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A Peek Into the (Hate-)Mailbag

We here at Skepchick get a ton of email, which we totally love: links to news, questions, suggestions, all that good stuff. Every now and again, we also get a bit of hate mail. Normally it goes right in the garbage, but this one was just way too good: Bill Hackett of Everett, Washington, sent us a note to let us know exactly how he feels about the female population as a whole:

Why, knowing that women are emotion-driven creatures and except for a rare few, incapable of sustained, objective, rational thought, should I take your columns seriously?

(He then went on to criticize the way we look.) The fact that a person holds onto such an outdated (by several decades at least) mode of thought is pretty bizarre, I know. After all, there’s actually no good research to show that men are any more inherently rational than women. In fact, I’d say that it’s a testament to our innate logic and critical thinking skills that women are so rational today, considering the fact that for a few thousand years men managed to deny women adequate education or any kind of power over their lives. So, we already know that Bill is pretty ignorant.

However, what upgrades this bit of hate mail to something truly amusing is that Bill sent us this missive using an email address that is tied directly to his “business,” Northwest Edit. So, while ordinarily I’d ignore Bill’s letter, it occurred to me that there may be women who were considering using his video/DVD editing services without knowing that Bill doesn’t believe they have the ability to think rationally. Emotion-driven creatures like women will probably want to choose their video editor based on that info.

The final point I’d like to make is that Bill used his real, personal information to register his web site’s domain name. All told, within about 20 seconds of receiving his email, I had Bill’s full name, address, phone number, personal Yahoo email address, IP address, Internet service provider, and business information. It’s funny, isn’t it? A more emotion-driven creature might have done more with all that information, and a more rational person might not have volunteered all that information to the person he was insulting in the first place.

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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105 Comments

  1. Bill deserves an extra prize for failing on his own territory. Even if 99% of women were too “emotion-driven” to be capable of “sustained, objective, rational thought” (a statement which is so wrong to be absurd), then this blog could be written by women in the remaining 1%, who do have that capability.

    There’s a failure of “objective, rational thought” here, all right, but it’s wearing a dick.

  2. “I’m going to dismiss everything you’re saying because of a gross generalization of women based on old-timey assumptions that when women express *any* emotion it’s because they’re histrionic.” Yeah, that’s the epitome of rational and not at all incredibly disgusting.

    PS. Bill, if you’re reading, that was sarcasm and not hysterical crying. I just wanted to make sure you knew that before it went through your misogyny filter.

  3. The site certainly does look dated. The fact that it has almost no content is also quite telling.

    I wish I could be amazed but sadly there are quite a few people who still hold prejudiced views.

    Things are much better than they were when I was younger.

  4. Why, Bill, knowing that you are a scarily ignorant man with tendency toward making pompous and anachronistic statements full of patently false presuppositions, should anyone take anything you have to say seriously?

  5. I would like to find out what abilities are sex-linked. It defies logic to assume that men and women have equal abilities in all areas. Of course I have no idea what we would do with the information that, on average, men perform 1% worse on Dance, Dance, Revolution than women. It still would be interesting to know though.

  6. I would find it really interesting to read the full text of this email.
    The man is obviously an ignorant dinosaur who is probably a one of those people who had an overbearing mommie and now resents all women. He has my pity. Much like Frodo’s pity of Gollum. I pity this man for being a mean-spirited and very ugly human. What a sad life he must have.

  7. So,

    Dudes arguing for rational thought and he’s bagging on your looks? His point was what?

    He owns a business? I’ll bet it’s a non-profit organization (whether he planed it that way or not).

    Man, It would be SO funny if he hires a woman to come in and do his books once a month.

    rod

  8. I second Andres Diplotti’s question. Did he give any indication that he’s an acupuncturist? Psychic? Moon landing hoaxer? Or is he just so phenomenally insecure that he is compelled to write in and call other people stupid and ugly just to make himself feel better?

    @Davew – I agree that sex-linked differences would be fascinating to study. But I have to admit that I am worried that most folks would deeply misunderstand any findings other than “men and women are totally equal at everything.” I don’t think anywhere near enough people understand that science = is, not ought (yet). Too many would take a scientific finding of “men naturally better at math” and turn it into “women shouldn’t become mathematicians, engineers, etc because they can’t do math.” I hope I’m wrong about that but the Bill Hacketts of the world make me think I’m not.

  9. @peaches: I couldn’t agree more with your entire second paragraph. I’m sure that sex-linked differences (beyond the obvious, of course) exist, but there’s still too much deviation among individuals to make definitive judgments about them. I think you’re absolutely, sadly right about how some people would interpret those results – and some of those people are not just crackpots sending hate mail but people in prominent positions of influence. Remember Larry Summers?

  10. I visited the “Enter Studio” page of Bill’s site and found what at first glance was an image of a bald, mottled head with lots of fleas jumping off it. I laughed until I saw the the “Contact Us” link and realized that there surely is no “us.” It’s just poor Bill. Alone. Stuck in a time-loop that keeps sending him back to 1950.

  11. Good article, Rebecca. I mean, for a woman, that is. I’m impressed that you were able to, however momentarily, gain control over your raging hormones to compile a list of cogent sentances, and even more so that they’re sequential!

    I think we all know douche-nozzles like Hackett in our lives, and I hope that He reads the comments here, writing by both men and *gasp* women!

  12. I think you’re absolutely, sadly right about how some people would interpret those results – and some of those people are not just crackpots sending hate mail but people in prominent positions of influence. Remember Larry Summers?

    Remember, hell, Larry sexist pseudoscience Summers got nominated to a cabinate position.

  13. @llewelly: Fortunately an executive office position below Cabinet level for now: National Economic Council. Nonetheless, you’d think there’d be at least one other person in the US who’d have been as qualified and wouldn’t have his sexist baggage.

  14. Taking the population of the whole Earth, not just educated people from the developed world, I suspect he’s not far removed from a typical viewpoint.

    He almost raised an intersting point. Had he said “Given that HUMANS are irrational, how can we trust anything anyone says/writes as valid?” Is an interesting question.

    Also there’ve been a lot of Ad Hominiums flying around. Usually it’s when the most cherished beliefs are questioned that people respond most angrily, regardless of what those beliefs may be (God, Femminism, Socialism, Capitalism), especially when the Philosophical foundation of those beliefs is shakey.

    In some circles femminism has reached almost sacred status. Question it, and you risk the modern day equivlant of being called a Heritic and Burned. A robust ideology should not only withstand, but also actively encourage it’s own critique.

    You can not in one breath say “Religion demands special consideration which it should not have” and then in the next say “Feminism should have special consideration and be unquestioned”. If you do, then you are no different to the Religiously minded. The intellectual scaffolding has remained the same while all you have done it change the Bricks.

    We’re all happy to treat God’s Exsistance as a Hypothesis to be tested, probed and examined. Why not the modern trinity of Liberty, Equality and Democracy? Are they Holy things beyond questioning by “decent” people?

    There’s a lot of talk about a anti-feminist backlash at the moment and I think the women’s movement needs to consider that while the lives and roles of women have been transformed in the last 40 years the lives and roles of men have barely changed (with the exception of the un-empowering effects of de-industrialisation in western countries), you need only look at the representation of Men in popular culture. It’s isn’t because TV execs are dinosaurs, it’s because the lives/roles of men have hardly changed since the 1970’s.

    I think every woman has the right to ask “How has Feminism improved my life?”, I also think every man has the same right. If that angers you, is it because you think Feminism should not be questioned or because you are afraid of the answer?

    Mrs S and I “talk” about this an awful lot. As you can imagine I sleep in the spare room an awful lot.

  15. @russellsugden: A whole population of people being dismissed as being “emotional” has nothing to do with feminism. Replace “women” in his statement with any other group and it’s just as ridiculous.

    “Why, knowing that X are emotion-driven creatures and except for a rare few, incapable of sustained, objective, rational thought, should I take your columns seriously?”

    Give it a try.

  16. I agree, Kimbo. Calling the female half of the population incapable of rational thought is not the same as poking at the sacred cow of feminism. (If such an animal exists.)

    Are we seriously supposed to pause and say, “Gee, maybe 90% of all women are irrational?” No wonder russellsugden sleeps on the sofa.

  17. wow, if we killed Bill… and we had a jury of people that believed as Bill believes about women… we could get off if we claimed all our periods were in sync and hey, there was no chocolate around.

    Women are just emotional that way.

  18. That is so outrageous that I even doubt he was being serious. But I do know some men like that and for some reason women absolutely fall over themselves for some of those guys. I do not understand…

  19. My general experience with people like Bill is that they’re hateful, hostile trolls. Right now his anger is focused on women, or Rebecca anyway. To say his attitude is outdated is likely giving him too much credit. He’s too angry to see straight, much less reason. Which is actually a good lesson for all of us.

  20. @Jen,
    Boy do I remember Larry Summers and he is far more worrisome than the random Bill Hacketts of the world. I think you hit the nail on the head regarding deviation among individuals. It’s a very important concept but humans seem ill-suited to understand it. I know it took me a while to really grasp the idea. Our compulsion to categorize into neat little boxes, while generally useful, can really trip us up in the long run.

  21. @dang: I didn’t mean that! I ment to say “Question Everything” so why not test every hypothesis.

    I’m not saying I think women are irrational.

    But given the amount of Woo there is in the world, I suspect most humans are to a certain degree, irrational. Myself included, I have an irrational fear of flying.

  22. @kimbo_jones: You’re scaring me! ;-)
    “Why, knowing that X are emotion-driven creatures and except for a rare few, incapable of sustained, objective, rational thought, should I take your columns seriously?” That logic is an intregal part of my “baloney detector!”

    @RussellSugden: True, we are all prey to the irrational. It’s part of the human condition. Part of our Humanity is the drive (on the part of some of us anyway) to manage that part of ourselves and look at the world through rational eyes. There is only so much time in our lives to research what we see and hear, so we all must have some unverified beliefs.

    Re: misogyny: “Taking the population of the whole Earth, not just educated people from the developed world, I suspect he’s not far removed from a typical viewpoint.”
    True. Look around. It’s not all religion-based, either. Much misogyny is culturally learned. It wasn’t all that long ago that we were the same way. I can remember my mother’s struggle to keep a job when I was young because “The men needed the jobs because they have families to support.” The assumption was that women worked until a) They married a man to ‘care for them,’ or 2) They worked for ‘pin money,’ which wasn’t vital to the support of the family. We all know that the good old days weren’t all that good for most people – The “Father Knows Best” world of the 1950’s family was a very small one, almost 100% white male, white collar dominated. Most of America didn’t and couldn’t live that way.

    Remember, women only got the right to vote in the US in 1920. Japanese women were second-class citizens until after WW II. We aren’t all that far from those days and attitudes. Some of us can still see them in our rear-view mirrors.

    I still remember seeing a sign in Springfield, MO that has been kept up for historical purposes: “Whites Only” over a drinking fountain. It was creepy to see even now and a good reminder that it hasn’t been that long since open prejudice was the norm.

  23. I think someone mentioned this already but he kind of shoots his own argument. For example, if the the half-dozen* authors of this website were the only rational women they would represent like .000000001 of the world population.

    * Of course, Sam is exempted due to the inherent rational thought that accompanies having a penis**

    ** You never thought someone would actually use all of those words in the same sentence.

  24. If you didn’t believe that women were capable of rational thought, why would you try and ask them a rational question in the first place?

    I don’t think Bill’s thought this through. Which is surprising, coming from someone that thinks thinking is as important as he clearly thinks thinking is.

  25. @russellsugden: Well, here’s the problem with asking “how has feminism improved my life,” when you’re a man (like I am!).

    Let’s say that we weren’t talking about men and women in particular, but rather one group that has, for centuries, enjoyed privileges at the expense of another.

    At some point, some movement comes along saying, “hey, now, this isn’t fair, let’s rectify it.” The consequence being: the underprivileged group enjoys more privileges, the overprivileged group enjoys fewer.

    Is it reasonable for that overprivileged group to complain? Of course their lives were not specifically improved by this new movement–their lives were made more difficult, in many respects! But is it reasonable that we, as a society, should take steps to preserve those privileges in the name of…what, exactly? Making the overprivileged feel good? Ensuring that some people continue to have more advantages, more resources, and more power than others just because they’ve always had it?

    It is naturally going to be sad for us as men, because there’s a lot of things that we took for granted that we won’t be able to get anymore, and that’s just too bad for us–because the advantages we were enjoying weren’t rightfully ours in the first place.

    In conclusion, I have talked to numerous feminists in a variety of circles, and have even successfully had reasonable discussions about gender-based biological discrepancies, without being branded as a heretic, or yelled at, or any such thing.

    I’ve noticed that all this requires is a willingness to accept that I might be wrong about some things.

  26. @braak: I can think of a couple of ways that feminism has improved the lives of men right off of the top of my head.
    1. Sexual revolution – very good for men
    2. Equity in pay – wifes and partners of men now bring in more money to the relationship or single mothers of boys have more money to use in rasing the little proto men.

  27. @Gabrielbrawley: Well, yes, actually. There are, if you look for them, plenty of ways in which feminism has improved the lives of men, which actually makes the point kind of moot.

    Still, if a man is insistent that he’s only lost because of feminism, it’s also incumbent upon that same man to explain why anyone should care.

  28. MMM… that is some tasty sexism.

    What does it mean for me since my husband is the one who exhibits more “feminine” emotional traits than I? I’m the practical, analytical one and he’s not. However, he does exhibit the need to fix things when you just simply want to air your frustrations.

    I’ll chalk it up to us being quite complementary.

  29. All told, within about 20 seconds of receiving his email, I had Bill’s full name, address, phone number, personal Yahoo email address, IP address, Internet service provider, and business information.

    It took me just a couple of minutes to have your home address (1694), phone number (4181), date of birth (too easy – Libra), & SSN (xxx-76-xxxx).

    But I won’t send any of it to your male conquest, given your exemplary restraint with his personal info. ; )

  30. Ha ha, I was wondering how long it would take for a troll to pop up with something like that, considering that running Skepchick requires that all my info be out in the open. Of course it would take a True Skeptic® to completely miss the point!

    (edited to make it crystal clear for TS: my point was not to try to make Bill fear for his physical safety or identity theft, which appears to be your goal here. My point was that I can easily forward his abusive emails and ID to his ISP’s abuse department or his local police department if needed.)

  31. Well it does appear that something was “edited” as you state, though I think “revised” is a better word.

    Sorry – Rebecca – holding people to their own standards is a bad habit of mine.

    You received what you describe as “hate” mail from what does sound like your “average Bill” cretin out in Washington, who questions the cognitive abilities of the women on this site (and generally it appears) and asks why he should take you seriously, especially since you do not seem to be his type in terms of physical attraction.

    Your rebuttal, if I read it correctly, was hey stupid, your “outdated (by several decades at least) mode of thought is pretty bizarre.” You refer to current scientific research not supporting his “bizarre” point of view.

    And then as a practical illustration of your point, you demonstrate your cognitive dexterity by acquiring his personal info “within under 20 seconds.” At the same time, you point out his mental blooper by opening himself up to a response in kind via slow mail, email, phone calls, and possible where it really hurts – his wallet, given that he has a product to market that probably includes members of the female population. None of which he probably thought he was signing onto when he expressed his “outdated” and unsupported-by-current-scientific-research views, which you find to be “bizarre.”

    Fair enough. Good points and all. But there is a veiled threat there to escalate his annoying (and private) email to you to a larger, public audience that he would be unable to deal with by just hitting a “delete” button the way you usually handle such matters yourself. In fact, you provide a public blue-print to other potentially less-restrained members of this board for doing just that, though you do not advocate for such – so I assume that you were making a touche point to him, assuming he’s reading.

    Anyway, in this day and age of technical access to private information, which Detroitus properly describes as “creepy,” I found the veiled threat a little troubling. I provided my own practical demonstration for you to make the point that, indeed, this is not a road that you want to go down or an escalation that people should be encouraged to pursue. Especially in response to the crime of having a stupid, “outdated” opinion that is not backed up by “current” scientific research, which was sent privately to a public forum that espouses a different point of view.

    Are you saying in response to me that Bill has committed a crime? And are you saying that the information I was able to pull up on you is “out in the open” because of your website? Really? I don’t think so. But if true, maybe you can explain how it is done.

    And does calling me a troll count as “hate” speech?

    Again – I apologize Rebacca. It’s this people being consistent thing I have. If that makes me a troll, well …. golly gee whillikers. Now I feel bad. : )

  32. “possible where it really hurts – his wallet”

    Uh, “TrueSkeptic”? You ARE aware that the guy sent in hate mail USING HIS BUSINESS E-MAIL ADDRESS, don’t you? I’d say that was pretty dumb. And as it is PUBLIC INFORMATION, Rebecca can point to it. It’s not private. It’s public. It’s not her fault he can’t open a gmail account and write the e-mail anon, is it?

    It is our right, as consumerists, to decide who we do business with. If we disagree with how a company runs things, or if we disagree with their politics or opinions THAT THEY MADE PUBLIC, we have every right to not do business with them.

    That’s kind of how consumerism works.

  33. Also, considering that this is a public forum and a public blog, he should have realized that anything sent to the editors could be made public. Period. It’s not our fault that he’s kind of an idiot.

  34. Indeed, as marilove said, using your business email address to send hate mail is effectively tying your business to your hate. If my plumber is a white supremacist, I’d want to know so I can avoid supporting his business. Ditto with my video editor and gross misogyny.

  35. Indeed, Rebecca.

    I like how “TrueSkeptic” tries to paint you as some emotional being, when it was the dude who sent in mysogynist hate mail to a public forum for and by women, using his business e-mail address.

    And we’re the idiots, just because we have vaginas? Uh-huh.

  36. @marilove: Now now, let’s not give him more fuel. He didn’t us idiots because we have vaginas.

    My issue with TrueSkeptic is the unwarranted arrogance. It is not a virtue for a so-called skeptic to not realize his own limitations and to assume his position is the only correct one a priori. It is one thing to criticize, but it is another for a “skeptic” to passively claim moral superiority and intellectual high ground when doing that in the first place means those claims are unjustified. He could have asked Rebecca for clarity as to her intentions, but rather he made several assumptions and then said this gem of passive aggressiveness “It’s this people being consistent thing I have.” as opposed to the direct and non-arsehole approach “I think you’re being inconsistent”.

  37. @Kimbo Jones: Yeah, the passive agressiveness was pretty damn funny.

    I was mostly calling Bill Hackett an idiot, though. Only an idiot would send misogynist hate mail to a woman-run website using his business e-mail address. If it adds more fuel to the fire, fine, but I only speak the truth here!

  38. @marilove: Didn’t a woman get fired because her husband sent hate mail from her work email to PZ during the whole crackergate thing? Although I think that email was extensively aggressive and contained actual threats to harm PZ, so maybe the situations aren’t comparable…

  39. @Kimbo Jones: Well, this may be a state-by-state thing, but I’d imagine that you can get fired from a business if you make that business look bad while using company e-mail — ie, sending hate mail from work. Actual threats would probably just make it even more likely that you’d get fired. If I were to send hate mail to Mr. Hackett using my work e-mail address, I could probably get fired for it.

    Since it’s HIS business, he can’t get fired for sending out inappropriate e-mails, but we sure as shit have every right to not use his business because of his publicly-made opinions on women.
    @Rebecca: Also, Rebecca, is your SSN really public or was he just playing with your head?

  40. @marilove: That’s less a statutory issue than a contractual one. Most companies have technology use policies that allow them to discipline employees who use work email accounts for personal communication. They’re usually written broadly enough that allowing a non-employee to use the account, or sending threatening email with it, could easily be a firing offense. Companies that have those kind of policies usually make new hires read and sign them. There would be very little legal recourse for an employee who was fired under that sort of policy.

  41. @marilove:

    And we’re the idiots, just because we have vaginas?

    That’s not how it works. You see, the penis acts as a reservoir, or sink, for intelligence. The intelligence build up in the penis. Lacking a penis, all of your intelligence must go somewhere else, like your thumbs, or your brain. So, even with less total intelligence (were this the case), women are able to make better use of what they have, resulting in higher apparent intelligence.

    This, of course, accounts for the inverse correlation between apparent intelligence and penis size in men.

    I am a Hedge

  42. @Oskar Kennedy (LBB): “That’s less a statutory issue than a contractual one.”

    You are correct! I was going to make another comment saying “On second thought, I bet it depends on the company contract” but figured I’d made enough “EDITED TO ADD!” comments already lmao!!

    And yep, I’ve signed quite a bit of those little slips of paper basically telling me whatever I say or do inside company property or with company property (ie, e-mail), is a reflection on that company. Reasonable, I think.

  43. @Kimbo Jones: Something similar actually happened on feministing.com — some douche sent in a really, really horrible e-mail using his university e-mail address and it turned out that he was some kind of representative for some kind of important group or something. Turns out he was also DRUNK when he wrote it. I can’t remember if they fired him, but his boss or something like that came in and made a few posts on feministing.com, apologizing for the goon’s behavior.

    It was rather hysterical.

    @Im a Hedge: Gives a new meaning to thinkin’ with your other head!

  44. …. back from court.

    Wow. Look at this.

    How did I get linked to this guy’s opinion? I think I described him as “your ‘average Bill’ cretin.” Always happens if your post is too long – people multi-tasking, speed reading.

    And I specifically agreed that his making all that information available through a private email that could be used against him on a public web-site was a “mental blooper” for which he can fairly be described as an idiot, moron etc., as has occurred.

    The point about knowledgeable consumers is fair enough, but I do not think that this includes personal addresses and phone numbers – information that cannot be addressed by spam filters and delete buttons, like Bill’s offending email.

    As for describing this guy’s topical opinion (in terms of one of the foundational claims of this web-site) as criminal hate speech, my hope for the future of our eroding First Amendment Rights continues to slip.

    I think Kimbo nailed the real issue or complaint here: “unwarranted arrogance.” As for “arrogance,” well ….. I plead nolo contendere. As for “unwarranted” – very subjective in a vacuum – it begs the question: compared to whom?

    Certainly there is much arrogance splashed all over this site daily. And certainly Rebecca is applauded for clever, arrogant ditties.

    My best guess is that the distinguishing “arrogant” characteristic in play here is that of taking issue with the site celebrity. Another failing of mine, but one that I teach my children. Treat all people the same – regardless, of stature, position, wealth or … celebrity.

    I am sure if you asked her, though, Rebecca would not want to be treated differently when it comes to reasoned discussions – just because she is founder of this site, which indeed is quite an accomplishment, though not surprising for such a bright young woman.

  45. @TrueSkeptic: Hm. This is interesting, but I think that you may be overlooking a few things. First of all, whether arrogance is unwarranted is, indeed, subjective, but in the context in which the statement was made–i.e., Kimbo’s comment–that this adjective was her subjective opinion is implicit. Now, you can obviously ignore her comment because it’s subjective, deeply satisfied in your confidence of your own personal moral superiority, no matter what anyone says; this is certainly an available option, though I’d recommend reconsidering it. Obviously, this depends on your goals–if you want people to think you’re an arrogant prick, and dismiss your beliefs out of hand, and also rally in defense of things that they might have even otherwise objected to…well, then you’re doing fine, and nevermind all that.

    Secondly, I think you’re overlooking the complaint about the passive-aggressive quality of your first comment. It’s not simply that you appear, to some, to be inexplicably arrogant, but that you addressed your concerns in such a gratingly infantile way. I mean, you could have easily contacted Rebecca privately, or, as Kimbo pointed out, just said, “I think you’re being inconsistent.” Moreover, you respond to criticisms with the patently disingenuous, “I am sure if you asked her, though, Rebecca would not want to be treated differently when it comes to reasoned discussions…” despite having opened the communication with precisely the kind of extortion that you’re decrying. This isn’t necessarily a problem with the content of your arguments, just a problem with their capacity to persuade (I am assuming, for the sake of argument, that you’re posting them in a public forum with that particular persuasive intention in mind).

    Which brings me, incidentally, to my third point: the complaint that you assume a priori moral superiority, rather than bringing the issue of morality to the table with a question in mind. What it looks like to the rest of us, you see, when you say, “I just have this thing about people being consistent,” is that you’re saying, “I have an individual neurosis that informs me about how other people should behave, and then I take extortive and condescending steps in order to ensure that those people behave the way that I want them to.”

    I am sure how you can see how, by behaving according to such a principle, your moral credibility is undermined.

  46. @TrueSkeptic: How is being direct rather than arrogant treating Rebecca “differently”? Just because you’re challenging someone else’s idea, doesn’t mean you have to be an arrogant prat while you do it. No one is saying that Rebecca is free from criticism, but you should seriously consider taking some sort of seminar on giving and receiving constructive feedback (if that is really your intent) because right now — fail.

  47. “The point about knowledgeable consumers is fair enough, but I do not think that this includes personal addresses and phone numbers – information that cannot be addressed by spam filters and delete buttons, like Bill’s offending email.”

    Um, yeah. Considering such things were never posted, nor given out in any way … why are you still yappin’ about this?

  48. “As for describing this guy’s topical opinion (in terms of one of the foundational claims of this web-site) as criminal hate speech, my hope for the future of our eroding First Amendment Rights continues to slip.”

    And no one ever said such things or implied them. It was mentioned that THREATS could be reported — as they should be — but that was it. You’re reading way too much into this. Are you bored?

  49. Braak –

    Some excellent and articulate observations.

    You are quite correct in terms of your criticism addressed to the lack of care and attention to knowing your audience and framing your points in a more persuasive manner accordingly.

    All I will say by way of explanation/defense is that my job requires very strict adherence to such considerations and skills, and my limited participation here is, in part, to relax and escape from such duties. It’s kind of a cooling off, if you will, from work. And I long ago gave up upon trying not to offend people on internet blogs sites – it’s too much work for no guarantee of success.

    I did pretty much punt the “unwarranted” issue. It was too dense for a post that was already pretty long.

    As for making a moral point – I was not really thinking in terms of morality, but it can be fairly characterized as such, I guess. The implied retaliatory threat did seem disproportionate and, insofar as it could be interpreted as an invitation for anyone else to execute it, somewhat troubling. The email that Rebecca received, as she stated, I am sure is commonplace and it goes with the territory. It’s like being a Hollywood star and having the paparazzi flashing bulbs in your face. You have to kinda take the bad with the good, and you don’t run over one simply because he was stupid and obnoxious enough to step in front of your car.

    So anyway, the point was simply that the delete button and spam filters work fine. I understand that Rebecca was making a clever point: “Who is the stupid one here – bub?” And she was not acting on the potential to do more than that. I specifically credited her for that, but nonetheless I thought it worth pointing out that you do not have to be stupid in order for someone to be able to obtain this kind of information, as I demonstrated. And with all the lively debate and discussion on the internet, it would be sad if there was a chilling effect created by people throwing that kind of information around as means of addressing opposing opinions.

    As for your interpreting anything I wrote as an extortive threat, I never for a moment considered providing this private information to anyone. It was just a way of stating that in battle of ideas – this is a gun that everyone should put down. If you think you are protected by not being stupid – the way Bill was stupid – you are not.

    It’s difficult to address these issues in hit-and-run posts. Anyone who wants to discuss any issue with me in more depth can reach me at [email protected].

  50. “If you think you are protected by not being stupid – the way Bill was stupid – you are not.”

    See, this is where your arrogance comes out, plain as day. I am SURE Rebecca knew her information wasn’t private. That was NOT THE POINT. The point was some idiot sent in sexist hate mail using his very public e-mail address that pointed to his very public business.

    Rebecca had every right to make this idiot know. Period. There was nothing wrong with it. Period.

  51. Marilove –

    Trust me. That information on Rebecca is private and cannot be obtained through this website. She correctly mentions the potential for identity theft.

    I plainly state that she did not do anything wrong – only that there is a potential there that should be avoided.

  52. @TrueSkeptic: So how did you obtain it? Because if you actually have her SSN#, I’d say that was an implied threat to her. Pathetic.

    And what is the “potential that should be avoided”? He sent in sexist hate mail to a website by and for women, using his business e-mail address.

    If I were to send hate mail using my work e-mail address and someone published it and I got in trouble with my company, that would be MY fault, not the fault of whomever published it.

    Rebecca made no threats that she would post the other personal information, just noted that she had them, to help make her point, and to point out the fact that he would have known better had he been “rational” and not just an “emotional creature.”

  53. Ps. Braak:

    I confess that I do not understand this one observation of yours:

    Moreover, you respond to criticisms with the patently disingenuous, “I am sure if you asked her, though, Rebecca would not want to be treated differently when it comes to reasoned discussions…”

    Part of my confusion is whether the comment is limited to the words quoted or meant to include what follows. Either way, my comment was sincere – not disingenuous as you surmised.

    I think it is possible (if not probable), being human and all, that Rebecca experiences some delight in having so many loyal friends/comrades jump to her defense at the appearance of a potential slight directed her way (though the original post is not really intended to be a slight – I do understand how it could be so interpreted ). But if you put the question to her, as I stated, I feel quite certain that she would respond that she does not need or demand any special help or treatment in this regard.

    As for the balance of the quote not included, I absolutely am impressed by her accomplishments and believe that she is a bright woman. I have listened to her speak on a few podcasts – she has a quick, agile mind and a quick wit.

    One final observation – there is plenty of agreement on this site (and most sites) without my adding to it. So unless it is agreement in defense of a minority position, chances are if I chime in it is to take issue with something. That itself can turn a lot of people off. Se la vie.

    As one of my heroes, Sir Thomas More, reminded his accusers: “Silence betokens consent.” (Sorry – don’t know the Latin off the top of my head.) So just imagine all the things I agree with where you have not heard from me. ; )

  54. “So unless it is agreement in defense of a minority position, chances are if I chime in it is to take issue with something. That itself can turn a lot of people off. Se la vie.”

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but it is not because you disagree that I comment, it is the way in which you disagree.

  55. @Kimbo Jones:

    Kimbo Jones, you are wise beyond your years.

    I wasn’t going to say anything, but some of the comments are so oily, I feel sorry for the words being used in them. Those poor bastards have to feel raped and denegrated by the tone they’ve been forced to convey.

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