Notes and Comment Blog

Being a New Yorker

Sep 26th, 2014 5:23 pm | By

Brian Leiter and the Philosophy Gourmet Report are having what one might call a Dawkins moment.

Brian Leiter may be a law professor, a philosopher, and the editor of an influential report that ranks universities’ philosophy departments. But when it comes to dealing with people he regards as being out of line, a different feature comes to the fore: “I’m a New Yorker.”

Over the past year, for example, the Manhattan native has told one fellow philosopher that she is “a disgrace” who works for “a shit department,” has threatened to sue another he dismissed on Twitter as a “sanctimonious arse,” and has suggested on one of his three blogs that still another professor should leave the profession “and perhaps find a field where nonsense is permitted.”

This year more than 270 philosophers have signed a statement in which they refuse to complete the surveys or otherwise to assist Mr. Leiter in assembling his rankings as long as they remain under his control.

The statement specifically protests Mr. Leiter’s treatment of Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia who was the target of his “sanctimonious arse” tweet. It argues that Mr. Leiter’s “derogatory and intimidating remarks” to Ms. Jenkins have damaged her health and her ability to work, partly due to the power he wields as editor of the report.

Hmm. Have any Irish bloggers come forward to say maybe she’s doing it for publicity?

Mr. Leiter remained dismissive of the recent wave of criticism of him, which he attributed partly to feminist philosophers irritated by his defense of the due-process rights of scholars accused of sexual harassment, and partly to philosophers who periodically rebel against The Philosophical Gourmet because their own departments rank poorly.

Oh good, another front in the War With Feminists.

Mr. Leiter attributed some of the criticism of him to a “cultural gap” that he said had developed in his argumentative field as younger philosophers had become heavily involved in social media and engaged in what he called “tone policing,” denouncing online comments they see as offensive or uncivil.

How about derogatory? Any discussion of that?

Some emails he sent have been made public and they’re…not very collegial.

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

Thanks for all the whatever that was

Sep 26th, 2014 12:19 pm | By

Tauriq Moosa has a beautiful, and deeply sad, post on a goodbye to all that about the atheist movement and what it had meant to an ex-Muslim.

I can’t escape the weird identity I have and it’s this identity which makes me so angry at the leading figures – i.e. white men – of a movement that changed my life. But I’m more fucking angry at the sycophantic nature of a movement that was supposed to have abandoned sanctity for reason and evidence.

I wanted to never speak about Richard Dawkins – or rather the environment that views him with infallibility.

I wanted to avoid saying anything about Sam Harris. I got what I wanted from their books – both books, which I loved and which had a profound, life-changing affect on me. For the better. Dawkins made it safe and sane for me to question and engage; Harris conveyed a civil focus on deep questions that required evidence to engage in. Hitchens conveyed beauty and brilliance in the secular outlook, which helped me engage with my parents as I left. It came at a time when my parents divorced, when I had no friends, and no direction. It was a confusing horrible mess, yet here was Dawkins waxing poetic about meaning, here was Hitchens pointing to poetry and to Salman Rushdie.

But those same tools they used to carve out a path now remain clutched firmly in their hands, with a refusal to cut out the poison that sits within so many of us.

And it didn’t have to be that way. They didn’t have to dig in their heels, they didn’t have to get furious whenever a woman dared to talk back. They didn’t have to use their fame and status to lay waste to everything around them.

Including me. Including bloody me. And I’m not the one with honorary degrees, renowned expertise, PhD’s, New York Times pieces, best-selling books. But it can still be me.

Because I’m a man, who has never experienced sexism, who doesn’t know what stupid, shitty, sexist, misogynist thing I might say – today, tomorrow (but hopefully never).

Because I don’t know everything.

Because I don’t know what phrasing might sound like; and, even if I didn’t intend to be a sexist shit, no matter how many articles I write against sexism, doesn’t excuse one (severe) fuckup. Digging in my heels indicates I care more about maintaining an image of infallibility than that I’m a critical person willing to admit:

“I stepped over the border of ignorance and into bigotry. I never intended to hurt or harm. I would never want to do that to friends or innocent people. Please accept my apologies for saying something fucking stupid. I deserve your reprimands for being another man saying something that sounds like it’s from the 18th century.”

Because I hope to never have friends who say I can never be sexist, never be wrong, because I’m their buddy.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they were friends who say “I’m surprised he said something sexist, I never would have expected that.” But to say “I’ve never heard him say anything sexist” and treat that as demonstrating total non-sexism? Oy.

As a brown person in the atheist movement, I’ve never felt particularly welcome. Seeing the tactics of white men defendng other white men from obvious bigotry that isn’t obvious to them – and, worse, seeing their sycophantic followers convey these men’s infallibility – has never made my view more entrenched: I want nothing to do with this “movement”.

I thank all these amazing people – yes, including Dawkins and Harris – for what they’ve done. I thank them from the bottom of my pathetic “social justice warrior” “feminazi” heart. But this is no longer a space I want to be part of when the first lesson they taught me – question yourself, question your most deeply entrenched views, question how you might wrong – is now no longer allowed to be applied to them.

Adam Lee continues to be called a liar, without anyone saying what he’s lying about. Ophelia who has been watching Dawkins and similar highly prominent folks for years is declared an opportunistic, click-bait blogger. Forget her books, her articles, her columns. Greta Christina gets told by Sam Harris’ fans that she should shut up about sexism (again, not Sam Harris’ fault, but the culture of inclusivity, which is my major focus). On and on, it goes. Silence, lies, betrayal. No. No more.

Goodbye to all that.



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

Perhaps publicity trumps

Sep 26th, 2014 11:54 am | By

Ew. Michael Nugent tweeted a link to an article about how to deal with online harassment a few hours ago.

Michael Nugent ‏@micknugent
How the Irish police helped a victim of online harassment and abuse

The article is by “Doctor DooM.”

I am the only person who writes for this website regularly who uses a pseudonym.  I do so for reasons that are my own, but there are many valid reasons why someone would want to do this.

They may express opinions that would be unpopular at their workplace. They may be well known by an alternative name, professionally or personally. They may have had something happen to them that legally they can’t appear to talk about. In the case of one person I know, they may be a potential new public figure, and their online output might be tightly controlled by their management.

Some people might say – and this is the argument that Ophelia Benson seems to be making in a discussion with Michael Nugent online – that all of the above is irrelevant.  People who are nasty online should be exposed.  Abusers should be dragged into the harsh light of day.  Perhaps other people’s civil liberties are less important than that?

No, I don’t say, and no, the argument I’m making is not, that all of the above is irrelevant. I understand that people have reasons for remaining anonymous online. What I say, and the argument I make, is that people shouldn’t use anonymity as a tool with which to harass and threaten other, non-anonymous people in complete freedom from any kind of consequences. That’s what I say, that’s the argument that I make. And no, I don’t say that “people who are nasty online should be exposed.” But people who carry on sustained campaigns of abuse, under the shelter of anonymity? Yes: they should not be able to do that. That’s what I say.

Doctor DooM has received a lot of harassment.

So when we see people like Rebecca Watson railing against the unstoppable tides of sexism and hatred being shunted their way and playing the victim, I have to ask a question.

What are you doing about it?

When it happened to me, of course, there was initial upset. It’s not easy to deal with the fact that people can have that much hate in their hearts. It’s even harder to deal with the fact that it is aimed at you. What have I done to deserve this? Is it my fault? I have untempered sympathy for people in this situation.

After I passed this initial shock though, I went to the Gardaí.

After all, if there are threats of violence and death being made in comments, these are actual crimes. It should be reported. All of it.

And you know what? According to Doctor DooM, the Gardaí dealt with it. Problem solved!

That’s very nice, but Rebecca doesn’t live in Ireland, and neither do I. What happens when you go to the Gardaí to report online harassment has no bearing on what happens when you go to the US police to report online harassment. Also, threats of violence and death are not all there is to online harassment, and that should not be the standard. We should not be expected to put up with harassment that’s not threats of violence and death.

I actually think this is important: why are people writing blogs about this, going on and on about the abuse they receive? The first rule of the internet is don’t feed the trolls. The endless articles discussing and highlighting that vitriol and now even a Senator bringing it up- it’s all fuel. It is, at this point, jaw dropping that people don’t know how to deal with this. Ignore them. It starves them of oxygen. All they want- their entire goal- is a reaction.

Perhaps, publicity trumps the desire to actually help yourself and others.

There you go. We do this for “publicity.”

That’s what Michael “civility” Nugent saw fit to flag up on Twitter.

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

Known for her pro bono legal and humanitarian work

Sep 26th, 2014 9:24 am | By

Islamic State in Iraq publicly murdered a human rights lawyer in Mosul last week.

Samira al-Nuaimy, known locally for her pro bono legal and humanitarian work, was executed last week, according to rights activists and residents. The United Nations said that she was killed in a public square and that her body showed signs of torture when it was returned to her family.

Heading for Utopia, where all the people who do good work have been murdered and the people who do bad things are in control.

“Samira was not the first,” said Suha Oda, a 29-year-old social activist from Mosul who has moved to the Kurdish-administered area nearby but monitors human rights issues in the city. Four women have suffered a similar fate over the past month, she said, including three doctors who were executed last week. Iraqi media reports said the women had been killed because they refused to treat a wounded Islamic State fighter.

The world of death and violence and coercion.

The Islamic State did not publicly acknowledge Nuaimy’s killing, but U.N. officials said a sharia court had sentenced her to death for apostasy — or abandoning the faith.

Nuaimy had sought to run in the elections but did not end up competing, Oda said. The lawyer had spoken out on her Facebook page against the militants’ destruction of historic sites, the U.N. office for human rights said. The Islamic State has blown up ancient tombs, ripped down
statues and destroyed Shiite mosques — which it considers idolatrous or heretical under its extreme interpretation of Islam.

“She refused the terrorists and Daesh,” Oda said, using the Arabic acronym for the group.

So they killed her. Submit or die – those are the choices.

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

Football gives you structure in your life

Sep 25th, 2014 5:50 pm | By

One of the two high school students convicted of rape in the Steubenville case has served his sentence and is now

back on the football team.

For some, Richmond’s reinstatement to the team earlier this month was a disturbing signal that the celebration of football victories still prevails.

“The message that it sends is that Steubenville High School doesn’t care about rape,” Alexandria Goddard, a social media consultant who helped generate attention to the original case, writes in an e-mail to the Monitor. The district has failed to say specifically what steps it has taken toward “addressing the issue of rape culture,” she says.

On the other hand there’s such a thing as rehabilitation, and remorse, and progress.

Yes but on the other other hand, playing football isn’t a human right. Football is all mixed up with glory and machismo and aggression, and all too often with not giving a flying fuck about some little girl who got drunk at a party.

At a recent meeting of the Steubenville City Council, a local citizen reportedly objected to [Ma'lik] Richmond being given the privilege of participating in football.

Council member Kenneth Davis defended the school’s decision.

“Who are we to condemn this young man, when he stood up publicly with tears in his eyes and apologized?” Mr. Davis said in a phone interview with the Monitor. “I’m not taking what he did lightly, but he was 16…. Football gives you structure in your life…. If I didn’t have football in my life as a kid, I could be a street hoodlum myself.”

Ok wait – what kind of “structure”? If it’s a kind of structure that doesn’t encourage boys to understand that they don’t get to rape people, what good is it?

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

Because of the feministic culture we live in

Sep 25th, 2014 12:46 pm | By

A loving father.

Meet Annalise. She is my only little princess. She is a gift from God (Ps 127:3) and I do my best to savor every waking second with her. Even as I type this post, she is sitting on my lap. She’s five years old and, like every loving father, I’ll be forced to give her away one day. Until then, my wife and I have the immense opportunity to train her and prepare her to be a woman of God. More specifically, we have the mandate to prepare her to be a wife and mother. To be honest, I have a deep concern for her because of the feministic culture we live in.

Let’s face it; feminism has so influenced American culture that it has infiltrated the Christian culture just as much in more subtle ways. The average Christian woman is not trained from the home, nor encouraged, to find a husband as an alternative to going to college and starting a career. This is sad and unbiblical.

So this guy thinks that a “Christian woman” is required to get married instead of getting an education and having a career. Not just that he thinks that’s a better option, but that that’s what being a Christian woman is, and that not being that is “unbiblical” – whatever the hell that means. (It’s unbiblical to fail to dash your enemies’ infants’ heads against the walls, too.)

When I even suggest the possibility of not sending my daughter to college, I almost always get the stink eye. This grieves me because we have allowed the culture to sear our conscience to the point where the plain reading of Scripture is scoffed at by professing Christians. This is why I have a drive to see our churches be more passionate about Titus 2 than conforming to the cultural expectation of women being independent of man.

It must be like living deep deep deep under ground.

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

Statement against religious discrimination

Sep 25th, 2014 10:46 am | By

Wow check it out – Michael DeDora at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday.

I’m so proud – vicarious proud, but that’s the best kind – proud to know Michael, proud of what he does, proud of CFI.


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

Guest post: Nothing to compensate for the exclusion of multitudes of diverse and valuable people

Sep 24th, 2014 5:57 pm | By

Originally a comment by Jennifer Phillips on Whom you name, and he won’t.

I hate “the atheist movement.” If this is what it is, I hate it and want nothing to do with it. If it’s going to act like a mirror image of the fucking Vatican, I want nothing to do with it.

I completely agree, and would go further to say that, as it stands, it’s professionally damaging to me to be associated with Movement Atheists, as represented by Dawkins, Harris, Shermer and their supporters.

It’s paradoxical, because when I first discovered ‘the movement’, the science and reason elements embedded within lit a fire in me. I had already been involved in science outreach throughout my academic pursuits, but listening to DJ Grothe interview the denizens of the Reality Based Community on POI made me aware of how much more I wanted to invest myself in science education and science literacy.

The intervening years have been wonderful in that regard, and I’ve tapped into many local, national, and international science outreach opportunities, particularly focusing on outreach to women and underrepresented minorities in science. Therein lies the obvious problem: By publicly associating with the movement most closely identified with Dawkins, Harris, Shermer and their allies, I risk alienating the generation of young women and minorities that I’m trying to bring into the realm of professional science and reason.

It’s not worth it. Those ‘leading lights’ offer nothing to compensate for the exclusion of multitudes of diverse and valuable people.

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

Dana’s advice for Coyne Dawkins and Harris

Sep 24th, 2014 5:37 pm | By

Dana Hunter has a brilliant post on all this. It draws on brilliance from Libby Anne and from Hiba Krisht, for a hat trick of brilliance.

I’d like to ask a favor of anyone who can manage to get a critical viewpoint through the defenses of atheist celebrities like Harris and Dawkins: please get them to read Libby Anne’s infuriating and heartbreaking post, Do They Care about Women, or Simply Bashing Religion? Because it’s a question they need to address. They’re driving people like Libby Anne away from movement atheism. That is very much to the detriment of the movement.

It most certainly is. And Libby Anne is very far from the only one they are driving away.

I don’t think they’re worried about this, by the way – I think they think they have all the good, clever, sensible, anti-PC people, and we’re just the frenzied ideological cultists. No, that’s not how it is.

Dana lists some of the ways she admires Libby Anne and goes to her for useful reading.

She’s made me aware of just how relentlessly even mainstream culture genders kids, well before they’re old enough to even have a concept of themselves as boy or girl or something else. She’s worth a thousand Richard Dawkinses or Sam Harrises to me. She could be a tremendous asset to any atheist organization.

She could, but movement atheism is too busy patronizing women and making sure we all get the impression that we’re only of use to our Fearless Leaders™ when we’re being used as a cudgel against religion, and she wants none of that.

It is men like these who confirm my decision not to engage in movement atheism. Despite their claims, I don’t see them displaying a greater willingness to question their biases or engage in critical thinking. Frankly, I have felt for some time that atheist activists are frequently only willing to call out sexism when they see it in religion. It’s one more way they can point to how thoroughly horrible religion is as they call for its demise. But the moment an atheist woman says she has encountered sexism at atheist conventions or at atheist gatherings, she is lampooned and derided, called all manner of names and even threatened with rape or death. But isn’t this the kind of thing these same atheists criticize religion for?

Frankly, I feel used. These atheist activists are the sort of people who want to use my story as proof that religion is horrible to women but aren’t willing to listen to what I have to say about sexism in our culture at large.

“Aren’t willing” is putting it mildly – start spitting poison at the very thought, is more like it.

We can tell when you don’t genuinely give a shit about us, and are only using us as a weapon against someone or something else. You think you’re amazing allies, because wow are you so brainy, and you say such wonderful things about how wrong those religious practices that fuck over women are, but when it comes to treating the women within your own movement better? You shriek and whine and shit all over us. You use the plight of those religious women against us, as if this is either/or, as if we cannot address sexism within western secular spaces until we’ve destroyed all the religion.


You need to start paying attention to the women who are telling you they are not yours to use. People like Hiba. Her comment on Libby Anne’s post needs to be etched onto atheist leader dude’s mirrors, where they’re forced to read the words every day, until they get it:

Ex-Muslim woman of color here. I blog about this stuff over at the Freethought Blogs. Your words are affirming. I too, feel used. Especially when the plights of women like me–women raised in Muslim-majority countries, forced to cover, controlled and abused by militant Islamist organizations and individuals–are appropriated and used to bolster anti-feminism in the West, to minimize battles against harassment and unequal representation. I refuse to have my story used to attack and demean other women. I refuse to have my story used as a talking point for hypocritical anti-theists.

See what I mean? A trifecta.

I seem to recall men looking round the atheist movement a few years ago and wondering where the women are. We’re right here, either outside the movement or heading for the doors, because we tried to come in, but you made the place so hostile many of us said fuck all y’all and walked out.

You, white male atheists who spend so much time screaming you’re not sexist that you can’t acknowledge when you’ve done sexist things and bloody well stop, are causing women to stomp out in disgust. Then you’re blaming us for not wanting to put up with your shit. It’s well past time you cut your pride down to size, swallowed some of it, and listened to what women are saying to you. Women like Hiba, and Libby Anne, and so very many others who’ve had it.

You want a strong, united movement? Then fix the problems you’ve caused. Until you do, I’ll just be hanging out here on this side of the Deep Rifts with the people who give an actual shit about women.

It is better over here. Way, way better.

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

Sometimes you need this

Sep 24th, 2014 5:20 pm | By

Like today, for instance.

[Cartoon removed because trolls exist.] [Or, less facetiously, because people told me it was from a transphobic site.]

I’ll just replace the cartoon with a screen grab of a comment on Michael Nugent’s 4,839-word post rebuking Adam Lee yesterday, the fourth in his series of posts rebuking Adam Lee for writing an article that criticizes Richard Dawkins.

“Crackity Jones” is Richard Sanderson, who has repeatedly posted a flagrant flaming lie about me on that post of Nugent’s. Does Nugent write 5000-word posts rebuking Richard Sanderson and his allies for telling lies about people? No. Does he even moderate comments on his blog? No.


Crackity Jones September 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Ophelia has a spot of bother after her latest copypasta displays a cartoon from an artist who is a transphobe. Some of her commentators are politely trying to minimise the splash damage. This is not the first time Ophelia has got into trouble in this area. Seems to be she has a bit of a problem with trans issues.

Sanderson is obsessed with me, for some reason, and he’s a dedicated energetic liar.

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

Whom you name, and he won’t

Sep 24th, 2014 12:29 pm | By

Michael Nugent has yet another endless wordy tedious post chastising Adam Lee for writing an article that’s critical of Dawkins. It’s nearly 5000 words.

One part is exceptionally outrageous.

You then engage in detailed speculation about why you believe Richard was trying to convey a message that a specific person (who you name, and I won’t) should be considered an untrustworthy witness in a specific allegation of rape (which you give details of, and I won’t) against another specific person (who you name, and I won’t).

Adam, you may or may not be correct or mistaken about any of this, but you are relying on speculation of what somebody else is thinking, constructed in your own imagination, to justify publishing a negative characterisation of Richard in a reputable newspaper.

That is bad enough with regard to your speculation about what Richard is thinking, but it is even worse with regard to speculation about the alleged rape that you allude to.

Speculation about that alleged rape is happening on various websites at the moment, and I decline to participate in it. The intimate details of traumatic moments in the lives of real people are being treated as fodder for amateur detective work about what real people did or didn’t do and why they did or didn’t do so.

This is a large part of the reason why I believe that allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers. It is not only because of the justice of presuming people innocent of serious crimes until proven guilty, but also to help protect victims of rape from being permanently defined online by salacious speculation about what they have been through.

I have to rush off, but I wanted to make a note of that particular passage.

I hate “the atheist movement.” If this is what it is, I hate it and want nothing to do with it. If it’s going to act like a mirror image of the fucking Vatican, I want nothing to do with it.


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

The closest clinic was 75 miles away

Sep 24th, 2014 10:34 am | By

That woman in Pennsylvania who’s in jail for ordering miscarriage-inducing pills for her daughter online – here’s why she ordered those pills:

Whalen told me that in the winter of 2012, her daughter came to her and said she was pregnant. Whalen told her she would “support her in any decision she made.” Her daughter, who was in high school, took a few days to think and then asked her mother for help ending the pregnancy. “She said, ‘I can’t have a baby right now,’ and she asked me to look up clinics,” Whalen said.

The daughter was 16. I remember being 16. I was not mature enough to raise a child, nor was I in a position to support a child – to put it very mildly. Having a child at that age would have been horrific in every way I can think of.

Together, they looked online. The closest clinic was about 75 miles away. Pennsylvania requires women seeking abortions to first receive counseling and wait 24 hours before returning for the procedure. The cost of a first-trimester abortion is typically between $300 and $600. Whalen works as a personal-care aide at an assisted-living center for the elderly. She didn’t have health insurance for her daughter. And she was worried about taking time away from work and her family to make two trips or to stay overnight. At the time, Whalen and her husband shared one car, which they both used to get to work.

You see that’s what all these bullshit laws and regulations making abortions logistically extremely hard to get actually do in practice – they fuck the poor. The clinic is far; there’s a waiting period; the abortion is expensive; health insurance is expensive; many jobs pay very little, Whalen’s job being one such job; low-level workers have a hard time getting time off work; transportation is expensive and difficult. It’s fuck the poor every step of the way – because it’s such a brilliant idea to saddle the children of the poor with unplanned children before they’ve even graduated from high school. Yeah that’s a just and fair society.

What Whalen did in trying to help her daughter — order pills online — is probably an increasingly common response to the rising wave of abortion restrictions that has rolled across the states in the last four years. “Her situation is very scary legally, because we are seeing the number of clinics dwindle,” Nash said. “If women don’t have access to abortion clinics, some will turn to the Internet, and then, will they be charged with a crime?”

The grim answer was yes for Jennifer Whalen because of a series of choices made by officials who had the discretion to respond differently. Hospital authorities decided that they were mandated to report Whalen, according to the district attorney, because they made a judgment call that what she did was “suspected or actual child abuse.” Warren, the district attorney, could have declined to press charges. And Norton, the judge, could have refrained from sending Whalen to jail.

When I asked Jennifer Whalen whether the case has been especially hard on her older daughter, she didn’t want to talk about it. “She’s going to college and working two jobs,” she said with a bit of pride. It was clear that Whalen is still trying to shield her child. She just wants her to go on and live her life.

But how very tragic and unfair that Whalen has to pay for that with a felony conviction, prison, and the loss of a job she loved.

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

Guest post: The whole thing shredded her

Sep 23rd, 2014 5:28 pm | By

Originally a comment by Eristae on A witness steps forward.

I’m not really a fan of “and the victim should go to the police” routine. I’ve seen it play out in person.

When I was in High School, my best friend was raped by a similarly aged family member. She told me many months after the fact. She was depressed, suicidal, and suffering from a host of physical ailments brought on by stress. She didn’t want to tell anyone. I convinced her to tell the school’s counselor, who in turn either convinced her to tell the police or who told the police herself (I believe it was the former, but I am not certain).

The whole thing shredded her.

The police didn’t believe her, told her so, and insisted that there must be something “wrong” with her (like an STD) that was causing her to make up such lies about an upstanding young man. She asked that the police wait until after a school break to tell her parents, and they ignored her pleas and told them right before the break, leaving her isolated with parents who (while they didn’t react as badly as she thought they might) viewed her as irreparably damaged. Her family splintered between those who believed her and those who did not. Afterwards she expressed that she wished she had not gone to the police; that doing so had only made things much, much worse. And I felt horrible, because I had convinced her to go to tell. I, who had bought into the narrative that You Must Involve the Authorities, believed I encouraging her to do what was right. In the end, she just ended up feeling more victimized and violated. And, to all the nits who are thinking, “Well, yes, she may have been more traumatized, but that’s the price we have to pay to keep him from raping another woman!” let me be absolutely clear: the rapist was not subjected to any kind of sanctions at all. He spent no time in jail, was not charged with anything, was not held accountable by his family or peers, and in general suffered no ill effect. Nothing that we did in any way limited his ability to rape again.

Even in hindsight I don’t know what the best course of action would have been. I don’t know if my friend was better off in the long term for having the assault brought out into the open; she stopped being willing to hang out with me soon after this had died down a bit, so I couldn’t even ask her. But what I do know is that if I had it to do over again, I would listen to what she wanted to do more and tell her what to do less. If the police were going to be involved, it was her decision to make, not mine. I didn’t have to deal with the fallout of what happened the way she did. It was her life, her trauma; it should have been her decision. I regret that she had to suffer so much for me to come to this realization.

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

A witness steps forward

Sep 23rd, 2014 12:02 pm | By

Jeff Wagg is the witness, at the JREF forum, on a thread where people are picking over what Alison Smith has said.

Alison’s timeline is correct. Approximately 30 minutes after I took her back to her room, she asked to be taken to the condo. She was having trouble walking to the car which was in the back valet area. Security noticed this, and stopped us, and then offered a wheelchair to help her get to the car. We accepted. I took her to the condo, stayed for a while and then returned to the Flamingo to get ready for the next day of TAM.

I have no way of knowing what went on behind closed doors, but I do know that Alison was very upset, and very drunk. And what she told me that night matches what she’s saying now.

And it does not match what Shermer has said about that night. At all.

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

Take her to the explaining room

Sep 23rd, 2014 11:32 am | By

Matt Lubchansky takes a look at dudely atheism.

Ma’am, have you read my book? We aren’t sexists, okay? Everyone else has read the book. It’s just chemistry.

They parody themselves.


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

One of these things is not like the other

Sep 23rd, 2014 10:56 am | By

Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland has yet another very long post chiding US bloggers for daring to criticize the important atheist Leaders. I skimmed it, because as I mentioned it’s very long, and also very wordy and repetitive. (He uses the phrase “mostly American” four times. He’s really obsessed with the audacity of us Yanks trying to talk about issues in Anglophone atheism.) I skimmed it, but one thing did stand out:

As an added nuance, in these ‘deep rifts’ within parts of mostly American atheist blogging and activism, some people on both perceived sides have targeted some women in a sexist way. Some people on one perceived side have criticised some women using derogatory terms associated with feminism or body parts. Some people on the other perceived side have criticised some women using derogatory terms such as gender traitor and chill girls.

No. That’s a very sly and very false equivalence. It’s not “both perceived sides.” The two are not remotely equivalent. Hardly anybody uses “gender traitor” and “chill girl.” That’s extremely rare; vanishingly rare. I’ve never used either one (except in the sense I’m “using” them here – to discuss their use as a red herring and false equivalence). They’re rare. Are “cunt” and “bitch” rare on the “other perceived side”?

It’s interesting that Nugent didn’t spell those out, but did spell out the ones he’s attributing to us, the ones that hardly ever appear, the ones that are so much milder. It’s interesting that he drew a tactful veil over the fact that people call us cunts and twats and bitches, while he drew no such veil over the mostly-mythic “gender traitor” and “chill girl.”

“Interesting” is perhaps not quite the right word.

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

Inviting men and boys to join the fight

Sep 22nd, 2014 6:19 pm | By

Emma Watson, who played Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, said some words at the UN on Saturday.

In her role as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, the British actress andHarry Potter star gave an impassioned speech at UN headquarters Saturday, inviting men and boys to join the fight to end gender inequality:

“I want men to take up this mantle,” Watson urged. “So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too.”

Right? All that “man up” shit? “Grow a pair”? “Try harder, ladies.” Is that actually fun for boys? Being bullied for showing any feeling other than bravado? Being taught contempt for half the people on earth? It’s bad for both genders.

Then, hours after Watson told the UN it’s a woman’s right to make choices about her body, someone created a website threatening the actress by name.

Online perpetrators have created a website called Emma You Are Next with a countdown clock ticking down to something happening in about 4 days.

While the message doesn’t say what happens when time is up, it was posted on 4chan, the same image-sharing site that leaked nude celebrity photos on Saturday, and earlier this month.

The words “Never Forget, The Biggest To Come Thus Far” appear on the page below a picture of Watson apparently wiping away a tear.

Because how dare she?

Watson hasn’t addressed the threat publicly. But after the first batch of photos was leaked, the actress expressed her outrage on Twitter, writing: “Even worse than seeing women’s privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy.”

Not only a lack of empathy: an actual enjoyment of tormenting people…especially female people.

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

The impoverished struggling starving NFL

Sep 22nd, 2014 5:59 pm | By

Here’s a good idea – end the tax-exempt status of the National F0otball League.


The WHAT??

Why the sam hill is the NFL tax-exempt in the first place?!

I have no idea, but it is. So I signed the petition saying let’s not do that any more.

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

The creep list

Sep 22nd, 2014 12:31 pm | By

PZ has some new information from Alison Smith. It’s…not exculpatory of Michael Shermer, to put it mildly.

It wasn’t actually the next day that I left Shermer’s room. The entire amount of time that passed between me asking someone to come get me after leaving the party and me calling again to say please come get me I need help and don’t know where I am was around two hours. Some commenters seem to think that I had some kind of morning after regret or something, but in actual fact I was calling it rape immediately.

The other part is – me asking Shermer to be on that panel for the Sex workshop wasn’t a reaction based upon victimization (like, it wasn’t that I was pushing aside how I felt about him in order to accomplish something; and I wasn’t in denial).

It was incredibly calculated – because I knew for an absolute fact that his views on consent were different from the other panelists.

I had a rape crisis counselor on the panel as well, and I was hoping, as the moderator, to steer the conversation over to date rape. I wasn’t going to ‘Gotcha’ him or mention what happened or anything – I just honestly believed that he could stand to have that debate with someone, and maybe learn a thing or two. That’s why I was nice in the e-mail – I didn’t want him to put together what I was doing. I actually laughed when I saw that he was using that e-mail as evidence, because I so carefully crafted it to not sound like I was up to anything. It’s actually proof OF what happened – not against it – and for a brief, wild moment I found that funny.

You know, it’s a real shame that Shermer has never had that conversation. It’s a real shame that he’s never been told that the stuff he does is not ok. It’s a real shame that he decline the invitation to be on that panel.

And there’s a very interesting comment by skeptifem:

oh yeah, and just so people know, my husband dated alison before me. She told him shortly after it happened, and she called it rape from the start. She just didn’t make a huge deal out of it (who would want to? all that happens is you get treated even worse). When the accusations came out we both knew it was true, but didn’t know if it was alison or someone else. Other women involved with coordinating TAM let me know that shermer was on the creep list unofficially circulated by women as a means of self protection.

I don’t know how she can put up with the bullshit people say about this. I hope she makes it through okay. It sounds like she has a ton of evidence. I hope she sues him for sexual abuse.

The creep list. The one that Dawkins and Coyne and Nugent are so pissed off at us for making public. That creep list.

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

In this video, you sexually violate a number of unsuspecting women

Sep 22nd, 2014 10:16 am | By

In another part of the forest entirely – a nasty guy who is nothing to do with atheism or secularism (how refreshing!) has made one sexist video too many, and received pushback from Laci Green in an open letter.

You may have noticed that your latest video “Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank” has garnered considerable negative attention.  In this video, you sexually violate a number of unsuspecting women on the street, many of whom are visibly confused and upset at being touched by you without permission.  One woman even says “I don’t like that!” while you proceed to laugh and touch her more.  In “How to Make Out with Strangers”, made a year ago, you pressure women on camera to make out with you – again, many of whom are visibly uncool with it.  Confused and caught off guard, they painfully follow through with your requests, clearly uncomfortable.  In “How to Pick Up Girls with a Lasso”, you physically restrain women on the street with lassos – many of whom look alarmed to be restrained by a stranger.

Ugh. The guy is Sam Pepper. Apparently he’s quite popular.

People don’t like to be violated and they don’t like to see their friends and girlfriends be violated either (hence the group of men that tried to beat you up in the lasso video).  And yet, history suggests that perhaps you find this humorous.  It is very disturbing that we live in a world where the violation of women and girls’ bodies is not only funny, but profitable, and can garner considerable notoriety and views on YouTube.

We are deeply disturbed by this trend and would like to ask you, from one creator to another, to please stop.  Please stop violating women and making them uncomfortable on the street for views.  Please stop physically restraining them and pressuring them to be sexual when they are uncomfortable.  Please show some respect for women’s right to their own bodies.  While it may seem like harmless fun, a simple prank, or a “social experiment”, these videos encourage millions of young men and women to see this violation as a normal way to interact with women.  1 in 6 young women (real life ones, just like the ones in your video) are sexually assaulted, and sadly, videos like these will only further increase those numbers.

We realize that people make mistakes, and that sometimes it’s hard to see the ripple effect of one’s actions.  We really hope that you will take a step back and consider the power you have to be someone who makes the world a better place.  It’s not too late to make a change!  We invite you to join us in ending widespread bodily violation that takes place in so many forms all around in the world.

Thanks so much.

There are lots of signatories. I’m going to bold one of them, because I’m pleased to see her name there.

Laci GreenMeghan TonjesTyler OakleyTomSkaViHartALBRoss EverettMatt LiebermanMeg TurneyTom FlynnTyrannosaurus LexArielle ScarcellaDan at NerdCubedRachel WhitehurstHannah Witton, Jefferson Bethke, MusicalBethan, Kaleb Nation, Chris Thompson, Michael Buckley, Jared Oban, Liam Dryden, Sanne Vliegenthart, Bryarly Bishop, Nicola Foti, Chescaleigh,Grace Helbig, Wheezy Waiter, Morgan Paige, Nathan Z., MumboJumbo, Miles Jai,Adorian Deck, Alli Speed, Matthew Santoro, Jaclyn Glenn, Hank Green, Rosianna Rojas, Grayson, Taryn Southern, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Adam Hattan, Drew Monson, Josh Sundquist, Mamrie Hart, Strawburry17, Catie Wayne, Hannah Hart,Catrific, Connor Manning, Emily Graslie, Sarah Weichel, Jack Howard, Louise Sprinkleofglitter, Mr. Repzion, John Green, Rob Dyke, Dean Dobbs, Charlie McDonnell, Wil Wheaton, Mitch & Greg at AsapSCIENCE


By all means share or reblog to sign!

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