Friday, July 6, 2012

'Deep Rifts' Or 'The Humanity Of It All'... Part 1

A friend of mine was curious about the 'Deep Rift' that has been cooking in the atheist-skeptic blogosphere for about a year now, culminating in the Twitter storm over the FTBullies hashtag. I offered to make a timeline with bullet points. Little did I know that chronicling those cataclysmic events was going to be such a monumental task, requiring the last drop of my Google-Fu and reading/listening comprehension. Anyhoo, I must admit it was eeriely fun revisiting those events, and consequently, wondering anew how, atheist-skeptic or not, we all are subject to the very human foibles and frailties of ego, prejudice, presumptions, and sadly, blind irrationality. Vraiment, the humanity of it all!

Disclaimer: Although I shall try to be an unbiased as possible in preparing this chronicle, I find myself sympathetic towards Rebecca Watson and her fellow skeptics in this matter. YMMV, of course. Also, L-O-N-G-read!!!

Elevatorgate (June 2011)
  • Rebecca Watson of SkepChick fame spoke at the 2011 World Atheist Convention in Dublin, Ireland, participating in a panel discussion on Communicating Atheism.
  • Prior to that, RW attended a panel on Women Atheist Activists, featuring Paula Kirby, a writer specializing in freethinking organizations and the author of a brilliant piece on the incompatibility of religion and science. RW had a lot of disagreements with Kirby who doesn't have a problem with (nor does she acknowledge the presence of) sexism in the atheist community.
  • She decided to discuss these issues from her perspective during her panel, and got a good reception from other panelists and the audience.
  • RW encountered a rather deplorable situation. At 4 a.m., when she was walking back to her room from the hotel bar, she was accosted in the elevator by this man who invited her back to his hotel room for coffee and more discussion. Though he appeared polite, RW felt extremely uncomfortable, particularly from her perspective of "single woman in a foreign country at 4 a.m. in the elevator" with no one else around, and perceived this as the man sexualizing her - something that she spoke out against earlier the previous day. So, in a video blog (vlog) that she had put up, she recounted this incident and lightly admonished men not to take this approach; her words were, "Guys, don't do that.".
  • There were many comments on the video replay of her panel session (posted by someone else), including some frankly nasty and misogynistic. RW concluded her vlog by saying that she was, in a way, thankful to them because people will hear her and then read those comments, thereby understanding the extent of the problem she talked about.
  • In the comments after her vlog, many people agreed and disagreed with her. RW herself clarified her perspective several times. There were, however, amongst the commenters one or two who spectacularly failed to understand RW's viewpoint, and all but accused her of lying and making things up to make a point.
MOAR Fallout
  • Amongst the people who vocally disagreed with RW, were a couple of women students, Rose St. Clair (who responded via a YouTube video, indicating that RW's reaction amounted to 'reverse sexism' towards men, thereby trashing Rebecca's experience) and Stefanie McGraw, who wrote out a post asking why RW thought that [I quote] "respecting women as equals and showing sexual interest (were) mutually exclusive" [End quote]. (My note: I hope that everyone who read RW's post and heard her in the vlog have by now understood the huge strawman in that line of argument.)
CFI Hullabaloo
  • At the end of June 2011, RW presented a talk at the CFI Student Leadership Conference, titled "The Religious Right VS Every Woman On Earth".
  • RW talked about her experience in Dublin. During the presentation, she put up a display of several hateful and highly misogynistic emails/messages that she had since received, noting that unlike her male colleagues in atheism/skepticism, she received messages that wanted to visit rape or other sexual abuse, or death upon her. (Another blogger put up a transcript of a part of her speech, and it was quite... illuminating.) The sad part is that not all of these came from crazy, unreasonable morons; some of them came from people who self-identified as atheists or skeptics.
  • But the common thread in all these is the vitriolic misogyny that they expressed. While discussion how little these people seemed to be aware of feminism, sexism, misogynistic behavior, RW brought up the comments by Stef McGraw, saying that she [I quote] "wanted to use it as an example, not to embarrass this person, but to point out that we have a serious problem when young women are this ignorant about feminism." [End quote] 
  • RW put up a paragraph from McGraw's post on screen, and took issue with McGraw's statement ("My concern is that she takes issue with a man showing interest in her."), saying that (a) this statement was laden with misogyny, and (b) there was a definite difference between sexual interest/sexual attraction versus sexual objectification. She went on to talk about many, many other issues related to women in atheist conferences and in general. It was a great talk.
  • RW's detractors, however, pounced on this talk, painting a picture in which RW hatefully and viciously mangled a poor innocent student, ripping her to shreds in public ("naming and shaming" they have called it); to anyone who has actually seen the above video (or been at the event), on the other hand, it may be reasonably clear that the discussion of McGraw's post was civil, without any evidence of victimization or even any name-calling.
  • This started a flame war. McGraw expressed her shock at being called out in public in an atheist conference, alleging that she felt powerless amongst her peers. She felt slighted at being placed within - what she perceived as - the same category of people advocating RW to be raped. (My note: This, even though McGraw admits that RW 'switched gears' after talking about the said low-lives, to focusing on atheist/skeptic community. Therefore, the 'same category' allegation doesn't wash.) McGraw made subsequent blog posts focusing on the fact that RW presented her observations from the podium in a conference, where she, as a student attendee, didn't have a voice.
  • At the same time, PZ came out strongly in support of RW, saying that RW was firmly in the right to have been specific about her criticism of someone's (i.e. McGraw's) position about the Dublin incident.
Abbie Smith's Contribution
  • At this time, Abbie Smith (of ERV fame) jumped into the fray. Exuding righteous fury, she took RW to task for what she considered 'bad form' and alleged that RW's observations about McGraw were in reality vindictive in nature.
Dawkins' strange interlude
  • However, almost nothing was as bad as a strange response from Richard Dawkins, who, in a comment after PZ's above-mentioned post in Pharyngula (read it in Skepchick, because the Scienceblog Pharyngula comments are gone), basically arrogantly dismissed RW's experience altogether indicating that it didn't merit any discussion as an evidence of misogyny, because it wasn't as severe as, say, a Muslim woman's travails and injustices that she faces. (My note: This was so out of line, that I didn't even know how to react; RD's "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" comment dripped privilege, and it shocked me.) RD's comment was roundly criticized by many atheist bloggers, including PZ, RW's co-bloggers at Skepchick, Jennifer McCreight (Blag Hag), Greg Laden, Phil Plait (Bad Astronomy), and Amanda Marcotte (Pandagon). A powerful Open Letter was written by some victims of sexual assault addressed to RD.
The Saga Continued
  • Now jumped in the Skeptic blogger Miranda Celeste Hale. Without much prelude, she roundly criticized what she saw as the 'Skepchicks' vicious "campaign"', calling it variously: "baseless scapegoating", "vindictive and self-serving", "bullying", "viciousness and nastiness of the highest degree", "a perfect example of groupthink at its worst", "acting in the most irrational, childish, and un-skeptical way possible", "nothing less than an attempt at character assassination", and finally, "truly vile" - without, of course, going much into the specifics of her invective; nobody in her echo chamber - which included some male skeptic bloggers as well - bothered to ask 'why', either.
  • On the other hand, some prominent bloggers expressed great dismay at what they considered indicative of a serious attitude issue towards women within the atheist and skeptic community. Greta Christina wrote:
    I don't know anybody who actually enjoys starting an Internet shitstorm about sexism (or racism, or ageism, or classism, or whatever-ism) in the atheist movement... But I'm a whole lot more unhappy being silent about it. And I want to argue that we all should be a lot more unhappy being silent about it.
  • The principal message these bloggers attempted to convey was that context matters, a lot; that it is possible to remain sex-positive, while respecting boundaries; that there are real-life situations in which a woman may become inherently defensive and it is important to understand the nuances of such situations.
  • PZ laid out what he called The Decent Human Beings’ Guide to Getting Laid at Atheist Conferences:
    The first thing you must know is that you haven’t failed when the object of your desire says "no". That’s a perfectly reasonable response, and even if you do everything exactly right, you’re going to hear "no" more often than you do "yes". Accepting a refusal graciously is an important part of being a Decent Human Being... You have failed if the person you’re interested in calls your behavior creepy. That's where you need to step back and re-evaluate: you did something wrong. Decent Human Beings do not blame the other person, they recognize that they screwed up, accept their responsibility, and decide not to ever do that again.
  • Greta asked some germane questions:
    When women explain to you... that there are some contexts in which your advances are less likely to be well-received than others, and you respond by sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming about ball-busting, man-hating feminists who are hell-bent on eradicating all flirting and sex and eroding your First Amendment right to proposition any woman at any time and place?

    When you resist hearing that hitting on a woman who's alone in an elevator in a strange city at four o'clock in the morning is not likely to be well-received, that it's likely to be perceived as a potential threat, and that you are likely to be perceived as an insensitive clod at best if you do it?

    When we explain ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times, that elevators are well-documented as a common place for women to get raped and that it's therefore not an appropriate place to make sexual advances - and you still reply, "But I don't understand what the problem is with elevators"?

    You want to know how to not have huge Internet blowups every time women in the atheist movement complain about sexism? LISTEN TO WHAT THE WOMEN ARE SAYING.
  • Greg Laden wrote about how his wife, who was completely removed from the happenings around elevatorgate and thereafter, instinctively sided with RW when she found out about them, asking:
    "Do people get what it is like for a woman to have a man join her on an elevator in the middle of the night? Do they understand that this is ALWAYS something that raises one’s stress level, even if just a little?"
    She also said:
    "Sometimes more, sometimes less, it depends on your state of mind, the time of day, all sorts of other factors, but if I’m in a hotel somewhere in the middle of the night and some guy I don’t know gets on the elevator, my stress level goes up and stays there until one of us gets off. If he says something to me other than 'nice weather we're having' I get much more stressed. That's true to some degree for all women."
  • Linda Bayerstein of the Big Think blog summarized the situation from a woman's point of view. She said:
    No one is saying that men shouldn’t flirt. On the contrary. When flirting goes well, everyone walks away with a little extra spring in their step, even if they walk away alone. Flirting is play. The point of flirting is to make the other person feel good--maybe to entice them to have sex with you, or maybe as an end in itself. Flirting is not high pressure sales.

    Men who want to flirt with women have to realize: Women live in a state of continual vigilance about sexual safety... If this frustrates you, try to remember that women are blamed for lapsed vigilance. If a woman does get raped, everyone rushes to see where she let her guard down. Was she drinking? Was she alone? Was she wearing a short skirt? Did she go to a strange man’s room for coffee at 4am?

    So, guys, if you want to flirt with a woman, your job is put her at ease, not to ratchet up her anxiety level. No one disputes that "Would you like to come to my room?" is protected speech. You have the legal right to say it, even in an elevator at 4:00am... But if you really don’t care whether your "flirting" is making a woman needlessly anxious or uncomfortable, that's creepy.
  • Jen McCreight, an avowed feminist, wrote an excellent response as to the context, a guide about understanding the contexts under which the same flirtations and pick-up lines may be considered welcome/playful or obnoxious/insulting/demeaning.
Squabble, squabble
  • In the meantime, other established bloggers had already engaged in pow-wows, either taking Stef McGraw's side and claiming she was humiliated and injured by RW's mentioning her in public, or taking RW's side and explaining how the charges against her were misguided.
This handy table may be helpful.
Poor Stef McGraw! Bad, bad RW! RW did good!
Hemant Mehta (The Friendly Atheist) here and here Amanda Marcotte countered all HM's points forcefully, calling him out on what she saw as 'sexist paternalism'
Russell Blackford (Metamagician and the Hellfire Club) castigated RW for behaving badly towards McGraw as well as Paula Kirby PZ responded to RB's criticisms point by point, calling him out on what he saw as 'a consistent pattern' of gross misrepresentation from the anti-Watson camp
**Enter Abbie Smith** (ta-da!)
AS inveighed against RW and her defenders (coining the pejorative 'Twatson' in the process), and in the comments thereafter (July 19, 2011, 1:43 p.m.) responded to what she considered PZ's bullshittery in criticizing RB's comment, finishing with [I quote] "Once again, however, Watson gets to glide on the lube of entitlement and everyone else needs to STFU because they are WRONG" [End quote] PZ expressed his disapproval and disappointment (July 19, 2011, 10:23 a.m.) and (July 19, 2011, 2:06 p.m.), saying that this "petty sniping" at RW was beneath AS. He also expressed surprise at AS's actions [I quote] "...to launch an unwarranted and scurrilous attack on a skeptical activist woman and to give a forum to the raging misogynists you’ve fostered here" [End quote]
**Note the first reference to AS's commenters**

Ophelia Benson vs. AS
  • Ophelia Benson (Butterflies and Wheels), in whose blog RB and PZ had the above tiff, weighed in, referring to AS's blog posts as a "slow-motion train wreck", expressing her disgust at "Twatson" and other obscene, sexist epithets hurled at RW by AS and her commenters.
  • OB's remonstrances about the use of sexist language further goaded AS to make a post using clips from South Park, presumably to exert her right to use "Naughty Language", completely disregarding the idea that unlike general 'naughty words', sexist, misogynist slurs insult and demean a whole group of human beings, the women.
  • OB herself endured sexist slurs from AS's commenters at various places, and at the end, she made a decision to block AS's commenters from commenting at B&W. (My note: Naturally, instead of engendering a turn towards civil discourse, this raised the cry of 'censorship' amongst the said commenters. More than a year after all this happened, OB still has enough justification to keep this block in place. But more about that later.)
Attack of the Mindless Drones
  • If you, dear reader, have been following the blogs and comments I linked to, you'd notice that during all these, at some point, gradually the spirit of discussion and intelligent enquiry began to be replaced by blind, irrational vitriolic hatred towards RW and her defenders. Some of it was frankly stupid, but some were vicious, scary and creepy.
  • RW pointed out at Skepchick some of the personal attacks she has had to endure: (Trigger Warning: I'm posting the original links as well; also, you'd notice how AS features in the comments after some of them, joking about the contents of the posts in - what seemed to me - an approving manner)
    1. The Curious Case of Hogle: Franc Hogle, author of Grey Lining, appears to be fixated on RW; he writes posts on her, trying to trip her up for every single mistake she may have made in her vlogs, suggesting that she is criminal and should be arrested, investigating her background and making fun of her liberal arts bachelor's degree. The vitriol in the comments after that post, targeted towards RW and PZ, is almost palpable.
    2. The Weird Equivocator: Blogger who goes by the name of "Skeptocouple" on Twitter started a weird ranty blog highlighting the disagreements between RD and RW with an image of an abused child, maligning various bloggers who defended RW, including PZ and Bug Girl, and coining the term "Skeptojihadi" for whoever disagreed with this weird and immature stance.
    3. The Weirder Stalker: A blog named 'Elevatorgate', which has "Rebecca Watson Must Be Sacked from SGU" as a byline, is not only fixated upon RW, but tries to vilify anyone who's even remotely associated with RW or appreciative of her work, including OB, young blogger Rhys Morgan (not sparing Rhys' family), PZ and others, using sexist language and attitude that others have long left in the kindergarten.
    4. The Fairly Creepy: A group named The Other Atheists, running an eponymous blog, maintains, among other things, an archive of RW's photos, all submitted by a user named John D (I don't know how he got hold of those photos, some of which appeared to be from social occasions far removed from RW's skeptic activism.) Franc Hogle appears to be highly active here, crossposting stuff from his own blog, impugning PZ and RW.
    5. All the above are in addition to the hate-filled attacks RW endures in Reddit subgroups, through her Facebook page and Twitter stream.

    Kudos to RW, she expressed a great sentiment in that post; she said,
    "...they can continue to call me a cunt. After all, they derive so much joy from it, and to me it only makes things clearer. "Cunt" is what misogynists call outspoken women with contrary opinions, in an attempt to silence them... That’s what this is really about: silencing. No one starts an entire site like the "elevatorgate" blog in the hopes of having a debate. No one comes up with a nickname using a word like cunt because he wants to resolve differences. No one tells a woman she would be lucky to get raped because he wants to offer solid evidence to contradict her point that misogyny is just as bad amongst skeptics and atheists as it is elsewhere."
  • Hogle kept on droning. Continuing on his fixation on PZ and RW, he wrote strident screeds about PZ, accusing him of misandry. PZ's response was precise and swift; he said:
    Let me remind you what really happened... A woman was awkwardly propositioned. She said no. She later briefly addresses atheists in a youtube video to say, "guys, don’t do that"... If your version of the events requires comically strident exaggeration in order to make a case, you’re definitely wrong, and you are to blame for the discord and confusion. You are lying. And, by the way, if you even mention the words "misandrist blog industry", you’re a flaming conspiracy nut.
  • There were even attempts to paint RW as a hypocrite and gender traitor, because she was caught on camera in some party engaging in raunchy jokes, and she posed nude for the Skepchick calendar. Time to clutch the pearls? It bothers me that some men and women can so spectacularly thick as to miss the point by a lightyear. As Jennifer McCreight wrote in her wonderful post, context matters. I wish I could make them read that post. How can a group of people, who claim to be rational skeptics, not get this simple idea?
Meanwhile, elsewhere...

48 comments:

  1. Good summary, and although it is biased, I think if I was to write one myself then it would also be biased, so I can't complain.

    Just a few points.

    Regarding the Stef McGraw incident, Watson accused her of 'a pretty standard parroting of misogynistic thought'. It might be worth adding that into your account, since that's one of the (in my opinion) emotive and unfair accusations that some people took issue with.

    You miss out a whole group of people on the 'anti-Watson side' (if I can call it that). Many people took that side because of the reaction given to people like Dawkins and others that wished to disagree. I myself only joined that side when I read Skepchick's "Privilege Delusion" article. I felt that they (and many others) were being dogmatic and unwilling to listen to dissent. See for instance here, here and here.

    You missed an important article for 'your side', by Jennifer Oullette. I don't know if you want to include it.

    Yes, much of the anti-Watson stuff is ludicrous. But do you think there was any rational criticism at all? You you think it's possible that there could have been?

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    Replies
    1. "Yes, much of the anti-Watson stuff is ludicrous. But do you think there was any rational criticism at all? You you think it's possible that there could have been?"
      I'm not sure, I haven't really seen any. I must admit that of your three links on the anti-Watson side, I only scanned the first, so I might have missed something there. I think it's quite a thorough overview on the issue, but as I see it, it doesn't actually give any sound arguments in favor of the anti-Watson camp. The second article is a pure exercise in strawmanning, as far as I'm concerned. The third article, in my opinion, confuses skepticism and rationality with sociopathy. But maybe there are some actual arguments that I have missed.

      I'll expand on this a little bit. In my mind, the central issue in elevatorgate is Rebecca Watson's statement that propostioning to someone late at night in an elevator is kind of creepy and better avoided. The rest is just fluff, strawmanning and red-herrings. Although the fluff came from both sides, with both sides going overboard, as far as I could see the instigators of the fluff were in the anti-Watson camp. And the fact that the anti-Watson camp is still coming up with the same fluff in the anti-harrassment debate (with some extra junk added), leaves me firmly in the pro-Watson camp.

      But I may have missed something, so what do you think is a rational criticism pertinent to the central issue of elevatorgate? Or do you think any of the fluff is actually not a red herring, but pertinent to the issue in some way that I missed?

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    2. Well, I think there's a discussion to be had about 'elevator ethics', or the ethics of propositioning people. I think there are problems with what she said, but I wouldn't send abuse her way or anything like that. My issue with it was the fact that it was seen as unquestionable. If you didn't agree that the elevator man was acting wrongly (or 'creepily'), then you were painted as a misogynist, a 'mansplainer', or just dismissed by saying 'check your privilege'.

      I only heard about it because of the Dawkins part, and when I saw the reaction he got I found myself on the 'other side'. If someone wants to claim that the elevator man did something wrong, then that's fine. But let's talk about it like adults.

      I think there's a similar thing going on with the anti-harassment policies. I see one side of the debate saying "if you don't agree with us then you're a bad person". DJ was clearly up for discussing the issue, but the response he got was so ridiculous that I can completely understand why (just like Dawkins) he stopped bothering with them.

      In short - take whatever view you wish. That's fine - we all have our opinions. But let's listen to the other side, and try to discuss the issue calmly and without invective. If we really care, and want to take the issue seriously then there's no reason not to.

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    3. " I think there are problems with what she said, but I wouldn't send abuse her way or anything like that."
      So what were the problems with what she said? You asked whether there was rational criticism. As I said, on the central issue I have seen none. You apparently have? What is it? The criticism you give is on the tone with which the arguments are brought, not the arguments themselves. What was the criticism on the central issue that you thought was rational and maybe even valid? I agree that sometimes the pro-Watson side is too quick to label someone a misogynistist, but this goes both ways. There are way too many actual misogynistic comments on the anti-Watson side. Yet you are focusing on the offensive comments from the pro-Watson side to base your judgment on the issue on, ignoring the offensive comments from the anti-Watson side. Why?

      "In short - take whatever view you wish. That's fine - we all have our opinions. But let's listen to the other side, and try to discuss the issue calmly and without invective. If we really care, and want to take the issue seriously then there's no reason not to."
      While I would agree with this in principle, I think there are a couple of problems here, so far as I have seen them. Look at the Richard Dawkins issue. The problem I had with Dawkins response, was that he basically came in not listening, guns blazing. He was rightly lambasted for his response, which was basically "shut up, go stand in the corner and be a good girl". I'm sorry, but if you start out responding in a patronizing way, why should expect a calm respons? Similarly with the reaction to DJ, who started out in an accusatory tone. And then he demands a calm, respectful reply in return, otherwise he won't play? That's hypocrisy, I can't label that behavior any other way. And in most cases I have seen so far, I find this sort of criticism quite hypocritical, to be honest. Instead of pointing out the culprits who provoked anger with their statements, you point to the people getting offended and say "Oh, but they react angry, so I don't have to listen to THEM." Which is completely backward.

      Together with that, the criticism on using words like "misogynistic" and "mansplaining" misses the boat in another way. Should the words not be used if they actually accurately label behavior, even if the person doesn't mean it that way? Using the word "nigger" is racist, even if you don't mean it that way. Should this not be pointed out? Look at McGraw. Rebecca Watson did not say McGraw was sexist, she said she "parrotted standard mysoginystic thought", which was a correct statement. Should we not name behavior as it is? Doesn't listening include opening up to the possibility that when people say that your remarks are misogynistic, they actually are? I agree that sometimes the accusations come very quickly and go over the top, but quite often when I saw the accusation made, the shoe fit, and the culprit showed no self-reflection whatsoever on his own behavior.

      tl;dr: It seems to me that you are pointing to behavior that both parties are guilty of as an excuse to not listen to one of the those parties. Which to me comes over as, let's say, not rational.

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    4. Just a few quick questions to notungblog:

      ... I think there are problems with what she said...
      What problems exactly? Do you deny it happened (i.e. is Rebecca lying)? Or do you deny that it happened the way Rebecca said it happened (i.e. is Rebecca misrepresenting)? Or, perhaps you think that something happened and Rebecca is way, way overreacting about it (i.e. Rebecca's fear, Rebecca's discomfort, Rebecca's concern - none of those count, because you and Kirby's ilk think that there is nothing to it)? Which one of these possible scenarios is true in your mind?

      My issue with it was the fact that it was seen as unquestionable.
      What, which part, did you want to question? The veracity of Rebecca's account? The extent of her outrage? The depth of her fear? Or did you want to question Rebecca's right to feel safe at a skeptic conference, no less, or her right to express her concerns if she didn't?

      I only heard about it because of the Dawkins part, and when I saw the reaction he got I found myself on the 'other side'. If someone wants to claim that the elevator man did something wrong, then that's fine. But let's talk about it like adults.
      So... You jumped on the anti-Watson bandwagon the moment you found Dawkins being roundly criticized for saying what he did - is this what you are telling me? Did that action on your part signify your exercising your skepticism, if you didn't take the time to ascertain prima facie what the pro-Watson side was saying? You want to talk like adults? Fine. Tell me, do you seriously think that Dawkins was speaking like an adult, when, in his response, he completely and derisively dismissed Rebecca's story/argument/experience of her travails simply because a Muslim woman, in some corner of the world, is suffering/has suffered from patriarchy-led abuse?

      DJ was clearly up for discussing the issue...
      Okay, when you say 'up', are you deliberately ignoring his attempts to brush under the carpet the harassment episode that occurred at TAM? Or his doubling down even further when confronted with the truth in evidence about that situation?

      But let's listen to the other side...
      Yeah. You know what, notungblog? Your side, Kirby and her ilk, can't even pretend to listen to the 'other side'. Else, you (in plural) would have heard what was being said long, l-o-n-g ago.

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    5. Re: beaker

      I'll try to keep it brief: The specific problems with the 'elevator incident' moral claim are beside the point. I'm talking about whether we should be able to discuss them. I ignore ridiculous or 'offensive' comments on the internet all the time. You have to if you want to get anything worthwhile done.

      Dawkins was sarcastic at first, but then did try to have a discussion about it to argue his point. DJ's response was fine in my opinion - he calmly expressed what he thought the problem was. That was the point of the discussion! I'm not saying they shouldn't get angry (although it would be better for everyone if they could control themselves), and I'm not saying they shouldn't be listened to. I'm saying that if the discussion isn't productive, then it's pointless thrashing it out. So let's be productive!

      I'm afraid I find that 'misogynist' and 'mansplaining' are often used fallaciously (in the informal sense) and inappropriately, just as 'racist' often is (much more productive to say what is actually wrong with the argument, rather than labelling it to dismiss it). I also don't agree that McGraw was 'parroting misogynistic thought'. 'Parroting' implies that she's mindlessly repeating things without thinking about them. I think that's very unfair on her, false, and rather demeaning.

      I do think both parties are guilty of certain things, but I'm not saying that there's anyone we shouldn't listen to. In fact, I'm saying the opposite. We should all listen to each other a lot more, and try to have a productive discussion. That would be the best solution for everyone.

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    6. To answer your questions SUIRAUQA:

      1) I question the normative claim: 'don't do that'. I don't deny it necessarily - I question it. As for the epistemic claim, I don't know. I give her the benefit of the doubt, but it doesn't really matter. The normative claim is the interesting one for me.

      2) I question the universality of it. I think she's within her rights to request that people don't do that to her in future, but is the universal claim justified?

      3) You've read things into what I said that aren't true. I did read all sides of the story before forming a judgement. I think what Dawkins was getting at was that a purely verbal request and taking 'no' for an answer is harmless, and the 'Muslima' letter was a rhetorical device to illustrate just how harmless.

      4) I mean that he was discussing it, and listening to and responding to comments (especially to Ashley Miller, who posted a follow-up containing DJ's response). He did remark that it was clear that a blog was the wrong place for that sort of discussion, and he was right.

      5) That isn't really a question - but I do think I listened, and I do think that I heard what was being said. I even linked you to another article supporting your position that I remembered reading.

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    7. @notungblog:

      I only heard about it because of the Dawkins part, and when I saw the reaction he got I found myself on the 'other side'.

      I did read all sides of the story before forming a judgement.

      Um....get your stories straight.

      I think she's within her rights to request that people don't do that to her in future, but is the universal claim justified?

      What universal claim? (I trust that, having read "all sides" you will be able to reproduce a universal claim from RW's video without quotemining?)

      Delete
    8. "Dawkins was sarcastic at first, but then did try to have a discussion about it to argue his point."
      That is a questionable statement. In every single reponse he gave subsequently he dismissed Watson's points and told her she should shut up. If you want to have a discussion, you have to show a willingness to listen to the other side. In none of Dawkins' responses did he do so.

      "DJ's response was fine in my opinion - he calmly expressed what he thought the problem was. That was the point of the discussion! I'm not saying they shouldn't get angry (although it would be better for everyone if they could control themselves), and I'm not saying they shouldn't be listened to. I'm saying that if the discussion isn't productive, then it's pointless thrashing it out. So let's be productive!"
      What do you even mean when you say this? You complain that they get angry and thus don't listen, and now you say it's okay they get angry? Which is it?

      "I do think both parties are guilty of certain things, but I'm not saying that there's anyone we shouldn't listen to. In fact, I'm saying the opposite. We should all listen to each other a lot more, and try to have a productive discussion. That would be the best solution for everyone."
      And this is why your disagreement with Watson becomes a central issue again. To have a productive discussion, both sides need to have valid arguments. Instead, you focus on the persons. So despite writing down words that I certainly agree with, you don't actually act on them. And that is in fact my biggest gripe with the anti-Watson brigade and why I don't think they have much credulity.

      Delete
    9. The Seventh Quaver:

      1) There's no contradiction between the two sentences of mine you quoted.
      2) The universal claim was the fact that no 'guy' should 'do that'. I assume that means 'one should never ask someone for coffee in that context', as opposed to 'one should never do that to me from now on'.

      beaker:

      1) He wasn't talking to Watson - he was talking to the Pharyngula commenters - and Watson wasn't participating.
      2) Anger isn't conducive to a productive discussion, so one should temper it so that the discussion isn't stifled. One can get angry - that can't be helped. But when we're discussing something important we should take a deep breath and count to ten (or whatever works) before allowing the anger to take over.
      3) I don't see how I'm focusing on the persons. I think I'm doing the opposite.

      Delete
    10. "1) He wasn't talking to Watson - he was talking to the Pharyngula commenters - and Watson wasn't participating."
      Which is completely irrelevant to the fact that the tone of his respons was not one indicating a willingness to listen. As I said earlier, he came in guns blazing. When reading his actual responses, his actual attitude did not change in later posts.

      "2) Anger isn't conducive to a productive discussion, so one should temper it so that the discussion isn't stifled. One can get angry - that can't be helped. But when we're discussing something important we should take a deep breath and count to ten (or whatever works) before allowing the anger to take over."
      I can agree with that in principle. The problem I have with this is that all too often, anger of a party is used as an excuse not to listen to that party. Greta Christina has written a few good posts on that with regard to the LGBT and racism struggles.

      "3) I don't see how I'm focusing on the persons. I think I'm doing the opposite."
      You're definitely not discussing the actual issue, namely the actual claim Watson started out with. You stated yourself that you based your opinions on the way Dawkins was treated, at least implying that the actual issues under discussion played less of a role in your conclusions.

      "2) The universal claim was the fact that no 'guy' should 'do that'. I assume that means 'one should never ask someone for coffee in that context', as opposed to 'one should never do that to me from now on'"
      I'd add to that "out of the blue", ie: One should not, out of the blue, ask someone for coffee in that context". Or did you include that in the context? What is your actual, rational objection against that? Do you realize that this is a different claim from the one that is discussed in the second link you posted?

      Delete
    11. 1) Well, he responded to a comment (so he listened to at least that one), and then finished with "I obviously don't get it. I will gladly apologise if somebody will calmly and politely, without using the word fuck in every sentence, explain to me what it is that I am not getting." That does look like he was listening - but evidently (as I witnessed) nobody took him up on it - preferring instead to attack him.

      2) Maybe it is used in that way. Nevertheless, my point stands.

      3) I think you're muddling up two things I'm talking about. One is the elevator incident. I didn't base my opinions of that on the way Dawkins was treated. Dawkins' treatment would be irrelevant to that question. The other is the way the discussion was conducted. Dawkins' treatment is indicative of that.

      4) I suppose because some people might be fine receiving such a proposition - or glad, even. What if she said 'yes'? Would it still be wrong? If so, would people chastise her new boyfriend (assuming they get together) for being a 'creep', or would they congratulate them both? I suggest the latter. However if one accepts that, surely the important consideration wouldn't be that he ended up getting rejected. [Also, bear in mind that such a proposition wouldn't be prohibited by any of the anti-harassment policies...]

      I can say more than that, but my point isn't really about the elevator incident, but rather to show that the reason some people are on 'this side' is due to the way the discussion is being stifled by personal attacks, boycotts and banning.

      Delete
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      Delete
    13. 1) He only finished with that after a whole three paragraph comment expressing his disdain for Watson. That's where he went wrong. Again. If you want to actually indicate to people that you're willing to listen, you don't start by showing no respect at all for their position and then saying that you obviously don't get it. Yes, you obviously don't, but you didn't actually give any indication anywhere that you wanted to get it either.

      2) But if it indeed used that way, your point becomes extremely problematic and should cause you to self-reflect.

      3) You did not actually give the impression in your post as treating it as two different issues. That is one of the problems in this discussion.

      4) No, the outcome is not going to determine whether your proposition out of the blue is creepy or not. You don't know whether the woman you are going to propose to out of the blue in the elevator is going to be pleased or going to feel uncomfortable or threatened. Bad or creepy behavior isn't suddenly made good because the outcome is nice or funny. If that helps you understand this point, take some more extreme actions and see whether it still works.

      5) "I can say more than that, but my point isn't really about the elevator incident, but rather to show that the reason some people are on 'this side' is due to the way the discussion is being stifled by personal attacks, boycotts and banning."
      And by doing so they are purely focusing on the reactions on one side, and completely ignoring the behavior on the other side which is causing these reactions. The bannings, boycotts and attacks are not the reaction to the other side sitting in their comfy chair, lighting their pipe, putting their glasses on and stating their objections in o so reasonable terms. The bannings, personal attacks and 'boycotts' are the result of a barrage of insults, invective, harrassment and dismissiveness already shown even before the whole elevatorgate and only increased since then. In my opinion, ignoring that is hypocritical.

      Delete
    14. 1) Well, we're at an impasse on that one.

      2) Oh, I wasn't using it that way myself. I was saying that perhaps sometimes other people do that.

      3) Well, we know now. Perhaps I should have been clearer to draw attention to the fact that discussions and 'elevator ethics' aren't the same thing.

      4) That's fine - that answers one of my questions then. So if RW said "I met this great guy - he asked me for coffee at 4am in an elevator and I'm so glad he did that!" you would say "how creepy of him!"? Perhaps you would - that's not a rhetorical question.

      5) Well, I don't think the best response to Dawkins was to boycott him. Watson should have explained calmly and rationally why she believed he was wrong on this point. If she had done that (even if I still didn't agree with her), I'd be on her 'side'. I see people getting banned and deleted for mere disagreement. That's happening on certain FTBs. I disavow name-calling both on FTB and elsewhere, whether it's on my 'side' or the other 'side'. There's only hypocrisy if I'm doing the same thing, which I'm not, and even then it still wouldn't invalidate my arguments.

      Delete
    15. @notungblog

      Hence, my request that you not quotemine. Here's the original video transcript:

      Um. Just a word to the wise here, guys: Uhhhh, don't do that. Um, you know. [laughs] Uh, I don't really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I'll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4am, in a hotel elevator with you, just you, and—don't invite me back to your hotel room, right after I've finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.

      Notice how, when you read the entire paragraph, the claim is clearly context-dependent, not universal: first, that it makes HER SPECIFICALLY uncomfortable, second, that it required being a single woman, alone, in a foreign country AND just finishing a speech on how this sort of stuff creeps her out.

      UTTERLY CONTEXT DEPENDENT. Not universal. So stfu about how the universality disturbs you when the video was extremely personal and context-dependent.

      Delete
    16. notungblog: "The universal claim was the fact that no 'guy' should 'do that'"

      You are quotemining, not necessarily on purpose (it was over a year ago now and I doubt most people go back to the source to check their claims) but you are nonetheless quotemining.

      What Rebecca said, after explaining the context, was (at 5:04 in the original EG video):

      "Just a word to the wise here... guys... hmm don't do that"

      It is thus not a universal claim as you said but rather an advice to those who want to act wisely. You may of course disagree that wise people would not do that but saying that Rebecca's advice to a self selecting part of the population* in a particular situation** is a universal claim is patently false.

      Look, I support the free speech right of EG to do the stupid thing he did as I don't think it went as far as harassment (though I am willing to hear an argument why it might be if someone disagrees with me on that) but I also support RW's free speech right to call him foolish (by saying that wise guys shouldn't do that).

      Hell, I even support the right of misogynistic assholes to call her a cunt or a slut or other gendered slurs but then I support other people's right (including mine just now) to call those aforementioned people misogynistic assholes.

      I'm not sure whether I support those saying that OB should be kicked in the cunt as it sounds a lot like a threat (regardless of whether they intend to carry it out or not) and free speech does not extend to threats.

      notungblog: "What if she said 'yes'? Would it still be wrong?"

      Given the way Rebecca originally phrased it I think it would better be formulated "What if she said 'yes'? Would it still be foolish?"

      And the answer is an unmitigated YES. He might have gotten lucky and we might never have even heard about it, but it still would have been foolish, just like trying to motorbike through a ring of fire without fire protecting gear, over 20 buses with a moped, and into a shark tank with starved sharks would be foolish even if you actually managed to pull it off without catching fire, crashing into a bus or being bitten by a shark.

      Would I think EG creepy then? Probably not because I don't know that he is creepy now as I do not have enough information, I just know that he acted creepily on that one occasion but whether he is himself creepy or not would also depend on whether he takes the criticisms of the past year seriously (like realising how creepy his disregard of RW's expressed wish not to be objectified in such a way was) and tried to avoid doing the same creepy things in the future.
      If he did hook up with RW I probably would think that he got lucky to get laid and not maced****** given his stupidity on that particular occasion.

      * Those that want to act wisely.

      ** Cold propositioning*** where the person might feel particularly vulnerable due to a combination of alcohol, being in a foreign country, in the middle of the night and especially alone in with him in an enclosed space with at most only one exit****.

      *** Even if EG did not mean it as a come on he knew that it could be taken "the wrong way" and how many other wrong ways are people likely to take it as beside the obvious sexual angle?

      **** Doesn't anybody in the skeptical comunity know that animals***** that feel cornered are dangerous? Even if you didn't mean to corner them and only wanted to pet them it is still something only stupid people do.

      ***** And yes, humans are animals, animals that can control their instincts (probably why EG wasn't tasered or kneed) but still with the same response to feeling cornered.

      ****** As he might have if the propositioned woman had been previously raped and didn't want to take the risk of being raped again.

      Sorry for all the * but the p tag is not allowed and it reads better with footnotes than long parentheses.

      Delete
    17. Seventh Quaver: It was both context dependent and universal. The universality was the presumed quantification over all people in that particular context. Well, perhaps you disagree, so I will give my answer in the form of a conditional. If she was just talking about herself, for future reference, then can see nothing wrong with it. If she meant that nobody should talk to a girl in that way and in that context, then I do think there are problematic aspects to it.

      asieno: Well if she wasn't making a moral claim then that's fine - I take issue then with those that did use her example to make that universal moral claim (and many did). I don't care who is making the claim - I care about the claim.

      Regarding RW saying 'yes', that's fine. I'm just asking these questions to shed some more light on what people are actually claiming.

      --

      I still think the details of the elevator incident are relatively unimportant to many people who are on 'my side'. What's important to us is how the discussion is being conducted, and whether such discussion is allowed freely. I think the comment by asieno is a good example of what I would rather be seeing from 'your side' - it sticks to the arguments, no invective and tries to play fair. Disagreement is not a problem - I'd say disagreement is healthy.

      Delete
    18. "I still think the details of the elevator incident are relatively unimportant to many people who are on 'my side'. What's important to us is how the discussion is being conducted, and whether such discussion is allowed freely. I think the comment by asieno is a good example of what I would rather be seeing from 'your side' - it sticks to the arguments, no invective and tries to play fair. Disagreement is not a problem - I'd say disagreement is healthy."
      I still find this at the least a bit hard to believe (okay, that's an understatement). Or at least I think it is selective to an astonishing degree. The level of abuse received by the people on Watson's side by the people on "your side" kind of puts the lie on that, methinks.

      Delete
    19. I'm sorry, but I must disagree in that Watson's statement was neither universal, nor self-specific. It was intentionally somewhat passive and non-specific, which is one of Watson's (and for that matter, Myers's) intentionl forms of rhetorical trickery, along with all her completely false "um" "er" "uh" interjections.

      The intent is to leave it ambiguous and to provide herself with a form of plausible deniability, and to help foment this kind of discussion, wherein people who are not overly fluent in language or rhetorical trickery will go on arguing about unimportant elements and bypass the more important underlying implications of what these mendacious people are saying.

      Delete
    20. beaker: I'm not saying everyone on my side thinks that. Many clearly don't. But many do - that's my point.

      Delete
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      Delete
    22. Do you agree with me that the level of abuse that people like Rebecca Watson receive when writing on these topics is large, if not excessive?

      What do you, for example, think of John Greg's last response (last one before yours)?

      Delete
    23. beaker said:

      "Do you agree with me that the level of abuse that people like Rebecca Watson receive when writing on these topics is large, if not excessive?"

      I think that is a fair question, but I am not sure it can be answered except on specific instance-by-instance fashion for a number of reasons. For example, the harsh criticism she got about the Tony name-calling incident was, in my opinion, fully deserved. She lied, did not honestly, or in actual fact, recant and withdraw the lie, and the exacerbated the situation by accepting PeeZus's completely dishonest reshaping of Tony's anger to be about being unfollowed, or whatever you call it, from Twitter.

      The criticism she received for the elevatorgate incident was excessive from certain specific groups of anti-feminist, anti-Watson youngsters who follow PeeZus's method of raging online communications. But, I think the criticism she received from the more adult people was generally warranted, and she herself is largely responsible for its acceleration because she is utterly incapable of admitting error and in many people's opinion is not an honest person. And there is no better way to draw people's ire than to present yourself as inerrant and superior to any and all people around you, which is something she does on a regular basis.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Yeah, I kinda thought you'd say that, CLS. As I said, 'YMMV'. Thanks for playing.

      Delete
  3. Very objective, rational, and two-sided. You really made a sincere attempt to understand the motivations and arguments of all parties involved. You must be the king of the skeptical thinkers. I'd continue with my praises but my irony meter just broke.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww... I am sorry to hear of your misfortune of the borked Irony meter. I'd lend you mine, but it has been stretched to its limit by the obdurate non-arguments, circumlocutions, misrepresentations and general idiocy from the pro-Kirby anti-Watson gaggle on Twitter at the #FTBullies hashtag.

      Please get yourself a new one, perhaps a sturdier one? Preferably with an attachment that allows you to bring some substantive arguments to a discussion as opposed to vacuous sarcasm?

      Delete
  4. I think it's worth including Abbie's bizarre rant about Jen McCreight's career:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2011/11/a-bully-plain-and-simple/

    What Abbie wrote about Jen is condescending, uncalled for, and absolutely deplorable.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My two cents:
    Guy says really stupid things that may or may not have been threatening, likely just someone very socially awkward.
    RW posts problem online.
    Steph McGraw posts rather insensitive things in response.
    RW calls out SM's error using an overly disrespectful wording, in abuse of a position of power.
    RW is backed up by others in positions of power.
    SM is extremely embarrassed and feels as if this is an abuse of popularity.
    Atheistic Civil War which leaves huge rifts and creates extremists, especially on SM's side (most likely unwanted company).

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am not sure why you thought to make the spurious claim that you were even trying to be unbiased. There are so many examples of your clear and strong bias in favour of Watson and the pro-Watson and Pro-FfTB "side" of events that I can't even keep count. But I'll point out one or two things just for the sake of specificity.

    1. You misrepresent Kirby's position as "not having a problem with sexism in the community", which implies that if there is sexism in the community, she does not mind. When in fact, her point is that she does not think think there is enough sexism in the community to bother making a major issue out of it.

    That's not only biased, it is dishonest.

    2. You say "RW encountered a rather deplorable situation..." Full stop, right there. The very moment you make a value judgement ("deplorable situation"), your objectivy and lack of bias is out the window; say bye bye; you are expressing unambiguous bias. The same applies when you use weighted words ike "accosted".

    3. You say "commenters ... who spectacularly failed to understand RW's viewpoint". No, there were commenters who disgareed with her viewpoint. Big difference.

    And as soon as you begin talking about the "other side", for example, Stef McGraw, you immediately begin throwing around inaccurate and highly biased and inflammatory terms like "strawman", and continue to present the anti-Watson people as dishonest, not listening, sexist, etc., etc.

    Face it, you are about as unbiased as Greg Laden or PZ Myers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "suggesting that she is criminal and should be arrested" - ah yes. Gave up my expectations of accuracy well before this point. The "should be arrested" claim is part of Watson's embellishment of how cruelly the community treats her and is yet another play for sympathy. I never said she needs to be "arrested" - I did however say that what she did at randi.org was *criminal* in virtually every jurisdiction of any first world state, and even provided a link to the US state-by-state legislation on these matters. To give you some perspective, while female data vandals are rare, they do exist. Here is one example, Danielle Duann of Houston, Texas -

    http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2009/July/09-crm-684.html

    She received a 2 year prison sentence and ordered to pay $94,222 in restitution for doing pretty much what Rebecca Watson did at randi.org

    You may think data vandalism is trivial. Many people do not. And there is very good reason why it is treated as seriously as physical property vandalism. Whether Watson is arrested or not is irrelevant to me. What is relevant is that her behaviour is sociopathic, unethical and, ultimately, criminal. She is not someone that should be representing the wider godless community.

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    Replies
    1. It's hard to check this without access to the JREF forum, but was "Scrut" ever actually banned? From your post it's hard to tell if Watson did abuse her temporary position, or if she's just joking about it.

      I can't say I understand the dynamics of Facebook, but I gather your screendumps are from some sorta club. It sounds like a humorous re├Ąction to the similar club formed by this "Scrut" character. Have you documented that for comparison. It can be hard to judge snark on the Internet without direct knowledge of the situation being referenced.

      Delete
  8. I love it how we're still getting bombarded with the "Gender traitor" and "real women" accusations when that's actually something the other side is more prone of*.

    *Yes, to my record there were two instances of calling people gender traitor. Funny enough, the hivemind opposed to them, especially given the connotations of "gender traitor"

    ReplyDelete
  9. "There were even attempts to paint RW as a hypocrite and gender traitor, because she was caught on camera in some party engaging in raunchy jokes, and she posed nude for the Skepchick calendar. "

    And I was called a gender traitor for daring to disagree with what was going on, so I'm not sure what your point is here. There was name calling on both sides, but you don't seem to represent both equally here.

    Perhaps everyone should stop decrying others as gender traitors simply because they don't automatically, and without critical thinking, agree with everything that everyone of the same gender says.

    http://www.zenbuffy.com/2011/07/integrity-starts-at-home/

    http://www.jesusandmo.net/2011/07/27/girls/

    ReplyDelete
  10. Giliell said:

    "I love it how we're still getting bombarded with the "Gender traitor" and "real women" accusations when that's actually something the other side is more prone of. [sic]"

    Yes, technically, you are quite right. skeptifem is the misandrist Dworkinite freak who invented and uses the term "gender traitor".

    On a side note, I do not know who, when, or where the term "sister punisher" came from, but I think it might have been that sociopathic monster Amanda Marcotte, she of the Let's remove habeus corpus from the menz, supporter of democracy, freedom of speech, and the rule of law. Ha!

    However, it might be worth your time, though I am sure you will think otherwise, to ponder that we are now, to a large degree, using the term more as exemplary of the general treatment that you FfTB zealots, and the Skepchick.org zealots, give to any woman with whom you disagree, in particular those who do not see the world, especially North America and the UK, as the so-called rape cultures, and deep dark chthonic dens of never-ending pandemic misogyny, sexism, harrassment, and rape-enableist sin.

    Also, to a small degree, many of us are reclaiming the term as a sort of left-handed badge of honour for the women that the FfTB and Skepchick universe continue to harrass, bully, harangue, and dismiss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, there have been two people on our side to use those terms, who have been largely opposed for those terms by our own side, and that makes those terms exemplary of the general treatment you get from our side.
      Yes, that makes total sense, at least on your planet.
      Oh, and yes, us feminist supremacists actually acknowledge that women can be assholes. Like your BFF Abbie.

      Delete
    2. Giliell said:

      "there have been two people on our side to use those terms, who have been largely opposed for those terms by our own side, and that makes those terms exemplary of the general treatment you get from our side."

      To put it into the simple terms you seem to favour, it would be more accurate to say:

      'there have been a few people on our side to use those terms, and the terms, not the originators or other users of the terms, have been largely opposed in an illusory attempt to appear hostile to the concepts suggested by those terms. However, the originators and other users of those terms remain favoured commenters in the FfTB universe because they support the general FfTB ideology which, while not using terms such as "gender traitor" or "sister punisher", still holds firmly to the concept that any woman who does not fully support and proselytize our view of the world as being nothing more than a chthonic pit of misogyny, sexism, harrassment, rape enableist MRAs will be treated as a gender traitor and sister punisher, despite our using other terms to vilify, alienate, and dismiss them.'

      "Oh, and yes, us feminist supremacists actually acknowledge that women can be assholes. Like your BFF Abbie."

      Your definition of "asshole women" is political, it is not substantive. And Abbie is not my BFF, Abbie is someone whose science I respect, but more importantly, she is someone whose ethical approach to actual free thought and freedom of speech I admire very much. Unlike your heroes of the FfTB / Skepchick universe, who think room 101 is where truth is born and who wouldn't recognize real free thought if it crawled up their bifurcated fundament like one of their favoured perished porcupines.

      Delete
  11. notungblog linked to the somewhat selective Freethought Kampala timeline, so i thought i'd mention that their criticism of Watson took up a sequel post of similar length. I was interested in taking it apart and eventually writing up something like this timeline, so thanks for going to the effort.

    Regarding the question in the convo above of Dawkins' genuineness in asking for a calm explanation, has he ever responded to the several-author open letter?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Was that the one that began "Dear Dick"?

      Delete
    2. Zvan's was the second of the eight posted here. In case you haven't read it, her explanation is here.

      Delete
    3. corneloid said:

      "... has he ever responded to the several-author open letter?"

      Why would he? Every one of those letters was, in effect, a strawman argument. Every one of those letters contained non-sequitors posing as the central focus of the elevator incident. Every one of those letters completely ignored Dawkins's actual comment in favour of a political revision; they ignored what he actually said, and framed it in an imaginary and false ambiguity. Lastly, anyone who has any familiarity with the Skepchick / FfTB universe knows full well that the only thing the writers of those letters are interested in is a full and abject apology from Dawkins stating that he was, is, and shall always be wrong about Watson and the elevator incident. They are not for a moment interested in discussion, or debate, or communication, or fact finding.

      Delete
    4. Sorry John Greg, but that is complete bullshit. Dawkins asked why he got the flack he did. They explain quite plainly why. That is what Dawkins asked, quite literally, and that is what they responded too.

      And yes, the points that they brought up warrant an apology from Dawkins. For exactly the reasons mentioned in their letters.

      Delete
    5. John Greg, i did not suggest that Dawkins would or should respond. I asked whether he did, for the purpose of historical completeness. You may infer from that what you like, but it serves you no better than to presume, incorrectly, that the letters ignored Dawkins' comment. They were, in fact, tailored to address his outstanding request: "I will gladly apologise if somebody will calmly and politely, without using the word fuck in every sentence, explain to me what it is that I am not getting."

      Delete
  12. "
    The Weirder Stalker: A blog named 'Elevatorgate', which has "Rebecca Watson Must Be Sacked from SGU" as a byline, is not only fixated upon RW, but tries to vilify anyone who's even remotely associated with RW or appreciative of her work, including OB, young blogger Rhys Morgan (not sparing Rhys' family), PZ and others, using sexist language and attitude that others have long left in the kindergarten.
    "

    That *is* a weird double standard.

    Somehow anyone who associates with Watson is of the Devil, but the Novellistas are poor, innocent babies who must be protected from the ebol, ebol devilwoman?

    Remind me to start a blog called "Jay Novella Must Be Sacked from SGU". Or is it Even Bernstein? I can't remember who the useless one is. But I guess I should target the Novella lest I get accused of antisemitism.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ugh ... the bias is so overt that I had to eventually give up the article as a bad effort. It does not inform, it does not educate ... it's an op-ed piece, and to be honest, the only opinion I /really/ care about is my own.

    I am not interested in slanted opinion. That's why I've given up television news -- it's all semi-lucid fact-sprinkled opinion, when what I am after is "just the facts, ma'am".

    #1: Until Mr. Elevator Man comes forward and gives his version of what occurred that INFAMOUS NIGHT IN DUBLIN (oh, the irony), nothing about that 'event' can be considered factual. People lie. We all know that. I don't know Ms. Watson from Adam (or Eve) and thus, I do not trust her. Before I am attacked, let me say that I am not accusing her of lying, I'm merely saying that there's no way to prove she wasn't. (And Mr. Elevator Man, if you're out there ... I think you're the smartest one in the whole fiasco, for staying anonymous. Good job. Always protect yourself.)

    #2: Anyone whose sarcasm bone isn't fractured should have seen that Mr. Dawkins' open letter to Muslima was /dripping/ with irony. Ridiculous to consider it as anything else.

    #3: You lose a bit of your credibility re: not wanting to be "sexualized" when you are overtly involved in a sexy nude calendar.

    #4: Outing a captive member of your student audience (referencing Ms. McGraw, of course) in order to promote yourself is very /very/ bad form. Is this narcissism? Very likely.

    #5: Skeptically speaking -- this article is more Watson-centric bullying and bias.

    I feel sorry for Mr. Elevator Man, I really do. I bet he wishes he'd never laid eyes on Ms. Watson that night.

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    1. Over a year and a half have passed since that awful incident in the elevator that Rebecca Watson had to face. And yet, in all this time, clueless morons remain... clueless morons. Since you chose 'Karenina' as your 'nym, I am assuming you are a woman. One would have expected you to, at the very least, understand how Rebecca had felt, why she spoke out and what she said. But as I have come to learn during this time, one cannot expect any special empathy or ability to reason from morons, even self-proclaimed 'godless' morons.

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    2. In fact, 'Karenina', let me address the bilge you spewed.

      #1. Until Mr. Elevator Man comes forward and gives his version of what occurred that INFAMOUS NIGHT IN DUBLIN (oh, the irony), nothing about that 'event' can be considered factual. People lie.
      Ah. We have a hyperskeptic here. Blaming an abuse victim of lies and deceit is one of the oldest, and lowest, tricks in the playbook of misogynists. What you deliberately fail to understand is that your interpretation of Rebecca's experience is irrelevant; in her video appeal, she described a specific set of behavior that she found objectionable, and she asked people not to engage in such behavior. Your continued denial of Rebecca's traumatic experience actually speaks volumes.

      I don't know Ms. Watson from Adam (or Eve) and thus, I do not trust her.
      What a sad little world you live in. You don't trust Rebecca because you don't know her, but you have no problem in trusting the countless, faceless bullies who have, for all this time, hounded Rebecca and her allies, such as Jen McCreight, Amy Davis Roth, Ophelia Benson, just to name a few.

      Before I am attacked, let me say that I am not accusing her of lying, I'm merely saying that there's no way to prove she wasn't.
      No. You are not 'merely saying' anything. You are accusing Rebecca of lying; re-read your own first three sentences in point #1 - and this time, for comprehension.

      #2. Anyone whose sarcasm bone isn't fractured should have seen that Mr. Dawkins' open letter to Muslima was /dripping/ with irony. Ridiculous to consider it as anything else.
      Yes. Yours, and yours alone, must be a special kind of brain that understands 'irony'. No matter whichever way you spin it, Dawkins' letter sought to minimize Rebecca's traumatic experience on the strength of the fact that there are other women in other parts of the world, who are violently subjugated. There are. That fact doesn't diminish the kind of treatment Rebecca was meted out. The letter was pointless, hurtful, and godawfully stupid.

      #3. You lose a bit of your credibility re: not wanting to be "sexualized" when you are overtly involved in a sexy nude calendar.
      And you, 'Karenina', just lost ALL credibility as a 'skeptic' commenter, because you seem to have absolutely zero clue about what 'consent' and 'context' are. Your kind of pathetic mentality fits very well with the patriarchal misogyny of religious fundamentalists and rape-apologists. If Rebecca has been involved with a nude calendar by choice, it is her choice in that context. It does not confer a license on anyone to declare open season on her body and mind to groped and propositioned at will. You can 'sexualize' her all you want; it only reflects poorly on you, not her. Once she says, 'No', it means, 'No'; it means, 'Don't do it.' Only bloody idiots don't understand that.

      #4. Outing a captive member of your student audience (referencing Ms. McGraw, of course) in order to promote yourself is very /very/ bad form. Is this narcissism? Very likely.
      Now you have taken recourse to bullshitting. Go read the post from the beginning again. And this time, I say again, please read slowly and try to comprehend the meaning of the words written.

      #5. Skeptically speaking -- this article is more Watson-centric bullying and bias.
      Foolish, meaningless, empty assertion. It would perhaps made some sense about a year and a half ago, but the time passed has witnessed what kind of bullying, harassment, loathsome and reprehensible nastiness Rebecca and her allies have been subjected to. The only silver-lining to that has been the fact that the despicable morons in skeptics' clothing have been revealed in all their putrid stench. For that, saner folks, including Rebecca, are profoundly grateful.

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