiters of who is an ally to a cause.  I am an ally to compassion, reason, and to fairness, not to particular people.  If that makes you my ally, splendid!  If not, that’s fine too.

It is incredibly problematic for a white man to tell a black woman to not get angry about issues of racism that affect her on a daily basis.

Which is why I didn’t tell her not to be angry about issues of racism.  Jen writing that line would’ve been bad enough had I merely never said that, but it’s even worse considering that I said (and have repeatedly said) the exact opposite.  From the post’s comments:

I can empathize with the frustration of having to educate people repeatedly, be it with mental illness or atheism. I also asserted that there was a substantial response beneath the tangents of Bria’s outburst.

But these things still don’t alter the fact that not every action taken on account of justifiable anger is best or even good. It sounds like you and I both agree that the substance of Bria’s diatribe could have been delivered without humiliating someone who had no ill intent. That’s the crux of the matter.

And I’m seeing people say that I’m telling people to not be angry. That is not the case. I think people should be angry. I’m simply saying that not everything done on account of that anger is wise or good.

I have been saying this time and time again, to Jen and Greta in private as well as in public.  To keep having to answer the charge that I’m telling people to not be angry from people who repeatedly jump on their opponents for failing to adequately listen is very tiresome (not unlike having to keep interacting with ignorance about social justice issues, I’d wager).  Tiresome though it is, I’m not about to shout Jen down or challenge her integrity anywhere, especially in public.  I will keep saying she’s wrong though.

JT might not get mad, but it’s not because he’s achieved some higher, moral zen state that gives him infinite patience to deal with ignorance and hatred – it’s because these issues don’t fucking affect him.Of course you can stay calm when you either don’t care or don’t have to care.

And if I had said that Bria’s outburst were not understandable or her anger unjustified, this would be a splendid rebuttal.  But I never said any of those things.  I merely said that her outburst was inappropriate, unfair, and that she to this point has demonstrated zero remorse for embarrassing a well-meaning (but ignorant person) on purpose.  I understand that sometimes anger, even justified anger, can get the better of us.  But in my case and in Bria’s, the problem was with us, not with the anger.

So yes, even though I can empathize with Bria’s anger to an extent, I probably can’t fully do so.  She probably can’t empathize as fully with mine on the vast public ignorance of mental illness.  That doesn’t make her automatically wrong in making moral assessments of my behavior any more than it makes me wrong to assess hers.

He claims to understand how she feels – which is self evidently false from the article he just wrote. When you’re a member of a minority group, it is infuriating to hear the same offensive, dehumanizing, and ignorant questions over and over again. It is even more infuriating for people in a position of privilege to insist that it is your duty to personally and calmly educate every person that crosses your path. Even if 99% of the people asking these questions are assholes with no inkling to ever change their mind, you’re to treat each new one as a special snowflake. THIS one is just asking questions, guys!

Do you really think I have no idea what it feels like to be part of a minority group and to hear the same offensive, dehumanizing, and ignorant questions over and over again?  I read Christian literature and address religious appraisals of atheists on a daily basis.  We, too, are a minority that deals with this.  Ditto with mental illness and getting asked why people who are clinically depressed can’t just toughen up, or why anorexics can’t just eat, or if we are a danger to society because of the medications we’re on.  I realize this is infuriating, and I also realize that there are people out there determined to hate, who must be shamed and shouted down.

But I also understand that not everybody is dedicated to hate.  I realize that many people (certainly not as few as 1% as Jen would have us believe…that is some very creative statistical work) are good-hearted, but are themselves victims of a society that has made ignorance of our cause the default position.  I find at atheist conventions the number of the good-hearted goes up dramatically (go us!).  I have no doubt that there have been times in the past when I opened with hostility which may have been exactly the right response elsewhere, but that by doing so I inadvertently punished a person who was genuinely trying to understand me.  I can admit that I was wrong, I can admit that I was unnecessarily cruel, and I can (and do) sincerely say that I am sorry.  While that type of reaction may be understandable, even though my anger may be justified, I must admit that I was still wrong to have done it.

And when did I ever say it was the duty of every minority to personally and calmly educate every person that crosses their path?  Again, Jen lobs bombs into territory I never even sought to occupy (spectacular, though the explosions were).  What I did say was that if you’re going to do so, it’s out of line to take over another speaker’s Q&A to intentionally embarrass a person, even if you answer their question in the process.

Jen says people almost never have any inkling to change their minds.  We’re to believe it’s because others are just so close-minded.  For one, I have found in my mental illness work that people frequently change their minds.  I am always approached at conferences by several such people (and sent emails by many more), who say they have come around on how they view mental illness or religion.  For another thing, perhaps the reason Jen is not seeing people change their minds is in the approach.  If you think that shouting people down and embarrassing them in public for the crime of ignorance is appropriate (malice or dedicated ignorance are other matters), one doesn’t need to wonder why people might become averse to you, not see eye-to-eye, and eschew the cause for which you are so passionate.  Jen wants me to be introspective, to try and understand my own faults, and I appreciate that.  I don’t think it would be unreasonable of me to ask her to do the same about people and their potential to alter their perceptions if only we don’t mistreat them.

Newsflash: If someone is parroting racist, sexist, or transphobic talking points, calmly explaining why they’re wrong doesn’t tend to work because they’re not looking to have their minds changed.

This is simply false.  While the question and the sentiment beneath it may be horrible, such things do not always necessarily come from horrible people.  Sometimes they do, and when we let loose the dogs of war in that case we come off to others as taking a morally justified stand.  People parrot the talking points of anti-med, anti-counseling advocates to me all the time.  This is what they’ve been exposed to, it doesn’t necessarily mean they want people like me to suffer.

In this case I don’t think there’s very much room to argue that the woman who asked the question was doing so very much in a “tell me what the black community is doing so I can get on board” type of way.  Was it offensive?  Yes.  Ill-informed?  Yes.  But did it betray a closed mind or any malice toward racial minorities on the part of the questioner?  No.  Absolutely not.  And for her to then be treated as an enemy to black people, as someone who deserved public humiliation that should be reserved for people of hate…it wasn’t right.

You’d think someone who frequently deals with religious apologists would understand this.

Ironically, dealing with religious apologists (and more so with the people who read them) is why I completely disagree with Jen’s point.  While William Lane Craig is a liar and a fraud, I don’t necessarily think that everybody parroting his lies are, themselves, liars.  While I deal with religious apologists I despise, I also deal with the people they’ve corrupted (which makes me despise the apologists even more).  But not everybody corrupted by WLC has a bad heart.  For those people, I tend to look on them with pity and on their ideas with contempt (more so because I pity the person holding them).  But contempt for people who obviously care, even if they haven’t thought it all the way through?  No.  Must their ideas be criticized?  Of course.  Must we not allow for somebody’s personal offense at having their ideas criticized to be a conversation stopper?  Absolutely.  But none of this entails that people aren’t sincerely mistaken or willing to have their minds changed.

If you think scarcely anybody is sincerely ignorant but willing to have their mind changed, then we’re not going to agree on much.  I have actually spoken about this very thing in public several times.  One of the most disappointing questions that can escape an atheist’s lips is “Why do you argue?  You’ll never change anybody’s mind!”  As Greta has even pointed out, this movement is populated mostly by people who have had their minds changed.  Many of us (and I don’t use “us” by mistake) were anti-gay, anti-atheist, etc. back when we had the good lord as our co-pilot.  We changed.  In large part for me it was a combination of things.  It was seeing public atheists brave enough to denounce, without equivocation, religious leaders, while also having things explained to me when I had questions – much of which was done on blogs as I made my way into atheism.

If someone came into an evolution conference saying “if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” would JT argue that they’re simply naive, not informed, and want an explanation? Or would he think they’re informed enough to be parroting a creationist talking point that’s, to steal the perfect phrase from Crommunist, “an ideological attack disguised as ‘just asking questions.’”

To be completely honest, it would depend on the person.  I would always think the question was tiresome and ill-informed, but surely you don’t think every person who believes evolution means monkeys, and asks a question about something they sincerely believe, is intending to make an ideological attack.  It can be, but it’s not always.  What if someone asked it in a biology class?  Or asked their biology teacher afterward?  Is it so hard to believe that a white person in the audience at a conference where people tend to be more supportive of equality, with a black person on stage who is an expert on what is going on with the black community, could ask the question she did to get a black person’s perspective on something she was ignorant about?  Could the audience member not have been a good-hearted person who is the product of the same community of ignorance that Bria and I both lament?  Far from being impossible, this sounds even on its face like the most plausible explanation to me (and that’s before you take tone, body language, and actually talking to the people involved into account).

Jen also mentions another thing that bothers me: the idea that just asking questions is particularly offensive.  Sure, there are some people who are the equivalent of walking push polls – they intentionally ask suggestive questions.  But it seems we’re so worried about them that we’re over eager to convict everybody with questions of their crimes.  Some people really do have questions driven by what produces all honest questions: ignorance.  If we verbally berate them, we accomplish nothing but the creation of resentment for our cause.

In my theater classes I learned that you never hit a person on stage.  It’s not that actors don’t strive for realism or that some are so dedicated to their craft that they’d happily take a punch in order to achieve realism.  The reason you don’t hit someone on stage is the audience.  If a woman slaps her kidnapper, you want the audience to think “Good!  She hit him!”  You don’t want them thinking “Oh, that poor actor!”  Such is the distinction between denouncing, in no uncertain terms, people who are asking pointed questions and denouncing (and attempting to embarrass) someone who honestly had a question, even if the question is ill-formed.  It is not moral to treat someone who accidentally stepped on your toe the same as somebody who stomped on it on purpose, and to treat every single person as if they are asking pointed questions out of spite is not only unfair, but unproductive.  Having spoken to the questioner as well as some people who know her, I know she’s a very timid person.  The question she asked of Mandisa was the first time she ever asked a question at a conference (and she regularly attends conferences, and donates to secular organizations).  Do you think she will ever ask one again?  Hell no.

Perhaps there are some who are so eager cow people who ask pointed questions into silence that they are ok with inflicting collateral damage on the ignorant and curious.  I’m not one of them.  I don’t think ignorance should be punished the same as malice, and I don’t think anybody can fairly deny that such collateral damage does frequently take place.  The only question is whether or not it takes place to our detriment, which I very much argue it does.

Insisting that minorities quell their anger is insisting that minorities stay silent.

Speaking of convicting people for crimes they didn’t commit…

Asking for public ignorant statements to be responded to in private sweeps the problems under the rug.

Do you really imagine that if questions, sincere questions no matter how ignorant, cannot be responded to by taking over another speaker’s Q&A, embarrassing somebody for asking the question, and launching into a huge tirade rebutting assertions that nobody has made, that problems of race are getting swept under the rug?  Did you not read me saying that Mandisa handled the woman with aplomb (in public, no less)?

Observers hear the problematic statement but no response, which reinforces the status quo and sends a message that no one found that statement problematic.

Jen seems possessed by the notion that I don’t think the question should have been answered and it’s offensive nature pointed out, rather than thinking that it could be accomplished, even in public, without Bria lighting into a person who wasn’t an enemy to Bria or her cause.

It also puts all of the burden of educating one person, who most of the time don’t actually want to be educated, on individuals who already feel drained and exhausted from having to explain the same basic 101 crap over and over again.

Jen says that most of the time such people don’t want to be educated.  I don’t have enough information to disagree as firmly as I’d like.  My experience doesn’t confirm her assertion, but that’s my experience and not hers.  But even if I were to concede her point in full…so what?  Is Jen suggesting that this woman didn’t want to be educated?  If so, all available evidence, to my eyes, would make Jen wrong.

And yes, curing ignorance is exhausting and we all lament that people are ignorant about atheism, race, gender, mental illness, etc.  Nobody is saying otherwise.  But we’re all ignorant about things, so it’s hard for me to treat a person’s ignorance as an intentional drain on others.  Not wanting to resolve one’s ignorance is a problem, but being ignorant is not.  And what is asking a question of an expert (if done sincerely) but an attempt to resolve one’s ignorance?  At least she was trying.  If you are tired and don’t want to help, then don’t help.  But are we really going to start getting mad at people for acting like an expert on a stage, there to give a talk for the express purpose of educating, shouldn’t then be asked questions on the subject of race during the question and answer session for fear a person’s ignorance might be the offensive type?  I mean, isn’t that what a Q&A is there for?  When I sign up to do talks, I sign up to speak to everybody.  It’s not like I give talks like college courses, where only people with x-amount of credit hours in the subject are allowed to attend.

And this call for calmness and personal explanations is even more infuriating coming from JT. I have calmly and privately explained social justice issues to JT for years, over email, texts, phone calls, in person conversations. So has Greta. So has Crommunist, who points out the last time he did so he was ignored, so he’s not going to try again. And also feel like all of these attempts have been ignored because no progress at all has been made. So when a person I consider a friend doesn’t even listen to these calm private explanations, why is he insisting it will work on strangers?

Yes, if only you, Greta, or Ian had taken over another speaker’s Q&A to yell at me in a crowded room, then perhaps I would’ve seen the light.  The problem wasn’t the calmness of your explanation, but the same problems in your blog post: you made arguments that didn’t convince me.  Arguments that don’t convince me won’t become more convincing if you’re trying to embarrass me in public (though, for some, they might then just abandon the subject entirely and never get educated).

I have ignored tons of people who have thrown arguments at me: Cromwell, Jen, Greta, Thibeault, Stephanie.  The reasons for doing so is because I had either made my case and was willing to let the argument stand to public judgment at that point, or because I can only rebut so many people.  As it stands, I’m not going to rebut everybody who has commented on the Bria Crutchfield outburst.  There is only so much time.

And then there’s the accusation that I don’t “even listen to these calm private explanations”.  This is, itself, an exhausting trope: the idea that if somebody doesn’t agree with Jen, Greta, and the like on issues of social justice that they must not be listening (or caring).  Is it not possible that I am listening, and I simply do not agree?  Consider, Jen, how many times in rebutting your blog post I’ve had to point out that I never said the thing I was accused of saying (or, in some cases, that I’d said the exact opposite).  Yet here I am, quoting you word-for-word and doing my damndest to respond to what you actually said.  How is it that I’m the one charged with not listening?

When I started college, I labeled myself as a feminist. Like, woo, equality, who wouldn’t be behind that?! I started to read feminist blogs and I disagreed with a lot, if not most, of what they were saying. It was incredibly tempting to spew forth my uneducated opinion, and that desire did not come from wanting someone to calmly explain it to me – it came from thinking I was right and they were wrong.  I’m sure I did that occasionally because no one is perfect, but you know what I ultimately decided to do? I shut up and listened. I read more and more and attempted to educate myself before partaking in any discussions. And now after a lot of time and work and thought, I understand.

Bully for you.  I’m not you.  Jen laments how she wanted to express her opinion because she thinks she’s right and others were wrong.  Does anybody ever want to express their opinion for any other reason?  Now that Jen is more educated, does the motivation for writing, say, her blog post, differ from when she was uneducated?

If I’m wrong, point it out.  But don’t act like I’m uneducated because I’ve not reached your conclusions.  And don’t act like I’m resistant to education because I’ve not reached your conclusions.  And don’t act as though I’m not listening because I’ve not reached your conclusions.  Remember, I’m not the one assaulting arguments the other never made.

Do I fully understand? Of course not. It’s a never-ending process, but it begins with listening and educating yourself first.

Earlier Jen expressed outrage that I could be condescending.  Clearly, condescending someone in a discussion is immoral in her eyes.  But now we get the implication that I’m neither listening nor attempting to educate myself (otherwise, why write it?).  The idea being that if I was just willing to listen or try to understand that I’d think like her.  To call this condescending would be to dramatically undersell it.

But this was the cherry on top from JT’s post:

Lately there’s been a lot of this attitude in the atheist movement, that every misstep out of naivety or ignorance, even if it’s insulting, makes someone a prime target for a shout down in a “public room” – as if humiliation and shame, while sometimes the proper tools, are always the proper tools.  When did we forget that people in the atheist movement are our friends and allies?

I must steal this response from Jadehawk: We didn’t forget. We realized it wasn’t true.

I have lost all care for being labeled as an ally – not from feminists, but from feminists like Jen and Greta.  It means nothing worthwhile to me.  It has nothing to do with how much I care about equality, but rather whether or not I agree with them on everything.  Jen, Greta, and their ilk are not all feminists, they do not own feminism, and I’ll happily take the label from the feminists who know that empathy applies to everybody, not just to the people in my camp and not the people they’re berating.

So no, I’m not an ally to Jen, Greta, Jason, Stephanie, etc. in the sense that I don’t like much of what they do in the pursuit of the goals we share, and I’ll not pretend that I do in order to receive a label that carries nothing more than their approval.

Being a good ally doesn’t involve silencing the people you claim to be allies with by policing their emotions and behavior.

The definitive final line of the post.  To review: I did not attempt to silence anybody.  I did not police anybody’s emotions.  I did not even attempt to “police” behavior.  Bria is my peer, and I thought she was out of line.  She is not bound to abide by my opinion.  I simply made the case that she was out of line and have defended it.  She’s free to behave how she pleases, as are Jen, Greta, et al, but they are not free from criticism over it anymore than I am.

Quite to the contrary, I think good friends do point out to each other when their behavior is beneath them.  I certainly don’t consider myself friends with Bria, but in this sense I certainly treated her like one.  Remember all those attempts Jen talked about to alter my behavior?  Those didn’t make her a bad ally or a bad friend.  She was doing it out of concern, but yet she can’t imagine how someone else could do the same.

Should I feel it do be necessary, tomorrow I’ll get to Greta Christina’s post about when firebrands tone-troll.  This may not happen as Greta was among the “Jen said everything I wanted to say” crowd.  But as a forethought, I’ll point out that I don’t think that being a firebrand means shouting down and embarrassing everybody who offends me.  I think being a firebrand means telling the truth and not allowing offense to be a conversation stopper.  There is a difference between the Chris Stedmans of the world who assert we shouldn’t offend others in the interest of building bridges, even if that means obstructing the truth, and people like me who have no problem offending, but who still don’t think that every means of expressing one’s opinions are moral or productive (bringing a bullhorn to a Q&A, wearing a shirt that reads “Jesus was a cunt”, etc.).  Being a firebrand does not mean treating ignorance as a punishable offense in all cases.

The Meta of This Post

Earlier I wrote:

As Greta has even pointed out, this movement is populated mostly by people who have had their minds changed.  Many of us (and I don’t use “us” by mistake) were anti-gay, anti-atheist, etc. back when we had the good lord as our co-pilot.  We changed.  In large part for me it was a combination of things.  It was seeing public atheists brave enough to denounce, without equivocation, religious leaders, while also having things explained to me when I had questions – much of which was done on blogs as I made my way into atheism.

And this is a great part of why I’m writing this post, even though I’ve little hope of having a fair argument with Jen, Greta, and the like at this point (I would love to be surprised).  When I came into atheism, the blogs were a great part of what pulled me in.  There was so much information, so many people outraged just like me.  The blogs banded us together.  We didn’t all agree, but we shared a cause and we were focused.  I’ve talked to so many other people who tell the same story.  Now…I don’t know what I’d think if I were coming from religion and seeing the blogs.  What I’d see now are atheists at each others throats, twisting what each other says, and eager to disown one another over the minutia of shared causes.  Every day I receive emails from people saying they’re dropping out of the movement or staying silent on social justice issues they care about, and it is expressly because of how swift we are to spite one another over disagreements – as if disagreements betray a hatred of one another (or of a particular group).

The response will come that we’re happy to see these people go, that we shouldn’t be so desperate to swell our numbers that we welcome the seediest and most despicable people.  This is very true, and if all we were losing were the slymepit archetypes as well as other seedy and despicable people, I wouldn’t mind.  But we’re not.  On social justice issues there are many prominent names, many good people, who care about feminism, for instance, but who don’t say a word about it for fear that even agreeing on 99% will be taken as an excuse to declare war.  There are many people composed of the purest and most vibrant empathy you can imagine who are leaving atheism as a movement.  We should be glad to sever terrible people, but when we are hemorrhaging the rest we should worry, especially if we are culpable for it.

In writing this post, I’ve left out any disclaimers (I’ve found that no amount of disclaimers seems to be enough to convince many people that I write because I care, rather than because I secretly don’t care about equality all while under the guise of actually caring).  I have made my case as fairly as possible, without (to my eye) a lack of compassion (for women, black atheists, and even little old ladies in the audience) and without making any slams at anybody’s character (I believe Jen, Greta, and the like have good intent, but that their approach is positively terrible and that they are not exempt from making bad arguments or putting words in people’s mouths they never said).  I won’t even deploy the mocking term “Social Justice Warriors” since I think a social justice warrior is a wonderful thing to be.  And yet, I worry that bridges will be burned and that social consequences will be applied – all for saying “you’re wrong” and even for saying I understand how they’ve reached the conclusions on which I think they are in error.  And if I worry about those things from people I considered to be friends for quite some time, imagine how everybody else must feel.  Use that empathy you so frequently tout (and which I think you possess).

This is what we have become: a movement where we cannot even disagree, no matter how amicably and no matter how kindly, without becoming enemies.  The sad thing is, for those who would have the atheist movement reunite, to work through our disagreements rather than ostracize one another over them, stay silent in order to avoid more infighting or to avoid being shouted down publicly in front of their peers as if being wrong were a crime.  I did the same myself for a bit.

There is a third group of people.  These people care about equality for racial minorities and want them in this movement.  We denounce racism in society at large and insist that speaker lineups at conferences are racially diverse.  We care about equality for women, hate rapists, and demand that speaker lineups at conferences are gender diverse.  We deplore most of the people in the slymepit and other assholes just as much as the next guy/gal.  But we also think that popular figures like Jen, Greta, and the like are becoming increasingly toxic by mischaracterizing/demonizing their opponents,  and being far too eager to brand and declare enemies.

I’m not the world’s greatest wordsmith, but I don’t think I’m a slouch.  And yet I cannot find the words to convey what a painful admission that is to make, and how much it hurts to write.  I came into this movement reading Greta Christina.  Hers was, at one point, one my two favorite blogs and reading it, as well as knowing Greta, changed my life.  I once admired Greta and Jen as paragons of reason, who argued in good faith and who nudged atheists of all flavors, so long as they were caring, toward the same cause, resolving their other differences along the way.  I’m not certain if I was wrong then or if things have changed, but I don’t see it that way anymore, and I’m convinced I’m not the only one.

These people know that in a world where suffering takes place, so long as we’re compassionate and wish to push back, that drama is inevitable.  It sucks, but it’s there.  What we don’t need is additional, unnecessary drama, which is exactly what is created when we write posts in which we assign arguments to our opponents that they never made and treat them like they’re education or listening averse when they’re not convinced.  We can disagree, but when we start treating each other as monsters for disagreeing, I think that’s drama that most atheists don’t want or need, and it’s time for it to stop.  It’s not time to stop disagreeing, it’s not time to stop talking to one another about it, but it’s past time to start treating everybody who thinks a black speaker was out of line as a racist and everybody who thinks the Jen and Greta style feminists made a bad argument as friends to slymepitters who think misspelling somebody’s name in a derogatory fashion makes them clever.

Do I think it will stop?  Sadly, no (I’d love to be surprised).  But I do want people to know that there are not just two groups when it comes to atheists who worry about social issues, and that you are not a bad person, not a racist, not a woman-hater or any other sort of pariah for disagreeing with anybody in good faith.

I may not re-enter this subject again for some time, but it will no longer be because I worry about the loss of friends, the political penalties, or anything of that nature.  It will be entirely because posts like Jen’s, where I must repeatedly sort out piles of mischaracterizations, straw men, and such have become the norm when dealing with that crowd.  That is what makes me reticent to interact with them further, not our shared cause, compassion for the downtrodden, or anything else.


Other resources:  Dan Fincke has written much on this, and I highly recommend his work.

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.

  • Nate Frein

    When did Chris Stedman start writing your posts?

    • quickshot

      That one flew over my head. I know JT doesn’t like Chris…..

      • Nate Frein

        He’s using the same bloody rhetoric he criticizes Stedman for using.

        Cut and paste the actors in this screed with atheists and theists, and you’ll have exactly the kind of arguments Stedman makes when he’s trying to throw firebrand atheists under the bus.

        • quickshot

          Got it, thanks!

        • messiasnonest

          Alright, I’ll bite. Since I don’t read nor have I ever read Stedman’s blog, I cordially ask you to provide me with one post or excerpt which substantiates your claim. Any one will do.

          • rmjohnston

            Wow. Better trolls please. messiasnonest is too lazy to be properly mocked.

          • Nate Frein
          • Nate Frein
  • quickshot

    Wow, that was long.

    Kind of shocked that you brought in research about race bias. Let’s see how that one plays out, Cotton.

  • rmjohnston

    If you’re going to insist on continuing to dig yourself a deeper hole you should at least try to be entertaining rather than whiny and petulant while doing it.

    You are a tremendous disappointment, JT, a complete failure as a rationalist and a human being. Your utter inability to empathize with any anger that isn’t personally held by you is insufferable. It’s a shame, because you have potential yet you seem so determined to waste it.

    • EllenBeth Wachs

      Really? JT is a COMPLETE failure as a human being? No. What is irrational and incomprehensible is telling another person he is a complete failure when it is clear he is actually trying to be a better person.

      • Azkyroth

        Why not just assume they’re “trolling” and that JT should just shrug it off…scumbag? I mean, it’s not even a death threat.

        • Cat

          Azkyroth,
          It is from people he knows, and they are going out of their way to hurt him and his reputation. It goes beyond trolling

          • Azkyroth

            He’s actually mostly wrong and digging in. You really think people telling him that’s bullshit compares to being threatened with rape or murder?

            Sorry.

            You really drool people telling him that’s bullshit compares to being threatened with rape or murder?

          • Edward Gemmer

            I see Jen McCreight essentially calling him a slut on Twitter. I’m sure that helps because social justice.

          • Pitchguest

            Wait a minute. Did you just pull a “Dear Muslima”?

          • Azkyroth

            No, I sarcastically threw Wachs’ appalling behavior as documented here back in her face. It’s a cruel irony, like my sharing the planet with you.

          • Pitchguest

            You mean where Stephanie Zvan completely misrepresents her position, which EllenBeth has clarified countless times already but has been ignored all the same by Zvan? Indeed. That sure *is* appalling, though I think you got the two of them confused.

            Also, you did pull a “Dear Muslima”, by which I mean you said, and I’m paraphrasing, “this is trivial compared to this which is worse” and if I’m not mistaken, that’s kind of faux pas in your neck of the woods, is it not?

          • Azkyroth

            Yes, it’s so unfair to use her own words against her.

            Slink off.

          • Pitchguest

            No, I mean misrepresenting her position and ignoring her later clarification. You need to learn how to pay attention, Azkyroth. Maybe that’s my privilege of paying attention to what people actually say (and write) talking, but … seriously.

            And slink off? That’s almost cute. What would Nerd say in this situation? FLOOSH you?

          • Cat

            Where did JT threaten someone with rape and murder? Way to go off topic

      • Guest

        It is from people he knows, and they are going out of their way to hurt him and his reputation. It goes beyond trolling

      • Ayanna Watson

        I don’t know JT, but from his actions surrounding this situation, it is certainly not clear that he is “trying to be a better person.” It actually seems like he’s trying really hard to remain the same.

        • EllenBeth Wachs

          I don’t judge a person based upon one situation. From what I do know of JT , it is patently clear he is trying to be a better person.

    • ohnugget001

      Really? You just completely missed the several points he made in the post, didn’t you? I mean the ones that directly address what you just erroneously claimed. Go back and read – I expect you won’t just because you came here to pile it on with the rest of the people who refuse to see what he is saying is accurate.

    • Allison Kirkpatrick

      Do you see, JT, what even a mild disagreement leads to, when you offend the extended Pharyngula cult? You’re a “complete failure as a rationalist and a human being”! Why would you care what these crazy people think?

      • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

        “Do you see, JT, what even a mild disagreement leads to, when you write 11,000 words about it.”

        There, Allison, I fixed it for you.

        • rmjohnston

          If JT doesn’t realize that he wrote at least 10,000 words too many for his megillah of derp to qualify as mild disagreement then that’s just one more thing he needs to learn.

          • Pitchguest

            “Derp”?

            Ableist?

          • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

            ^^^ Bad faith argument from PitchGuest alert!! He doesn’t even believe ableism exists, its fine to demean people for their mental illness or disability and he engages in it regularly at the Slymepit.

        • eccles11

          If only he had stuck to less than 3500 words. All of this could have been avoided.

          • Kurt H

            He really should have stuck to zero words. Just talking to Bria privately would have still been a dick move, but not as foolish as this mess. Instead there’s twitter and this blog that show he wasn’t interested in keeping it private. The inviolability of Q&A etiquette is TOO IMPORTANT to be kept private!

          • Pitchguest

            “The inviolability of Q&A etiquette is TOO IMPORTANT to be kept private,” but he would still be a “dick” (gendered slur) should he have chosen to talk to her privately?

            So, in your head, he would’ve been screwed no matter what action he took?

          • Kurt H

            JT would not have gotten all this attention if he had confined his tone trolling to a face-to-face encounter. The fact that he decided to publicly congratulate himself for his defense of “civility” is where things went awry.

          • Pitchguest

            So it’s not okay for JT to “tone troll” but it’s okay when you do it?

            Or are you not “tone trolling” just now?

            Am I?

          • Kurt H

            I am not. His behavior is bad regardless of whether public or private. However, it says something that he felt compelled to discuss it publicly, like he had done the community a favor.

          • eccles11

            Likewise, you should have stuck to zero words. Criticism of JT is not acceptable. He has a mental illness you privileged fuck. Was this comment thread really that important that you had to come here and publicly shame him and call him names like that?

          • Kurt H

            Is that baby’s first analogy? You’ll need to practice, kid.

    • Jasper

      Did we read the same post?

  • Kengi

    If you put one percent of the effort you have spent criticizing the tone of a victim of a racist remark into criticizing people making racist remarks, you might not look so racist. Perhaps you are, indeed, better off hanging out with the slympitters and the stormfront crowd.

    • Eshto

      So the Slyme Pit and Stormfront are suddenly comparable just because you jammed them both into a sentence together? Oo! Can I play too???

      Why don’t you just stick to FTB or the WBC???

      HA!

      Neener.

      • Kengi

        I didn’t compare them. I just pointed out he’s now friends to both (different, with limited overlap) crowds as evidenced by the posters coming to support his views.

        • ohnugget001

          JT isn’t responsible for otherwise repugnant human beings actually supporting him when he’s right. It either means he is so compellingly correct that even they see it, or they just want to support him as a way to attack their adversaries at FTB.

          • Kengi

            I never said JT was responsible for his new found buddies. I did imply he will be more comfortable around them since they share his views.

          • Pitchguest

            Are you always this thick?

            Why would he be more comfortable around them? And why is it that you assume the Stormfront crowd and the Slymepit are comparable in any way, shape or form? The fuck is wrong with you?

            Also, are you saying he’s a racist because he criticised a black woman? Are you for real? Is he a misogynist too?

    • eccles11

      The fact that this above post got 20 upvotes shows that no matter how reasonable you are, JT. These people will twist what you say and attack you.

      There is no reasonableness to this, these people are hateful, and they are hateful with the delusion that they have righteousness on their side, and there is no reasoning with that.

      • Maude

        Criticize white man = hateful. Publicly shaming a black woman for her actions (supported by the speaker, Darrel Ray) = reasonable. Thanks for the clarification. Non-white men, know your place!

        • eccles11

          Your logic is impeccable, your warrant and your inferences are flawless. I am awed.

          • Maude

            Oh shoot, we’re not supposed to say that. They just happen to be white men, randomly. Sorry. I just put my colorblind glasses.

          • eccles11

            Again, you continue to put forth such a powerful case for your own reasonableness.

          • Kengi

            It’s not like you did any better with your reply to my post. You simply called me hateful and unreasonable, yet failed to say why bringing up JT’s overall track record on race issues makes me so.

            Maude’s summary of this situation was valid. I criticized a white man’s record on race issues and was called hateful. JT publically shamed a POC, over the course of tweets and two long blog posts plus comments, and you consider it a reasonable reaction.

            I hate to say it, but you better check your slip. Your privilege is showing.

          • eccles11

            “It’s not like you did any better with your reply to my post. You simply called me hateful and unreasonable, yet failed to say why bringing up JT’s overall track record on race issues makes me so.”

            Perhaps I am ignorant on JT’s track record on race, I would be extremely shocked and surprised however if it ever came to the point where invoking Stormfront was a reasonable response.

            The fact that JT is white and you criticised him has nothing to do with you being hateful, I don’t know your race, nor did know you were one to race bait, or attack someone on the basis of their race.

            Nor does the fact that the person he has criticised is “OC” make him bad on race. The actions of ‘POC’ are not beyond criticism to reasonable people.

            His criticism was entirely directed at method, and even marginalised people can do stuff that is worthy of criticism, or just plain wrong (The more you know…) and criticism can be valid. JT spent a lot of time explaining why he made this criticism, and it was reasonable. Even if you disagree, it was at least reasoned criticism. Worthy more of bullshit like invoking stormfront.

          • Kengi

            “invoking Stormfront”? Is that a magic word?

            Pointing out where his new supporters are coming from doesn’t make me hateful.

            His criticism wasn’t reasonable, especially in light of his empathy towards the racist who asked the initial question. It has been pointed out to him how his privilege has blinded him to seeing Bria’s perfectly reasonable reaction to a totally unreasonable racist comment. Despite this, he digs in, defending this racist viewpoint.

            Many racists have shown up to defend JT. A conference organizer even had to clear up confusion over one of the racists claiming to be an organizer. That’s a simple observation, not an invocation of a magic spell.

          • Pitchguest

            Do you think it’s reasonable to make the connection to Stormfront simply because he disagreed with a black person on Twitter? Are black people exempt from criticism?

          • Nate Frein

            Disagreed?

            No.

            He scolded.

          • eccles11

            That is a red herring and doesn’t address the question PitchGuest asked.

          • yazikus

            Are black people exempt from criticism?

            Who exactly is advocating this? I don’t think pitchguest’s question was asked in good faith, as I have not seen anyone advocating that.

          • eccles11

            Kengi and maude certainly seem to be trying to make such a case.

          • Kengi

            No, I am not saying that black people are exempt from criticism. I criticize Obama with increasing regularity.

            What I have said is that JT’s criticisms of Bria are not reasonable, and that JT can’t see this due to his privilege. This has been explained over and over.

          • Pitchguest

            You can say “He can’t see due to his privilege” all day. You can repeat it for as long as you like. But just because you keep saying it over and over doesn’t make it true. There is no proof that privilege is ruled by your ethnicity, gender or sexuality, and there is no proof that one’s own ethnicity, gender or sexuality should serve to hinder understanding. If you have evidence that says otherwise, provide it.

            If not, I can just keep saying over and over that you’re full of shit.

            But to go back to your stupid comment about Stormfront for a minute, if black people are not exempt from criticism, then why is JT being a racist for criticising a black person? He didn’t say, do, or imply anything that would mark him as a racist, yet you invoke Stormfront all the same? What gives? (And the Slymepit in the same vein, to which I say prove it or fuck off. No one has yet been able to, maybe you’ll be the first.)

          • Kengi

            Here’s something I will say. People of color, on average, know more about being oppressed by racists than JT does. They also have much more experience with how to deal with racist dog whistles.

            He needs to listen to them more. He should start by reading up on the very privilege that is part of his problem:

            http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/category/privilege/

          • Pitchguest

            *sigh* The question was asked SPECIFICALLY because of Kengi’s inclusion of Stormfront in response to JT’s criticism of Bria and the implication that JT is a racist. I KNOW no one has advocated it, which is WHY I AM ASKING. There is a good reason for it, you see?

            I mean. I don’t expect you people (of the social justice brigade) to be intelligent, but at least TRY to pay attention, yeah?

          • yazikus

            I get that the Stormfront thing was odd. I didn’t see anyone showing their Stormfront colors in response to this issue. You, however, were asking a question in bad faith (with good reason), but eccles11 up there didn’t get that you weren’t going to get a serious answer and was calling for people to address the question seriously. They missed the point. Not me.
            I’m slightly curious how I’ve attained ‘social justice brigade/you people’ status… But okay. Perhaps you ought to save your pleas for paying attention for your supporters (eccles11, amirite?)

          • Pitchguest

            Okay. I’m sorry. I can be a bit snappy at times. I don’t mean to, but it happens. Just know that the question was asked like that on purpose. If you get it, you get it.

            I also saw eccles11 attempt to put focus back on the question which was avoided, which I still wanted them to answer in the affirmative or the negative. I was also the one who asked the question, “Are black people exempt from criticism?” which you said was “not asked in good faith”, which I interpreted as you ignoring the preceding argument. Well, a misunderstanding. No harm, no foul. No hard feelings.

          • yazikus

            Thanks, Pitchguest. I can get snappy too, and eccles11′s responses were annoying me. My apologies as well. I got your point, and I think others did as well. Loaded topics get lots of loaded responses. I’m still wondering how I got classified as I did. We haven’t interacted much so the ‘you people’ threw me off.

          • Pitchguest

            Semantics.

          • Pitchguest

            Did he infer Bria was inferior? Did he infer she shouldn’t be there? Did he infer her response was angry *because* of her being a black woman?

            No?

            Then I ask again: is it reasonable to make the connection to Stormfront simply because he disagreed with (or scolded) a black person on Twitter? Are black people exempt from criticism (or being scolded)?

          • eccles11

            Can you point to the profiles of people who are demonstrably Stormfront members? If not you are just poisoning the well. That is what ‘invoking stormfront’ is about.

            “His criticism wasn’t reasonable, especially in light of his empathy towards the racist who asked the initial question.”

            He called the person ignorant and misguided, and in the principal of charity, gave the person the benefit of the doubt that they weren’t intentionally being a racist A-hole. He did this again when he spoke to Bria personally.

            “It has been pointed out to him how his privilege has blinded him to seeing Bria’s perfectly reasonable reaction to a totally unreasonable racist comment. Despite this, he digs in, defending this racist viewpoint.”

            No, you see he gave many clear reasons why he thought interrupting someone elses Q&A to publicly shame another person for 5 minutes on stage was disproportionate. Simply pointing out his ‘privilege’ does not invalidate his response. It is a thought terminating cliche that is being used to shield people from legitimate criticism.

            He digs in because he has made a reasonable case, the response by Jen did not even address his actions, and claims that he is privileged and he is ‘blind’ or just ‘doesn’t get it’ do not constitute an argument.

          • Kengi

            I see, because I can’t actually prove (How? with IP addresses I don’t have access to?) that people with the same exact views as those from StormFront actually came directly from StormFront, I can’t say “StormFront”. Pitchguest is a perfect example of someone right at home in the StormFront ecosphere.

            The person asking the question was being a racist asshole. I’m not even sure how one would be a racist asshole unintentionally. Did a demon take over her mouth to say racist things? What she said was racist. She said those words intentionally. About all we can argue about is if her intent was to specifically harm others. Regardless of that, she is an intentional racist.

            Claiming “privilege” is just a cliche and shield ignore the very real problems and effects of privilege. In fact, that’s right out of the StormFront playbook as well.

            Yeah, JT will certainly be happier with his new friends.

          • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

            Firstly, Bria did not interrupt the Q&A the content of her answer was on point to a question asked to the speaker.

            Secondly, she did not publicly shame the person for 5 minutes. She did tell that person why that question is racist and how it made her feel. But she also cover may other topics that had nothing to do with the questioner.

    • ohnugget001

      “If you put one percent of the effort you have spent criticizing the tone of a victim of a racist remark into criticizing people making racist remarks, you might not look so racist. ‘
      If you had actually have read the post, you’d have seen that he did. Stop trying to deflect attention away from what he said – this is just another tactic people who can’t stand other people disagreeing with them use to deflect criticism away from themselves.

      • Kengi

        I did read the post. I’m not talking about only this one post. I’m talking about his ongoing position over the years. He’s never made any meaningful efforts to fight against racism. In that light, his comments from this article are nothing but “See, I even let them use my bathroom!”

        He initiated this particular blow up, and he made it public. He felt the victim of a racist remark was just too mean to the racist making the remark. He still continues to defend the racist and attack the victim while giving little more than platitudes to the causes of POC.

        Of course my “one percent” figure is hyperbole, but the point is still valid. He’s not at all known for his defence of POC, but is now well known for his attacks on them. And that was his doing.

        • Pitchguest

          What difference does it make if he initiated it and not the other way around? If he disagreed with Bria, is he not allowed to say so publicly? Why is it racist to do so? Because he’s ‘white’?

          • Kengi

            Tone-trolling a POC while defending a racist is what made made JT’s actions racist. It could have been blunted, or even avoided, if he actually had any kind of meaningful track record fighting racism. The fact that he doesn’t get into race issues unless there’s a chance to attack a POC is kind of a giveaway here..

          • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

            He certainly is “allowed” to say so publicly.

            But the point he was trying to make to Bria was that she chose the wrong venue and the wrong volume to vent her disagreement.

            Is this the right venue and volume for JT to vent his disagreement with Bria?

  • ischemgeek

    JT, if you’re an ally to “compassion” and to “fairness” as you claim, please explain why you devoted an entire post to castigating Bria for reaching a point of can’t-take-it-anymore, yet devoted probably less than a full paragraph to the person who implied that Bria and everyone of her race is a violent thug, parroting right-wing, racist talking points?

    How is that fair?

    How is it fair that the white person who asked an off-topic, loaded and racist question at a Q&A gets sympathy and excuses, while the black person that xe hurt gets denigrated for expressing that pain?

    If your definition of “fairness” is that white folks like you and me get to keep bumbling around with no care to who we’re hurting, while black people who yell in pain when we hurt them get vilified for doing so, I want no fucking part of it.

    • Remick

      I would think the answer to that is obvious.

      What the white person said, in this instance was wrong. It is almost impossible to tell if it were a more naive mistake, or a deliberate poke, either way, it is wrong. That is generally agreed upon.

      What isn’t generally agreed upon? Did Bria act correctly? Similar to the “Donglegate issue” Andria(I think) had every right to be upset, but does that completely justify her actions? Same thing here. Seems like a discussion worth having.

      The subject that is less clear or more debatable is hardly proof of any racism or any other -ism. JT clearly thinks that Bria acted in a less than ideal manner. Perhaps you’d like to rebut him on that, rather than ask why he chose to discuss it, rather than question his right to discuss it on his own blog.

      @JT, it really doesn’t matter how the person meant the question, naive or not, it was wrong to do, and it doesn’t really change whether Bria was in the right with how she acted or not, so why include it?

      • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

        Monopolizing a question and answer session and using it to angrily rant at someone is wrong.

        • Jonathan Roth

          Bit rich coming from you.

          • Pitchguest

            Why, has he done it himself?

          • rmjohnston

            Is this your first time on the internet? It’s what he does. It’s what he’s known for.

          • Pitchguest

            I’m sorry. It was a trick question.

            The answer is, no. He hasn’t. Unless you want to provide evidence to the contrary, of course. I await with bated breath. I won’t hold it because, well, you know. I’d die.

          • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

            I don’t have examples of Justin monopolizing Q&A’s. But he, himself, keeps a nice library of his angry rants. Just check out his podcasts and blog.

          • rmjohnston

            Well there was his concerted effort to make the WIS2 conference entirely about him. He was saved by the awesomeness of the speakers and the drooling nonsense emitted from Ron Lindsey. The point remains that it’s his act to impose himself on others against there will, in ways far worse and more extensive than a few minutes of rightfully angrily dressing down a person for spewing racist bullshit.

        • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

          5 minutes is far from “Monopolizing”.

          And Christopher Hitchens made an entire career out of angrily ranting.

          Your podcasts and blog contain quite a few angry rants too.

          So obviously, sometimes it is not wrong.

        • darren

          But that’s between the person doing the monopolizing (although, we don’t know if that’s a fair characterization or not yet) and the person who’s Q&A was being monopolized (in this case, it was Darrel Smith, I believe) and perhaps the convention organizers. JT had no business admonishing her for ANY of the transgressions that he perceived.

          • sautterron

            Nonsense. Conferences are for the viewers. They went with certain expectations, that matched the agenda of the conference. So replacing it with angry rantings was cheating on viewers.

          • darren

            Regardless of who the conferences are for, that still doesn’t give JT the right to take it upon himself to admonish a fellow conference speaker.

        • Heina Dadabhoy

          According to Bria, she had permission to speak during that Q&A from Darrel and he in fact commended her. So yeah, no.

          • invivoMark

            This was not brought up at any point where I’ve been reading. Thank you for pointing this out.

            In my eye, this makes a very big difference.

          • Nate Frein

            For as much as JT is complaining that people aren’t reading his entire post, he’s kinda omitting relevant information.

          • invivoMark

            I absolutely agree. I admit I feel somewhat betrayed.

          • Parse

            I’m glad to hear this.
            Given the fast rate at which this subject has blown up, (13 new comments on this thread while writing this reply alone!), I’m having trouble finding where Bria said this. Could you throw me a bone by throwing me a link?
            Thanks!

        • ischemgeek

          1, 5 minutes is hardly monopolizing
          2, people who spout racist propaganda deserve to be angrily ranted at.

      • ischemgeek

        It’s not enough to simply assume that people will “generally accept” the question is inappropriate, because 1, a failure to point out explicitly that the question was inappropriate and why it was harmful creates the false impression that Bria’s anger was not valid, and 2, it creates the impression that JT did not think the question was in fact inappropriate. That he basically bent over backwards making excuses for the person parroting racist apologia and Fox News talking points doesn’t exactly help the issue. In addition, disproportionate emphasis on Bria’s conduct makes it seem like JT thinks she was far more in the wrong than the person who parroted racist bullshit.

        As for whether or not she acted in a less-than-ideal manner, JT is nothing short of hypocritical there. As others have pointed out, if you substituted race with atheism, the post in question could’ve been written by Stedman.

        • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

          What, exactly, does it mean to say that “anger is valid?”

          The issue, I think, isn’t whether anger is justified, but rather is how a person ought to conduct themselves during the question and answer session of a conference. Monopolizing a Q&A session to angrily rant at someone in the audience is wrong.

          • freemage

            And yet, the principle speaker of the session in question has stated that he’s just fine with it. Hm… Whose opinion on the matter should carry more weight? Conference Speaker or Random White Guy?

        • invivoMark

          So apparently, explicitly stating that the question was inappropriate doesn’t give the impression that the question was inappropriate.

          ‘Cuz JT explicitly stated, on multiple occasions, that the question was pretty fucking inappropriate.

          • ischemgeek

            No, he stated that it was “naieve” and “ignorant” and that it “certainly had racist undertones.”

            Nowhere in his original post, nor in any of the responses I read to it, did he use the word “inappropriate” except to refer to Bria.

          • Pitchguest

            Maybe because he didn’t think it *was* an inappropriate question, just an ignorant one?

            Do you see monsters under the bed, too?

          • ischemgeek

            Wait, so pointing out that JT made an impression of treating spouting racist propaganda as acceptable gets someone lying to me about whether he called it inappropriate, and then setting the record straight gets me accused of hallucinating?

            Nice catch-22. Wonderfully honest argumentation, there.

          • Pitchguest

            I’m sorry. You seem to have made several grammatical errors in your first paragraph. Please revise. (Seriously. I can’t make heads or tail on what the hell you’re trying to say.)

          • messiasnonest

            ” . . JT made an impression of treating spouting racist propaganda as acceptable . . .”

            He made no such impression. Not once, not ever.

          • Psychotic Atheist

            yeah, JT didn’t use a specific word.

            He did say it had racist undertones, and that hatemongers use it. He said it was offensive, and that getting angry about it is justified. But I’m sure you think that JT thinks all of that is appropriate because he didn’t specifically use ‘inappropriate’ in an already wordy series of posts.

    • invivoMark

      Perhaps JT chose to devote a blog post to it because he had been warned that it was going to blow up and become a huge issue whether or not he chose to write anything.

      Just throwing out a possibility other than that JT’s just a massive giant freakin’ douche.

      • invivoMark

        It appears that I have misinterpreted some essential relevant facts. I have no idea if JT’s blog post was meant to be preemptive, or if it was simply an inappropriate response that blew everything out of proportion.

        If the latter, then I’m sorry to say… douche move, JT.

    • Kurt H

      Nonsense, ischemgeek. Clearly you don’t understand how to combat racial ignorance.

      White people who stereotype black people as violent thugs will instantly give up on such stereotypes as soon as we all agree to ignore their silly questions and never say anything about it. Calling them out will in no way modify their behavior or cause other ignorant whites to modify theirs.

      Racism fixes itself, amirite? ;)

  • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

    Great post. Keep it up.

    • Azkyroth

      Well there’s a wakeup call…

    • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

      If Justin Vacula telling you that you are doing a good job isn’t a massive clue by four to the head saying you might just be on the wrong side, I really don’t know what is

  • http://www.dougberger.net Doug B.

    Thanks for this post JT. I don’t ally with anyone demanding 100% agreement. We can be wrong and real friends and allies will understand that.

    • Matt Facciani

      The fact that anyone would downvote this is depressing.

      • rmjohnston

        If you open your eyes and actually read what was downvoted you will note the deliberately trolling implication that there are people out there demanding 100% agreement from allies. The entire point of Doug B’s response was that blatantly false troll. Why does downvoting a clear-cut troll depress you?

        • http://www.dougberger.net Doug B.

          And your proof that I am a troll??? Oh that’s right because you don’t agree with me I must be a troll. Please don’t embarrass yourself and freethought with your irrational conclusions

  • Ted Thompson

    You will not win. As a white hetero male that is rabidly supportive of homosexual, female, and racial equality, you will never be “supportive” enough. But I wish you luck with your quest.

    • http://www.diaxsrake.de/ Joerg Rings

      Maybe you can meet up with JT, and you can sit together for a while and cry about how cruelly the world is treating you.

      • ohnugget001

        That added no value to the discussion, troll.

      • Ted Thompson

        Shit, that’s a great idea bro! Could you set that up for me?

    • Kengi

      But that’s the problem. JT doesn’t support POC. His only major contribution so far has been to tone troll a victim. He doesn’t actually support the fight against racism.

      Of course, many privileged white males seem to think he’s supportive of of racial equality, but that’s not always a good indication…

      • sautterron

        “He doesn’t actually support the fight against racism.” Why do you suggest anybody is obliged to support fight against racism or any other cause? People tend to specialize in good stuff they do, and generally mind their own business. Eg. you can’t say a life saving doctor is evil because he doesn’t fight against racism, but the good stuff he does is only medicine.

        • Nate Frein

          No one’s saying he’s wrong for not actively supporting the fight against racism.

          We’re saying he’s wrong for self-titling himself an “ally” despite that.

  • Ben Zalisko

    I am moved and impressed JT. I read all the relevant posts last night, and I dreaded the blog-war that was brewing. It’s really sad how inter-blog conflicts end up looking like cable news debates. Obviously the frustrations of Jen, Greta, etc. is justified in some cases, but not here. They are fighting a good fight against a straw man. What I find sad is the ease with which character is often assaulted without a thorough attempt at understanding… or even thorough reading.

  • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ KevinKat
    • Kengi

      Yeah, but that was from a black person. He was probably angry. Maybe JT can, perhaps, spend 10,000 words tone trolling him as well.

      What’s really important here is, what do privileged white males think about this? Is there anything else that really matters?

      • ohnugget001

        Maybe thousands of words are necessary to make sure that what he is writing can’t be misinterpreted, misconstrued, or otherwise manipulated by people who just want to viciously attack him because he’s calling them out on their bullshit. People like you, Kengi. Because if he simply dedicated a couple of hundred words to his response to Jen, then you would be frothing at the mouth to say he wasn’t dedicating enough text to responding to her (unwarranted) criticism, Kengi. People like you, Kengi, make indepth posts necessary.
        Do you like apples, Kengi? How ’bout them apples?

        • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

          Did JT need 3,000 word to say:

          “I don’t think Bria expressed her anger in the the best possible time or tone.”

          Because that is the entirety of that post.

          • Laury Plant

            Yes, because clearly even the suggestion of this point (which I also feel is a valid point) can’t be asked by JT according to Jen/Greta/PZ. Not even with 3000 words to try to express why it might be worth pointing out ‘anger doesn’t allow for all possible actions’. And doubly so that he repeated that the anger itself was justified.

          • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

            I don’t see anyone trying to dispute the point of “anger doesn’t allow for all possible actions”.

            What was Bria’s choice of actions to express her anger? Words. This is an acceptable way to do it, one we encourage. To take this specific instance to a philosophical extreme of “well, do you mean anger justifies anything” is very disingenuous.

            Was Bria more harsh than she should have been? Maybe, but that is when you really start splitting hairs.

          • Laury Plant

            You’re the first person I’ve seen actually address that point and not all the surrounding flak.

            Words are acceptable right up until they aren’t, right? I feel this is one of those cases that ‘everyone knows where the line is’ but from what I’ve seen, no one has said a single word about it until you.

            Was Bria more harsh then she should have been? At this point I think I have to wait for more details about what exactly happened, but the fact that you added ‘maybe’ means to me that perhaps there is something to discuss here. In the hypothetical, is it ok to berate someone well after the fact, to seek them out and publicly ridicule them? Maybe that did or didn’t happen here, I don’t know, but I think in that hypothetical, there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed, even in justified anger.

          • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

            Laury, you are right there is a line, even when using words, that is unacceptable to cross.

            I was there and Bria might have crossed the line of “decorum” but not that of “civility”.

            I have seen outbursts that we more “unacceptable” at my local atheist meeting. Hitchens has been more harsh in public debates.

            And here we are hair splitting whether a 5 minute outburst was maybe harsh enough that we might want to tell the speaker to try to watch her anger?

            Why? I don’t, know!!! But I suspect that it is because she told JT to “go stuff yourself”.

          • Laury Plant

            Fair enough, if you saw it and felt it was not outside the lines, then I have your word and JT’s word. As I said, I’ll wait for more sources as well now, not because JT has to be right and you wrong, but because clearly there is disagreement and I have no way to verify who is right…yet.

            I don’t feel its splitting hairs though, if someone goes well over that line, then acting as JT did…well I’m ok with that. Being excluded from talking about where that line might be met IN ACTION just because (insert all the flak here) just doesn’t sit well with me.

            And just as he thought it was over the line, she told him to ‘stuff himself’…yup. I’m ok with that too honestly. He made a point, she disagreed. He wanted to make a larger point about ‘anger doesn’t justify all actions’…and posted far too many words about it that it’s almost lost in the woods of everything else.

            (edited for spelling error)

          • TimothyFlowers

            “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used
            against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before
            reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the
            trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling
            themselves the priests of Jesus.”Thomas Jefferson.

          • Nate Frein

            How about we also discuss whether or not, as a disinterested third party, taking her aside to “discuss” the issue was an appropriate response?

          • Laury Plant

            Why yes, that’s what human beings do. Right or wrong, they try to talk to each other about things they think are right or wrong. There is a whole lot of talk about whether or not it’s appropriate to do so in this case, but…well, that’s the forest the discussion is all centred on, rather then the tree of what I’ve brought up.

          • rmjohnston

            Good human beings don’t pretend to have expertise they don’t have. Good people don’t pull rightfully angry people aside to lecture them on manners under any circumstances, but especially when they’re experts neither in manners nor in the matter that lead to rightful anger. Even if JT thought wrongfully that someone should have pulled Bria aside, what in the world would have made him think that he was the person to do it? He has no experience or expertise relevant to the lecture he forced her to involuntarily listen to; he has only an ego that lets him believe that he knows right and wrong better than everyone else in the world regardless of context. He’s just that smart that he doesn’t need experience or expertise, or even basic human empathy.

          • Laury Plant

            Actually yes, they do. For right or wrong reasons, good human beings try to do what they can. Claims of him not being ‘the right person’ are frustrating. Who…pray tell dear friend who’s trying to tell us all who and who can’t….should be the one to do something for someone else? JT observed, disagreed, and did something about it. I get that you disagree with it, fine whatever, but WHO he is in this narrative is the person who decided to do something about it instead of doing nothing about it.

            Do people need a PHD in everything-ology like Jen and Greta before they can speak? For the swarms of people agreeing with them (and fine, they agree. Most of the time I do to, just not on this topic) you’d think there were a lot of voices out there, but there only seems to be a few that are deemed ‘good enough’ to speak out directly.

          • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

            JT observed, disagreed, and did something about it.

            Yes, he did. And if that was all he did, he would not gotten this level of outrage.

            After Bria rebuffed his unsolicited advice he broadened the audience from the 30 odd people at the talk to the thousands that read his blog.

            If his goal was actually try to help Bria be a better speaker (as he claimed in his first post, repeatedly), he failed.

            If he is trying to reduce the amount of “unnecessary drama”, he failed.

            If he is trying to point out that there is a correct venue and volume for addressing problematic speech, he failed. And he failed by committing the same error that he accused Bria of making.

            So, what points are even left from these gigantic walls-of-text that he has erected? That anger doesn’t justify everything? I never claimed it did, and I haven’t seen anyone else here claim it either. (Evidently that was an important point he was making in the first post. I agree that it is important. So is heliocentrism, there just isn’t much disagreement about that either.)

        • Kengi

          I prefer vegetables to fruit.

          It’s because he spent so much time and effort attacking a victim of racism while defending the racist that I know he’s no ally to POC.

      • Pitchguest

        For crying out loud, can you social justice freaks stop using the word ‘privileged’ next to ‘white’ and ‘male’?

        Would you tell all the homeless white men in the world how ‘privileged’ they are? No?

        How about all the working class white men working two jobs and still can’t make ends meet?

        Yeah. Being born a white man certainly guarantees a place in the upper echelon. Oh. Wait.

        • Kengi

          For crying out loud, can you privileged white jerks actually learn what privilege means in social justice discussions? Hint: it doesn’t always mean wealthy (unless we are discussing economic privilege).

          Yes, a homeless white man has more privilege than a homeless black woman.

          • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

            He has had it explained to him a million times. Used to hang out at the sinfest forum where they explained it for years. FTB bloggers and commenters have explained it over and over as well. Boneheaded is an understatement for PG.

          • Pitchguest

            Shut the fuck up, James. You’re out of your element.

          • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

            Well that told me, I must defer to the stunning logic and rational argument deployed by the mouse boy.

          • Pitchguest

            Being that you have no taste for good movies (or “good”, period), figured you wouldn’t get it. No matter. I’ll let you stew.

          • Kengi

            Thanks for the heads-up. I almost replied to him again.

          • Pitchguest

            Two things:

            1) Take ad-hominem attacks at face value. That makes you gullible as well as ignorant.

            2) That’s one way to avoid answering. Well done.

          • Azkyroth

            To be fair, this IS a hazard of adopting a term-of-art meaning of a word with a well-known, established general meaning. You’d think people would have learned after the Newage cooption of “energy” from physics…

          • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

            It is and forgivable in someone arguing in good faith. PG ain’t that person.

          • Pitchguest

            Oh, I’m sure that would go down very well.

            ‘You see, this poor homeless man, by virtue of being born white, a man, and possibly heterosexual, too, since sexual preference is genetic and there is nothing you can do about either, has more privilege than you, poor, black woman. Don’t you feel bad that this poor, homeless white man, has more privilege than you? Don’t you feel oppressed?’

            The good response would have been to say that you wouldn’t be able to judge whether someone is privileged at all based solely on their ethnicity, gender and sexual preference, as any common sense would dictate, but you didn’t say that. You chose the other response, the bad one, where you’re a judgmental prick.

            I would’ve thought choosing for anyone how privileged they ought to feel wouldn’t be ideal in any situation, especially considering the condescending tone it sends, but I guess I was wrong. Is it a requisite that ‘people of colour’ should feel ‘unprivileged’ because of those three attributes? What about the ‘people of colour’ who’ve made a name for themselves? Wouldn’t it be terribly patronizing to tell them that no matter how much wealth they acquire, or how much status they get, that someone, er, ‘white’ would still be ‘better’ than them?

            In fact, isn’t it actually very racist to say that?

            Isn’t ‘intersectionality’ just another way to keep the ‘races’ seperate?

          • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

            Aaaand PitchGuest continues to show his total ignorance of the sociological theory of privilege. He is rebutted by some basic research, lurkers off you go as you wouldn’t want to end up like PG. Would you?
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privilege_(social_inequality)

  • Jonathan Roth

    I would invite you to look at the newfound supporters you have earned in this thread, as well as the ones you have lost.

    Is this truly the path you wish to take?

    The hardest part of skepticism is to admit that we might actually be wrong. That we might not actually be the person we think we are. That we might not have the courage of our convictions, that our actions may not square with our deeds.

    It is also the most important. Without the realization that we are fallible, without the ability to accept we could be wrong, even when the truth hurts like hell, then we are not rational, we are not skeptical. We cling to our beliefs with the faith of theists.

    • http://IAmDanMarshall.com/ Dan Marshall

      “I would invite you to look at the newfound supporters you have earned in this thread, as well as the ones you have lost.”

      I can’t help but read that as “don’t piss the wrong people off, JT.”

      “The hardest part of skepticism is to admit that we might actually be wrong. That we might not actually be the person we think we are. That we might not have the courage of our convictions, that our actions may not square with our deeds.”

      What’s funny is that I have seen JT post about instances where he’s been shown the error of his ways. He generally does it with humility and humor, and doesn’t seem opposed to approaching with hat in hand when it’s called for. You know who I don’t see doing that? A lot of the people JT mentions in his post.

      • ohnugget001

        If I may reinforce what you’re saying.
        The people he loses as friends are not friends that you would want anyway. Let them go back over to FTB and rant in their echo chamber while the rest of us move on and actually advance secularism/humanism.

      • Jonathan Roth

        If you mean “don’t piss the wrong people off, JT.” as a veiled threat, then certainly not. He’s free to associate with whomever he wishes, and certainly there’s no shortage of people on the “other side of the aisle” with influence and contacts.

        But if I wrote an article about what a great atheist I was, and the vast majority of positive comments were coming from atheist-bashing theists, and all the atheists I respected were criticizing me, you could bet that I would listen to that criticism very carefully.

        • Jasper

          And as soon as those who I respected could articulate actual salient points that weren’t a long sequence of straw man arguments, that’d be helpful.

          Maybe if those people realized that an increasing amount of “their” side was abandoning ship due to excessive extremism, to the point that there’s an emerging schism between the semi-extreme feminists, and the extreme feminists, for example, that they might want to start listening too.

        • Jasper

          … and this is coming from someone who has happy to painstakingly explain the realities of privilege to the anti-feminists, at the drop of a hat.

          • Jonathan Roth

            Is it extremism that drives them away, or it it simply an aversion to criticism?

            I see the latter all the time. Folks who are allies on most issues with a major sticking point. Like the guy who refuses to stop calling Ann Coulter a tranny, or the one who dude keeps using the word “retarded” as an insult, despite multiple objections from people on their side.

            The same thing ultimately happens. Eventually there reaches a critical mass from the community: asking nicely obviously hasn’t worked, so it’s time to tell rudely. And by this time, most of the fence-sitters have seen enough, and have had it. Dogpile.

            That’s when the whining starts, the digging in, the cries of persecution, the napalming of bridges. In the most extreme cases, a massive swap of values as they realign to whatever community takes them in.

            And the thing is, the offence that started it WAS pretty minor. A little change. From the exile’s perspective, they were kicked out over nothing. From the groups’s view, that one little thing must have been more important that all the other agreements they had.

      • Maude

        I think the point is that JT (up until now, at least) associates with the people criticizing him. Some of his new supporters (the ones I know) have views diametrically opposed to the ones JT professes. In this instance, he quotes Greta Christina (who was clearly not on board with JT’s post) to support his actions. Now, he’s quoting Sikivu Hutchison (wtf?). Same as the post about feminism, where he quoted Stephanie Svan. It’s fine if he disagrees with them, but he does quote them to support his argument and associate with them. They do not want to associate with him. As far as I understand, it’s more related to JT not listening to their argument and then disagree, than just the disagreement. I have tons of disagreements with people about social justice, and no problem with it. But a basic principle of dialogue is to consider each other’s argument.

        • yazikus

          I blinked at the Sikivu quote as well. Thought it was an odd choice.

    • invivoMark

      I agree with your third and fourth paragraphs, but I don’t like the first two. While the opinions of friends and allies can make a good sanity check, allies aren’t always correct – a lesson that everyone has learned in this kerfuffle.

      Even radical liberals and Tea Partiers tend to agree when it comes to NSA spying (at least in theory).

      • rmjohnston

        Allies aren’t always correct, but JT’s new friends are, in fact, always, always wrong on matters of social justice.

        • invivoMark

          I was not aware that JT had any new friends. Unless the definition of “friend” has changed from being a two-way thing to just one-way…?

        • EllenBeth Wachs

          Nobody is ALWAYS wrong on everything. I am leery of someone that speaks in absolutes and rmjohnston seems to make a habit of it.

      • Azkyroth

        Yes, but some people’s track records are such that finding them agreeing with you is a cue to octuple-check your arguments.

        • messiasnonest

          No, it’s not.

    • sautterron

      Look at the list of people that FTB/A+ has been attacking: Ron Lindsay, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, DJ Grothe etc. – shouldn’t JT be proud to be on the list?

      • Jonathan Roth

        Why frame “criticism” as “attack”?

  • apfergus

    Hi! You don’t know me from Adam. I’m not a regular commenter anywhere or a frequent participant in online discussions in general. I usually feel satisfied that someone else has already made the point I’d like to make and don’t want to take up space rehashing it. But someone I know said something a couple weeks ago that stuck with me. Sometimes it’s not about the idea, but about how it’s structured. Repetition can be beneficial. So I’m going to give this a shot.

    No one I’ve read has made the claim that you’re opposed to the expression of anger in general. The issue is that you are not the arbiter of what is or is not appropriate. In any situation. But in this situation in particular your sex and race (just to note, both of which I share) are additional relevant factors. You are calling inappropriate a response to something that doesn’t affect you. You are more than entitled to have an opinion on this, of course. However, the language you chose to express it does come across as judgmental and extremely dismissive of the legitimacy of Bria’s feelings. That’s what, to the best of my understanding, people are objecting to.

    • Verbose Stoic

      You DO realize the irony of starting your comment with a statement that is meant to establish your neutrality and dispassionate position on the issue, while then going on to claim that judgements of appropriateness should not be made by people who the situation doesn’t effect and who, therefore, would be dispassionate and neutral on it, right?

      • apfergus

        Bzzzt.

        I started my comment with a statement that was meant to establish that what I’m saying has been said already, but I’m going to damn the torpedoes and go ahead and say it anyway. Moreover, the issue isn’t one of disinterest or neutrality. It’s about the lack of compassion shown by passing judgement on someone while lacking a lifetime worth of shared cultural experience that influenced their decision.

        • Verbose Stoic

          You’re right. I read that wrong. Sorry about that.

          • Azkyroth

            *clatter of pin dropping to the pavement, from the hoof of a flying pig*

        • Pitchguest

          So let me get this straight. You come in damning the torpedoes, making a case for the relevance of “sex and race” being a factor in JT’s case against Bria, and then you say — and correct me if I’m wrong — that JT can’t pass judgment on Bria because he lacks, and I quote, “a lifetime worth of shared cultural experience”?

          Is that about right?

          Now, I’m still unfamiliar with social justice warrior speak, but doesn’t your argument basically boil down to concern- and tone trolling? With a hint of sexism and/or racism.

          As far as I’m concerned, JT’s “sex and race” are irrelevant. You seem to think they aren’t. You seem to think they have “additional relevant factors.” Personally I couldn’t give a shit about it, nor that you “share” these attributes (congratulations, do you want a cookie?) but that’s just me. Then you go on to what “language” he employed. Oh, if only my life could be so simple to focus on trivialities like what “language” one used. Was he coy? Was he not coy enough? Jesus. Would you be fine with it if he re-phrased it to your liking?

          It’s incredible that he even puts up with that crap. Tone.

          • apfergus

            Well golly gee wilikers, aren’t you cute. I never said there was anything JT couldn’t do. I said that what he did seems to show a lack of compassion. Also, if I gave the impression I was concerned about tone, I misspoke. He chose words that, to my ear, are condemning and condescending. If he really meant to be an ally here as he claims it seems he rather failed to communicate that accurately.

            It’s adorable that you seem to think anyone can properly judge anyone else as if we all have some sort of omniscient, trans-cultural perception. I don’t suppose you could fill me in on all the wrongs and rights of the goings on in Egypt? I seem to lack this sense and it sounds like it would work a lot better than the news coverage.

          • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

            No you don’t understand, *you* are out of your depth here kiddo. PitchGuest is a boy genius, that avatar is a selfie.

  • invivoMark

    Jen’s post surprised me. Not because it was written – I don’t know Jen that well, so I don’t know her typical style or what she chooses to write about – but because people seemed to be nodding their heads in enthusiastic agreement with it.

    It’s nothing more than a smear campaign. Nearly every sentence of it is a straight-up lie, and on a whole, it’s a lie-by-omission for many highly relevant facts (the fact that JT talked to the woman who asked the question, the fact that JT did not publicly chastise Bria, the fact that the only reason this is public at all is because others chose to make JT’s private words public, etc.). I don’t understand why Jen would have smeared JT the way she did, and I don’t understand why everybody else took it at face value.

    But unfortunately, once something like Jen’s post goes up, it gets slime everywhere, and the damage can’t be avoided. I’m reminded of the time Stephanie Zvan was (legitimately) upset that one of her harassers left an offensive comment here that didn’t get appropriately dealt with. Rather than deal with it privately, Stephanie wrote a blog post saying, effectively, “JT makes his blog a safe haven for misogynists!” At which point, several of Stephanie’s followers immediately commented along the lines of, “OMG! JT is such a douchebag! I always knew he was a despicable human being!”

    The accuracy of accusations doesn’t seem to matter much. People love to hate, and they’ll latch onto any reason to do so, without giving their target a fair review.

    With that in mind, I’m not sure JT’s response here is appropriate. Jen’s slimeball is going to do its damage regardless, and no one who already has an opinion about JT based on it is going to read this response and change their mind. Rather, they’ll come here and upvote anything Josh the Spokesgay says, along with anything that sounds remotely critical of JT, while downvoting anything that doesn’t include criticism of JT.

    Incidentally, I’m not even sure whether I agree with JT’s actions in any of this clusterfuck. But I bet I get lots of downvotes here just because I’m not calling him racist.

    • eccles11

      I don’t necessarily agree with you regarding JT’s point, and whether he was right in making these blog posts, but your post was reasoned and rational nonetheless, and considering the posts above and below it. That in itself is good enough for an upvote from me.

    • darren

      “the fact that JT talked to the woman who asked the question, the fact that JT did notpublicly chastise Bria, the fact that the only reason this is public at all is because others chose to make JT’s private words public, etc.”

      Your facts are in error. JT was the one who brought this whole thing out in public with his initial blog post. Jen’s post was in response to JT’s initial post.

      • invivoMark

        Mandisa has informed me of this error on my part. I have addressed this elsewhere. The corrections to my post could be summed up thusly:

        “JT made a dick move, and really really needs to apologize at the absolute minimum. I don’t think he deserves massive vitriol from such a wide section of the skeptics movement, but a solid smack upside the head would not be inappropriate.”

        • Kengi

          The vitriol was not the first reaction. It was the culmination of many back-channel conversations and JT’s continual denial of problems with his privileged views, and his refusal to actually, you know, apologize, that lead to this point … over the course of more than just this single issue.

          • invivoMark

            Did I say it was the first reaction?

            If there are back-channel conversations relevant to the issue, then maybe those should be made public so that readers can form their own conclusions, rather than relying solely on a smear piece that was precisely engineered to piss people off and portray JT in the worst possible light.

            I’m fine with criticizing JT. You’ll notice I’ve done it in no uncertain (nor even polite) terms. I’m not fine with what is essentially propaganda, inciting a Two Minutes Hate against the public enemy of the day.

          • Kengi

            I didn’t claim you decried or supported it as a first reaction. I only pointed out that it was the last straw in a long set of conversations which started out much more reasonable. Eventually, the racist in question deserves a little vitriol.

          • invivoMark

            I can’t find a way to interpret your statement in such a way that it does not condone propaganda.

          • Kengi

            Perhaps it’s because I don’t equate vitriol with propaganda. Besides, though I haven’t thought about it much, I’m not sure that all propaganda must be bad, so maybe I do condone some propaganda.

            Besides, I don’t see Jen’s post as nothing but propaganda, and you failed to convince me otherwise.

          • invivoMark

            I would attempt to describe, once again, why Jen’s post is nothing more than an information-free smear campaign (i.e., propaganda), but I see no point in engaging with someone who continues to call JT a racist. You have made it clear that you are not interested in mutual understanding or rationality. Engaging with you would be a waste of my time.

          • Kengi

            Thanks. I appreciate that. I try to read most replies I get and having fewer illogical rants to read will be nice.

        • eccles11

          There seems to be twitter chatter on this subject at least 2 days before JT posted his blog post. This was not made public by JT’s blog post. It was already somewhat public.

          • darren

            But this whole thing would have likely stayed on twitter and have already died out, had it not been for JT’s post.

          • eccles11

            While your statement is not necessarily incorrect, though now unprovable. The fact that it was already public, and JT did not make this public by putting it on his blog still stands.

          • Kengi

            JT made it public on Twitter even before talking to Bria. Then he further publicized it on the blog.

          • eccles11

            That there, if true, is a reasonable point.

          • darren

            You are correct. That there was some kind of incident was tweeted publicly on Aug 17th… by JT! The fact that he “pulled her aside” to admonish her wasn’t public… her response to his unsolicited “admonishment” wasn’t public. His stated reasoning behind all this wasn’t public. he is the one who chose to disclose all of that.

            My original point was that Jen McCreight has been accused of bringing light to this, when in fact, she was responding to JT’s original blog post. Not anyone’s tweets.

          • eccles11

            Oh, I missed the part where someone said Jen brought light to this. That appears to be most definitely incorrect.

          • darren

            it could have been in another comment, all these things are running together for me.

          • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

            YES!!!

            Such are great move from someone decrying all the “Unnecessary Drama” in the movement…

          • Kengi

            Made public by a tweet from JT, before he even talked to Bria.

          • invivoMark

            But really, who pays attention to Twitter?

          • eccles11

            If you are joking, “Ha ha”, but twitter is a massive social network, with a far larger audience than Patheos. It is much easier to retweet and spread through twitter, than through blog posts.

          • invivoMark

            Actually, I’m not totally joking. Twitter is exceptionally easy to ignore, and in doing so you will not miss out on a single important or life-changing thing. Nothing of real substance comes out of 140-character posts unless it’s the beginning of a scandal (e.g., by revealing racism, sexism, general stupidity, or what JT did). The whole world would be a better place if the Twitter servers were nuked from space.

        • darren

          Fair enough. I’m not close enough to the voices of the movement to judge whether he deserves the vitriol that has been directed toward him by the folks who have weighed in. I just happen to believe that he is the one who screwed up here and he dug is own proverbial grave.

    • Kurt H

      JT did not publicly chastise Bria . . .

      It’s true, JT only related his criticism of her rant ON HIS FUCKING BLOG. That’s not public at all.

      Herp. Derp.

      • invivoMark

        Yo, Kurt, maybe next time you should put the barest amount of effort into understanding the context of a statement before mouthing off about it.

        Herp derp, and all that.

  • smhll

    “But if those features have produced an ignorance in me that has caused me to use a fallacious argument, then the argument should be easy enough to defeat on its own without recourse to well-poisoning, ad hominems, and red herrings. ”

    I think the crucial fallacy is that you seem to think you can always accurately judge how intentionally hurtful (or not) a statement or question is to someone else.

    • Remick

      and that has what to do with Jen using ad hominems? One mistake justifies another in your opinion?

      • smhll

        I am simply replying to the fallacies in JT’s argument and refraining from dropping an ad hom. The topic of who is being mean, irrelevant or uncharitable seems overwhelmingly large for me to address.

  • unbound55

    Wow. Seeing a bunch of people jumping in, I am starting to wonder if the criticism about many followers of Freethoughtblogs may be justified after all. I see little evidence that the negative (but heavily up-voted) posts’ authors have actually read what JT wrote.

    • Richard Sanderson

      Congratulations. You’ve discovered that FTB is a cult, PZ something similar, and that they act like religious fundamentalists. When people formerly of FTB get abused out (it happens to a major Baboon every couple of weeks), they react like former cult members who now realise they were indoctrinated.

      FTB will come crashing down, and a lot of us are going to be relishing that.

      • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

        “Conspiriloon” Sanderson in action.

        • Richard Sanderson

          I’ve just noticed, it might be easy to integrate your name into “conspirloon” somehow.

          Whatever. It’s true, many former Baboons talk of how FTB was like a cult, and leaving it was like leaving a cult, or losing their religion.

          There might still be time for you ool0n, to see the light.

  • Pz Myers

    I had to stop reading at the point where you said Bria was “naturally more likely to read the worst of a white person in an ambiguous case”. Did you really just call this an ambiguous case (it wasn’t — that was a stereotypically racist question) and then flip it around and say a black woman was being prejudiced here?

    You could have learned from this situation. You apparently aren’t going to. And that makes me very sad.

    But don’t worry, you’ll make plenty of new friends. I see Justin Vacula likes you now.

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      It’s too bad, PZ, that you find malice in everyone who might just happen to say something you don’t like. It’s too bad you find malice in people who may be ignorant concerning certain issues. The questioner, of course, just had to have had ill intent and couldn’t possibly be someone who hasn’t been exposed to contrary information. It couldn’t possibly be a learning experience for the individual and people like you can’t possibly have compassion and extend the benefit of the doubt. Righteous indignation is apparently the only thing that can sell for you and your crew.

      Have compassion for people and consider, just for a second, that people who make statements or ask questions can be uninformed about particular issues. Consider it.

      • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

        JT to Vacula: “Oh, you’ve been noticed. It’s just that nobody likes you. RT @justinvacula: I need to get out there to be noticed.”
        https://twitter.com/jteberhard/status/318394065634877440

        JT to Vacula: “.@JustinVacula: only person who could still consider himself a leader in a movement that despises him. #AAcon13″
        https://twitter.com/jteberhard/status/318554873937399808

        I remember those as I thought JT was a bit harsh and close to bullying. But given the context of the Vac spamming the #AACon13 hash with his inane drivel I let it pass without commenting.

        Why are you tone trolling people with their angry response to far more important injustices JT?

    • Eshto

      Oh great PZ Myers, please do lecture us all on social justice issues. As a black, transgender, working class lesbian, you have the most personal experience with being oppressed.

      • freemage

        Note whom he is NOT lecturing–black, transgender working-class lesbians. Instead, he’s lecturing other white, middle-class straight cis men. In other words, he’s talking to people whose experience he does, indeed, have a fair bit of personal knowledge of, and telling them what’s worked better than condescension and demanding 101 explanations of every goddamn thing.

        • Azkyroth

          Note whom he is NOT lecturing–black, transgender working-class lesbians.

          Except maybe on cancer biology.

        • Cat

          Coming from PZ that is a joke, he has no clue how to have a real conversation with anyone and wrote the book on how to oppress first and not ever ask questions or seek understanding.

          • Azkyroth

            Would you like a moist towelette?

          • Cat

            No you keep your used wet towel to yourself, it smells funny

          • B-Lar

            mmm… Lemon scented…

        • Pitchguest

          Really? “White”, middle-class “straight cis men” all have the same experience?

          • Kurt H

            Don’t pretend to misunderstand the point, Pitchguest. It’s not that you don’t understand privilege — you just hate how beautifully it explains how much of a douche you are.

          • Pitchguest

            With all the talk about “language” being important, I just thought the sentence, “Instead, he’s lecturing other white, middle-class straight cis men. In other words, he’s talking to people whose experience he does, indeed, have a fair bit of personal knowledge of …” was particularly egregious. Because it seems to imply that all white men are the same. Or at least all “white, middle-class straight cis men” are the same.

            But if you think it all has to do with my apparent misunderstanding of “privilege” (at least the feminist theory version of “privilege”, which may as well have been written by Carl Linneaus), then maybe you should think to parse yourselves more accurately before you chastise someone where English was his third language. I’m shaking with tears right now. /PTSD

    • EllenBeth Wachs

      You know, having had the opportunity to actually meet and become friendly with some of those people at TAM after being skeptical of what FTBloggers said about them, I have no doubt JT will be okay.

    • Allison Kirkpatrick

      PZ Myers is experiencing friend envy, since he’s managed to alienate all his friends, aside from what’s left of the pharyngula moron brigade.

    • eccles11

      He had good warrant for the inferring she may have bias/prejudice, and even explained that he too may have this same bias reversed. I doubt facts like these matter to sleazeballs like you, however.

    • ohnugget001

      Or did you stop reading because you know that one of your devoted followers, Ms. McCreight, strawmanned him and he pointed it calmly out to the world and you just couldn’t bear to take it anymore.
      How dare he make one of my worshippers look like the inept debater she is! Don’t you know that she’s possibly being sued by Famous Skeptic for libel!? How dare you place anymore stress on fragile her for having to take responsibility for her actions! I’ll leave now, my White Knighting is complete, but I’ll make sure that my legion of enslaved, errrr, free thinkers come over here and downvote your reasonable supporters and tomorrow, we’ll write a dozen more posts on FTB strawmanning you again! Mhuhaahaaa…

    • darwintyson

      You’ll make new ones too…lawyers…court reporters…administrative law judges…insurance adjusters…

    • yazikus

      At least we get to learn about your many magic powers and your legion of enslaved followers!

    • Richard Sanderson

      PZ – go and invite a woman on stage to make sexist remarks to her. That’s what you’re good at. Go on, go on…

      In the meantime, I look forward to you getting sued.

      • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

        I thought you were looking forward to me being sued first? PZ needs to get in line …. Or are your pals “professional victims” who cry libel at the drop of a hat but can’t back it up?

        • Richard Sanderson

          Awww, it’s FTB’s own post-Greg Laden enforcer, who when he’s not downloading images of potential child abuse, or issuing death threats on the internet (as per FTBullies standards of “threat”, of course), resorts to trolling websites.

          Again, my usage of “sue” and “libel” is based on Ophelia Benson’s (the Level 1 WomenAbuser) claims that she was libelled. We all know she was lying out of her ass, and the potential “libel suit” talked about on her site (lolz) never came to anything.

          Funny dat.

  • Zach High-Leggett

    Well sure, you can go line-by-line and argue that “when I said this, you thought I said this, but what I actually meant was this”… but when so many people get angry and tell you about their lived experience with racism or sexism directed at them maybe, just MAYBE, you should consider that what you’re saying (or the way you’re saying it) has something to do with it.

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

    I can’t agree with you here, JT. I mean, I’m just a random commenter, so take my opinions with as much salt as you like! But I think you’re wrong here.

    Being black (or female, or a black female) isn’t like being an atheist or mentally ill in one really crucial way. You can’t hide it. You can’t ever escape it, or blend in, or just pretend to be in the privileged set of people. It’s always there. That means that slights and slurs and generally negative interactions are also always there. And I am aware that mental illness may always be in the background, but it can usually be hidden from the general public.

    I get that you don’t want to silence people and that you truly do have empathy for everyone. However, going up to an angry woman who had broken down in tears during her answer and telling her that she was too harsh? However you intended it, however private it was, that’s going to come across as condescending. I’ve done much the same thing, though not as a panelist because I’ve not had the opportunity, and one of the least helpful things anyone could do would be to approach me soon thereafter and tell me I shouldn’t have been so mean. This is especially true if that person was an acquaintance or peer, but not a close friend (I don’t know your relationship with Bria). Bria Crutchfield may well have overreacted or reacted poorly- I have no idea because I wasn’t there. If Mandisa was insulted and embarrassed, though, it’s her job to talk to Bria. Not yours.

    EDIT: I have found out that the question was asked during Mandisa’s talk, but Bria didn’t have the opportunity to speak until Darrel Smith’s Q&A, which is when she gave her speech/rebuttal/outburst/whatever. This was unclear to me earlier. It doesn’t change any of the points I’m trying to make, though.

    • invivoMark

      I’ve mostly withheld my specific opinions on this issue in my other posts, so I’m just gonna take this opportunity to come out and say that I completely agree with this post. Thank you for saying pretty much exactly what I feel.

      I’m not gonna say JT’s a racist, or that he doesn’t care, or that he’s trying to silence minorities, and I’m definitely not gonna discount him as an ally and an intelligent, rational person. But… well, allies can be wrong sometimes.

    • b33bl3br0x

      I think it was Darrel Smith’s place to talk to her, not Mandisa’s, since it was his forum (Q&A of his talk) she hi-jacked. Though her outburst was also technically a slight against Mandisa because she obviously thought Mandisa’s handling of the situation was inferior.

      EDIT: After learning that the topic of the talk was in absolutely no way related to the content of the question, I don’t think that my prior assertion about Bria’s opinions of Mandisa’s response was fair.

    • blondein_tokyo

      Agree with this post!

      I’m a Caucasian who has lived abroad in an Asian country for the past twenty years. One thing this has taught be is how it feels to be a minority. Before I came here, I had never experienced any kind of racial discrimination, ever. Now I experience some type of discrimination pretty much every day, from micro-aggressions to stereotyping, to outright bullying. Someone like JT (sorry dude..love you, but…) who is a white cis man living in the USA is simply not going to understand fully how racism effects people. I really think “shut up and listen” is appropriate in this case, because the more you talk, JT, the deeper the hole is getting.

      I know your intentions are good, but this is a case where I think you really don’t fully understand what you’re talking about.

      (Neither do I, for that matter, since living in Japan as a white person is still very much below the level of racism that African Americans experience in the USA. So I’ll shut up now. :))

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

        Heh, living in Japan as a Caucasian is the only direct, personal experience I have with racial minority status and discrimination too! It’s definitely an eye-opener.

        Edited for minor clarity.

        • Nate Frein

          I was lucky when I lived there…I was a military dependent. If I didn’t like how I was treated off-base, I just went on base.

          Then when I worked for the base golf course my last year there, I got to see just how nastily our “fine men and women” could treat the JASDF airmen they shared the course with. Nothing overt, but a lot of dog-whistling and microaggressions.

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

            I lived there as a teenager with my family (non-military but still dad’s work) in a rural area. It was very different. There weren’t too many microagressions other than always seating us at the back of restaurants and away from other patrons, but we did get a lot of stares and pointing fingers. Oh, and kids always wanted to touch my hair (I had long brown hair at the time- still brown, just not so long now). It was kinda awkward for a 14-year-old, but not bad really.

          • Nate Frein

            It certainly wasn’t bad for me. We lived in northern japan and a lot of the economy around the base relied on American dollars.

            If I’d lived in Okinawa though the experience might be different.

    • Edward Gemmer

      I think it is important to note that it is likely JT is writing about this not because he has some grudge against Bria Crutchfield, but because he is frustrated with the tendency in this “community” to run down and humiliate people based on perceived differences.

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

        I know. I just think this is a terrible example to make that point, because of all the other things surrounding it. Race, gender, racism, off-point questions, minority anger and majority privilege … and I can’t even say that humiliation wasn’t a good idea in this case! The woman asked a super offensive question, and even if she didn’t mean it to be racist, that doesn’t change anything. As JT himself is fond of reminding us, intent is not magic.

      • Kengi

        I think it is important to note that it is likely Bria responded the way she did wasn’t because she had some grudge against the person spouting racist dog whistles, but because she was frustrated with the tendency in this “nation” to run down, humiliate, discriminate against, disenfranchise, and marginalize people based upon the color of their skin.

        • Pitchguest

          So the proper response to someone being disciminated based upon the colour of their skin, is to discriminate someone based upon the colour of their skin?

  • yazikus

    I wonder why the questioner is being called “well meaning”. I’ve seen the text of her question, and the response from Mandisa, and I can’t figure out how on earth it could be taken as “well meaning” in any scenario. What was she meaning to do?

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      Do you consider it possible that the questioner was ignorant about the issue the questioner was talking about? Why infer malice?

      • yazikus

        I didn’t infer malice, I asked what she was meaning to do by asking the question. I’m quite sure she was ignorant about the issue, and ask again, what did she mean to accomplish with her question?

        • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

          I would assume — unless I would have reason to suggest otherwise — that people asking questions are well-meaning. Because others who might talk about “black and black crime” or whatever may be racists does not mean that this person is for asking a question or referring to this phrase.

          • Kengi

            The question had nothing, at all, to do with the presentation. It was as if she spotted a black person (talking about a completely different issue) and thought, Hey, I remember someone talking about black people, maybe I should repeat it! (And that’s the most forgiving interpretation.)

          • Nate Frein

            There is absolutely no reason to assume a person is”well-meaning”. Just because a person doesn’t mean ill doesn’t rule out that they simply don’t care enough to police their actions.

            A person stepping on my foot may not mean me ill-will, but he certainly wasn’t meaning good will, either, especially if he said “I probably shouldn’t try to squeeze through here” right before doing so.

          • Azkyroth

            People have been giving their reasons for suggesting otherwise. You just aren’t paying attention.

      • Cat

        One thing that was left out about the questioner was that she started off the Q by saying “I know I shouldn’t be asking this, but…” I infer that to mean she knew what she was going to say was wrong and did it anyway.

        At least that is what I heard. I am amusing JT missed her saying that. I do not agree that anyone has a right to question how another person feels, which he has stated he isn’t. However in questioning Bria’s actions, I don’t feel it was in his place to do. He is just as human as she is, and does not deserve the treatment he is getting from his so called allies.

        People make mistakes … this is between JT and Bria

        • vermontster

          If it is between JT and Bria, why did he feel the need to write a 3000 word post about it and make it public? None of this would be going on now if JT had not written the blog post.

          • invivoMark

            In JT’s first post on this, he says that this became public via Twitter before his blog post went up.

          • Mandisa Thomas

            This is true because he tweeted about Bria and her “bad form” even before talking with her that night. I don’t think I would have been as receptive either.

          • invivoMark

            Did JT initiate the Twitter conversation?

          • Mandisa Thomas

            He did indeed.

          • invivoMark

            Well shit. That means I’ve misinterpreted a few things from the start. This makes me considerably more concerned about JT’s posts.

            Thanks for letting me know.

          • vermontster

            I’d say JT did invite the twitter conversation, looking at this

            https://twitter.com/jteberhard/status/368796799403687936

          • darren

            What he said was. “I wasn’t going to write about the one hiccup at the Great Lakes Atheist Convention, but someone on twitter has convinced me that I need to.”

          • Nate Frein

            Because of a twitter conversation he initiated.

          • Cat

            I am disagreeing with JT about writing the blog, it’s okay to disagree with someone and to do it without demonizing him. I don’t feel this was the correct move and I have stated that. He is acting on his principles on what he thinks is the best behavior to create rational discourse. It does not mean he was trying to silence her, it doesn’t mean he did this cause he is a ‘privileged white man’ it means he has an opinion and in my opinion handled it badly. WE ALL make mistakes. I have made many and I am not judging him to be a bad person because of this. It’s called rationality :)

      • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

        I don’t think that there is malice in either the questioner or in Bria.

        But JT feels totally justified in his characterizations of Bria being intentional and the questioner being unintentional.

        And the main reason for for this? That Bria was not receptive to his unsolicited advice on how she should express her anger. It is so rare for people to react to unsolicited advice from people they don’t know well on their anger management techniques in this way…

      • Parse

        I’ve heard it termed ‘Hanlon’s corollary’: any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. The questioner prefaced her question with, “I probably shouldn’t ask.” The question itself had nothing to do with the talk. Would you see some grain of malice in knowing you shouldn’t do something, yet doing it anyways?

      • blondein_tokyo

        Ignorance isn’t an excuse. I’ve had the most blatant discrimination come from very well-meaning people, who have no idea that what they’re saying/doing is discriminatory. *That doesn’t make it hurt less, and doesn’t take away the sting.* The lady took time out of her day to address an issue she’s sick of talking about and which makes her upset. The questioner is now educated. The questioner now has a choice: be offended at having her racism pointed out, or being chagrined and grateful for the education.

        The readers and commenters? Likewise. Listen and learn. :)

    • Highlander

      Did you actually, as JT did, talk to the questioner after the fact? Did you talk, as JT did, to people who knew the questioner? Or did you simply read the transcript, without any of the non-verbal (body language, vocal tone, facial expression) portion of the communication and read the worst from it? Perhaps the question came from a poisoned opinion of some right wing source that the questioner heard and wanted to know the opinion of someone who was affected by it so they could truly understand? Isn’t it the point of a Q&A segment to actually get your questions answered. Yes, it was a shitty question and an hour or two of Internet research would probably have educated the questioner that she was parroting a Fox News oral diarrhea point.
      From what I can tell reading all the shit storm out there, no one but JT went and talked personally to this questioner. If someone talked to her and found she was a troll then certainly a public denunciation was called for. But why denounce someone for being ignorant unless they aren’t trying to do better?

      • yazikus

        I’m just curious why she has to be “well meaning”, rather than “that person who asked a shitty question”. In the most generous light, what do you think she meant to accomplish with that particular question in that particular context? (

        My presentation was on how the Freethought community could learn from the Hospitality Industry.

        )

        • Highlander

          Well meaning and shitty are not mutually exclusive.

          • rmjohnston

            And again, in what possible way could the question have been well meant? It was either openly racist or offered from a position of willful ignorance; either way it was offered in bad faith as a troll.

          • Highlander

            Oh so you went and talked to the person then? Or have you magically ascertained the content of her intention from second and third hand opinion on the internet?

      • Kengi

        So, after JT argues for 13,000 words that Bria’s response was the wrong time and place, you are arguing that the QA session of a presentation of the lessons for the atheist community from the hospitality industry was the correct time and place to ask an off-topic (as in, not even in the same universe) question about race? Just because the person at the podium was a POC?

        • Parse

          Except if you reread his previous post, that wasn’t the only thing he addressed with Bria, and that isn’t the part that the majority of his critics are disagreeing with.

        • Highlander

          Did I say it was the right time and place? Please find that quote from my post and re-post it for me, cause I’m having a hard time finding it. My point was that the only person who went and talked to the source about the intent of the question was JT. While I agree that intent is not magic and it doesn’t excuse the shitty question, intent does have an effect on the response. Acertaining the intent of the person was not done before proceding to denunciation. It was only done after the fact and only by JT.

      • Andrew S. Williams

        Who’s to say the Questioner was even telling the truth to JT? People always sound more reasonable and moderate themselves when you confront them face to face– doesn’t mean they actually behaved or thought that way in whatever the inciting incident was.

        • Highlander

          I can only defer to JT, who actually talked to the woman and trust his assessment.

          • Nate Frein

            No, because we have her statements during the act.

            She herself said “I probably shouldn’t ask this”. How do you honestly dress this up?

          • Highlander

            That, I will admit, is problematic and certainly something I would like to see addressed. However, since I wasn’t there, the video hasn’t been released yet and I haven’t talked to the questioner myself, it is only reasonable that I accept the opinion of someone I trust who was there, and who did talk to the questioner.

            Since I have seen no other blogger who has weighed in on this issue who has talked to the questioner I am going to go with JT on the intentions of the questioner.

  • Mandisa Thomas

    Hello Everyone,

    Here is my entire response in which JT quoted from – hopefully, it will gove a better understanding to this entire issue:

    “Considering that my talk wasn’t focused on the Black community, nor BN as a whole, the question regarding what we (rather as she put it, what YOU) were going to do about Black on Black crime was surprising. It seemed to imply that because we are an organization that focuses on the Black community that we were somehow fully responsible for taking on such a huge task. I also didn’t get the sense that she was interested in helping in any way, especially since she and I had no subsequent dialogue after the presentation.

    I definitely don’t think the question was intentionally malicious, or even malicious at all, but even she prefaced it by saying she probably shouldn’t have asked. It was an indication that she may not have been listening to what I was saying, and that she had some pent up emotions about what she has seen in the news as of late (she referenced the issues in Chicago). So the question seemed to indicate that I had some kind of cure to this issue simply because I am Black – which is very unrealistic.”
    My presentation was on how the Freethought community could learn from the Hospitality Industry. Also, JT only spoke with me about it yesterday. I think it would have been better to gauge my sentiments before any blog posts were written.

    • smhll

      Thank you for posting. I wasn’t at the conference and didn’t know the topic of the presentation. I appreciate having that information.

    • freemage

      I’m going to suggest that it might’ve even been better for JT to talk to you and gauge your sentiments ~before talking to Bria in the first place~. This, JT, is where a big part of the charge of condescension, ego and privilege is coming from. Taking up someone else’s cause, without their input? That freakin’ REEKS of White Man’s Burden.

    • b33bl3br0x

      Wow, that just, wow.

      I would have assumed by what I’d heard of the question that it the talk would have been about something like the disproportionate punishment toward minorities or something having to do, even loosely with crime.

      I think that kind of question in response to that presentation would have caused a short circuit in my brain.

      • Mandisa Thomas

        It certainly did for me, but I am proud to say that I kept my composure and answered the woman’s question. And can we REALLY blame Bria for being as upset as she was – even though she waited for the opportunity to present itself to address her (which it did during Darrell’s Q&A)? I don’t.

        • b33bl3br0x

          Well good on ya’ for your poise, I probably would have just floundered with uhs and ums until I finally mumbled something like “Ok, next question?”

          And no I can’t really blame her for being angry at all.

        • yazikus

          Thanks for sticking around to help clear up the misconceptions. I look forward to seeing the video of your talk re: the hospitality industry and freethought community.

    • Edward Gemmer

      For what it’s worth, I’m glad to discover you and Bria Crutchfield and The Great Lakes Atheists, which I had never heard of and I live in Ohio.

    • Rachel Johnson

      Hi JT, And Bridgett I just want to say this. Bridgett had the right,
      nay, the duty to be angry. It is frustrating that no matter how many
      times you bash your fists against the same wall, it is reinforced with
      ignorance.

      I know the lady who asked that
      question. She is not malicious, she is educated, and very nice. But she
      made a statement that could have come off of Faux news.

      I don’t
      blame Bridgett for letting her hurt and anger or when she displayed it. I
      think she had to just let it out, and being as I am not black, I don’t
      know how it feels to be treated the same way everywhere you go. But I
      can imagine you reach a limit.

      I understand your
      reasons for talking to he, but when someone is hurt and in pain,
      criticizing them can strike a raw nerve. I think that understanding
      should have come first.

      Did you notice the lady
      nodded her head at Bria and went back to playing with her tablet? I
      thought, that said a lot right there.

      I am not
      trying to make you sound like a bad person. I don’t think you are a bad
      guy, nor should you be labeled a privileged white male who is oblivious
      to the feelings of other.

      I think though, that ending a friendship, and making this so public may have not been the best ideas. But I like you both.

      It
      is just since Bridgett is never going to be not black we are her
      shelter, we are supposed to be the educated crowd who doesn’t profile,
      and segregate. At least my humanism tells me that is how we should be.
      Her disappointment and hurt rang out loud.

      I don’t
      think there was a way to tell the community in any other way how she
      felt, because today it is one lady, and tomorrow it is another, and soon
      we are holding them responsible for things we aren’t asked to be
      responsible for in ours. The message got sent clear and loud. Don’t
      treat us like you don’t treat the rest.

      So please all of you think on this. <3 to you all. Much respect.

      • http://rationaloutlook.wordpress.com/ rationaloutlook

        This statement of yours was addressed by JT. You said,

        “…as I am not black, I don’t know how it feels to be treated the same way everywhere you go”

        His response to such assertions was:

        “Whenever somebody like myself criticizes feminists of the Jen McCreight variety, our innate features are always swiftly trotted out. I’m a white, cis, male. Yup, I sure am. Not that this makes me wrong. Now, you could argue that it makes me more likely to have blind spots to particular issues, and you’d be right. But if those features have produced an ignorance in me that has caused me to use a fallacious argument, then the argument should be easy enough to defeat on its own without recourse to well-poisoning, ad hominems, and red herrings. But merely pointing out the traits with which I was born does nothing to bolster one’s arguments, nor should they prohibit me from saying a black person or a woman did something wrong as swiftly as I would say a white person or a male was doing something wrong.”

        And after reading all this you say but JT is a white male (!), then you are infected with the FTB virus.

    • double-m

      “the question regarding what we (rather as she put it, what YOU) were
      going to do about Black on Black crime was surprising. It seemed to
      imply that because we are an organization that focuses on the Black
      community that we were somehow fully responsible for taking on such a
      huge task.”

      That’s not ignorance, Mr. Eberhard. That’s an ATTITUDE, not a lack of knowledge. It’s the attitude that there is a United States of African America with its own internal crime, the resources to deal with it, and the responsibility not to let it affect the “real” (i.e. white) America. It’s YOUR crime, not crime. It’s YOUR responsibility, not the shared responsibility of all members of society to fight it. That’s the same damn attitude that has been used as an excuse for mob justice and persecution of minorities for ages.

  • smhll

    I think the crux of the disagreement relates to this statement from your prior post. ” But surely, I asked, you don’t think that the offense was intended? Bria did not answer, which suggested to me she thought it was intended. I honestly don’t see how anybody could possibly have reached that conclusion. ”
    [end quote]

    Actually, to me (and people who think a lot like me) it sounded like a very confrontational and very likely intentionally offensive question. It looks like it carries the subtext “this is your problem and not mine.” And I think the angry backlash to your post comes from your many confident mentions you made that you knew that the question about black on black crime wasn’t intended to be offensive. (Which weren’t supported by evidentiary statements in your first post.) How did you know? The best guess I had was that you heard the question, it didn’t offend you, and you thought that meant it was fine.

  • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

    What we don’t need is additional, unnecessary drama, which is exactly what is created when we write posts in which we assign arguments to our opponents that they never made and treat them like they’re education or listening averse when they’re not convinced.

    OK, JT if you do believe this then why-o-why did you write a 3,000 word essay on how and why Bria was wrong? Isn’t that “unnecessary drama”?

    Bria “Hitch Slapped” someone you thought didn’t deserve it. I get it.

    Bria also basically told you to “take your advice and shove it”.

    You stated your case and then she disagreed with you. For someone that just wrote 8,000 words about how we have to accept our disagreements, writing that first 3,000 word post sure looks to me like you only want others to not make “unnecessary drama”. I’m sure you see the drama that you create as totally necessary.

    What you are doing to Bria is precisely what you suggested she not do to that questioner. You disagreed with Bria’s choice of venue and volume.

    Is this volume and venue the best possible choice for this “outburst” of yours? If your priority is to minimize “unnecessary drama” you have failed miserably.

  • Parse

    So, you seem to be saying that you aren’t silencing anybody. The people that disagree with you are saying that you are. However, if you read what they’re saying, they are NOT saying that

    “Taking over another speaker’s Q&A to verbally berate somebody is inappropriate and unnecessary” becomes equivalent to “That person should be silent”

    They aren’t saying that a lack of privilege means that you’re immune to criticism. They aren’t saying that anger is a carte blanche for however you want to react.

    Please consider these questions: What else did you talk to Bria about, besides her using another person’s Q&A? If taken by themselves, could they be seen as silencing?

    You told Bria, “I explained that the woman in the audience didn’t mean offense,” and that her response was “disproportionate and unproductive”. Can you try seeing how people read those as telling her that her anger isn’t justified? That by calling her response, full of strong emotions, “disproportionate and unproductive”, people could see that as telling her to be quiet, to silence her emotions, to bottle them up and not let them influence her?

    Imagine somebody coming up to you, after you gave your wonderful speech ‘Mental Illness and Why The Skeptic Community Should Give a Shit’. (For the record, I’m not being sarcastic. This is literally one of the best skeptical presentations I’ve ever seen.) They tell you that people who think mental illness isn’t a big deal and sufferers should just get over it, they’re just ignorant. They tell you that by getting so emotional, you’re turning off the people you want your message to reach. How would you react?

    Please be aware, that I’m not asking for a full retraction, a week of self-flagellation for penance, or anything close to that. I’m just asking for you to see through the eyes of those who criticized your post, and acknowledge the actual reasons why they did so.
    Thanks.

    • eccles11

      Your analogy is not similar enough to be valid. Saying a response was “disproportionate” implicitly states that there is somewhere along a spectrum, a proportional response. Absolutely nothing JT has written would come close to indicating that the proportionate response is “no response”.

      • Laury Plant

        eccles11 hits the nail on the head. Saying ‘this action was too far’ was not and IS not the same as saying ‘any action was wrong’.

        The whole issues isn’t one of ‘don’t respond, don’t react’ but one of ‘how far is too far’. Categorising it as silencing a minority isn’t helping anyone answer that question.

        I hate that Vacula and other disreputable folks will latch on this as a ‘anti-FTB’ target, but for the moment the main FTB folks are missing this simple question. ‘How far is too far to take that anger?’. It’s a valid question, and until someone does something extreme (gawd I hope not, ever ever) then dancing around it like it automatically ‘silences the minority’ is bullshit.

      • Parse

        Silencing, as used in these contexts, isn’t limited to “no response.”
        (Emphasis mine)

        Silencing tactics are fairly simple. They are methods used to quash dissent. To dismiss or disable the voices of dissent against the privilege[-]induced majority speak. They can include trolling someone, threatening someone, making offensive jokes, using slurs, acting violent or intimidating, demanding or even criticizing anger from a marginalized person, demanding that a marginalized person change their methods for addressing privilege and a host of other things that are design[ed] to control the means of communication and discourse.

        Source

        • eccles11

          He didn’t critcise the anger itself, a point he has had to re-iterate numerous times. However, if such outbursts are the only method in which this person has to communicate(which I don’t believe is true) then silence would from a consequentialist standpoint, be the better option.

          This silencing post is what someone wrote on a wiki, and it seems inclined, whether intentionally or not to protect any and all methods of communication from criticism, as long as it is from a marginalised person. None of it should be beyond criticism. Bad tactics and bad behaviour are just that. Lumping it all in with being ‘silenced’ is an excellent and dishonest way to shield it from judgement and scrutiny.

  • ohnugget001

    I am so pleased that a growing number of prominent bloggers are coming to the realization that the Free Thought Blog stamp of approval is not required in this community to be an advocate for equality of any kind. Indeed it’s becoming more of a badge of courage now to have a Svan, Christina, or as in this post, Meyers himself, denounce you. As more of our movement’s more prominent members begin to distance themselves from those who have elected to form there own sub-culture of hatred to anything that is not 100% in agreement with them (FTB/A+) the faster we can refocus on advancing real change. I applaud you, JT. Your post was truly precise, insightful, and one of the best that I have read recently which addresses, not just the original topic on which you wrote, but the callous, mean-spirited way that your critics went about attacking you for things that you did even say or imply. That is a standard tactic that they have employed for far too long and now you along with others are having the moral courage to call them out. Thank you so much for having the courage to do so and the honesty to simply state that you are tired of thinking you need their approval – especially when I would think that if THEY are against you, you most likely have the higher moral ground.

  • MosesZD

    lol. Did you think it would be different? Did you think you’d get a free pass? If Harris, Dawkins, etc. can’t escape these clowns, you can’t either.

    You either roll-over and kiss the FTB-bully butt or, sooner or later, you are where you are right now.

    Good luck.

  • Allison Kirkpatrick

    JT, you forgot rule #1 of dealing with the likes of McReight, Greta, Myers, etc. – complete adherence to all of their positions – no matter how radical or extreme – is required, or you will be denounced as an enemy, or some other such nonsense. It does not matter if you agree with them 99% of the time – that’s not good enough.

  • Laurence

    JT,

    From what I’ve read about Bria’s “outburst”, it seems like you have represented it in worst possible light while representing the woman’s question in the best possible light. You have attributed extremely negative motivations on Bria while attributing more positive motivations on the question-asker. This seems to me that you are not capable of treating this topic fairly at all. I don’t understand why you have you to represent Bria in the worst possible light to criticize her. I feel like the words that you used to express yourself in this situation were just as unfair to Bria as you think she was to the question-asker. If she is out-of-line, then I think you are just as out-of-line.

    And because you have been criticizing people like Bria and Jen on these issues, it seems clear to me that you owe people like Vlad Chituc and Chris Stedman apologies. You are basically using the same kind of arguments against Bria and Jenn as they have used on you in the past. Why is it wrong when they use them against you, but okay when you use them against Bria and Jen. I mean, you have treated Vlad Chituc worse on Facebook and said much worse things about Chris Stedman than Bria treated the question-asker. If you want to be consistent, then I think you owe those two a huge apology. If you choose to not give one, then it is hard for me to think of you as anything other than a hypocrite.

    • Jasper

      Chris Stedman has been brought up a few times.

      I’m curious what it is about Stedman you think JT finds loathesome, versus JT’s point here.

      As I understand it, Stedman is a little too “chummy” with the religious.. there’s a difference between that, versus becoming completely unglued at them. I consider myself an (edit) UN-apologetic “confrontationalist”, and even I get that there’s limits to what I do. I’m constantly censoring myself, and toning down my rhetoric… because I get the basic idea that putting too much force one someone is just going to cause them to shut down.

      The difference between someone like Stedman, and I, is that I think that threshold is much higher.

      • Laurence

        This isn’t about what Stedman or Vlad believes, but how JT has treated them in the past. JT has treated them really poorly and has assumed all kinds of pretty bad motives about them and called them some pretty terrible names. The way that JT has interacted with them is definitely not helpful. It’s not going to convince them to change their minds. If it is okay for JT to do this, then I cannot understand how it would not be okay for Bria to commit the actions that she did.

        • Nate Frein

          Especially since JT is using their own rhetoric in this post.

    • Jasper

      This just kind of reminds me of the “You atheists are just another kind of religion” retort

  • Matt Facciani

    This current kerfuffle as well as previous kerfuffles in the secular movement all represent a general depressing theme.

    I study brains for a living and I cannot for the life of me begin to understand what goes on in people’s brains who resort to bickering and name calling with others who agree with them on 99.9% of things. Why must we create such an unnecessary divide between our friends and allies? Why can we not appreciate a slightly different perspective on issues? It is OKAY to disagree. By truly attempting to see another person’s perspective we can learn so much from them as well as ourselves. We should be able to have civil discourse on issues despite slight disagreement.

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      “Why must we create such an unnecessary divide between our friends and allies? Why can we not appreciate a slightly different perspective on issues? It is OKAY to disagree. By truly attempting to see another person’s perspective we can learn so much from them as well as ourselves. We should be able to have civil discourse on issues despite slight disagreement.”

      Unfortunately the Atheism+ crowd is unable to behave like adults who can civilly express disagreement. You’re either with them or against them as Richard Carrier said. Call-out culture is the order of the day and disagreement may make you one of all of the following: rape-apologist, misogynist, homophobic, racist, invalidator of experiences, gaslighter and all of the other nonsense they so casually deem. The person, instead of the issue as hand, is attacked.

      • Matt Facciani

        Dealing in absolutes will always be counterproductive and I don’t know why so many people fail to understand this. Let’s say I said something perceived to be misogynistic. Let’s also say that I was not intending to be malicious, but I was either ignorant or misinformed. Would attacking me result in a change of my behavior? Would isolating me and labeling me as a misogynist actually make me reconsider my position? It most cases, it would not. I would probably be less inclined to see what I did wrong (assuming I was wrong) and be less likely to appreciate the perspective of the person who attacked me. Furthermore, instead of attacking me, the attacker could try to see why I would say such a thing. Even if I was wrong, perhaps they could learn the cause of why I would say such wrong things.

        There are countless studies showing that the best way to convince someone you are right is through being competent, but also having warmth. So if we really want to change people’s minds, we can’t just boast about how smart we are and attack people, we do have to make a concerted effort to be considerate towards them. I wish more people would do that.

        • yazikus

          Even if I was wrong, perhaps they could learn the cause of why I would say such wrong things.

          Well good, at least there would be a silver lining to having to listen to you say something perceived as misogynistic.

          • Matt Facciani

            I agree. If you understand why someone is saying misogynistic stuff, perhaps you can lessen it in the future once you see why they said it.

          • Cat

            Too many abuse not only the use of the word misogynistic, but people when it’s thrown around like a wet paper towel

          • yazikus

            Too many abuse not only the use of the word misogynistic, but people when it’s thrown around like a wet paper towel

            Is this missing the second half of your comment? Word Salad it does make.

      • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

        As a masterclass in “civilly expressing disagreement” Mr Vacula would like to present this as exhibit A:
        http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/01/22/drama-is-not-disagreement/

        More of a how not to do it, but I’m sure it was all some clever “satire” of A+ and not him showing he is unable to be “adult”.

    • rmjohnston

      “Bad-faith arguments don’t deserve a civil response, and if the attempt to be civil gets in the way of exposing the bad faith, civility itself becomes part of the problem.”–Paul Krugman

      Civility in the face of bad faith such as exhibited by the “question” that instigated this matter is vice, not virtue, and anyone demanding that racist behavior be met with civility is an apologist and part of the problem.

      • Matt Facciani

        Like I said in my other comment, being civil results in better change. Would you rather focus your energy on simply demonizing people or helping them change their problematic behavior?

  • Maude

    It’s really sad how you are not listening, JT. You are not responding to your criticisms, and I think the reason is because you do not understand it. If you’d shown in the past that you can take criticism and consider it, people who are educated about race issues would spend more time trying to make you understand. Disagreement is fine. But you have to listen for it to make any sense. First, no one is telling you that you have to support anger (which by most people present was not represented as such). The words you used were uselessly hyperbolic. What is ironic is that you spend hours explaining how people who are more knowledgeable than you in a field should react (race and gender issues aren’t your thing, and that’s fine). You can disagree with her all you want. I’ve disagreed with you in the past about your worse possible reading of Christians intentions, but I didn’t treat you like a little boy throwing a tantrum. I didn’t write thousands of words examining every details of what you said to the Christian (of course, this would be less pathetic since the systematic ‘oppression’ of atheists is not comparable to that of folks of color). You treated Bria like a little girl throwing a tantrum. Why is this so important to you? Why is it so hard to say ‘I’m not seeing it, but I’ll think about it’?

    You’re a writer. If most people who are immersed in social justice issues don’t ‘understand’ what you are writing when you write of social justice, don’t you think there is one common denominator? Writing ‘gee, all these people who work on social justice issues that don’t affect me, they don’t understand English! I said that I’m on their side!” Why do you insist on this ‘I’m a good guy’, I said she was not a bad person (why do you even bring this up? who said that meant she was a bad person? you’re obsessed with this good/bad person thing)? Anyway, so far you are not listening. Listening does not mean you have to agree. You don’t even have to care about the topic. But since you don’t bother to listen and respond to actual criticism, people in the know are not interested in being thorough with you anymore (the above is not related to the actual criticism). From what I know about you, you seem like a good person, who wants people to feel welcome. I hope you really think about it and consider why you’re doing just the opposite. Or, as I wrote earlier, you can decide to not care about social issues, but support it from afar, that would be a lot better than what you are doing. You are really being Chris Steadman right now. Except that you are referring to people’s entire identity. We can’t hide the color of our skin. We can’t hide our gender. And we are positioned in society according to these arbitrary factors. That’s why it is worse than Chris Steadman. I can shelve my atheism when I’m looking for a job, and I won’t be discriminated against. I can’t hide my ethnicity and gender. And whatever your intention, your arguments are exactly what is perpetrating the status quo.

    Your insistence on lecturing and be the arbitrary of women and minorities on the proper way to be activists is odd. Why is this so important to you? Why are you so certain about the proper way, but clearly ignorant of the societal context? Do you think that because you only privilege from racism, that makes you more objective? Yet, that discomfort you are feeling is what brought us to a fairer world today.

    Are people still wondering why the atheist movement has such a hard time attracting women and minorities?

    • sautterron

      “We can’t hide the color of our skin. We can’t hide our gender. And we
      are positioned in society according to these arbitrary factors.” Not really. You can as well identify yourself with your occupation – eg. “I’m a doctor”, or “I’m an engeneer”, and let everyone know that. Or you can be identified as a successful person, or as an intellectual, or as an atheist or whatever else. The rule is not to passively let outsiders decide what your primary identity is.

      • Nate Frein

        Wish I lived in your fantasy world.

      • vermontster

        It’s not about how you identify yourself, but how other people’s perceptions of you based on things like the color of your skin or how you present your gender. Yelling from the rooftops that you’re a doctor won’t matter one iota to someone who has decided that because of x factor that you are not worth listening to or treating with politeness, much less respect.

      • Ayanna Watson

        I’m a lawyer. That doesn’t seem to address the daily racism and sexism that I face daily.

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

        And yet, all those outsiders will make judgments about and interact with Maude or Ayanna based in large part on their race and gender. It isn’t passively letting outsiders decide what your primary identity is to acknowledge and be angry about how they treat you if they decide those are your important characteristics.

        I can insist all I want that I’m a gaming writer and that’s my identity, but if someone wants to treat me like a ‘dumb gurl’, I can’t stop them.

  • Brad Broge

    And this is how you lose my respect.

    Good bye.

    • Richard Sanderson

      Goodbye. Don’t come back. Same goes for PZ, Jen, Zvan, Benson and all the other women abusers and bullies you want to hang out with.

      • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

        I’m sure JT is proud to see the Slymepit’s delusional #bravehero already defending his blog for him.

        • Richard Sanderson

          I’m sure the FTB acolytes are delighted to have Greg Laden and Ool0n, senders of violent threats, defending them. I’m sure they are happy having abusive bullies and #WomenAbusers such as PZ, Ophelia Benson, Zvan, etc. as part of their increasingly exiled group.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    JT, I’d just like to know why you, an atheist, are wasting your time writing these posts instead of doing something about North Korea and other problem atheists.

    • eccles11

      This post is entirely relevant and on point to the topic, makes no misrepresentations of JTs post, or any other aggregious logical fallacies.

  • Andrew S. Williams

    I hate to say it, but I agree with Greta’s shortened version of this post. I see you spending thousands of words trying to say you weren’t disagreeing with Bria’s anger, or her motivations behind that anger, but yet berating her for her “outburst”. The implication, even if not what you intended, is that she should only express her anger in ways you agree with. You spend no time reflecting on what might have motivated Bria’s outburst (I mean the actual racism she was personally motivated by, not your broad statements regarding the anger of minority groups in general), but you spend lots of time reflecting on the poor questioner who Bria shot down.

    Moreover, you’ve left out a lot of context– Mandisa’s full response, which makes it clear that the question came completely out of left field, and also Mandisa’s support of Bria. If you want to come across as the reasonable one, you shouldn’t just ignore context that goes against your argument.

    I’m a writer. I know what it’s like to be misinterpreted, but it’s the fault of the writer, not the fault of the reader, when that happens. And given the huge number of words you’ve devoted to this topic, I think you could have spent some time being clearer, and trying to be empathetic as opposed to preachy. You claim not to like unnecessary drama, but all this incident shows me is that the people who claim the loudest to dislike drama are the ones most likely to stir it up and then keep it going for poor reasons.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    JT, as you are someone who is mentally ill, I’d like to know what exactly you are planning to do about the all the mentally ill people living on the streets and accosting people for lose change.

    • eccles11

      Do you expect him to loudly berate you? Especially if you weren’t really obviously trolling with this.

      • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

        How dare you accuse me of trolling! I demand JT pull you aside right now to explain to you how utterly and completely wrong you were to use such a term to describe me. Your anger is clearly a result of your own preconceptions. Why, I just had coffee earlier with someone who would tell you without hesitation that I’m a lovely person with the best of intentions. He even gave me a hug!

        • darwintyson

          I absolutely have anger management issues and you are absolutely an asshole…you should please feel free to take me aside.

          • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

            No, taking you aside is JT’s responsibility. Didn’t you read his posts?

            Perhaps he’ll also take time out of whatever else he is doing to explain to you the very simple concepts of sarcasm and satire.

    • Aaron Johnson

      That is a pretty low thing to say.

      • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

        How dare you not give me the benefit of the doubt on this! You interrupted my question to JT. I’m sure he’ll be pulling you aside any moment now to lecture you on your tone and how to make your anger more ‘constructive’.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    JT, I know I shouldn’t be asking this, but what are you doing to prevent another atheist like Stalin from outlawing religion, disappearing folks, and generally eliminating the concept of free speech? I’m just asking questions here. It would take someone who is themselves a bigot with anger management issues to possibly construe my words as not having the best of intentions. I just want to learn. Please take time away from whatever else you are doing to educate me. How else can I possibly learn?

  • Melisa

    Well said! I like you JT but we don’t agree on everything. Not even everything in this article. However, thanks for standing up not only for yourself, but those of us who want to discuss important issues like feminism, but DO remain quiet because we don’t see any sense in being shouted down and vilified because we didn’t choose the right brand.

    • Nate Frein

      As opposed to being taken “gently” aside and admonished for not having the right tone?

      • http://schlosnagle.com Steve Schlosnagle

        And then write 11,000 words about it to try to cut down on all the “Unnecessary Drama”…

      • Gehennah

        I don’t see it as being admonished. I think Bria was out of line. I understand her anger, but even when angry, you should still try to be rational.

        Instead of berating someone who asks a stupid question, that may have actually been out of true ignorance, you could educate them.

        • Nate Frein

          How was she not rational?

          • Azkyroth

            Do YOU know of any integer roots she has? Didn’t think so. ;/

          • rmjohnston

            She was black and angry. To some people that means she was irrational. I leave as an exercise for the reader to draw any conclusions that might generally apply about people who buy into that line of reasoning.

          • sautterron

            “She was black and angry.” – and the question was about how to limit violence – is getting angry a good way to answer such question?

          • Nate Frein

            *snort*
            The question was a non-sequitor dog-whistle.

            And angry rhetoric does not equal violence.

          • Gehennah

            When people get angry, and begin interrupting others, they tend to act less rationally. I could care less what her skin color was. She could be black, white, or hot pink for all I care.
            The question was an ignorant question, the best way to answer an ignorant question is with rational thought and calmly.

          • Nate Frein

            Again, demonstrate in what way Bria’s response was irrational.

            Not how it might have been irrational.

            How it was irrational.

          • rmjohnston

            Well, she was emotional, and if you had properly learned all you know about rationality and emotions from people doing caricatures of Vulcans then you’d know that a person can’t be rational and emotional at the same time.

            In any event, everyone knows that women are emotional and can’t be rational, and that black people must have their anger dismissed as irrational because they live lives free of prejudice and have nothing to be angry about.

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    JT! I know you are right in the middle of something else and you are talking about an entirely different subject, but would you please tell me what your organization is doing about all these atheists dictating that churches have to marry homosexual couples?

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    JT! I know I shouldn’t be asking this and I know you were trying to speak on a different subject during a forum designed for you to speak on that subject, but would you mind telling me how atheism isn’t faith based because doesn’t it take faith to say god doesn’t exist?

    • Gehennah

      Is it faith based to say you do not believe talking donkeys, dragons, invisible pink unicorns, or leprechauns exist?

      And most atheists I know don’t claim god doesn’t exist, they simply do not believe in a god. It is irrational to believe in something without evidence. Show me convincing evidence a god exists, and I’ll believe in that god. This doesn’t mean that I would worship that god as in order for me to worship something, it would have additional criteria to make that being worthy of my worship (something that the Biblical god falls very short on).

      Of course you are a troll and already knew the answer before you asked.

      • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

        How dare you use such mean words to respond to me. I’m sure JT will be pulling you aside soon to tell you to behave.

    • sautterron

      That’s simple. Exist = manifests in reality. Look at reality with all those detection mechanisms a civilization has (telescopes, probes, microscopes, pattern detection and anomaly detection algorithms etc.) – do they detect a pattern of a god, or an anomaly to the laws of physics that has a resemblance to the concept of a god? If not, then with the accuracy our civilization can measure things, a god doesn’t manifest in reality, thus doesn’t exist.

  • sautterron

    What we learn from behavior of leading Atheism+/FTB representatives is that they are risky and unreliable. No matter how close your common positions are, no matter how much you cooperated in the past, or how large pool of your common enemies are, or how profitable it would be to be allies – they always attack a person (ad-hominem)! Attacks are usually crowd-sourced, they come from many blogs at once.

    It is done under a pretexts even of some minor details, on subjects usually completly unrelated to the main topics of atheism, freethought, skepticism, rationality etc. So basically you either completly surrender to them and their extremist version of left-wing ideology, or you are a subject of personal attack (not a discussion on merits of your claims). And attack is not only a single instance of verbalism, during it they defriend you, call for a boycott, “disown” you etc. That’s evil in itself.

    This means few things: first of all it’s not worth to invest in being friends with them in the first place. It’s just too easy to loose your investment by a single minor disagreement that leads them to such acts of hostility. It’s also not worth promoting them or supporting them, as there’s a risk of an unexpected ad hominem attack from them either you or someone valuable, and the more promient they are, the stronger it is going to be.

    Such hothead acts of aggresion over minor stuff are also not supportive of building wide coalitions for secular cases, as these will necessary must include people with whom FTB/A+ people won’t agree over even major issues (eg. pro-secular christians, or conservative atheists), and thus be even more nasty towards them. For such purposes A+/FTB crowd needs to be avoided.

    • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

      “they always attack a person” .. Orly? I see them attacking the behaviour and words not the person… Unless in this case, for example, you can find where they call him “JT Everhard” mock his struggles with mental illness and call him a “whackaloon” and “damaged” … Nope that would be from the Slymepit, home of reasoned “skepticism” since, well never. Given they are positioned as the anti-FTB/A+ crowd, I think I’ll chose FTB/A+ and their “adhom” criticism of words and actions every time. Thanks!

      • Richard Sanderson

        Someone on Twitterz says you’ve been sending threats of violence, or something. Learning from Greg Laden, are we?

        • Richard Sanderson

          Obviously, the truth hurts, eh Ool0n?

      • Pitchguest

        Really? Is that your final answer?

        Let’s see what the evidence says, shall we?

        Exhibit A.

        Exhibit B.

        Aww. Looks like it’s not right at all, is it?

        Do you ever get tired of being wrong, James?

        Edit: In fact, I removed the “h” and just typed “wackaloon” and still no dice. (Proof.) Another fabrication from wholecloth. Tsk tsk tsk. Tell you what, James? If you turn off the computer now, and actually make an effort to take care of your daughter (poor girl), then maybe you’ll have enough dignity left to save face.

        Edit 2: I mean, you’d still be a fucking idiot and you should probably get counselling due to the whole “child porn” bout you had a while back (for her sake), but it would still be better than this. Get help. Then get out.

        • Richard Sanderson

          Wot! Oolon is lying through his teeth again? Hogan’s ghost!!!

          • Pitchguest

            Who’d a thunk!

        • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

          Hehe, you really should use Google rather than the phpbb search…

          “yes yes JT. That’s it. We’re jealous of the happiness of two whining whackaloons.
          The ego, how does that spindly little neck hold it up?”
          –> Maybe not calling JT a whackaloon, but well, that’s splitting hairs.

          Context FTB’ers
          “they are a heavily damaged bunch. Far more than the average, I think.”

          –> Common theme that the pitters are all “normal” , “sane” and “rational” while their opponents are “crazy” and “damaged”

          Nice lot you hang out with PitchGuest.

  • Richard Sanderson

    Jennifer McCreight has now being promoted to Level 1 of the #WomenAbusers Anti-FTB Block List.

    • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

      #delusional

      • Richard Sanderson

        Says the guy who actually promotes a spambot on Twitter, has the abusive twerp Spokesgay as a fellow admin of that bot, defends Greg Laden, downloads dodgy images to his computer, sends death threats (as per FTB definition of threat) to people, etc.

        If you have read the rulez to the #WomenAbusers Anti-FTB Block List, you will know why Jennifer is now at Level 1. She “provides a space” for bullies and harassers.

        Just remember, the list rules are based on your system!

  • Robin Marie

    1) You cannot compare — even if you are not saying they are exact equivalents — the experiences of white atheists like yourself in interacting with the religious to the plight of the black community. You really cannot. That’s absurd. It’s beyond absurd. It’s amazing — people think they know. Slavery, Jim Crow, etc — oh yeah, I am “aware,” I am sensitive. Then they display how much they are NOT aware when they suggest they have experienced something even remotely similar, when they have Oh So Much Not.

    2) So anger is appropriate, but not this expression of it, in this circumstance? Have you ever investigated the scholarly topic of the politics of respectability? Where the people who historically are doing the oppressing, get to police and control where and how the oppressed express their resistance and anger? This entire masterpiece of a post is exhibit A.

    3) It may be hard to accept, but yes, because you are a white straight male, there are certain privileges that you ought not to be afforded if we are ever going to actually reverse the amount of privileges you currently have *over* other social groups. This is no fault of your own actions; but social problems are much bigger than us and our good intentions. I am white female, so, for example, it is not my place to tell black people when to be angry, how to make arguments, what language to use, what to wear…it is basically not my place to tell them *anything,* short of people actually committing clearly unethical acts, like violence, etc. Other people in that community are the ones who will deal with and debate it; I don’t get to interject, because I cannot do so outside of the social context of my privilege.

    4) it’s amazing how people like to say, “yes, I get it, racism/sexism is bad, I think they are really bad!” then get upset when it becomes “divisive,” when people get angry about it in an “inappropriate” manner. It shows they do NOT get it — they DO NOT understand how these forces shape and limit the lives of millions of individuals, they DO NOT get how central they are to our society and our way of thinking, they DO NOT get the depression, despair, and death they have caused through the centuries. Because otherwise, you wouldn’t give a shit about your beloved atheist community — you would just want to scream from the rooftops about this all day, in horror. Considering that, you should be *applauding* those subjected to the relentless torrent of bullshit for being as calm as they are, day in, day out….

    • Richard Sanderson

      “Considering that, you should be *applauding* those subjected to the
      relentless torrent of bullshit for being as calm as they are, day in,
      day out….”

      Are you referring to the numerous victims of bullying and harassment from PZ and his horde, and various other bullies at FTB?

      Check your privilege.

  • darwintyson

    This reminds me of when I was a young child growing up in the city…when we would pay ball we picked captains and chose sides. In a broader sense here we are. Not the way I wanted it to go because there is political power in numbers and was hoping for the community to grow stronger that way.
    I’m a realist if nothing else. I read many arguments made on the blogs that I agree with or don’t but more recently have just made no sense at all.
    The PZ outing Shermer made no sense.
    The anonymous blog made no sense.
    It’s not how things have been done in my lifetime and while I am willing to compromise on some things I have my own sense of right and wrong.
    Those things will always be wrong to me. No compromise.
    Others have a different feeling regarding those blogs . They are entitled to their opinion. They are the other team.
    In this case I am not trying to win the game and beat the other team. I want as far away from them as possible. Their opinion of justice is completely divorced from mine.
    I do not wish them I’ll, I just want nothing to do with them
    They want nothing to do with me.
    I hate it because I wish we could grow together.
    We can’t.
    I’m a realist.
    Time for others to be realist also. Stop the sniping and take sides and see who does the best job.

  • TimothyFlowers

    Have you simply considered you aren’t competent to discuss racial issues? I know that it must be difficult to contemplate your competency especially given how high a bar your parents have set by their examples.

    Most importantly you have not even attempted to make a case that Bria embarrassed or humiliated this woman, intentionally or otherwise. You’ve merely asserted it. You have led no evidence and made no arguments. You’ve only put forth your characterizations and impressions of Bria’s statement. You have not provided any quotes. In fact, you left the room so you are not able to provide evidence of what occurred after that. And now in light of the statements of the speakers whose talks were interrupted, it is clear you are not providing the whole context. I wasn’t there so I’m going to have to give Bria the benefit of the doubt here. Given my involvement with ACT-UP, AIDS activism in general, and gay activism, I suspect that when I see the video I will conclude Bria didn’t go nearly far enough.

  • blondein_tokyo

    I have to add just one thing to my previous comment. While I think JT is wrong on this particular point, I think he is spot-on in regards to the reactions of the other bloggers. It’s possible to be an ally AND make mistakes*, and it’s possible to disagree with or even fight with a friend yet still stay friends.

    I’m actually rather disgusted at Jason’s post, where he flat-out ends his friendship with JT over this, and I’m disappointed with Greta and Jen for behaving as though JT is the enemy. He’s not.

    *I say this as someone who has made plenty of mistakes herself, yet is still doing her best to be an ally. I have had the opportunity to become good friends with a transperson, and she opened my eyes to many things that I THOUGHT I knew, but didn’t *actually* know, if that makes any sense.

    JT would do well to listen to what Briana and others are telling him, but I do not think anyone can argue that he is NOT an ally.

    • Kurt H

      It’s possible to be an ally AND make mistakes*

      True, but then you have to admit those mistakes. JT is not doing so. In fact, he appears to be building a wall — particularly when starts talking about certain figures in the movement being “increasingly toxic.” These are not the statements of someone who realizes that he made a mistake and wants to make amends. These are the statements of someone who intends to go on making mistakes of this nature on into the future.

      • blondein_tokyo

        He hasn’t yet understood his mistake. There’s still time for him to come around. Reading these comments will likely help him, as will taking a bit of time to think things though. It can take some time for people to really understand the subtleties of racism, particularly when they haven’t experienced it themselves. I expect we’ll see a “mea culpa” post in a few days. But even if we don’t, even if he takes longer to get it, that doesn’t make him NOT an ally, or make him an enemy as he’s being painted now.

        I’d also like to ask how can one “intentionally” make a mistake? If it’s intentional, it’s not a mistake, is it? If you think that he’s the kind of person who would, against all advice and despite the feedback he’s gotten, would do something like this again, then you must think he’s completely insensitive AND purposely obtuse. Personally, I don’t think he’s that kind of person. He seems like a truly nice guy, is honest with himself, and I have little doubt that he will reflect on what is being said and will come to the right conclusion.

        And while I wouldn’t say “certain figures” are becoming “increasingly toxic,” I would say that at times “certain figures” have been unreasonable and reactionary. And I say this as an ardent radfem. :)

  • Mandisa Thomas

    One of the organizers running the camera transcribed the woman’s exact questions and statements. I will admit that my wording (regarding the statement “I probably shouldn’t ask this”) to JT in my full response to him was off because I did not remember exactly what she asked, so I apologize for that. But here it is verbatim, so you can decide for yourselves if it is still egregious, and therefore warranted the reaction from Bria.

    “I don’t know if this is off the subject or not but I was wondering what your group might be doing with the black on black crime? The church has not been able to do anything and it’s just terrible, especially in Chicago. I mean I understand there are something like 20, 30 murders, you know a month. Uh, I mean that’s like 1 a day. Toledo may be a little better but certainly we have our problems so, what are you and your community ——- are you addressing this in any way, how?”

    • John H

      Yup, that’s still baldly racist. Thanks for the clarification.

    • Steven Carr

      ‘I don’t know if this is off the subject or not but I was wondering what your group might be doing with the black on black crime? ‘

      To answer the question, they are going to denounce racism. Is that so hard to understand?

  • John H

    JT, I think you’re wrong about calling out Crutchfield. Her response to a seriously racist question was both proportionate and appropriate, and your own (presumably framed-to-be-at-least-fair-if-not-outright-charitable-to-you) description of your conversation with her gave me the same creeping willies I get when a White guy thinks it’s a good idea to tell me a racist joke because I’m white or a man tells me a sexist joke because I’m a man, because it reads as imperious and condescending. You (presumably) know I think you’re a great activist and agree with you on a wide range of issues. Hell, I was even provisionally defending you in allowing the Slymepit sludge to muck up the comments (so VERY lovely to see you all here – just in case the CAPS didn’t sell it, that was condescending sarcasm) and pushing back against another mis-aimed both-barrels blast of invective and projection from Zvan. But you’re just straight-up in the wrong here. Not because members of a dominant group can never criticize the angry responses of members of a marginalized group (Greta made a terrible argument there, and one I’ve been seeing far too much in social justice circles lately), but because you were wrong in this specific instance. You’re burning bridges over people calling you out for doing that tone-trolling thing you absolutely hate when other people do it, and I just don’t see how that’s worth it.

    For the record, (though it’s been suggested before, I’ll reiterate) the ‘proper’ way to handle that situation were you worried about a lack of conciliatory behavior toward a cluelessly-racist person was to reach out to the questioner and explain why her comment was racist and therefore provoked the reaction it did in the very concilatory tone you think would work better in that situation. You’re a firebrand where Stedman is a diplomat; Crutchfield being the firebrand was your chance to play diplomat in a situation where you thought it the better option. Instead you decided to tone-police a Black woman about her response to some racist (in two distinct ways!) JAQing off. You made a mistake in the heat of the moment and now you’ve defensively doubled down and dug a deeper hole. It happens, especially to straight White men (like me, and you) attempting to do social justice, and it doesn’t have to become this big a deal. If you’re really that concerned about conciliatory approaches between atheist activists who generally agree, please consider apologizing, promising to do better, and then making an effort to follow through on that promise. At the very least, stop digging. Please. I’ve seen you take a step back, reconsider, and change your mind before, and I also think you really do believe sexism and racism are problems you’d like to see end. I think this is an instance where you can do better than you have been doing, and as someone who generally admires you and the work you have done and continue to do, I’d like to see you do better.

    And for the record, Greta and Jen at least have not changed tone much in the several years I’ve been reading them, at least not as far as I can tell. If they sound different to you, it’s likely because you’re reading them differently.

    So, there’s my impassioned plea for this kerfuffle. Now I have to go rock out and get hammered at a gypsy-punk show on a weeknight, because I don’t get to pretend I’m twenty again all that often. I wish you well and good, and while you don’t have any particular reason to do so, I hope you’ll consider what I’ve said.

  • Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Not much need for a long comment arguing the point, Jen, Greta and many others have covered it far more clearly then I ever could. Best of luck to you JT, I won’t be coming back.

    Just one bit of food for thought, if Vacula and the FTBully crowd are in your comment thread supporting you, its time to try to figure out where you went wrong.

  • Gen

    There’s this big controversy brewing around Bria’s reaction, when I
    think part of the attention should be directed at the LACK of action at
    the event. If you, JT, also found the comment ignorant and offensive, and
    presumably others in the audience did as well, why didn’t you or one of them
    “calmly” educate the woman about her ignorance/racism? Why did it have
    to escalate to the point that a black woman had to respond and break
    down in tears in her defense of her people and community? Your silence
    and those of the audience members speaks volumes, but worse, you
    exacerbate your own silence (cowardice?) by publicly chastising a WOC
    for a moment that you, yourself, could have forestalled. Your actions
    are practically textbook definition of protecting white womanhood from the “outburst” of an “angry” black woman. You claim that you’re an ally to POC, but this white woman (who gets to remain unnamed which offers her further protection) is being rescued via blog by a knight in white armor against that angry, raving black woman. And who came to Bria, or Mandisa, or other POC’s defense in that audience? The problem is black women ALWAYS have to come to our
    own defense when we should be able to trust upon our allies to, you
    know, be allied with us. Then we’re attacked further by our “allies”
    for actually expressing our rage at these daily microaggressions. You
    can’t have it both ways. You can’t be cocooned in your self-righteous,
    SILENT anger about the woman’s question and STILL remain Bria’s ally as you publicly eviscerate her for her justified rage.

    • rmjohnston

      Thanks for that fantastic response to JT. If anything is going to get through to him, that was it.

    • Psychotic Atheist

      The question was addressed by the person it was asked to. Some time later (and not just a few minutes it seems) Bria reacted. It didn’t escalate to the point where a black woman ‘had to respond’ in the manner that she did. Her responding in the manner she did was the escalation.

      And JT is not eviscerating her for her justified rage. He privately questioned the appropriateness of the expression and timing of the expression of that rage and publicly discussed it further when it started to be discussed by others. By all accounts, Bria publicly eviscerated the woman (who I believe is named Judy). JT did not eviscerate Bria.

  • Laurence

    Now my main question to JT is what, in his opinion, should Bria have done instead of what she did? How should she have approached it differently? If she should have approached it calmer, then how should have that played out? If it was a problem of using particular words, then what words should she have used? And as a follow question to this, does his advice on this match his previous behavior when dealing with religious people?

  • Art_Vandelay

    I’m not really willing to interject here…but may I propose that we all just smoke a joint and talk shit about Jesus again?

  • Mel Jones

    Oooh, JT’s got some new friends. Way to go fella.

    • Richard Sanderson

      That’s a bit like a determined cult member trying to undermine someone who has left the cult, and is now experiencing life with ordinary members of the public. It’s funny how so-many FORMER FfTB acolytes compare their experiences with leaving a cult.

  • Ayanna Watson

    I am utterly disappointed and disgusted with your blogging on this issue.

    You still seem to be missing the point, JT and both of the
    posts that I’ve read authored by you completely disregard the real issue – your
    lack of authority to tell Bria how she should have reacted. It’s simply not your place. Not because you are white, but because you are willfully ignorant.

    You speak against embarrassing others, yet you’ve gone out of your way to make blogs, that not only opening lashes out at Bria, but names her in the title. I see no mention of the “innocent naïve white lady’s” name who asked the ridiculously racist question. Why is that? You chose to protect her identity but openly criticize Bria. Your entire approach to “addressing” the incident is racist.
    Either both of their names should be in the title, or neither. (And neither is the better choice.)

    “What I did say is that while offense at the questioner’s ill-informed question was understandable, that I didn’t feel like a question that carried no malicious intent should convince someone they’re unwelcome. “ ß-You can’t be serious! Why would we feel comfortable at conferences when people can ask questions like this and be presumed “naïve” and/or “ill-informed?” And, should you be brave enough to address the stupidity of a racist question, a person like you would pull US aside to tell us how we should not respond. That is absolutely NOT a
    welcoming situation. And if that’s not enough, there will be a public blog naming us in the title. For some of us that are not “out” or have (potential) employers “googling” us, that may be problematic. (Shall I share the income disparities
    in this country, broken down by race and gender – or are you familiar with that
    already?) Of course, this and other situations make us feel unwelcome!

    “There are certain things that are out of line. . . . Nobody denies there are certain behaviors that are both bad ideas or unethical (using a bullhorn to talk over another speaker, punching a person you disagree with – extreme examples, but used to make the point). My position is that shouting down an audience member who had a genuine ignorance and who meant no offense, even if her ignorance was offensive, didn’t make it acceptable for Bria to cross the line with impunity.” ß Please explain when it’s appropriate to ask a racist question, particularly when the subject of the question has nothing to do with the speaker’s presentation. You skipped over that part.

    “I merely said that her outburst was inappropriate, unfair, and that she to this point has demonstrated zero remorse for embarrassing a well-meaning (but ignorant person) on purpose.” ß Another example of your willful ignorance. You absolutely did not give Bria the same courtesies that you gave the unnamed questioner. On one hand, it’s ok for Bria to be upset and for her response to be
    emotionally driven. On the other hand, you argue that it must have been on purpose. Do you not see the problem with your reasoning? Why do you assume that Bria’s intent must have been solely to embarrass and the lady posing the question could not have been? The lady’s question was disrespectful,
    period, irrespective of the racial undertones. It had absolutely nothing to do with Mandisa’s speech AND on top of that it was racist. Since when is this behavior deemed to be “well-meaning?” Nevertheless, your statements are inconsistent.

    “But did it betray a closed mind or any malice toward racial minorities on the part of the questioner? No. Absolutely not. And for her to then be treated as an
    enemy to black people, as someone who deserved public humiliation that should be reserved for people of hate…it wasn’t right.” ß The answer to this question is yes, it DOES show a closed mind and malice toward racial minorities. It is not ok for Bria to publically humiliate (as you say), but it is okay for you to do it on a MUCH larger scale?

    “ What if someone asked it in a biology class? Or asked their biology teacher
    afterward? Is it so hard to believe that a white person in the audience at a conference where people tend to be more supportive of equality, with a black person on stage who is an expert on what is going on with the black community, could ask the question she did to get a black person’s perspective on something she was ignorant about? Could the audience member not have been
    a good-hearted person who is the product of the same community of ignorance
    that Bria and I both lament? Far from being impossible, this sounds even on its face like the most plausible explanation to me (and that’s before you take tone, body language, and actually talking to the people involved into account). ß
    Your analogy fails on so many levels. First, a biology class IS relevant to evolution. A better analogy would be asking an art teacher. Mandisa is NOT an expert on crime in the black community. She is an expert in the hospitality industry, hence the reason for her speech. Your questions only
    further display your unwillingness to learn for YOUR mistakes, here. No, it does not sound plausible at all.

    Your commentary has so many racist remarks that I could see why your discussions with Bria did not go well. To avoid having my own “outburst,” I’ll stop here. -AW-

  • http://lotharson.wordpress.com/ Lothars Sohn

    Hello JT,

    “Repeatedly, until I am positively blue in the face, I have said most of their anger is justified. I have shared Greta’s atheists and anger talk and quoted it repeatedly. I think anger is necessary to be an activist.”

    I’m a progressive Christ and I agree to some extent with that. I’m angry against fundamentalism of every kind (also anti-theist ones) and try to take action to limit their influence on the public sphere.

    That said, I believe it is never permissible to inflict emotional pain to a nice person in order to push her to give up her views.

    According to my large experience, the New Atheists keep using emotional bullying for that very purpose.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son
    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    JT, I’ve been reading your blog for years (ever since your Xanga days); you and Greta were among the first atheist bloggers I read, and I started reading Jen a little bit after that. (I’m posting here a comment similar to what I posted over at Greta’s blog. I don’t know if you’ll see it with all the hundreds of comments, but I’ve commented in agreement on your blog over the years, so it only seems fair to also speak up when I disagree.)

    When you wrote the original, I thought you weren’t giving enough benefit of the doubt to Bria vs. the amount of benefit of the doubt you were giving to the question asker. (Plus, I couldn’t help noticing that you’ve been quite harsh in your criticism of religious apologists and creationists.) But this response to Jen actually made me see how you’re not just trying to give the benefit of the doubt to the question asker, but are actually seeing the situation differently, due to some assumptions you’re making.

    I don’t disagree with you about the necessity of deciding which tactic is better for which situation, but I think you’re ignoring how people who are affected by racism would see the situation differently. You see it as a situation in which one person unintentionally asked a question with implied bigotry vs. one person who intentionally responded to the question in a harsh/impassioned/angry way (as I wasn’t there, I can only go on second-hand accounts), and conclude that the second person was more in the wrong, due to intent (which I think is relevant, but it’s invoked quite a lot and can be frustrating if you’re the target of well-intentioned discriminatory comments).

    Another person (maybe someone who’s affected by racism or hears implied racist comments frequently) may see it differently. They may compare being affected by a questionable possibly-racist question vs. being embarrassed in public after asking a questionable possibly-racist question, and conclude that the first is the bigger problem. (Of course, there’s disagreement about how to talk about these issues. Part of it is also this: the fact that racism isn’t one of the major topics you write about makes it seems odd to write at length about *how* to address it.)

    Whites and blacks alike have been shown to exhibit this prejudice, which sort of cuts against both myself and Bria. She’s naturally more likely to read the worst of a white person in an ambiguous case and I’m naturally more likely to think better of them. So while Bria and I share the premise that this community should be better, I was more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to this community member and Bria was more likely to be wounded by her ignorance. I get that there are natural biases in place to overcome, and getting it gave me tremendous pause before I reached a conclusion on the matter. We all have biases. They simply make it harder to get at the truth – they do not necessarily make us wrong.

    This is where I just became disappointed. You had just quoted stuff about how there is bias against minority students. This larger societal issue of bias against minorities is relevant in this setting, too. It’s not about your or Bria’s possible bias towards the question asker, due to her race (though everyone has biases). It’s about how racial bias disproportionately affects minorities, how the question asker’s assumptions could have been affected by that societal bias, and how people who are disproportionately targeted hear comments/questions influenced by that bias all the time (in the media, in person, on the internet, etc.) and would be angry about it.

    Of course, not all actions are justified due to anger. It’s just that people see someone asking a questionable question get the benefit of the doubt *very frequently*, while seeing people who are angry about racism (or any other form of discrimination) get dismissed as being too angry *very frequently*.

    Well, I don’t know if I’ve said anything useful, but I’ll stop there.

    • Evil Lance

      Just because something disproportionately affects someone doesn’t mean that they’re always right.

      • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

        Of course. No one group has people who always right. I’m saying that some may consider factors other than intent in deciding which action was worse. Plus, just as the question asker may not have had bad intent, Bria may not have had bad intent either.

  • Trevor Britton

    My 2 cents because why not right?
    I tend to mostly comment when i disagree with JT. Or i only notjce his blog posts when they cause controversy within the movement. Soit goes.

    Whenever im in a room full of peers, or even superiors either intellectually or otherwise, i am personally more likely to change my views especially if my specific view or opinion is roundly criticized. There was a time where i though like the initial questioner, “why doesnt the black community fix their own problems? And what not. And i have changed that view and it started because i saw peers completely obliterate that viewpoint and yes maliciously.

    Explaining why the question is wrong and why it just doesnt work is good. Regardless of whether its done in a nice or angry tone of voice. Saying the person is simply racist and does not care would be a poor way to go about it. Being apologetic towards racism or racists is something that well meaning people can do, and its also bad.

    But really. A. Was there a problem here? Where did the problem start?
    Did it start when a person asked an ignorant question? Did it start when a person used a different q&a to answer the question? Did it start when JT puller bria aside? Did it start when JT posted about it? Did it start when other bloggers called JT out? Because i think there is disagreement between the affected parties on when this became a problem. I feel that bria was in the right for doing what she felt she needed to do. I think JT was in the wrong when he did what he thouht he needed to do (pull her aside). And JT put a magnifying glass to this whole episode when he decided to blog about it. Good going….

    B. Can this be fixed? Whats done is done. I do hope JT doesnt continue to blog about this. Unless he plans on being convinced that bria was okay for how she acted and understands that the steps he has taken have been more damaging to the atheist community than anything greta or jen or other feminist atheist bloggers could do. Is this just what its going to become? Whether its CfI or this incident, is it always going to be JT coming down more on the side of the privileged and then being blasted by other bloggers for doin so…. then a 4x as long rebuttal by JT further driving a wedge between himself and the “social justice” wing of the movement.

  • ThePrussian

    Well done. This is a very good post.

    May I point out that this is exactly why so many of us quit the Greta/Jen/Myers faction and decided to go elsewhere? Why so many of us decided that if _this_ was organized atheism we wanted no part of it? If _this_ was organized atheism, it was going to collapse at the first hurdle?

  • Sleazy Lyers

    I’m pretty sure I warned you about these harpies and others like them in the “skeptical” community. They positively reek of dogmatism but since you aren’t a very good skeptic it was apparently easy for you to oversee. Anyhow, you’re still a PeeZus wannabe. The guy you’ve emulated for years is PeeZus. How do you like them apples?

  • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

    JT, while you are at it, you might want to pull this guy aside too – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2011/12/defending-horrors-to-build-bridges/ . He sounds awfully angry.

  • Tom Johnson (not THAT one)

    You’ve written eleven thousand words in two posts about this incident (which you initiated by presuming to lecture a black woman about what is and isn’t racist, and how she should respond to it). You conclude by denouncing all your former FTB colleagues as liars and/or prescriptivist bullies, and firmly disassociating yourself from them. You abandon your comment string to allow your defense to be taken up by the very slymepitters you insist that you despise, including Justin Vacula, whom you named specifically the last time you threw an FTB woman under a bus (civilized bloggers consider closing comments when they’re going to be away from posts they have reason to suspect are going to be explosive).



    As long as we’re all saying things we think have to be said here, have you, or has anyone around you, considered that whatever mental-health regimen you’re currently on isn’t working as well as it might? I’m no more qualified to judge these things than you apparently are to recognize racist buzzwords when you hear them, but I tend to associate outbursts of this length and sustained thickheadedness with meds that need to be either taken more regularly, changed, or abandoned ASAP.



    For what little it’s worth, after two years of watching what looked like a great career as a humane atheist be systematically trashed at your own hands, I’m done with you. Perhaps you, Justin, Ron Lindsay, Al Stefanelli, and your respective spouses/escorts can get a good group rate for the next TAM.

    • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

      Ahh voted up, but its not cool to say this … “…whatever mental-health regimen you’re currently on isn’t working as well as it might?”

      People whose mental health regime is not working that well are prone to depression or other manifestations of their mental illness. Please don’t ascribe negative behaviours to mental illness by default as it stigmatises the mentally ill. Its a bit of a gaslighting exercise as well, make him doubt his decisions due to mental illness. Please retract that bit and I’ll vote you up.

      • Tom Johnson (not THAT one)

        I’m sorry to have worded it in just that way, but I have seen people off their meds act out like this, and at that length. Since I’m not a qualified therapist, and it’s just as likely that JT comes by his behavior “honestly” (I’m from JT’s former home in Columbus, Ohio, and we do get a lot of that here), I’ll retract the middle paragraph. I still consider JT’s behavior in this matter contemptible, but I have no good reason to attribute it to mental illness. Perhaps he just really, really doesn’t care about social justice.

      • Richard Sanderson

        People who have had episodes of mental illness might not want it broadcast on Twitter by a miscreant former friend and colleague.

        Oh, oops! I’m sure it was a simple mistake on McWrong’s part.

    • Evil Lance

      You clearly know next to nothing about mental illness. If you read anything about anti-depressants, you’d know that they aren’t even close to 100% effective — especially with very severe depression or anxiety. CBT doesn’t cut it, either. They’re the best things that are currently available, but they don’t even come close to helping everyone.

      • Tom Johnson (not THAT one)

        I said I would drop the meds angle, but I should clarify that I was thinking more of anti-psychotics than anti-depressants (which I take myself, so I do have some idea of their limitations). I’m old enough to be prone to the sort of ableism that prefers labeling people as being mentally ill rather than evil. That kind of ableism is, or should be, out of fashion these days, and a lot of JT’s new “hyperrational” slymer buddies do come off as more mean-spirited than ill, so I’ll concede the point. JT probably isn’t sick, he’s probably just bad, and I wish him luck with his new pals, at least the ones who remember to act as if they respect him.

  • Steersman

    Considering that many people have been throwing around accusations that that question – “I was wondering what your group might be doing with the black on black crime?” – qualified as racist, I’m wondering what definitions people are using for that as the responses sure don’t look at all consistent with any sort of standard definition that I’m familiar with, i.e., this one (1):

    rac·ism (rszm)
    n.
    1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
    2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race

    I sure don’t see even the merest shadow of a glimmer of an inkling of any assertion that all whites were superior to all blacks in that question. Nor do I see any “discrimination or prejudice” in it either.

    While it is not entirely evident in that definition, it seems that, analogous to sexism (2) – i.e., “attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender” – the problematic aspect of racism is due to the stereotyping, to the judging of an entire group of people based on the generally negative aspects or attributes of some segment of that entire group.

    But the “problem” with many people’s understanding of stereotypes (3) is that they don’t realize that those negative aspects are frequently an accurate characterization of those segments – by themselves.

    And, in the case in question, it seems a manifest fact that there is in fact a higher level of “black on black crime” – at least in some communities –- than there is “white on white” – which should have been the point disputed if there had been no truth to that implicit argument. But if the implication had been that all blacks were intrinsically more violent than all whites then that might reasonably be construed as being somewhat racist. But that does not at all seem to be a reasonable inference as it seems clear that the statement was predicated only on a simple fact – easily provable or disprovable – that there are, apparently, more violent individuals – on a per capita basis – within many black communities than there are within white ones.

    Now one might reasonably argue about the causes for that state of affairs, but it seems rather counterproductive and short-sighted to deny that fact – if it is indeed a fact – by trying to characterize the statement of it as a manifestation of “racism”.

    —-
    1) http://www.thefreedictionary.com/racism;
    2) http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sexism;
    3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotypes;

  • Steersman

    JT:

    I largely agree with most of your arguments, at least your “Meta of This Post” as
    that is about all I’ve had time to read. And I think you are to be commended
    for “taking the bull by the horns”, and are quite right to highlight the “increasingly
    toxic” aspects of the atheist/skeptic movements, although you seem not to have
    addressed the reasons for that. But while I certainly haven’t plumbed the depths of that particular question, I sort of get the impression that it is, to a significant extent, due to an increasing certainty on the part of many of us that only we, individually, are right on any given question, and that everyone else is to be anathematized as being beyond the pale. Which tends to promote the rather problematic “in-group morality, out-group hostility” of more ancient if not savage times.

    Rather ironic, in a sense, that the atheist-skeptic “movements” with their supposed claims to fame of criticial thinking, rationality and skepticism in contradistinction to the dogma and irrationality of the hated “religious fundamentalists” should now be exhibiting many of the features or aspects of those same “philosophies” or behaviours.

    However, while one might argue that every movement – every questionable one in any case – needs a scapegoat, I think you are guilty, at least to some extent, and in some error in selecting the “slymepit” as your “target of choice”. While I’ll readily agree that not everyone over there is the paragon of virtue you might expect everyone to be, I think a reasonably credible case can be made that more than a few over there have been voicing and advancing the same criticisms of FreethoughtBlogs, and related fellow travelers, and for some time, that you now happen to championing. The Slymepit does have its faults. But refusing to debate the issues with real facts, and turning forums into Internet Silos isn’t one of them.

  • KacyRay

    A white cis male supporting the A+ cause is an exercise in martyrdom. They will tolerate you up until the moment you question anything they say or do. You are not and will never be completely accepted.

    Your mistake was in believing their stated agenda. I suppose I can’t blame you.

    Mark my words, judgment day is on the way for you. Your absolute, unqualified capitulation will be required, or you will be declared the enemy. Sorry brother. It was always just a matter of time.

    • ThePrussian

      So, for that matter, is support by any non-male, non-white, non-cis person with any self-respect

  • ThePrussian

    May I also note something else?

    The faction that Greta et al have been part of has been worse than useless when it comes to fighting real menaces. Greta has a big mouth when it comes to attacking other atheists who have something to lose from her accusations. Here’s a question: what effect do you think her extended tantrums will have on Hizb ut-Tahrir? Jamaat e-Islamic? The Muslim Brotherhood? The Russian Orthodox Church? The Shiv Sena? The reborn fascist movements of Europe?

    If you have answered “less than bugger-all”, you have answered correctly.

    Of course, you can say that not everyone can do everything. Sexist comments are bad, and they are not made not-bad by the fact that some women are being burned alive for just being women. However, such a response elides the fact that the McCreight tendency either ignores or slimes and smears those who genuinely to fight those battles. Richard Dawkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and so on.

    So some of us, myself included, decided “The hell with you. We’ve got a real fight on our hands, and we don’t have time for your tears hurt feelings.”

    There’s an even worse effect of this rubbish. When people see the secular atheist movement as useless and self-pitying when it comes to real menaces, they will seek elsewhere. If liberals (classical liberals I mean, European liberals, not what Americans mean by it) don’t fight these menaces, people will turn to illiberal forces. This is what is happening to many of us in Europe – we are being ground between Islamic fanatics on the one side and native fascists on the other. We are stuck figuring out a way to pound on the fascists without projecting weakness, and opposing Islamic supremacists in a way that doesn’t end up giving ammo to the fascists.

    In the meantime a spoiled American princess complains that people are mean to her.

    Why should I care about that? She and her ilk will never fight for me – they couldn’t if they tried – why should I not turn my back on her?


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