Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Why the moon landings could not have been faked

Jan 21st, 2013 3:21 pm | By

Because the technology to get to the moon existed in 1969, but the technology to fake a moon landing in a studio did not.

The takeaway -

Why does any of this matter? Well my concern is with the ultimate fate of knowing, of seeing the difference between what you can know and what you wish for…The urge to believe drives people to trade in part of their soul in exchange for the comfort of being a rebel.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The unbelief of the woman is not equal

Jan 21st, 2013 11:48 am | By

Via the Ex-Muslims Forum – “perhaps the only time when the misogyny of Islamic Fiqh could ever be described as a relief.”


Embedded image permalink

It is narrated from Ibn Abbas that he said, “The female apostate is not killed.”  This is because the unbelief of the woman is not equal to the unbelief of the man – which leads to (physical) devastation.  So, she is not equal in the liability to be killed, as is known.

- Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi (d. 373 AH/ 983 CE). Mukhtalaf al-Riwayah,, vol 3, p. 1299

Makes sense. The woman’s belief is puny and weak compared to the man’s, so her unbelief is the same way, so meh – nobody cares. No need to kill her; keep her to do the dishes.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

If you self-identify

Jan 21st, 2013 11:37 am | By

On Twitter -

This is a public information announcement: If you self-identify as a “freethinker” or a “progressive” it can seem just a tad conceited.

So does that mean it’s conceited to write for The Freethinker? Probably. Oh well.

(The truth is I don’t self-identify as either of those, because it’s true, it does sound conceited. I don’t like self-flattering labels, and I do avoid them. I prefer neutral, factual ones, when I can find them. That’s part of why I found Shermer’s jeers about “self-declared secular feminists” bizarre, when surely both words are factual more than they are self-flattering. But not calling oneself a freethinker doesn’t preserve one from doing things like writing for The Freethinker. What is one supposed to do? Ask them to change the name? But it’s a good name, and it’s been that name since the 19th century.

Anyway patrolling other people’s vanity can seem just a tad conceited, too. “Just saying.”)

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Why so fussed

Jan 21st, 2013 11:24 am | By

So they do it to Mary Beard, too. Mary Beard! A classics don! Makes me want to get my friend Euripides to give them a dam’ good scolding.

But why, you might say, am I so fussed by this. One tv programme of no moment, a bit of flak, and some great waves of support on twitter (thank you all…Tony Law even, bizarrely, got Sulla martialed in the fight last night…). Why not just “move on”?

One reason, it has introduced me to a side on internet trolling that I haven’t experienced before, and is worth thinking about. My appearance on Question Time prompted a web post that has in the last few days discussed my pubic hair (do I brush the floor with it), whether I need rogering (that comment was taken down, as was the speculation about the capaciousness of my vagina, and the plan to plant a d*** in my mouth).

It is headed with the picture above (that’s me….or in the words of one contributor:” A vile, spiteful excuse for a woman, who eats too much cabbage and has cheese straws for teeth.”)

There’s worse to come.

Of course there is. That’s barely noticeable.

The stuff about me is predictable enough, as a further sample will show:

“Undergrowth, like a mound, ladyshave free, a womble, a Cambridge Don, common ain’t she.”

“Hello Mary, we dont fear you and you’re not intelligent. All in all, a complete failure of a sentence/ Top tip: Try looking closer to home for the reason people dislike you, you arrogant twat”

” She’s an idiot who’s a disgrace to Cambridge Uni and Woman-kind. We let her get away with it by calling her a Lezzie which she obviously isn’t as she’s married.”

“Fucking hell, she’s only 57. She looks at least 70.”

“Mary, Mary quite Clunge-hairy, how does your Lady Garden grow?”

“Hairy Beard, Professor of Farts at Cunstsford University, living the dream.”

“An ignorant cunt.”

“Being a cunt transcends gender, Mary.”

Ths is interspersed with quotes from all kinds of things I’ve written, jibes at my kids (one of whomMoEmkZlintervened, independently, to my defence) and husband. The photo on the right (also now taken down) gives you the flavour (there’s an X certificate on clicking on the pop up — but I think it’s important for people to see what the bottom line is).Another one shows a pair of really hairy legs, as if they were mine.

All the same, you may say … why pay it any attention, still less give it publicity?

Several reasons. First, the misogyny here is truly gobsmacking. The whole site is pretty hateful (and what some of the comments say about Andrew Marr since he’s been ill are almost worse than anything).. but the whole “cunt” talk and the kind of stuff represented by the photo on right is more than a few steps into sadism.  It would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public, contributing to political debate, especially as all of this comes up on google..

Yes it god damn well would, and does, and is. Michael Shermer please note. Get this kind of shit every day for going on two years and it becomes very tempting to stop appearing in public and contributing to political debate – which is the goal.

Oh no, it’s all just a joke, isn’t it? Can’t you take one? Or a hundred, or ten thousand?

But reading through it (and yes you get tipped off about it whether you search or not.. and no you cant resist looking at it), it is absolutely plain as day that this is meant to hurt and wound (“If all else, we got to her” as one commenter says). It shows the classic signs of vile playground bullying — claiming to know about the victim, sneering at things they could not possibly know but claim they do, destabilising by using names in the thread that are those of your friends or even anagrams of your own, suggesting that they are watching you… that’s all part of the bullying repertoire.

Check check check check.

So how to stop it? I am sure that there is some clever way if we put our heads together.Could we flood the site with comments, or Latin poetry…so they went behind a wall (if they want to chat like this on their own, well fine.. or at least better). Or does anyone reading this post know anyone involved in this and can just say ‘no’?

Nobody’s been able to think of a clever way yet.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Yet another shitty morning

Jan 21st, 2013 9:15 am | By

It turns out that Jerry Conlon didn’t threaten me when he said maybe a vial of acid would do me some good. No, it turns out I threatened him. A friend sent me this screen shot from the mildew pit.


I don’t know who it was who posted the comment with some biographical information about Jerry Conlon; it was someone who has never commented here before. The comment was a peculiar kind of “doxxing” since Jerry Conlon had used the name Jerry Conlon himself on that threat (or “joke”) and since there was no address or phone number.

Given the first-timeness of the commenter, I suspect the comment was a plant. At any rate, I haven’t threatened anyone. I haven’t even threatened to report him to the police, even though a lot of people have strongly urged me to report him, because Canadian law enforcement sees that kind of thing as a danger to people in general, not just to the recipient. (And he’s Canadian. Ooh I’m doxxing him!! Except that’s on his Facebook page. Visible to all.)

I haven’t threatened anyone. He did threaten me.

I’m very very very very very tired of this shit. My life is shit, thanks to these people. That’s what they want, and they get what they want. I’m a blogger and writer, so the work I do I do online. That means taking “a break” from online isn’t a happy little vacation, it’s being locked out of the work I do. Yes no doubt it’s pathetic contemptible nerdy “work” but I like doing it, and I don’t like being forced out of it by sadistic pseudonymous shits.

But some good does come out of it. Bjarte Foshaug was motivated by the acid threat to send $150 to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. He says a friend of his Sheila is also going to donate. So Jerry Conlon did some good after all!

But I want my life back. And I can’t have it. That makes me angry.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Jan 20th, 2013 5:36 pm | By

PZ is optimistic about the bigger picture.

I am constantly dunned by email and tweets from the haters and sick scumbags, and I read stuff by my colleagues who get far worse, and at times it is just too depressing and dismal — there really are reactionary fanatics within atheism who refuse to recognize the responsibility to work towards equality. And I just want to give up.

But then…perspective. Step away from the smears and assaults and slime and look at the movement as a whole: look at the leading organizations of the godless. You know what you’ll see? None of them support these loons. They’re all progressive and committed to improving the diversity of the atheist community and broadening our engagement with the greater culture.

Hm. I’d like to agree, but – the leading organizations don’t support them, but they don’t disavow them, either (except in broad general terms that don’t grip on anything). I think most of the organizations don’t know much about them and their project, but I kind of think maybe they should try to find out.


Rebecca is more definite about it.

For the most part, these organizations work on their causes while pointedly avoiding what they see as a divisive quagmire. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, no. For years, I defended the JREF’s pointed disinterest in atheist topics because while I do think atheism is the natural outcome of skepticism and that the two are ultimately inextricably linked, I understand that there’s a benefit to an organization focusing resources on a particular goal while also appealing to a larger audience. But it would be silly to then congratulate the JREF on working toward some atheist or secular goal, just as it’s silly to congratulate these organizations that are not focused on fighting for women.

I think that’s pretty much right. The organizations aren’t against us, but they’re not really for us either. They’re doing other things.

So while PZ finds optimism in the work these organizations do, I, for the most part, do not. I see anti-feminists who think those organizations stand for them. (Hell, I’ve seen misogynists cite feminist and Freedom from Religion Foundation co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor as an inspiration.) I don’t think these people are stupid (though yes, many are – just look at the people populating my Twitter @ replies) – I think that secular organizations aren’t being loud enough in their support of women. I think often these organizations are being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century by a few progressive employees who want to do good at the risk of being seen as radical troublemakers.

And that’s where I find my inspiration: not in the large organizations but in the individuals who are strong enough to stand up for what’s right despite the endless hateful shit thrown their way. People like Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Greta Christina, and Melody Hensley. People like Surly Amy and all the other Skepchick Network contributors. People like Amanda Marcotte, who in December recounted what it’s like to be a writer who happens to be a feminist…

Yes. We find our inspiration in each other. Not at all a bad place to find it, either.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

They risk being shamed and ostracized for speaking out

Jan 20th, 2013 4:54 pm | By

Another article not to miss is Lauryn Oates’s To tell the world his daughter’s name.

When the father of Jyoti Singh Pandey decided to tell the world his daughter’s name this week, he said he did so to give other women who have been raped courage.

His is a message directed at an untold number of women and girls. Rape is the most under-reported form of violent crime in the world. It consistently has the worst statistical reporting, with many countries keeping no rape statistics at all.

Somalian activist Hawa Aden Mohammed estimates that in her country, experiencing a torrent of sexual violence, 90% of rapes go unreported. She says the reason is that women know that nothing will be done, while they risk being shamed and ostracized for speaking out. Women in camps for the internally displaced are particularly at risk, and camp leaders are reportedly indifferent to the fact that women under their watch are hunted down like animals to satisfy the savagery of merciless, violent men.

People can get used to anything. People can harden their hearts. We all can. If there’s anything we need to resist it’s that.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Teasing Reverend Warren

Jan 20th, 2013 4:08 pm | By

I’m being Twitter-mean to Rick Warren. Well not really mean – I’m not calling him ugly or anything. But I’m teasing the crap out of something he said. Wull it was silly.

Rick Warren

Christians founded America. Ever since, Presidents (& most offices) take their oath with their hand on God’s Word #TheBible

My teasings.

And NOTHING CAN EVER CHANGE. We always do all the things exactly the way we always have done them.

Travel, medicine, architecture, communication, race relations, lighting – all, all done the same way forever.

So if somebody did something one way a few centuries ago (they didn’t, but never mind) END OF STORY.

How to do everything, according to Rick Warren. The way they did. Back then. #simple

No, blood-sucking zombies founded America, so we have to do WHAT THEY DID.

If bats had founded America, would you tell us to roost upside down during the day and hunt for insects at night?

Amazingly, he hasn’t replied.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

That’s a nice house you have there, witch

Jan 20th, 2013 3:46 pm | By

Speaking of children being seen as “witches,” and witch hunts, and cruelty to putative witches, don’t miss Leo Igwe’s new article, Kukuo: Inside a ‘Witch Camp’ in Ghana.

Here is a sample.

Many of the alleged witches said they would like to return to their original homes but were afraid for their lives. Some did not want to go back at all. They felt safe and at peace in Kukuo.

But that is because they do not have a better alternative. In Kukuo, life is hard. Survival is difficult. Most of the women survive by farming for others, but many of them are getting too old and could not farm any longer. Some of them were sick. One of the women could not walk, and she was living alone. She crawled around to cook and to attend to her daily chores. Some have resorted to begging for survival.

Leo tells the story of Fusa, a widow who had just finished building a house and was about to move into it when she was accused of making a neighbor’s child ill. Gee, what a coincidence. Now she’s in Kukuo, heart broken and traumatized.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Parents tried to “exorcise” their daughter

Jan 20th, 2013 1:00 pm | By

In Sweden this time, not in London.

The couple, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, “think their daughter is a witch and reject the accusation” of abuse, Daniel Larson, a prosecutor in the western Swedish town of Boraas, said on Friday.

Which is the problem with thinking people are “witches” – then abuse isn’t abuse, because witches have to be cleaned out, kind of like a sewer. It gets a little rough, but that’s not abuse.

The girl, who claims she is not the couple’s biological daughter though the parents say otherwise, was allegedly beaten unconscious and forced to drink a concoction made up of a cleaning product and her own urine, according to the charge sheet.

Social services removed the girl, born in 1997, from her parents’ custody in 2008 and she has since been living with a foster family. The girl only recently opened up about the alleged abuse “once she felt safe,” the prosecutor said.

She was 9 when she was rescued.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Thought for the morning

Jan 20th, 2013 11:19 am | By

The Mellow Monkey (whose avatar is a butterfly, surely the sign of an outstanding sort of person) at Pharyngula:

There aren’t that many people who enjoy fighting for social justice. We’d prefer it to just be a given and be able to focus on other stuff, too. Want to know the best way to ensure we all can do that? Shut the assholes up and work towards justice with us. The less time we have to spend arguing about trifling shit and fighting to be recognized as equal and welcome, the more time we have to devote to everything else under the sun.

Some of us don’t have the privilege to just shrug and say we don’t care.

Really. Contrary to the people who like to shout that I’m an attention whore, I don’t want to talk about woman-hating woman-baiting bullshit all the time. I’d much rather talk about other things. But, oddly enough, there’s a little bunch of people who simply will not leave me alone, and will not leave several other women alone either. If people keep thrusting themselves between you and the keyboard (figuratively speaking) then you don’t really have the luxury of ignoring them.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

That’s something to look forward to

Jan 19th, 2013 5:32 pm | By

Justin Vacula is raising money to attend Women in Secularism 2.

He posted about me on his Facebook page a few times yesterday. He incited quite a few enraged comments.

(Images of disfigured women are added to a recent blog post from Ophelia Benson who writes “Maybe I should start wearing protection,” seemingly opining on the criticism, ridicule, and disagreement she experiences because she operates a blog… and makes statements people disagree with).
Get a grip, Ophelia. Women who have acid thrown in their faces are in a much different situation than you are and face real quantifiable abuse – much unlike what you talk of as being abuse and the ‘threats’ you claimed to have received. Even if we grant that people ridicule you, say nasty things, and make fun of you on the internet this is — by no means — tantamount to acid splashing.
[Warning: horrible pictures of women with acid-melted faces below the fold]

1Like · · Share
  • 3 people like this.
  • Gary Schmauss … I have no words for this…
  • Tami Carter This is a blogger being an attention whore, and doing it on the backs of victims of abuse, usually domestic violence.
  • Robert Pogo Suski Not to be an asshole, but seriously why is anyone giving her any attention, even criticizing?  It’s obvious she’s just doing it for attention, so the best thing would be to ignore her.
  • Justin Vacula Ignoring the nonsense doesn’t make it go away. Ophelia has a large platform, is respected by many, and shouldn’t get a free pass – especially when she continues to engage in character assassination campaigns against fellow secularists.
  • Robert Pogo Suski Fair enough on the character assassinations, but if an entitled moron is an entitled moron and nothing anyone says will convince them otherwise, hell to them any criticism is just an indignation they they’re right.  Plus anyone that wants to fill her hugbox is likey of either the same mindset or feeds off it in some way.
  • Katie Graham Wow. I’m absolutely disgusted.
  • Justin Vacula Let’s also not forget PZ Myers recent post comparing, as it seems from his post, people who critique femnism and feminists online to mass murderers:

    “And these anonymous monsters on the internet who shriek affrontedly about women and feminists and moan that any feminist allies are ‘manginas’ — to me, every one of them has the name Marc Lépine, and is just hiding it in shame and fear and hatred and cowardice.”

    Free online service for freezing web pages. Save, share and prove what is on the web at a specific point of time.
  • Justin Vacula “To date, I have stayed out of this witch hunt against our most prominent leaders, thinking that “this too shall pass.” Perhaps I should have said something earlier. As Martin Niemöller famously warned about the inactivity of German intellectuals during the rise of the Nazi party, “first they came for …” but “I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a….””

    Michael Shermer

    When I got involved in the skeptical, atheist, and secular movements in the 1980…s, one looked out over the audience and saw mostly old white guys. Today it is a different picture entirely. At the last Skeptics Society lecture at Caltech on December 16, for example, an audience of three hundred was r…See More
  • Dominick White What’s wrong with this fucking woman
  • Max Driffill That PZ post was simply ridiculous. Criticism = murder. Keep it classy.
  • Ophelia Benson Why did you add those phtos and why did you include my photo? And for that matter why are you persistently harassing me?
  • Justin Vacula Persistently harassing you? What are you talking about? (Anyway, this image is from the Slymepit)
  • Ophelia Benson What am I talking about – this! And all the other shit you talk about me. You never stop.
  • Matthew Justin Yeah, really, Justin? Why did you use her face instead of the pineapple? lol
  • Max Driffill Ophelia,
    I think your face was used, to demonstrate the strangeness of your comparison.
  • Justin Vacula Opehlia – you’re the pot calling the kettle black.

    Hahahahahaha Justin Vacula explains why what Michael Shermer said about atheism …as a guy thing was totally reasonable and ok and fine. He explains it in a comment on Jacques Rousseau’s post accusing me of misrepresenting Shermer, hyperbole, and failure to read charitably. Unfortunatly, the principle…See More
  • Justin Vacula I voice disagreement with you, you voice disagreement with me. How is this harassment?
  • Justin Vacula Ophelia – looking at search results of my name on your blog, I appear 17 times from August 19 of 2012 to the current date.
  • Ophelia Benson I wouldn’t voice a damn thing with you if you hadn’t lied about me on your podcast and then started cyberstalking me. You could always just leave me the fuck alone. But none of you shits will do that, then you dare to say we’re self-important if we object to it!
  • Daniel Waddell Come on now Ophie McPrune criticism is not harassment. If you stop saying stupid shit people will not criticize you any more therefore your so called “harassment” will end
  • Richard Murray Is cyberstalking what the cool kids are calling google now?

    Is anyone else amused by the “leave me alone” gambit played by someone who went out of their own way to BE not left alone?
  • Renee Hendricks Yeah. No pass on this one, Ophelia. You made this horrible incident about you. You’ve taken something that has fuck all to do with pissing matches within the online atheist community and twisted into something that garners you more pro-vic points. Disgusting.
  • Richard Murray I heard it expressed elsewhere today (NOT on the Slymepit, not by Myerku)…

    “The longer an Internet discussion goes on, the more likely that Ophelia Benson will appear and attempt to make it all about her”
  • Justin Vacula Ophelia, was discussed this podcast issue months ago. Your objection, as it seemed, is that I didn’t real the full content of the e-mails you received. Is that right? That’s not a lie. At the most, I would say, it wasn’t fully representing the issue, but the same conclusion is drawn nonetheless. People can find the e-mails, read the posts you had written, etc. I didn’t want to read all of the e-mails on the show because it would have taken way too long (and the show went over time, anyway).

    Either way, I felt you handled the issue poorly and that backing out of TAM was a poor idea. Obviously I am not you, as was stated many times, but from the information given I come to this conclusion as do many others who have listened to the podcast or not.

    What is this cyberstalking you speak of? What do you mean ‘leave you alone?’ I’m simply, as I usually do, responding to your writing online (public information). I’m not sending you threats, intimidating you, or engaging in any criminal activity. If my communication (and not even directly to you) upsets you so much and you want me to leave you alone, why are you engaging in direct communication with me on my Facebook profile?
  • Ophelia Benson Well someone posted it on my wall and I thought you’d tagged me. That part was just confusion.
  • Justin Vacula I’ll put the invitation out once again, Ophelia, and even extend it. I’m very open to having a recorded discussion with you about all of this stuff…and I’ll even go on someone else’s podcast to have it. Hell, we can even chat at Women in Secularism (which I am planning on attending – so I would be available in person). If you want to talk about these issues, I’m all ears. We obviously have grievances about the state of the atheist community and, while these grievances are different, I’m open for discussion.
  • Chuck Goecke Anyone who worries about getting acid in the face should carry a small squeeze bottle of sodium bicarbonate – Baking soda slurry.  That would minimized the damage if applied immediately.
  • Travis Roy you’re going to WiS? You are a brave man Justin
  • Katie Graham I couldn’t let this one go. Hopefully, it’s my last blog post about Benson. She just a bad person:

    The question of morality does not have to be answered by religion, despite the c…ontentions by theists that every law must have a “law giver.” In this blog I will explain why this is not true, periodically post interesting moral questions and show ways in which morality can be taught without the pres…See More
  • Travis Roy Perhaps people would switch sides and back Ophelia up if she just released that email from the JREF that she claims was dismissive of her concerns of the threats.. Oh, that’s right, it probably doesn’t exist.
  • Justin Vacula Travis Roy – I have been called a brave hero, you know :p
  • Mark Neil So, Ophelia, who “moderates” people (so their posts never see the light of day) as a matter of routine when they post dissenting opinions, complains it’s harassment when those people respond in the medium they do have available. Ophelia, do you seriously believe you’re above reproach or criticism? That your opinions, which you post for all to see, are not to be challenged? It amazes me how such a pitiable, helpless, victim like you can be a feminist role model.
  • Robin Lionheart When hater Jerry Conlon creepily tweets “@OpheliaBenson Maybe a vial of acid would do you some good. You already look like you were set on fire and put out with a wet rake.”, he probably intends that as dismissive mockery. But we don’t know that; he might actually mean it. And that sort of rhetoric validates Ophelia’s concerns.
  • Glenn Michael Scott I have a book on my shelf; it’s called “Why Truth Matters”. Maybe you should read it, Ophelia, and stop spreading lies, misinformation and … crazy.
  • Justin Vacula It’s unfair to, as Ophelia and her cadre often do, pick up random comments from people and cast this as representative of the people who offer civil disagreement. On any given issue you will find people who would post stuff like that online…
  • Robin Lionheart It’s also unfair to cast people who offer civil disagreement as the sort of people Ophelia seeks to protect herself from. She didn’t approach JREF with security concerns because of polite dissent.
  • Mark Neil Especially when those comments are a direct response to her own words, and not unprovoked. It’s not like that guy made that comment and then she wrote her article. She’s the one who raised the idea of acid attacks against her.
  • Mark Neil Robin. In this very thread, she accuses Justine of harassing her, and thereby being one of those people she needs protection from. Unless you’re suggesting he’s done more than attempt civil disagreement, I think you’r mistaken.
  • Victoria Carmel This is probably the most epic attention whoring I have ever seen.
  • Robin Lionheart I don’t think that image Justin composed up there constitutes “civil” disagreement, Mark.
  • Glenn Michael Scott I think it does, Robin. He’s saying that she’s engaged in RIDICULOUS hyperbole. She’s also minimising what happens to real acid attack victims. I can imagine her asking one of these women to console her because she got a critical tweet.
  • Liam Jones ” she didn’t approach the JREF with security concerns because of polite dissent”

    Too true, she approached them due to an email that wasn’t even approaching dissent.
  • Glenn Michael Scott Ophelia Benson is one of the most deplorable people I have ever heard of. She is conniving and dishonest. You disgust me, Ophie.
  • Robin Lionheart Justin’s image pairing those images of acid attack victims with one of Ophelia trivializes their suffering, Glenn. Nothing she wrote about Sergei Filin did.
  • Glenn Michael Scott The yellow part highlights writing, Robin.
  • Glenn Michael Scott Oh, so we add words to aid interpretation, do we? She said what she said, not what you wish she said. Also, what actual threats has she received?
  • Robin Lionheart Fine, I’ll take back the word “threats”: She compares harassment against Sergei (specifically Facebook hacking) to harassment against herself (albeit not in that criminal form). Sergei’s persecutors turned out to be violent; she suggests maybe she shou…See More
  • Glenn Michael Scott Words: “maybe I should start wearing protection” and “sounds like ‘the atheist community’”. Seriously, fuck her. She has no integrity.
  • EllenBeth Wachs Abbie Smith calling Ophelia “Nanny Benson”, Daniel Waddell referring to her as “Ophie McPrune” Matthew Justin asking why you didn’t use the picture of the pineapple instead.
    Is this the type of civil disagreement you talk about?  Stirring this shit up on your wall can be a type of intimidation tactic.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A sense of power to say these things to people

Jan 19th, 2013 12:09 pm | By

Something that happened last October, in Staten Island.

A teenage girl who friends say was bullied at school committed suicide by jumping in front of an oncoming train in front of other students Wednesday afternoon.

Why was she bullied? Well, you see, there was this party, and at the party she had sex with four guys on the football team. The four guys of course punished her for having sex with them by trashing her at school. What else would they do?

The day before the fatal plunge, the sophomore posted one last cry for help on Twitter, saying “I can’t, I’m done, I give up.”

Briana Torres says just a few days ago, Felicia broke down in tears, told her rumors were spreading at school and online.

“She told me how a few football players were tormenting her.  They were making fun of her, inappropriate things,” Torres said.

Police are investigating, talking with students.

“The ability to be anonymous on the internet gives people a sense of power to say these things to people because they’re hiding behind a keyboard,” said Polina Feldbein, a student.

And once they are hiding behind a keyboard, what could be more fun than to torment someone?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Jerry Conlon apologizes

Jan 19th, 2013 12:04 pm | By

I am, obviously, not going to treat this as a private correspondence. Jerry Conlon isn’t a friend of mine, I never asked him to contact me in any way, he tweeted at me yesterday (and the day before) just to stir the shit aka harass me, so I don’t consider his apology or my reply part of a private correspondence.

Jerry Conlon to me:

I would like to apologize Ophellia for that vile tweet I sent you yesterday. I did not mean it as threat on your person being but as a childish insult agaisnt your appearence.

I understand how you take it as personal threat and I hope in no way did I make you feel unsafe in your own home. That was not my intent and I apologize if I did.

I do not expect you to accept this apology or expect you to. I am not doing it to safe face with fan base either. I feel terrible for the tweet I sent and if it caused you any duress.

My apologies,

My reply:

Well, Mr Conlon, I don’t see why you think it’s ok to insult people for being old and ugly, either. It’s not “childish” – it’s vicious. I don’t suppose you do that to your mother (assuming she’s alive) or other ancient female relatives. I don’t suppose you would enjoy hearing other people doing that to your mother. I don’t even suppose you would do it to anyone face to face.

You did of course make me feel unsafe. I didn’t think you were going to hop on a plane and come here to throw acid on me – but of course it makes me feel unsafe when people are willing to say things like that to me. Hatred and rage escalate. That was what I was saying in the post about acid-throwing yesterday. Yes, I feel unsafe because of the non-stop hatred at the slyme pit and on Twitter. Yes, you made that worse.

Thank you for the partial apology, but I really urge you to stop doing things like telling women you hate how ugly they are.

I mean that. I hope he does. I would like to see everyone stop fostering the hatred and rage. However I don’t for a second think that will happen.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Acid in the face now? Seriously?

Jan 18th, 2013 4:53 pm | By

Gee I don’t know why you’re always making such a fuss about all this stalking and hate-mongering.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

You just stop seeing it

Jan 18th, 2013 11:42 am | By

Wait, what? There’s such a thing as sexist sci-fi and fantasy book covers? Really? I thought only ugly feminists said that. Surely the BBC isn’t an ugly feminist.

Science fiction and fantasy novels routinely portray scantily clad woman on their covers – a device that draws the heterosexual male eye but may turn away women readers. Lynsea Garrison finds one fantasy author aiming to zap gender

By doing the poses himself, to amusing effect.

Hines, a fantasy author, is posing like some of the female characters on science fiction and fantasy book covers he says objectify women.

He gets into character by twisting his body into the same contorted positions as the female characters on the books.

“The way women are portrayed is just so ridiculous, so often, you just stop seeing it,” Hines says.

“I think posing has made people see it again – you see how ridiculous it is when a 38-year-old fantasy writer is doing it.”

Well, a 38-year-old male balding glasses-wearing fantasy writer with stubble and armpit hair, at least.

Many science fiction and fantasy readers are disappointed to encounter everyday sexism in a medium that is supposed to offer an escape.

Covers frequently exhibit women’s bodies with revealing clothing unsuitable for combat, and fans argue that sexualising female characters sends a message to readers that women are sex objects.

And that the only women who are of interest are the pneumatic hottie type.

Gallo thinks part of the problem is that male artists greatly outnumber female artists in the industry.

“You go to art school, and it’s 50-50,” Gallo said. “But professionally, it’s overwhelmingly male.

“This is an unfortunate fact of the industry. These artists grew up with comics and gaming, so it’s easy to perpetuate these things without thinking them through.”

Ah no no no no no!! You can’t say that. No no no. That’s Nazi witch-hunting inquisition stuff. It never happens that anyone perpetuates these things without thinking them through. Never never never!

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

It’s blasphemy to blaspheme against blasphemy laws

Jan 18th, 2013 11:11 am | By

Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, has been accused of “blasphemy” for criticizing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws in a tv interview two years ago. There are a lot of people who take criticism to be blasphemy, aren’t there…

Rehman has been a critic of the controversial laws, which have been widely condemned by rights organization and deemed discriminatory. In November, 2010, Rehman submitted a bill to parliament seeking to reform the blasphemy laws and an end to capital punishment. Rehman has since faced death threats from Islamist militants.

Right. Gotta kill people who think “blasphemy” laws might need reform (notice she didn’t even say they should be eliminated) and that the state shouldn’t execute people. Anti-death people should be made dead.

President Asif Ali Zardari’s government has come under sharp criticism from the country’s rights organizations and the West for refusing to reform the legislation despite the assassinations of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian cabinet minister, and Salman Taseer, the former governor of the Punjab province. The two politicians were brutally murdered by Islamists in 2011 because they had dared to speak out against the laws.

Death to the anti-death blasphemers.

Fatimah Ihsan, who teaches gender studies at Islamabad’s Quaid-i-Azam University, said that the apex court was “hounding” officials of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

“I think the decision of the Supreme Court to accept the petition against Rehman is to target the PPP again, and to damage its reputation,” Ihsan told DW in an interview.

Ihsan believed that instead of reforming the laws, they should be repealed completely.

Quite so. But be careful where you walk, Fatimah Ihsan.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

From hacking to acid-throwing

Jan 18th, 2013 10:10 am | By

Update for you creeps from the mildew pit -

No it’s not that I think I’m that important, you assholes. It’s that you do. You’re the ones who act as if I’m pretty much the most important person in the world! Along with eight or ten others. You’re the ones who monitor my every move every hour and every day. You’re the ones who focus a creepy amount of attention on me. I don’t think I’m that important at all! I don’t think I’m worth that kind of attention – not from people who like me and not from people who hate me. No, I don’t think maybe someone will eventually attack me because I’m so important – I think that because you people are so fucking unhinged and obsessive and you keep ratcheting up the hatred. I am very small potatoes, yet there you are, staring and frothing and hating.

I hope that clears that the fuck up.


The Bolshoi sounds like “the atheist community.”

The artistic director got acid thrown in his face yesterday. Apparently the Bolshoi is riven with deeeeep rifts. (That’s good, isn’t it? Riven with rifts? Same root, no doubt. I can’t say I use “riven” much. Every now and then though – well it’s the word that fits in the slot.)

…even before police find the culprits – if they ever do – many will connect the attack to the ongoing squabbles and infighting that have been plaguing this jewel of Russian culture.

Most of the squabbles that have affected the theatre have not been about money, but about personal competition, and they appear to have degenerated into nasty attacks on the talented dancer-turned-director.

Before acid was used in Friday’s attack, Sergei Filin had already received numerous phone threats, and his email and Facebook accounts had been hacked.

Interesting. One minute it’s just hacked Facebook accounts, the next it’s acid attacks. Maybe I should start wearing protection.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Waiting for the magic

Jan 17th, 2013 12:37 pm | By

Ed has a good post on Michael Shermer’s exaggerated outrage at my criticism of him.

His comment on the bit where Shermer says I turned the inquisition on him and that we inquisitors are trying to force him to defend himself -

What does innocence until proven guilty have to do with any of this? That is a legal concept and you are not on trial, no matter how much you imagine yourself to be. You said something dumb and sexist in a public forum and someone else pointed out that it was dumb and sexist in a public forum. And the truth is that you are defending yourself, primarily by going on the offensive and accusing your critics of trying to destroy you and others the same way the Catholic Church, the McCarthyites and the Nazis did to their opponents.

All of this is such an hysterical overreaction that it leaves my jaw agape. No one has been “purged” in any “inquisitions” or “witch hunts.” What they have been is criticized for saying dumb things now and again. You’d think that Shermer, who has spent most of his adult life encouraging people to think critically would recognize criticism when he sees it, but he squeals like a stuck pig when the harsh glare of criticism is turned on him.

He does. And he goes on squealing, too. Apparently everyone was supposed to think he’s infallible, and yet, he’s a skeptic, so he must be familiar with the idea that no one is infallible. Vanity vanity vanity; it’s the orange-eyed monster.

I like Michael Shermer. I’ve written for his magazine and had interesting conversations with him at a couple of events and I’m even sympathetic to his libertarian political views, unlike a lot of others in this community. But he is embarrassing himself here and the only reason I can think of to explain it is vanity. I wish he would stop. There’s still a serious discussion to be had about diversity at atheist events but it cannot be had with someone who is making these ridiculous claims of witch hunts, inquisitions and Nazi purges.

And once again I am struck by how much this rhetoric mirrors that of people in stark opposition to the goals of atheists and skeptics. When Paula Kirby refers to Rebecca Watson and her defenders as “feminazis,” she is using exactly the same language used by Rush Limbaugh (who invented that term, or at least made it famous). When Al Stefanelli claims that Watson and her defenders just “hate white men,” he is using exactly the same argument used by right-wing Christians for decades. And when Shermer talks about witch hunts, inquisitions and purges, he is using precisely the same rhetoric that right-wing Christian anti-feminists have used, and continue to use, to describe not only feminists but the entire secular community as well. And he is acting just like those fundamentalist Christians who are practically addicted to false claims of persecution.

Yes but when a sketpic acts like that it’s magically transformed into – wait…

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Uglies v pretties

Jan 17th, 2013 11:15 am | By

Seen the 9 Ugliest Feminists In America thing?

It ends with a bizarre non sequitur.

Feminists want to be valued for their brainpower and ideas above all else, but they still engage in professional photoshoots to push the prettiest picture of themselves on their web sites and book jackets. I guess even feminism can’t completely demolish a girl’s desire to be pretty.

Well one reason for that might possibly be the way people like this “Roosh” fella like to shame feminist women for being ugly.

I’m fortunate to be too obscure to be on the list, but I certainly get plenty of shaming-for-being-ugly elsewhere, especially of course on the mildew pit (let’s give it a new moniker for a change). I get double shaming because I’m not just ugly, I’m also a million years old, so I get all the old AND ugly shaming. My name is Prune. This of course is because it’s a crime to be ugly, also to be a million years old, let alone to be both at once.

This has always been the way – the hyena in petticoats, you know. But the Internet provides a cornucopia of new ways to disseminate the ugly-shaming. It’s no longer necessary to get on a bus in order to shout insults at ugly women. You can just set up a website or a forum or a blog for the purpose, and then besides there’s also Twitter and Facebook. Life is good!

“Roosh” awards the top honor to my colleague and friend Jen McCreight. I’m not going to quote what he says, because it’s too vicious. I’ll just say that it’s there. It’s deeply sad that there are people who take pleasure in doing that kind of thing. Maybe they’re all psychopaths, so they simply don’t have the working bits of the brain that would prevent them – but that’s deeply sad.

A former colleague of mine mused about this on Twitter

 Jeremy Stangroom@PhilosophyExp

I wonder if it’s a coincidence that many of the “chill girls” who are vilified (for no good reason) happen to be very attractive…

Well first I would want to know what is meant by “vilified.” But leaving that aside, it’s a good point. The unspoken bit represented by the ellipsis is of course “and the feminists happen to be very ugly.” Well spotted. The idea is that we hates’em because they’re so pretty and we’re so ugly.

Well, actually, not all of us are, but that’s probably beside the point. At any rate I certainly am, and one should be enough to make the observation relevant. So is that what’s going on? Pretties on one side, uglies on the other? Uglies just pissed off because they’re not pretties, and pretties victimized by the ugly old cunts?

Let’s say yes for the sake of argument. Sure. Whatever. Lucy Wainwright @Whoozley (a pretty) agreed with him, so that’s an objective outside view, so let’s say yes. But is it quite as simple as uglies hating pretties because the uglies are ugly? I think it’s not.

One, the being pretty itself tends to shield women who are pretty from that kind of abuse, which can have an influence on how feminist they are. Rebecca has talked specifically about this. She used to be a “chill girl” herself…until people started calling her a cunt.

Two, the fact that they don’t get that kind of abuse may make the pretties indifferent to that kind of abuse directed at the uglies. That might be because of the belief I alluded to at the beginning, that it’s criminal and immoral to be ugly. The pretties may well think, or half-think, or believe below the level of conscious awareness, that ugly people are bad people. There’s plenty of research that indicates we all believe that, and we uglies believe it just as much as anyone else. (Sad, isn’t it.) But we uglies also have the motivation to fight off the belief, while the pretties don’t.

So…no, it may well not be a coincidence, but even if it’s not, that doesn’t necessarily equal simply “the uglies hate the pretties because the uglies are ugly” – which I think was the intended message.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)