Speaking Out Against Hate Directed At Women: Michael Nugent

Speaking Out Against Hate Directed At Women: Michael Nugent

Welcome to part ten of my series on speaking out against hate directed at women.

Today, I bring you the words of Michael Nugent. Michael is a writer from Dublin, Ireland, and chair of the advocacy group Atheist Ireland.

Michael speaks specifically about cyber harassment and how the majority of people who are harassed are women and that we as a community need to actively attack the problem. He helps us to remember why I started this series in the first place -that it is not just isolated experiences it is a pattern of behavior that we are seeing and it needs to be addressed.

Michael’s comments after the jump.

From Michael:

We should not tolerate, in any of our online or offline communities, any sexual
harassment or abuse or threats of violence against women that we would not
tolerate if they were directed against our family or close friends. On the
Internet, many women face a pattern of online sexual harassment, including
rape threats, in the technology, business, entertainment, atheist,
skeptical, pop culture, gaming and many other online communities.

This can cause women to feel hurt and frightened, to hide their female
identity online, or to retreat altogether from the Internet. And this can
in turn affect other aspects of their lives. Our online identities and
online networking are increasingly important to our social lives and
careers. And our friends and employers may see this hate speech when
searching online for information about us.

Professor Danielle Citron of University of Maryland school of law has
written extensively on this issue. She says that cyber gender harassment
can involve a perfect storm of threats conveying a desire for physical
harm, doctored photographs, privacy invasions, lies, and technical
sabotage. She reports that, from 2000 to 2010, more than seven in every
ten victims reporting cyber harassment were women. And when men were
harassed, it was often for being or seeming gay. She argues that legal
changes were crucial in the battles against domestic violence and
workplace harassment, and that we should reframe cyber gender harassment
as a civil rights violation.

We must actively tackle this problem in each of our own communities. Doing
this is one part of how the atheist and skeptical communities can start to
become more inclusive, safe and supportive, and I’ve written elsewhere in
more detail about how we can discuss this reasonably. We should also
create a united front of online activists from different online
communities, to properly research the impact of this abuse across all
online communities, and to work together to find the best ways to
eradicate it.

Most men have no idea of the relentless nature of this type of online
abuse, and how devastating the cumulative impact can be. Because most men
don’t get the same type of sexual abuse as women do, and because the
Internet can seem to be an artificial environment, we can easily become
desensitized to abuse that would outrage us if it was aimed at our sisters
or friends or daughters or wives or mothers.

You may sincerely believe that people are exaggerating the scale and
impact of this abuse, or that it is prudish or victorian to be concerned
about it. Or you may see it as a trivial problem that goes away when you
turn off your computer. If any of these thoughts cross your mind, you
should consider some actual examples of what this abuse really looks like,
and imagine experiencing this from the perspective of the victims.

Emotional trigger warning

Warning – there are lots of emotional triggers here, but many people are
unaware of the extent of the problem so I think it is important to give
examples. If you don’t want to read the examples, skip to the next section
headed “This is a pattern of behaviour”.

In 2007, top technology writer Kathy Sierra got a series of online
threats, including “I hope someone slits your throat and cums down your
gob”. When she blogged about them, the threats intensified, and she
cancelled her speaking events and closed her blog.

In 2007, the online group Anonymous published the personal details online
of a nineteen year old video blogger, along with doctored photos of her face on
naked bodies, and the threat “We will rape her at full force in her
vagina, mouth and ass.”

In 2008, when entrepreneur Alyssa Royse wrote a critical review of a
Batman movie including branding ideas, she got a stream of abusive
comments including “You are clearly retarded, I hope someone shoots and
rapes you”.

In 2009, a Wyoming man posted a Craigslist advert in the name of his
ex-girlfriend, saying that she had fantasies of being raped by “a real
aggressive man with no concern for women”. Another man responded by
breaking into her house and raping her.

In 2010, an eleven year old Florida girl was accused online of having had
sex with a local musician. She made a profanity-laden video response,
which triggered intense online bullying against her, and she had an
emotional breakdown online.

In 2011, Rebecca Watson highlighted the online abuse that she gets as a
blogger on Skepchick and as a podcaster on SGU, including “You deserve to
be raped and tortured and killed. Swear I’d laugh if I could.”

In 2011, when a fifteen year old girl posted a picture on Reddit of
herself holding a Carl Sagan book that her mother had given her for
Christmas, adult men posted hundreds of crude comments about ways that
they would like to have sex with her.

In 2012, the pattern continues. Since Anita Sarkeesian started a project
to highlight how video games portray women, some gamers have threatened
her with rape, violence and death, and have created an online game where
you can beat her up.

Sherri Shepherd, co-host of The View, recently filed a police complaint
against @DaCloneKiller who tweeted to her that “somebody should drag u in
a back alley and rape you”. She will have to subpoena Twitter for
@DaCloneKiller’s identity.

Then we had “Is it immoral to rape a Skepchick because they are so
annoying?”, an unfunny joke aimed at a small group of identifiable women,
that is even less funny against the background of this relentless stream
of online abuse of women.

This is a pattern of behaviour

This is a pattern of behaviour, not a series of isolated incidents. It is
gradually becoming less acceptable to sexually harass or threaten women in
real life. But that message has not yet reached the Internet, where
anonymity and hostile debate and absence of oversight make it easier for
us to evade responsibility for our actions.

Some people insist that we can say what we want because the Internet has
its own rules, while others argue that the right to free speech, even when
hateful, must be protected. When New Statesman wrote an article about the
Anita Sarkeesian case, a commenter named AllyF provided this counter to
that argument:

“What you fail to understand is that the use of hate speech, threats and
bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from
certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal
sanction. Imagine this is not the internet but a public square. One woman
stands on a soapbox and expresses an idea. She is instantly surrounded by
an army of 5,000 angry people yelling the worst kind of abuse at her in an
attempt to shut her up. Yes, there’s a free speech issue there. But not
the one you think.”

There is also the wider context of sexism in general. If we as men faced
this pattern of sick online abuse simply because of our gender, I suspect
that we would urgently take action to tackle the problem. If we fail to
take the same action when women face this problem, our inaction reinforces
prejudice and discrimination against women generally. We may not mean to
do that, and we may not even be aware of it, but the impact of our
inaction remains the same.

Tackling sexism is a complex problem, with no magic answers. We should
rigorously analyze the extent of sexism in our communities, both online
and offline, and we should test and refine the best ways to eradicate it.
But we must not deny that it exists, or reinforce it with prejudice and
discrimination. Instead we should actively work to create inclusive, safe
and supportive communities, in which we can live together as equals,
regardless of our race, gender, sexuality or ability levels.

And we should work together on this so that, ultimately, we never again
have a fifteen year old atheist girl excitedly posting online about her
Christmas present of a Carl Sagan book, then reading crude comments about
adult men wanting to have sex with her, and having to respond: “Dat feel
when you’ll never be taken seriously in the atheist/ scientific/
political/ whatever community because you’re a girl. :c ”

Some sources for this post:

Law’s expressive value in combating cyber gender harassment. Prof Danielle
Keats Citron, Michigan Law Review, Dec 2009
http://www.michiganlawreview.org/assets/pdfs/108/3/citron.pdf

The Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy, and Reputation. Edited by Saul
Levmore and Martha Nussbaum, Harvard University Press, 2011
http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674050891

Misogynistic cyber hate speech: testimony of Prof Danielle Keats Citron to
UK parliament committee on cyber hate, Oct 2011
http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2143&context=fac_pubs

Women bloggers call for a stop to ‘hateful’ trolling by misogynist men.
Vanessa Thorpe and Richard Rogers, The Observer, Nov 2011
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/05/women-bloggers-hateful-trolling

This is what online harassment looks like, Helen Lewis, New Statesman,
July 2012
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/internet/2012/07/what-online-harassment-looks

Michael Nugent is a writer from Dublin, Ireland, and chair of the advocacy group Atheist Ireland.

Thank you Michael for speaking with us and for helping us to encourage a safer environment online. Michael also mentioned to me that Atheist Ireland is organising an international Women in Secularism Conference in Dublin next year, and that they are working with CFI on the project. That is great news!

Speaking out against hate directed at women: David Silverman

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Dale McGowan

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Ronald A Lindsay

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Nick Lee

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Barry Karr

Speaking out against hate directed at women: David Niose

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Matt Dillahunty

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Jim Underdown

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Michael Payton

More to come.

Avatar of Amy
Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and writes about vegan food. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+.

259 Comments

  1. Avatar of Bjarte Foshaug

    Standing ovation!

  2. Avatar of Ophelia Benson

    Yesssssssssssssssss!

    This is a 10, a gold, a safe landing on Mars.

  3. Avatar of Seelix

    Amy, your “Speaking Out Against Hate Directed at Women” series is amazing.

    I read something where people have written something horrible about women geeks of some sort and I get discouraged all over again.

    Then I hop over to Facebook and I see that you’ve posted another in this series. And I read it. And I remember that not everyone is horrible, it’s just that the non-horrible people don’t ever get the encouragement to speak up.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this.

  4. Avatar of Luarien

    Well, I’m going to pack in all my ally writing ’cause there’s going to be nothing I ever write that’s better than this. At least not on harassment online and such.

    This is amazing, and I love how he cites several women in the piece to imply that he only has validity due to their voices, rather than the other way around.

  5. Avatar of mrthumbtack

    Wow….

    Way to castigate, convince, and motivate all in one go.

    Thanks for this series Amy.

  6. Avatar of TonyInBatavia

    With each new posting in this series. D.J. Grothe looks like a smaller and smaller man. This, D.J., is how real person acts.

  7. Avatar of Kammy

    Simply brilliant. From now on anyone trying to argue that the problem doesn’t exist can be pointed here. Thank you, Michael. I hope to shake your hand someday.

  8. Avatar of Brian G

    *forever applauding this*

  9. Avatar of Felicity

    This is the best response yet, and I continue to be inspired by this series. Thank you, Amy, for this important work.

  10. Avatar of SteveT

    Bravo, Sir! This is an amazing piece of writing. Succinct, yet detailed. Reasoned, yet deeply emotive. Definitely the best one yet!

    What Michael writes applies equally to ANY community, online or otherwise. Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

  11. Avatar of frogmistress

    I’ve been loving this whole series. But this one, with it’s examples and sources, was just beautiful.

    Thanks for doing what you do, Amy!

  12. Avatar of Anne S

    This quote from AllyG should be used every time someone makes an asinine “free speech” argument:

    “What you fail to understand is that the use of hate speech, threats and bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal sanction. Imagine this is not the internet but a public square. One woman stands on a soapbox and expresses an idea. She is instantly surrounded by
    an army of 5,000 angry people yelling the worst kind of abuse at her in an attempt to shut her up. Yes, there’s a free speech issue there. But not the one you think.”

  13. Avatar of

    I think the key to solving these issues is Michael’s point about safe online communities. Communities that foster a policy of “attack the post not the poster” (Big shout out to Boards.ie that has this as a common policy of most of its forums, a website Michael is familiar with and I would recommend everyone here check out the Atheist, Skeptics and Science forums and observing how the moderators handle posts that contain abusive comments about other posters).

    This goes for all forms of discussion online that frankly any of us would want to be involved in. There will always be the troll friendly spaces where people can exercise their “freedom” to be abusive or bully or threaten, but equally we have the freedom to ignore these online spaces and leave them at it. The goal should be to foster and encourage online spaces where this sort of behavior is simply not tolerated. You don’t need to match abuse with abuse, you simply need a space where abuse is not allowed to begin with.

    This is one thing I’ve noticed in the (unfortunately) on going Elevator-gate saga. Any sensible points on either side are being lost in a torrent of abusive posts aimed at others across the abyss. It would be naive to assume there is only one side to any discussion, again one should be skeptical of what anyone says about a subject until it can be supported, even if what they are saying sounds plausible. Is there a serious problem with sexism in the skeptical community? Is there a serious problem with treats of physical abuse in the skeptical community? I don’t know. Not because I don’t want to know, I would love to know, but because I cannot make head nor tails of any of the points people are trying to make because they all seem to be wrapped up in abusive rants about the person they are currently disagreeing with.

    I could simply take people’s word that it is happen and is as bad as they say. Or I could simply take the other side and agree that it is over blown and largely the imagination of some who wish to feel they are victimized. Both arguments are being presented but they are not being supported, or at least they are not being supported in a fashion that doesn’t require filtering out 90% of the insults and other abuse.

    I don’t want to do that, I don’t time to do that and frankly if people can’t present the evidence for their position without wrapping it up in abuse I don’t have much time for them. I’m a skeptic. I want to see the freaking data. I want to see the data in an environment where I and everyone else can question, discuss and examine that data without the constant interruption of abusive comments as soon as anyone takes a dislike to someone not agreeing with them.

    So far I have yet to find that space. Skepchick isn’t that place (sorry guys but you aren’t). freethoughtblogs isn’t that space. Thunderf00ts blog isn’t that space. phawrongula isn’t that space. Countless skeptical blogs discussing this topic that simply contain comment after comment of personal attacks are not the place.

    I would like to be able to read a comment discussion that doesn’t include the term “slimepit” “PC Lyers” “feminazi” any where in the discussion, that doesn’t reference people simply to belittle them, as if that some how is an argument, that doesn’t joke around about raping people and that doesn’t contain 50 comment about how the guy who make the rape joke is an immature misogynistic little boy.

    This is a wider issue to whether sexism exists as a significant problem in the skeptical community (as serious as that issue is). You don’t combat abuse in a community by simply abusing the other side into agreeing with you. You combat it by producing spaces where abusing someone else is not an option in the first place. You combat it by having people who want such a space to exist in the first place and who are prepared to maintain this standard through moderation not just for the others but for themselves as well.

    Again good post Michael. Lets hope instead of people just patting you on the back for being on the “right side” of the current sexism debate people actually properly read and listen to what you are saying.

    • Avatar of Unnullifier

      Hey, speaking of being focused solely on the data: can you show me the data proving that both sides are “simply abusing the other side”?

      This is, after all, presented as a factual statement and should be subject to at least as much skepticism that you consider harassment, sexism, and misogyny worthy of. I’m sure as a skeptic you’d agree, right?

      • Avatar of

        Hi Unnullifier.

        I’m not entirely sure what would constitute proof or data to you as that seems rather subjective, but I can certainly give you examples of abusive comments made by both sides of this discussion that have stood out to me, if that is what you are requesting.

        starting close to home

        “D.J. Grothe looks like a smaller and smaller man. This, D.J., is how real person acts.”
        Post by TonyInBatavia in comment section of “SPEAKING OUT AGAINST HATE DIRECTED AT WOMEN: MICHAEL NUGENT” on Skepchick.org (sorry Tony don’t meant to pick on you, its pretty mild in comparison to other posts, but it was simply close to hand)

        randomly jumping to some comments made by the more senior participants in this discussion that I have come across recently

        Bwahahahahahahahahahaha! Hilarious. 1) That he thinks he’s a leader, and 2) that he thinks we’d believe he’d do anything other than be dismissive.
        Posted by PZ Myers in comment section of “What Amy said” on Butterflies & Wheels

        “hoggle/Ivanoff is far from the only vile little weirdo but he does have a distinctive style.”
        Posted by Ophelia Benson in comment section of “What Amy said” on Butterflies & Wheels

        Rebecca Watson-Rodriguez is a feminist blogger and CEO of Skepchick Industries. She is the first real celebrity of the online skeptical community: Everyone understands she is apparently famous, though most are unsure as to why. To this end she is usually introduced as, Rebecca ‘Skepchick’ Watson, in case anyone can’t remember why she is on the stage.
        Rebecca Watson bio-page on Phawrongula

        So having gotten roundly called for her shameful behavior at TAM (The Amazing Meeting), Amy ‘crying over a T-shirt’ Roth from Skepchick has gone approval seeking!
        “Skepchick go approval seeking from ‘White Male Privilege’” by Thunderf00t on his personal blog

        I am of course simply going back over recently read blogs and articles and pulling out comments as I come across them, not sure if this constitutes proof to you or not, again such an assessment will be rather subjective.

        • Avatar of sallystrange

          Funny how all of the examples you offer to support the “both sides do it” hypothesis come from only one side of this alleged “debate.”

          • Avatar of

            I’m pretty sure the Phawrongula wiki and Thunderf00t are not on the same side of the debate as PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson. I’m open to correction if I’m wrong about that.

        • Avatar of TonyInBatavia

          No need to apologize, wick. Examples are what were requested of you and examples are what you gave.

          But to be clear: My commentary is that Grothe’s actions pale in comparison to the actions of people like Nugent. In my opinion, Nugent and others and the others who have contributed to this series have articulated much grander and more humanistic aims that Grothe, which makes Grothe — the person who kicked off this shitstorm by accusing longtime allies of working against him and TAM — look small in comparison. That’s it.

          If you think my commentary can in any way be considered “abusive,” even mildly so, I do believe you are abusing the definition of “abusive” for your own ends. Honestly, is my commentary even on the same spectrum as the bile cited by Nugent under “Emotional trigger warning”? If you think so, please do elaborate.

          • Avatar of

            “But to be clear: My commentary is that Grothe’s actions pale in comparison to the actions of people like Nugent. In my opinion, Nugent and others and the others who have contributed to this series have articulated much grander and more humanistic aims that Grothe, which makes Grothe — the person who kicked off this shitstorm by accusing longtime allies of working against him and TAM — look small in comparison. That’s it.”

            That is a perfectly reasonable thing to claim, but then you didn’t claim that in your original comment. You simply said he was a smaller and smaller man and implied he wasn’t a real man.

            Surely instead of insulting him (and in my assessment calling someone a small man and implied they are not a real man is an insult), it would have done your argument far more to simply state what you stated here, that Grothe’s actions are not in line with humanistic aims and that he was making unsubstantiated and paranoid claims about people working against him. You can do that without insult.

            This is a good example of what I mean by saying insults add nothing. There is very little if any information adding to the discussion in the first post. There is a lot of information in the latter post. I can’t verify for myself is Grothe is a small small man, or if he isn’t a real man. That is your opinion. You might be right, you might be wrong. I’ve no idea. I can verify for myself if he is arguing against humanistic aims, if he is making paranoid claims about his co-workers.

          • Avatar of TonyInBatavia

            @wick, that was pretty deft, that part where you conveniently ignored my asking if you honestly believed what I had said was anything similar to the true abuse cited under Nugent’s “Emotional trigger warning.” Since you ignored the question and have now reclassified my original observation as a simple insult –nice, BTW, how you are now ignoring the term “abusive” — I will conclude that you believe my comment is not on the same spectrum as the cited true abuse but that you would rather not actually admit it.

            Since you go to great pains to make sure my original comment should be understood to be as an insult, though: You are right. My original comment was written for an audience that I trusted knew the backstory, understood the debate, knew D.J.’s role in creating the animosity, and also resented him for it. There was no argument being made; I wasn’t trying to convince your holier-than-thou, tone-trolling sensibilities of anything. Those with an understanding of the history of this nonsense likely understood all the “perfectly reasonable” things I elaborated on for you before I elaborated on them. I wasn’t trying to add information; I merely contextualized Grothe’s actions in light of these actual leaders. And, in my opinion, Grothe appears very, very small in comparison.

            All of which is to say, echoing an earlier comment: Your post is horseshit.

    • Avatar of James Fox

      Sure opposing sides in any argument or debate can be rude to each other, but that does not mean the opposing sides have equal standing as to the weight and/or credibility of their position. It would seem to me that the debate over the existence and negative nature of sexism within the skeptical community and the problems it has caused is pretty much over; unless one is so obtuse as to describe all the threats, degrading comments and actions of the vocal and misogynistic men in the skeptical and rational thought communities as simply supporting components of their argument.

      • Avatar of

        “Sure opposing sides in any argument or debate can be rude to each other, but that does not mean the opposing sides have equal standing as to the weight and/or credibility of their position.”

        Well no, of course not. This is a mutually exclusive argument, either there is a torrent of sexism and misogyny in the skeptical community or there isn’t. Both sides of the debate can’t both be right.

        The problem I’m having right now is I can’t figure out which side is right because it seems to require wading through pages and pages and pages of irrelevant abuse simply to climber the most basic facts and figures.

        “It would seem to me that the debate over the existence and negative nature of sexism within the skeptical community and the problems it has caused is pretty much over;”

        It would seem that way based on what? If you have managed to waded through all the nonsense and been able to come out the other side with a clear decision on which side is correctly reflecting reality I would love to know how you did it, because I’m completely lost :-)

        • Avatar of Ophelia Benson

          Fabulous. Just classic “both sides”ing. You quoted me saying ““hoggle/Ivanoff is far from the only vile little weirdo but he does have a distinctive style.”

          What has hoggle said about me? That if he were a girl he would kick me in the cunt – along with a torrent of other comments for more than a year reiterating the cunt theme and also saying every degrading thing he can think of on the theme of how nightmarishly ugly and repulsive I am. He’s written whole blog posts on the subject. He’s done it under many pseudonyms, in blog comments, on forums (or fora if you prefer), on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube.

          I, on the other hand, have responded to this obsessive campaign by saying he’s a vile little weirdo.

          These two things are not the same.

          • Avatar of

            “I, on the other hand, have responded to this obsessive campaign by saying he’s a vile little weirdo.

            These two things are not the same.”

            I didn’t say they were the same thing. How similar or distinct each traded insult or abusive comment is is not relevant.

            My point was that the abusive insulting language you used was neither helpful nor necessary in order to have a rational discussion about the topic at hand. Insulting someone adds nothing to a rational discussion, even if they have just insulted or threatened you. It simply pulls a fog down around the entire discussion until both sides are just exchanging insults and abuse with each other.

            What ever this blogger said to you does calling him a “vile little weirdo” either present a rational counter argument to anything he said or provide the reader of your posts with more objective information about what was wrong with what he said? Over simply saying nothing?

          • Avatar of Ophelia Benson

            What are you talking about? What rational discussion is to be had with someone who rants about kicking a woman in the cunt?

            As for saying nothing – that’s very bad advice. The whole point of Amy’s series is not to “say nothing” – the whole point is to speak up and say no we’re not having this.

            Not to mention the fact that the comment in question was about sock puppets at my place, and their identity was what was being discussed. If someone’s style is familiar, that’s a piece of relevant information. Why the hell should I “say nothing” about it?

            You’re just cluelessly belittling the sexist abuse in exactly the way Nugent’s post is objecting to.

          • Avatar of Ophelia Benson

            Oh and there’s another problem with “wicknight”‘s quoted comment by me – which is that “far from the only vile little weirdo” wasn’t even mine – I was quoting the comment immediately before mine.

            God you’re a dishonest shit.

            There’s rational discussion for you, eh. Well guess what: if you distort what other people have said in order to minimize what a far worse pack of thugs have said and continue to say about those other people – then you’re not promoting rational discussion.

        • Avatar of James Fox

          How about you just decide to be a man, or decent human being if you prefer, and make a choice or shove off and badger the witness elsewhere.

    • Avatar of maggie

      I’d just like to point out that there is no “on going Elevator-gate saga”, much like there’s not ‘debate over evolution’.

      That is, except for those people who can’t stop obsessing over either and don’t feel they’ve extracted their pound of flesh yet. It’s merely being used as a soap box for angry people to stand and yell at each other over something that is not ‘elevator-gate’ or ‘evolution’.

      • Avatar of

        “I’d just like to point out that there is no “on going Elevator-gate saga”, much like there’s not ‘debate over evolution’.

        That is, except for those people who can’t stop obsessing over either and don’t feel they’ve extracted their pound of flesh yet. It’s merely being used as a soap box for angry people to stand and yell at each other over something that is not ‘elevator-gate’ or ‘evolution’.”

        Those two things (on going Elevator-gate saga and a bunch of angry people shouting at each other from their soap boxes) are essentially the same thing.

        • Avatar of Ophelia Benson

          No, they are not the same thing. That was Mick Nugent’s point. You missed it.

          • Avatar of

            That wasn’t my take on Michael’s post but if you would like to expand on your comment I’m happy to re-evaluate. As it stands there isn’t enough in your comment to assess where you think the point has been missed.

          • Avatar of Ophelia Benson

            Then read his post again, and pay attention this time.

        • Avatar of sallystrange

          Yeah, sure, they are EXACTLY THE SAME…

          Except for the minor detail of one “angry” group being right and the other “angry” group being wrong.

          As in the non-existent “debate” about evolution.

          Or climate change.

          • Avatar of

            Surely how right they are isn’t relevant to how angry they are or how abusive they are.

            As for evolution and climate change, I would ignore abusive and insulting comments there as well, and look at the rational evidence. Isn’t that the whole point of skepticism?

          • Avatar of Anne S

            wicknight, have you ever considered the possibility that some people have a right to be angry? And not that they just have a right to it, but that it is perfectly reasonable for them to be in angry in response to the treatment they have received?

          • Avatar of sallystrange

            “Who cares who’s right, the point is they’re both ANGRY!”

            So, when you claimed to care about rational discussion, I guess you were lying.

            A rationalist looks past the emotions to examine the content of an argument and prioritizes content over style.

    • Avatar of Kammy

      I’ve read through enough of your pathetic false equivalency argument be able to say you missed Michael’s point totally. And no, I will not expand on that for your edification or explain it further. You already know exactly what you’re doing.

      Here’s one way to prove how wrong you are, though. People here are trying to rationally argue with you. No one here will seek out your email, facebook, twitter, tumblr, pinterest, myspace, wiki and whatever other social media you may use to connect to the world to tell you you deserve to be tortured and killed while your family watches for what you’ve said. But THAT is what’s happening to women and their supporters in THIS community EVERY FUCKING DAY. I’ve never read more vile things than in the pile of email that Rebecca gets. My friends suffer this abuse every day and sometimes it spills on me, too. All because we wish to bring more people into skepticism.

      Don’t you dare think you have any right to tell us how to react to a huge chunk of the skeptical community losing it’s bleedin’ mind over the simplest concepts of diversity and openness. I’ve seen your kind around here before. The flag you’re flying is old and has been ripped to shreds and yet you cling to it with pride. Rationalism: UR DOING IT WRONG.

      *edited for minor punctuation errors.

      • Avatar of

        “I’ve read through enough of your pathetic false equivalency argument be able to say you missed Michael’s point totally. And no, I will not expand on that for your edification or explain it further. You already know exactly what you’re doing.

        Here’s one way to prove how wrong you are, though. People here are trying to rationally argue with you.”

        I’ve stated many many times that I’m not saying the insults are equivalent, and that this is not relevant to the point I’m making.

        How is it trying to have a rational discussion with me to misrepresent what I’ve said, tell me I’m wrong, inform me that my argument (one I didn’t even make) is pathetic and then tell me you are not going to expand on this because I should know how wrong I am without being told.

        That to me is the exact opposite of a rational debate. You are not discussing anything you are simply informing me what you think of me. Great it is up to the owners of Skepchick whether that is acceptable or not, but that is not a rational discussion.

        “Don’t you dare think you have any right to tell us how to react to a huge chunk of the skeptical community losing it’s bleedin’ mind over the simplest concepts of diversity and openness.”

        You can react anyway you want. I’m making the comment that reacting by hurling abusive comments at each other is not a good way of producing online communities where people feel safe to discuss topics in a rational fashion.

        This thread is a good example. Despite clarifying 5 times already that I am not equating the levels of abuse I’ve been told over and over that I am. Now imagine someone wanted to come onto this forum to point out that I was not doing this, to effectively support me. Based on previous posts it seems highly likely that they would be met with abuse and insults.

        So why would they do that? Why would they set themselves up to receive abuse simply by contributing their opinion to this discussion.

        How is that fostering safe online communities where people feel free to express their opinion and view point without feeling abused or threaten?

  14. Avatar of zylla

    Absolutely the best installment yet. Bravo!

  15. Avatar of lokicleo

    This is my favorite post so far in this wonderful series. Thanks Amy & Michael!

  16. Avatar of sallystrange

    BAM! Nailed it! This is the best one yet.

  17. Avatar of amarantha

    Wicknight, the data you seek are right up there in the post upon which we are commenting. But you know this. You are arguing dishonestly. You are tone trolling and playing the hyper-skepticism game in order to excuse your complete dismissal of women’s well-documented experience. But there is no excuse, and you are not fooling anyone.

    • Avatar of Ophelia Benson

      And not just women’s experience but mine. It’s fucking infuriating.

    • Avatar of

      “Wicknight, the data you seek are right up there in the post upon which we are commenting.”

      It is? It would be helpful if you could point out where, I didn’t see it myself. To clarify I’m looking for data supporting the notion that women face wide spread abuse and threat from the skeptical community. One obvious data set would be the number of reported complaints made by women at skeptical events about abusive behavior directed towards them. That is by no means the only one, so please don’t confuse that with dismissal of any data sets that are not of that category.

      “But you know this. You are arguing dishonestly. You are tone trolling and playing the hyper-skepticism game in order to excuse your complete dismissal of women’s well-documented experience.”

      I’m sorry you feel that way. I can assure you I am not arguing dishonestly nor have I dismissed any documented experience.

      • Avatar of Ophelia Benson

        Yes you are. You are arguing dishonestly. You quoted me saying something without pointing out that I was quoting someone else – and you’re pretending that’s equivalent to “I would kick her in the cunt.”

      • Avatar of Will

        To clarify I’m looking for data supporting the notion that women face wide spread abuse and threat from the skeptical community.

        I feel like I read an argument similar to this one recently…

        I never realized there were so many size queens in our communities that were more concerned with how large a problem is than the fact that it exists at all. Why is the size of the problem so damned important to you?

        I get so tired of these calls for quantitative data, as if at some magical number it suddenly becomes an important issue. “Oh, only 14.7% of women have experienced harassment in our communities, so let’s talk about bigfoot until that number is up around at least 15%.” What magical number suddenly makes this an important issue in your mind worthy of serious discussion to the point where you will stop tone trolling and pay attention to the substance of what women are saying?

        The scope of the problem is irrelevant because one person experiencing harassment, whether its because of their gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, dis/ability, etc., is too many and because it’s only being asked for as a derailing/silencing tactic. Those of us interested in social justice want to ensure that our communities are safe for all people, and even if its only a handful of women (which it’s not), it’s still too many and it’s worth fighting against. Trying to equalize the “two sides” makes you part of the problem and an impediment to moving towards making our communities safer and more inclusive.

        Just a word of caution (I’m surprised you’ve lasted this long, actually): everything you’ve said comes right out of classic MRA derailing/silencing tactical play books. If you’re not an MRA, you might want to rethink your approach and step back from your hyperrationalization because it’s making you look like a privileged schmuck.

        • Avatar of

          Sweet mother of God. I have never said it is not worth doing something about, even if only one poster out of a million ever received a treat it is worth doing something.

          Once again I actually suggested doing something about it in the very first post on this thread, and idea that was shot down by practically everyone because it didn’t allow for them to respond to abuse with further abuse.

  18. Avatar of Heather Harrison

    There used to be a time when you could get away from bullying. But it’s not that way anymore. For kids that are being bullied, it now follows them home and everywhere because so much of the bullying happens online. Lots of kids turn to drastic measures to either protect themselves or hurt themselves. It is so tragic. I’ve spent time this week addressing how to help teenagers deal with depression. As a psychologist, I point out that trying to help teenagers deal with depression by focusing on it as a temporary state does not actually help. In their world, the present day is the only day that exists so we have to address their problems from that angle. I talk more about this here:
    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/05/03/how-do-you-help-a-depressed-teenager/

  19. Avatar of amarantha

    I agree with everyone who says this is the best one yet. Some of them have been a bit vague and wishy-washy: “Yes, of course women are equal and we should not be mean to anyone,” style of fing. I like the ones who make it clear that they understand what the problem is, and who become part of the solution by stating that understanding clearly, in order to educate folks who might not.

    Same thing applies to apologies. I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately after the recent apologies by Jason Alexander and the Readercon committee. Both made it clear that they understood what they did wrong, and what they should do to become part of the solution. This made them shine brightly in the sea of weak non-pologies that are usually forthcoming in such cases (if an apology is attempted at all).

  20. Avatar of

    @Anne S

    Everyone has the right to be angry. But posting angry abusive comments in a discussion does not develop the discussion or add further information. It does not add to the rational discourse. It simply clouds the discussion and makes others even more angry.

    • Avatar of Anne S

      Please explain how someone tell Ophelia that he wants to kick her in the cunt is an attempt at rational discussion in the first place.

      You said earlier that it isn’t relevant that telling someone you want to kick them in the cunt and calling that some a vile little weirdo are not of the same scale, but I think it’s totally relevant. You don’t get to dismiss Ophelia’ concerns just because you think she said something mean to a demonstrated jerk.

      • Avatar of

        “Please explain how someone tell Ophelia that he wants to kick her in the cunt is an attempt at rational discussion in the first place.”

        Its not an attempt at rational discussion, that is the point. It is an abusive insult. It was matched with an abusive insult. That is not a rational discussion.

        “You said earlier that it isn’t relevant that telling someone you want to kick them in the cunt and calling that some a vile little weirdo are not of the same scale, but I think it’s totally relevant.”

        How is it relevant? How does the terrible nature of the original abusive statement turn Ophelia’s abusive reply into a rational discussion?

        “You don’t get to dismiss Ophelia’ concerns just because you think she said something mean to a demonstrated jerk.”

        Who is dismissing Ophelia’ concerns? How is pointing out that interweaving a discussion (any discussion) with tit for tat abusive comments fogs the discussion dismissing concerns?

        • Avatar of Ophelia Benson

          It wasn’t matched. That’s a lie. One comment buried in a long thread is not the equivalent of hundreds of blog posts and tweets and status updates. Even if you isolate the two, they’re not equivalent. They’re not “interwoven.” And finally, I wasn’t the one who originated that phrase anyway, I quoted it in reply to someone else.

          • Avatar of

            “It wasn’t matched. That’s a lie. One comment buried in a long thread is not the equivalent of hundreds of blog posts and tweets and status updates.”

            Apologies, you are correct “matched” was a bad choice of words on my part. As I stated earlier I do not in anyway think the severity of your insult was in anyway equivalent to his original insult or insults. And of course the severity of each abusive statement is not relevant to the point I’m making, that any abusive insult does not forward rational discussion.

            “Even if you isolate the two, they’re not equivalent.”

            Again to clarify I’m not stating they are equivalent, nor does it matter to my point if they were. You appear to believe my point is that you had no right to be angry at what was said to you. That is not my point.

          • Avatar of Ophelia Benson

            Plus I didn’t come up with that phrase – I simply echoed it from the preceding comment.

            http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/07/what-amy-said/#comment-230158

            http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/07/what-amy-said/#comment-230187

            I can’t imagine why you brought it up at all. I can’t imagine why you remembered it, or made a note of it, or whatever you did. I can’t see why you think it was worth mentioning.

    • Avatar of sallystrange

      You know what really doesn’t aid rational discourse? Being in denial of a well-documented problem, as you are.

      Until you start living in reality, you deserve nothing but scorn.

      You’re the climate change denialist in the room. There’s no point discussing things with you, as you have your conclusion, and no possible amount of evidence could change it.

      • Avatar of

        “You know what really doesn’t aid rational discourse? Being in denial of a well-documented problem, as you are.”

        Instead of telling me I’m in denial of a well documented problem would it not be easier to simply show me data documenting the problem and then wait for me to deny it?

        “Until you start living in reality, you deserve nothing but scorn.”

        Again I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m more than happy to live in reality as you put it when I can assess the data supporting such a reality.

        “You’re the climate change denialist in the room. There’s no point discussing things with you, as you have your conclusion, and no possible amount of evidence could change it.”

        Again perhaps it would be easier to dismiss me as a denialist after you have presented the evidence and I’ve denied it.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          You mean data like that compiled by DJ Grothe from last year’s TAM?

          Oh, that’s right, according to DJ no one made any complaints last year, that despite people coming forward saying that they did report incidents that somehow was never made official.

          Yep, data would do it I’m sure.

  21. Avatar of rcreative1

    One addition to Michael’s “If men faced this sick abuse” point. Some men would scoff at that because they honestly believe that they can stand much worse, and that it’s all just part of the rough and tumble Internet culture. That is besides the point. They are not the measure of all things. Communities require mutual respect to remain vibrant.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      I don’t think of myself a particularly oversensitive to this stuff but after being woken up for a “welfare check” that someone called in from the internet I know how spooked it can get you, especially since I hadn’t even been online that day.

      I can’t imagine being attacked (or having my loved ones attacked) the way most of these women have been.

  22. Avatar of Ophelia Benson

    To repeat what Michael said, for the attention of “wicknight” -

    Most men have no idea of the relentless nature of this type of online abuse, and how devastating the cumulative impact can be. Because most men
    don’t get the same type of sexual abuse as women do, and because the Internet can seem to be an artificial environment, we can easily become desensitized to abuse that would outrage us if it was aimed at our sisters or friends or daughters or wives or mothers.

    You may sincerely believe that people are exaggerating the scale and impact of this abuse, or that it is prudish or victorian to be concerned about it. Or you may see it as a trivial problem that goes away when you
    turn off your computer. If any of these thoughts cross your mind, you should consider some actual examples of what this abuse really looks like, and imagine experiencing this from the perspective of the victims.

    • Avatar of

      “You may sincerely believe that people are exaggerating the scale and impact of this abuse, or that it is prudish or victorian to be concerned about it. Or you may see it as a trivial problem that goes away when you
      turn off your computer.”

      I don’t see it as either of those things. As I explained in my original post I’ve not gathered enough data to make an assessment as to what is going on. I’m trying to but finding it rather difficult given the fog of abuse on both sides of this that seems to have descended since Rebecca Watson’s encounter in the Dublin elevator.

      It may seem odd to have to point this out on a skeptical website, but I’m skeptical of all claims made by people until said claims can be supported by facts and data.

      This doesn’t just apply the obviously nonsense claims (religion, homeopathy, Biblical flood theory). It applies to everything.

      If someone claims there is widespread misogynist abuse and threat in the skeptical community my response is “Ok interesting, lets see the data”.

      Needless to say I wouldn’t be serving my skeptical bones very well if I simply accept that I should already know this is true and by merely asking to see the data I’m aligning myself with those who claim it isn’t happening.

      “If any of these thoughts cross your mind, you should consider some actual examples of what this abuse really looks like, and imagine experiencing this from the perspective of the victims.”

      I certainly will consider actual examples of abuse. But again on a skeptical website it shouldn’t really be necessary to point out that individual accounts of abuse do not produce the wider statistics to demonstrate a tread or pattern. Collecting all the individual cases together certainly would and I would be very interested in seeing the results of anyone who has so far done that.

      • Avatar of Will

        But again on a skeptical website it shouldn’t really be necessary to point out that individual accounts of abuse do not produce the wider statistics to demonstrate a tread or pattern.

        Okay, what sample size are you looking for, buddy? At what exact number would you be comfortable looking at examples of women being subject to abuse in the skeptical community and accept that there’s a “trend or pattern”?

        Really, it just takes a little digging on your part. It’s not hard information to find, and it takes a lot of audacity to sit here and demand that it be provided to you when it’s easily found and accessible.

        • Avatar of

          “Okay, what sample size are you looking for, buddy? At what exact number would you be comfortable looking at examples of women being subject to abuse in the skeptical community and accept that there’s a “trend or pattern”?”

          Surely the sample size should be a number statistically significant given the size of women in the skeptical community.

          I’m not a statistician so I don’t know the mathematics to work that out. I would have assumed though it would have been the first thing anyone compiling such data would have done.

          “Really, it just takes a little digging on your part. It’s not hard information to find, and it takes a lot of audacity to sit here and demand that it be provided to you when it’s easily found and accessible.”

          I’m not demanding anything, if you do not wish to show me this data you don’t have to. I made a request that if anyone had already found this information that if they could pass it on that would be great. You don’t have to do that if you don’t wnat to.

          Though again surely it would be easier to simply show it to me than to post that it is all there easy to find but you aren’t going to provide it for me go find it yourself.

          • Avatar of mythbri

            @wicknight

            Even if the prevalence of harassment and sexism in the skeptic/atheist community is no worse than the base level in society at large, why is that acceptable to you? The levels of harassment in the general population has plenty of evidence to support it, both scientific studies and anecdotal accounts. I’ve experienced it myself. Why would you somehow assume that the skeptic/atheist community would be magically immune to this entrenched sexism? If it’s “normal”, we should do nothing to fix it? We should ignore reasonable requests for anti-harassment policies at conferences and conventions because of the kind of hyper-skepticism you exhibit here?

            If I say, “I was harassed by an alien from another planet!”, then it would be reasonable for you to demand concrete evidence. If I say, “I was harassed online” or “I was harassed at a con”, that is not an extraordinary claim, and does not require extraordinary evidence. In many cases of harassment, that would be impossible to provide. That you require such evidence, not just for individual claims but for the existence of a wide-spread problem, only reflects your ignorance of the nature of that problem, and it’s not up to people here to educate you. The information is there. Seek it out.

          • Avatar of Lee Brimmicombe-Wood

            Sorry wicknight but you are working very hard at denial based on a demand for data that I reckon you know doesn’t exist, because no-one has yet taken the problem seriously enough to tabulate it. That you fence-sit on this only contributes to the overweening Catch-22: that men will not act until evidence is given, in an environment where attempts to collect evidence are being frustrated by the denial that problems exist, a denial allowed to stand unchallenged because of a lack of data.

            It’s a vicious circle and you are part of the problem because you are contributing to it with your insistence on ignoring the mass of anecdote and doing nothing until given statistically significant data.

            Furthermore, in the face of many examples given in the OP and this thread, you minimise the problem by dismissing the justifiable anger of the abused as unhelpful. And you make false equivalences between their pushback and the anger of the abusers.

            Actually, skeptical discourse CAN take place in an environment that is impassioned and angry. That you sniff at this makes does not impress me. This sort of high-minded nonsense of yours only gives cover to sexists and does not contribute to the welfare of harassed women and LGBT. You are not helping. If anything, you give aid and succour to the abusers and harassers.

  23. Avatar of

    @Ophelia

    It was mentioned because I was asked for examples of abusive comments that added nothing to the discussion and it was an abusive comment that added nothing to the discussion that I had recently read from a promenant participant of the current debate (ie you). The fact that you were echoing the phrase is (again) not relevant to the point being made.

    I don’t know if you feel picked on or something. That was not my intention, I did not even expect you to be reading my posts. I also mentioned comments by PZ Myers and in an attempt to be balanced, comments by Thunderf00t and posters of the phawrongula wiki, people who needless to say are not all aligned with your view point. If they came on here attempting to explain that their comments were justified I would tell them the same thing I’m telling you.

    My original point, that skeptics need a safe online community where no abusive comments are tolerated only rational discussion of points and arguments (attack the post, not the poster enshired as a moderation rule) seems to have been some what lost in a rush to justify abusive comments as not as bad or more justified than some one else’s abusive comments.

    This needless to say spectacularly misses the point, since it is exactly this sort of irrelevant discussion that distracts from rational debate of the points being made rather than the people making the points. It is irrelevant whether your post was more or less justified than the post or posts you were replying to. Either way nothing is added to the discussion.

    • Avatar of Will

      I don’t know if you feel picked on or something. That was not my intention

      http://www.derailingfordummies.com/emotion.html
      http://genderbitch.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/intent-its-fucking-magic/

      a rush to justify abusive comments as not as bad or more justified than some one else’s abusive comments.

      http://www.derailingfordummies.com/temper.html

      it is exactly this sort of irrelevant discussion that distracts from rational debate of the points being made rather than the people making the points.

      http://www.derailingfordummies.com/intellectual.html

      Either way nothing is added to the discussion.

      Then why in the fuck did you bring it up? You’ve completely derailed this thread and made it about tone, and now you have the audacity to say that talking about tone is irrelevant and adds nothing to the discussion?

      • Avatar of

        “Then why in the fuck did you bring it up?”

        Because another poster asked me for examples of abusive comments in the current sexism in the skeptical community discussion.

        “You’ve completely derailed this thread and made it about tone”

        This thread is about making online communities safer for skeptics to discuss issues (or at least that was my take on it). My contribution to this thread was to say that in my view the way to do that is to not allow any aggressive or abusive comments that personally attack a poster (attack the post not the poster).

        I gave the current discussion about sexism in the skeptical community as an example of where abusive comments have fogged the discussion so much to the point where I can’t make head nor tail of who is right or wrong, all I can see is that both sides are very angry at each other (and such emotion tends not to lead to the most reasoned of discussions). I was asked for examples of said abusive comments and I gave a few.

        “and now you have the audacity to say that talking about tone is irrelevant and adds nothing to the discussion?”

        I said that how extreme or mild the abusive comment is adds nothing to the discussion of the topic (in this case sexism in the skeptical community).

        And I stand over that, I think it is perfectly valid point. Whether someone says as mild as “Oh you are so blooming annoying” or whether they threaten to rape your entire family, neither comment increases any information or understanding to the topic being discussed. The severity of the insult is irrelevant to whether it adds anything or not, the mild insult doesn’t add anything and the extreme violent insult doesn’t either.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      @wicknight – For someone who is asking for a rational approach to the “debate” you are doing a hell of a job of going out of your way to pull up every (mis)quote to show that those who attacked Rebecca and anyone defending her look reasonable.

      It’s more that a bit disingenuous, especially given your endorsement of boards.ie where you are on the same side of the argument (though your nym seems to have changed to Zombrex) as well known Rebecca-hater justicar.

      Just trying to have a factual debate my ass.

      • Avatar of

        “For someone who is asking for a rational approach to the “debate” you are doing a hell of a job of going out of your way to pull up every (mis)quote to show that those who attacked Rebecca and anyone defending her look reasonable.”

        Can you point out where I’ve done that, where I have attempted to show that those attacking Rebecca Watson are being reasonable?

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          In your own words

          Hi Unnullifier.

          I’m not entirely sure what would constitute proof or data to you as that seems rather subjective, but I can certainly give you examples of abusive comments made by both sides of this discussion that have stood out to me, if that is what you are requesting.

          starting close to home

          “D.J. Grothe looks like a smaller and smaller man. This, D.J., is how real person acts.”
          Post by TonyInBatavia in comment section of “SPEAKING OUT AGAINST HATE DIRECTED AT WOMEN: MICHAEL NUGENT” on Skepchick.org (sorry Tony don’t meant to pick on you, its pretty mild in comparison to other posts, but it was simply close to hand)

          randomly jumping to some comments made by the more senior participants in this discussion that I have come across recently

          Bwahahahahahahahahahaha! Hilarious. 1) That he thinks he’s a leader, and 2) that he thinks we’d believe he’d do anything other than be dismissive.
          Posted by PZ Myers in comment section of “What Amy said” on Butterflies & Wheels

          “hoggle/Ivanoff is far from the only vile little weirdo but he does have a distinctive style.”
          Posted by Ophelia Benson in comment section of “What Amy said” on Butterflies & Wheels

          Rebecca Watson-Rodriguez is a feminist blogger and CEO of Skepchick Industries. She is the first real celebrity of the online skeptical community: Everyone understands she is apparently famous, though most are unsure as to why. To this end she is usually introduced as, Rebecca ‘Skepchick’ Watson, in case anyone can’t remember why she is on the stage.
          Rebecca Watson bio-page on Phawrongula

          So having gotten roundly called for her shameful behavior at TAM (The Amazing Meeting), Amy ‘crying over a T-shirt’ Roth from Skepchick has gone approval seeking!
          “Skepchick go approval seeking from ‘White Male Privilege’” by Thunderf00t on his personal blog

          I am of course simply going back over recently read blogs and articles and pulling out comments as I come across them, not sure if this constitutes proof to you or not, again such an assessment will be rather subjective.

          If you can’t even pretend to keep your own bullshit straight within the same post why should we help you troll?

          I’m done with you and I’m guessing you’ll be gone soon anyway for pure pigheadedness.

          • Avatar of

            Ok, so I was asked for examples of abusive posts and I listed three abusive posts from those who seem to agree with Rebecca Watson, and two abusive posts from those who as far as I can tell don’t agree with Rebecca Watson.

            How exactly is this me attempting to show that those against Rebecca Watson are more reasonable? Are you suggesting that because there were 3 of the first and 2 of the second that I’m some how anti-Rebecca Watson?

  24. Avatar of Christopher Hunter

    I have to say I’m a bit confused by some of the debate in the comments. As far as I am concerned, a single case of harassment is unacceptable. A dozen cases are unacceptable. A thousand cases are unacceptable.

    Amy, keep ‘em coming. This series is fantastic.

  25. Avatar of

    @Ophelia

    You appear to be arguing both that you were justified in calling hoggle a “vile little weirdo” because of the horrible things he said to you and at the same time that you didn’t call him this you were merely quoting someone else who did.

    Now I don’t know how the quote system works on Butterflies and Wheels. If the statement

    “hoggle/Ivanoff is far from the only vile little weirdo but he does have a distinctive style.”

    was not your writing, but a quote from someone else I apologize to you for misrepresenting your statement when you were instead quoting that sentence from someone else.

    If though you are merely stating that you reused an insult someone else came up with first then the point still stands, it was an abusive comment by you. It not being one you came up with all on your own is needless to say not relevant.

    Either way could you please refrain from such language as “dishonest shit” when discussing this with me.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      Then stop being a dishonest shit.

      • Avatar of

        It is a lot easier yet far less constructive to simply insult a poster rather than point out where they are wrong or being disingenuous.

        Attack the post, not the poster.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          I’m not looking to be constructive here.

          Fuck off troll!

        • Avatar of TonyInBatavia

          Your posts are horseshit that minimize everything that’s being said by those who have been the targets of a barrage truly abusive comments. Your supposed high-minded posts about supposedly furthering the dialog by equating truly abusive horseshit with angry reactions to the truly abusive horseshit are nothing but tone-trolling horseshit. Your posts, quite simply, are horseshit.

          There. I attacked the post and not the poster. Feel better now?

          If you haven’t been keeping up with the debate, it’s not our job to clear the fog or the clouds or whatever you’re calling it to sway you one way or another. It’s your job to keep up, Sparky.

          And if calling you Sparky was abusive, I don’t apologize.

  26. Avatar of

    @Ophelia

    And to clarify I’m not in anyway suggestion you say nothing. Quite the opposite in fact, my whole point is that insults add nothing to the discussion, they are in effect saying nothing.

    • Avatar of sallystrange

      Insults serve the purpose of alienating dishonest jerks like you from the community of decent people.

      Seems pretty fucking useful to me. When are you going to declare victory and fuck off?

      • Avatar of

        I really don’t think the goal should be to alienate anyone from the skeptical community.

        • Avatar of Anne S

          I think a lot of us here are perfectly content to alienate misogynists from the skeptic community, if they’re unwilling to try to educate themselves.

          • Avatar of

            Well you shouldn’t be given how subjectively terms like that are thrown around these days. If you don’t engage someone in a rational discussion you are never going to change their minds or (heaven forbid) change your own mind about whether they were actually that in the first place.

            By all means if someone is being abusive kick their ass to the curb.

            But to be abusive to those you disagree with (or think you disagree with) simply because you disagree with them until they themselves are so abused they go away, well heck how the hell are you ever going to have a skeptical community? Part of such a community is meeting people who will challenge your ideas. If they are simply run out of town under a torrent of abuse, well you don’t have a skeptical community then. You have a group think hive.

          • Avatar of Anne S

            People who make rape threats aren’t challenging our ideas or contributing to skepticism. I never advocated abusing anyone, including people we simply disagree with. There is no place in this community for threats of violence. Period.

          • Avatar of Anne S

            And please be honest and don’t take that as me saying you think that there is a place for threats. But also, please stop making false equivalences.

  27. Avatar of Anne S

    @wicknight,

    Leaving aside the whole discussion of insults fired back at insults, I have trouble with what you say here (and what you said in your original post):

    My original point, that skeptics need a safe online community where no abusive comments are tolerated only rational discussion of points and arguments (attack the post, not the poster enshired as a moderation rule) seems to have been some what lost in a rush to justify abusive comments as not as bad or more justified than some one else’s abusive comments.

    Part of the problem is that practically none of us belong to just one community. Unless that community is private (which wouldn’t make sense for skeptics trying to improve the word), our words are publicly available to anyone around us. The women who are receiving threats and hate speech made against them are not seeking it out–it is being thrown at them. Even if Skepchick started deleting all comments that included any hint of personal insult at other individuals, there is still a crowd of haters out there who woul be creating parody sites, sending abuse via twitter, email, youtube. Eliminating the problem in one community doesn’t cause it to cease to exist.

    I believe that your comments, though point-missing, were well-intentioned. But a less-charitable reading could interpret your point as these women are drawing this vitriol upon themselves by criticizing those that attack them. And this is demonstrably untrue. Even when Rebecca has kept her internet presence to a minimum, she has received a torrent of hate mail. Are you saying that she deserves it, simply because she manages a blog that allows its readers to say mean things sometimes? I don’t think that’s what you’re saying, but you need to understand that that’s the position your words advocate.

    As Will has indicated, as long as someone in this community is facing this issue, it is an issue worth addressing. It will not be solved simply by those who are attacked (or who stand up for them) ceasing to call the attackers names–if it were that easy, I believe it would be over by now. It IS solved by people like Michael Nugent taking these women at their word and standing alongside them against this uncalled for vitriol–that started before people responded rudely to them.

    • Avatar of

      “Eliminating the problem in one community doesn’t cause it to cease to exist.”

      I appreciate that, I’m not saying this will eliminate all abuse. I’ve yet to see any idea that will eliminate abuse on completely open and largely unmoderated communities such as Twitter or YouTube.

      My point is that we need far more moderated, and thus safe(r), communities. You can block Twitter, you can not use YouTube (I’m not suggesting anyone do this, just pointing out that you can). At the moment this leaves people with few options, but it shouldn’t. There should be options. To create safe environments we need to actually create safe environments. Trying to turn open platforms like YouTube into safe environments is an impossible task, we neither own them or have the numbers to require such change.

      “I believe that your comments, though point-missing, were well-intentioned. But a less-charitable reading could interpret your point as these women are drawing this vitriol upon themselves by criticizing those that attack them.”

      I’ve no issue with those who criticize those who attack them. Abusive insults is not criticism.

      “Even when Rebecca has kept her internet presence to a minimum, she has received a torrent of hate mail. Are you saying that she deserves it, simply because she manages a blog that allows its readers to say mean things sometimes? I don’t think that’s what you’re saying, but you need to understand that that’s the position your words advocate.”

      Why would that be the position my words advocate. I say we need a safe community that is better moderated where people can post without being allowed to produce insults or worry they will receive insults. I accept that will only be in that online space. But how in the world would anyone take that to mean I’m saying women are causing this themselves by publicly expressing their views?

      If I said children need a safe supervised playground would anyone take that to mean I’m saying children cause pedophilia?

      As Will has indicated, as long as someone in this community is facing this issue, it is an issue worth addressing. It will not be solved simply by those who are attacked (or who stand up for them) ceasing to call the attackers names

      I’m not attempting to solve all the problems by saying don’t be abusive online. I’m suggesting that an online space where you can’t abuse people creates a safer online space for discussion than the alternative.

      Because frankly look at the alternative. How is 50 bloggers shouting abuse at each other in the comment section of a Freethoughts blog, or on Facebook, solving this issue?

      This issue will not be solved as some suggest by insulting people you disagree with enough so that they go away.

      Oh if only the internet worked like that :-)

      • Avatar of BlackCat

        >>As Will has indicated, as long as someone in this community is facing this issue, it is an issue worth addressing.

        But not by you apparently. You have said you don’t have enough evidence.

        • Avatar of

          I’ve never suggested this issue is not worth addressing. I’ve stated that it, and all other issues, should be discussed without abusive and insulting language.

          Can you explain how calling for an absence of abusive posts is suggesting that one should not discuss an issue?

  28. Avatar of punchdrunk

    How prevalent is sexual harassment?
    Google it.
    It’s normal, everyday stuff for many women.

    Your dishonesty is obvious. People talking about ordinary things (women talking about harassment) is not the same as creationist or UFO claims. The stories women are telling – using their real names – are not in any way outside the norm. Your denialist reaction is also ordinary and humdrum. Your bullshit requirements are why you don’t hear about it more. Women who complain are mocked, disbelieved, demeaned, attacked, and their careers can and do suffer. If someone talked about being cut off on the freeway, nobody would demand unimpeachable proof that unsafe drivers exist, or studies showing how many jackasses drive in a particular neighborhood every time someone says they were cut off. Nobody says ‘prove that there are jerks driving right here, in this neighborhood, or I don’t believe you.’ Sexual harassment claims are no more extraordinary.
    Demanding that evidence be hand-delivered when you could easily find it yourself makes me believe you get off on watching people jump through the hoops you set up.
    Doubting that sexual harassment happens frequently is so far beyond skepticism that you might as well be a flat-earther.

    • Avatar of

      “How prevalent is sexual harassment?
      Google it.
      It’s normal, everyday stuff for many women.”

      “Google it” is a non-answer. Google what exactly, what combination of words provides the data I’m looking for on the first page. Once again I’m told the information is out there, easy to find, but the person does not actually link to it.

      “Your denialist reaction is also ordinary and humdrum. Your bullshit requirements are why you don’t hear about it more. Women who complain are mocked, disbelieved, demeaned, attacked, and their careers can and do suffer. If someone talked about being cut off on the freeway, nobody would demand unimpeachable proof that unsafe drivers exist, or studies showing how many jackasses drive in a particular neighborhood every time someone says they were cut off. ”

      Yes actually that is exactly what they would ask for, a proper study into the extend of dangerous driving, and the government and road safety groups carry out such studies all the time. No one would say Well that guy was cut off on the freeway, so clearly dangerous driving is wide spread and a serious problem. They would go 104 road deaths and 1056 injuries in the last month, clearly dangerous driving is wide spread and a serious problem.

      Again it shouldn’t really be necessary, though obviously it is, on a skeptical website to point out that data and evidence is king, and that such data and evidence is required before one can get a clear idea of what is going on beyond individual reports and experience.

      Pointing this out is not denying anything, any more than pointing out that we need proper road safety statistics is denying that the guy got cut of on the free way.

      This you-don’t-agree-with-me-so-you-must-agree-with-the-people-I-disagree-with attitude is very unskeptical and unhelpful for any this type of discussion. Instead of simply telling me how much of a denier I am why not show me the data and then wait for me to deny it.

        • Avatar of punchdrunk

          Fuckin’ search engines – how do they work?

        • Avatar of

          I’m not asking for evidence sexual harassment exists in society.

          I’m asking for evidence that sexual harassment is common and wide spread in the skeptical community.

          For example a comment was made that 80% of female skeptical convention bloggers have experienced threaten sexual behavior. Now I’m not sure how serious that statistic is (it may have been along the lines of well everyone knows 90% of people know Twilight sucks).

          But lets say that was serious. Great, that is a very good statistic supporting the claim. 80% is a huge number. If 80% of all female convention bloggers have experienced threatening behavior at a skeptical conference then that goes a long way to supporting the original claim. One of the reports was felt it sufficient to declare sexual harrassment as serious problem in schools with only 50% of students reporting instances of sexual harrassment. If the number in the skeptical community is as high as 80% then clearly as serious issue exists.

          So, can I see the numbers? The statistics you did provide provide such numbers for wider claims of sexual harassment in society, in schools and the work place. You will notice they don’t provide merely anecdotal evidence from individual case to support a wider generalizations, they provide numbers, solid data from a large sample set, statistically high enough to give a picture about the entire state of institutions such as the American school system.

          Has anyone surveyed skeptical bloggers, surveyed female’s attending skeptical conferences or compiled reports of complaints at such events to provide a picture of the current state of sexual harassment in the skeptical community just as people have done in the reports you linked to for wider society.

          If so i would be very interested in seeing this. If not then where are people getting their data from?

          And please don’t just say I’ve denied sexual harassment takes place. I have never denied that, I’ve merely asked to see the data rather than individual anecdotal reports. I would ask to see the same thing if someone claimed sexual harassment was widespread in American schools, data that as you demonstrated is relatively easy to come across.

          • Avatar of punchdrunk

            You’re asking for extraordinary evidence, evidence that you know doesn’t exist.

            What you hope to illustrate by the lack of this bizarrely specific information is beyond me.

            The remedy is the same whether it’s one case or a thousand.

            Mendacious trollin’ motherfucker.

          • Avatar of quietmarc

            Excuse me, but what evidence can you provide that sexism is NOT widespread in the skeptical community?

            You’ve been provided with studies that show that sexism is prevalent in society. Skeptic groups are a part of society. Therefore sexism is also prevalent in skeptic groups.

            If this is not so, SURELY there are studies demonstrating that skeptic groups have a lower incidence of sexism than society at large? I, for one, would be interested to know HOW it might be so, because perhaps, since you believe skeptics have “solved” sexism, we could share this groundbreaking information with society at large.

  29. Avatar of Troy Goodfellow

    To @wicknight

    “you can not use YouTube”

    I.e., if you want to cut yourself off from one of the biggest sites on the internet to avoid abuse, you can just hide in a hole…

    “If I said children need a safe supervised playground would anyone take that to mean I’m saying children cause pedophilia?”

    Because, women, like children, need protection from the “real adults” that know better?

    How about we take on the abusers and not the abused? How about we draft policies and approaches that shun people that either embrace or shelter misogyny in a supposedly rational community? How about we impose standards of rational debate on those who seek to abuse instead of just hoping the womenfolk don’t get “hysterical” about it?

    You are really pursuing the worst kind of tone argument by assuming that everything has to be taken perfectly calmly, including online threats of rape, disparagement of intelligence and assumptions that Ms. Watson was simply overreacting.

    I’m not even active in the skeptic community and the evidence I have seen and heard is pretty overwhelming – unless you think 80% of female convention bloggers are lying for…God only knows what reason they would have.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      God only knows what reason they would have.

      Page hits. These people are under the impression that Rebecca, Ophelia, Stephanie, Greta, and PZ (because they believe PZ to be a “mangina”, and the mastermind because women couldn’t be that bright ammirite) are drumming up drama to get page views and are therefore rolling in Scrooge McDuck piles of filthy lucre.

      They fail to remember that it was the gender feminists and MRAs who overreacted to a mild statement that started this all. They also don’t seem to understand how the internet works since Skepchick would have to be far bigger for Rebecca to get rich off of it, besides they seem to have so little regard for her I can’t see how they believe she could be that devious.

      It reminds me of all the 9/11 truffers that believe GWB was a complete and utter moron that masterminded the greatest conspiracy in US history.

      Compartmentalization is a hell of a thing.

    • Avatar of

      ““you can not use YouTube”

      I.e., if you want to cut yourself off from one of the biggest sites on the internet to avoid abuse, you can just hide in a hole…”

      Actually what I wrote was that it would be great if the skeptical community could provide alternativ sites with better moderation where people faced less abusive comments simply for participating in a discussion so people who were turned away by this sort of unmoderated free for all could feel happier about engaging.

      “Because, women, like children, need protection from the “real adults” that know better?”

      I think everyone needs protection from the abusive and threatening comments directed at them. Isn’t that the point of this entire discussion, combatting abusive and threatening behavior in online (and offline) communities.

      “How about we take on the abusers and not the abused? How about we draft policies and approaches that shun people that either embrace or shelter misogyny in a supposedly rational community? ”

      That is exactly what I proposed. You produce safe online spaces that delete abusive posts, that ban abusive posters and allow for rational discussion without constant insults flying around. If you think you can get YouTube or Twitter to do that good luck to you, personally I think that is tilting against windmills. I think it would more productive to produce these safe online spaces ourselves.

      “You are really pursuing the worst kind of tone argument by assuming that everything has to be taken perfectly calmly, including online threats of rape, disparagement of intelligence and assumptions that Ms. Watson was simply overreacting.”

      How calm or not someone is is not particularly relevant. You can produce the most rational and considered argument in the world while mad as hell. You can produce a pointless and petty insult while perfectly calm. The emotional state of the poster is not the issue, what matters is what they say. An insult exchange does not increase any rational discussion and simply produces an air of hostility and unwelcomeness in the online space.

      Or to put it another way, people are going to feel threatened and put off by an online space where it is simply insults flying around, whether or not they agree or disagree with any particular side of the discussion.

      “I’m not even active in the skeptic community and the evidence I have seen and heard is pretty overwhelming – unless you think 80% of female convention bloggers are lying for…God only knows what reason they would have.”

      Great, I would be very interested in seeing this evidence as well.

  30. Avatar of big_lunch

    I’m just gonna put this here…

    I’ve been so conflicted with this whole Skeptical Schism. I mean, Rebecca not at TAM? Thunderfoot, a profound early influence on my emergent atheism, a villian? Skepchick a bastion of group thought? Harriet Hall, another hero of mine, giving you all the metaphorical bird ? Going to TAM used to be such a dream of mine. You all are bringing that dream crashing down. Its not all your fault. I hate religion (primarily because I believe it to be the greatest fount of misogyny ever invented ) so going to TAM and having to worry about when I’m being a dick about that didn’t sound too fun either. Now I can’t go to TAM because it’s a haven for sexism and religion too?

    The truth is I was beginning to waver–to take a side against you all. I’m a bit ashamed to say it, but it seemed to me for a second that people were indeed getting banned pretty damned quickly here and for sometimes what seemed relatively innocuous points of contention. And my hero worship of Thunderfoot kept blinding me, cuz the guy can wax some eloquence on a you tube video, my friends, give him that much at least.

    But then it hit me. Is his argument sound? Is sexism a laughably minor problem for the skeptical community?

    I thought about my own little atheist group, and was suddenly reminded of a friend of mine who helped arrange a meetup with a fairly prominent voice of free thought. She showed me the emails she’d received, clearly bent on meeting up with her and taking her to dinner, and they came again and again and again, and how this not so much a gentleman did not give up to the point that my friend was very very creeped out.

    Yeah yeah, its anecdotal, but that’s not the point i’m making. The point I’m making is that I had never bothered to take this event in my own mind and file it under “harassment”, right where it clearly belonged. How did I let myself NOT do that? It’s because I’m so goddamned inured, so blinded by the very same privilege that is wielded by a society that refuses to be led by women, that it doesn’t even occur to me that I am a direct witness to just what the hell is being talked about here in testimonial after testimonial. Is sexism a problem in the skeptical community? I am really so very much ashamed to admit that I even entertained the notion that it wasn’t. In Matt D’s terms, what a complete asshat.

    I gotta say it loud and clear. Skepchick wins. There is wrong and right in this. There is someone fighting for human dignity and someone trying to subdue it. I do not have to wait for a woman president in my lifetime to find meaningful female leadership. You are here, my leaders, and I’m really so sorry I wavered. And afer all, you’ve just now inspired me to go to TAM, just so I can wear a T shirt that says

    “Say hello to my inner skepchick. She’s mad as hell,and not gonna take it any more.”

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      Thank you, and I will give you that Thundf00t can be very good when he sticks to science and religion but he also makes fallacious errors and doubles down when called on them. Sadly, I’m not sure he will come back from showing his misogynist roots.

    • Avatar of TonyInBatavia

      big_lunch, thank you for sharing your story. I’m jazzed to read that you found the proverbial forest through the trees. I particularly loved this: “There is wrong and right in this. There is someone fighting for human dignity and someone trying to subdue it.” This is such a simple concept and you stated it simply beautifully.

    • Avatar of Will

      Bravo and thank you!

  31. Avatar of

    @Anne S

    I’m not making rape threats. If I was I would have no issue with the owners of Skepchick deleting my posts and banning my account.

    Some posters have decided apparently that they are going to abuse me off this site because they have determined based on what I wrote (or more specifically their own misconceptions about what I must really mean based on what I wrote) that I’m a dishonest troll (and possibly a misogynist) who supports those who criticize regular Skepchick posters such as Rebecca Watson.

    I’m sure they feel they are justified in doing this, but then that was part of my original point. No matter how justified you think an insult is it adds nothing to the discussion other than to increase the unwelcomeness of an online space. It shouldn’t be necessary to insult someone simply to demonstrate they are wrong or point out the illogical stance they are taking (attack the poster not the post). You should just demonstrate they are wrong. It certainly shouldn’t be necessary to insult someone off a site no matter how much you disagree with them.

  32. Avatar of

    @punchdrunk

    Er, I certainly hope I’m not asking for evidence that doesn’t exist given how many times I’ve been told over and over that there is a wide spread problem with sexism and misogyny in the skeptical community and that female members of the community consistently and routinely face threatening behavior from men (and that if I don’t accept this I’m denying reality and a misogynist).

    One would seriously hope that people would not be making such serious claims without data to back that up, particularly in a skeptical community for Christ sake where data is supposed to be king.

    The examples I gave about surveys were merely some ways such data can be gathered, based on the way they were gathered in the reports you linked to me for the workplace and schools. I’m not in anyway limited the data to those specific examples. If there is other data demonstrating widespread abuse across the skeptical community I’m more than happy to view that as well.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      I think you damned well know the difference between the data doesn’t exist and the problem doesn’t exist.

      “Are there existing safety problems in the self-regulated coal mining industry and what is the extent?” is a nonsensical question for a very obvious reason. “Is there a sexual harassment problem in the skeptical community that refuses to accept that there is a harassment problem, and what is its extent?” is just as nonsensical not because of the fist part but because of the latter.

      You know that and are not arguing in good faith and need to fuck off.

      • Avatar of

        What?

        How do you know the problem exists (the problem being wide spread threat and abuse of women in the skeptical community) if the data supporting such a position doesn’t exist?

        Again I find myself having to point out that this is supposed to be a SKEPTICAL forum. If you are taking individual anecdotal accounts of abuse (which no one is denying exist and are serious) and using them to support a wider claim that such events are common and widespread within the skeptical community without the statistical data to back that up then you are not acting in a skeptical fashion, the exact opposite in fact. Skeptical enquiring exists precisely to challenge such assumptions.

        You are not acting in a skeptical fashion irrespective of whether the view of reality is actually right or not. For all anyone knows there is wide spread threat of abuse in the skeptical community. But how the heck do you or I know that is or isn’t the case if we don’t have any data supporting such a position.

        “You know that and are not arguing in good faith and need to fuck off.”

        People have claimed this evidence exists and is easily accessible. Now it is being claimed that such evidence doesn’t exist but I should accept the position anyway because it should be obvious from the anecdotal evidence.

        I’m not the one not arguing in good faith.

  33. Avatar of mrmisconception

    Blah, blah, blah, blah, I am just asking questions.

    Blah, blah, blah, blah, why are you still hitting yourselves?

    Blah, blah, blah, blah, can’t you stop using insulting language?

    Blah, blah, blah, blah, calling a name is the same as a threat.

    God hates fags (no swear words, no insults) is less abusive by your thinking than FUCK OFF TROLL!

    I’m such an abusive, I must be the problem.

    • Avatar of

      “Blah, blah, blah, blah, I am just asking questions.

      Blah, blah, blah, blah, why are you still hitting yourselves?

      Blah, blah, blah, blah, can’t you stop using insulting language?

      Blah, blah, blah, blah, calling a name is the same as a threat.

      God hates fags (no swear words, no insults) is less abusive by your thinking than FUCK OFF TROLL!

      I’m such an abusive, I must be the problem.”

      Constructive. You forgot “Blah, blah, blah do you have actually data to support your position.”

      You can ignore the rest if you like and just focus on this one, it is the only one that actually matters.

      Imagine if a Christian group claimed they were facing wide spread abuse and threats from the Atheist community. The FIRST thing anyone here would ask is what do they have to back that claim up, what data do they have. If all they produced was individual accounts with no wider statistics or evidence demonstrating the connected wide spread nature of such abuse pretty much everyone here would be asking the Christians how are they supporting the claim that this abuse they were facing was widespread. I’m also pretty sure that if the Christians started simply insulting people here because we didn’t just accept what they were saying, that wouldn’t go down particular well either.

      Why do the rules of skeptical enquiry go out the window just because we are talking about women facing threatening and abusive comments and behavior?

      • Avatar of mrmisconception

        DJ Grothe says there is no problem, you believe him so you win.

        Now kindly FUCK OFF!

        • Avatar of

          Do you have the data to support your position or not?

          You appreciate I hope that telling me to fuck off isn’t a data set. It is though exactly the type of abusive comments I was talking about in the original post, comments that add nothing and only act to distract from the rational discussion (in case it is not clear the rational discussion right now is whether data exists or not to support the position that sexualized abuse and harassment is wide scale the skeptical community)

          • Avatar of mrmisconception

            No, no data for the troll.

            Fuck off.

  34. Avatar of punchdrunk

    He sure showed us!

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      But, he’s so reasonable and polite how could what he is saying offend? I’ve looked at his ramblings at board.ie and he does this infuriating JAQing-off routine over there too.

      Where’s the data?
      Is there really a problem if there is not me-approved data?
      Why so hostile?
      You know your not making friends?

      I wish he would go JAQ-off under his bridge.
      I love being told that I’m a bigger part of the problem then those who threaten rape.

      • Avatar of

        I’m not asking for “me-approved” data (as I’ve already explained). At this point presenting any data relevant to the claim would move the discussion forward. Present some data about wide spread abuse in the skeptical community and we can discuss it (you know, the aim of rational debate).

        Instead you seem to be complaining that I’m being offensive by trying to be polite and not abusive. That is certainly a new one.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          You have shown yourself to not argue in good faith therefore rational debate is unattainable with you.

          Fuck off troll.

          • Avatar of

            Me not arguing in “good faith”, if that is what you genuinely believe, shouldn’t prevent you presenting the data that supports your position or that lead you to your position in the first place.

            You should be able to do that (if you wish) irrespective of anything I’ve said or of your assessment of how feasible rational debate is with me.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception

            But I’m not arguing, I’m tell you to go away.

            Fuck off troll.

        • Avatar of punchdrunk

          Well, it’s really good that you were here to help. I don’t know how we would have moved forward without your insight.

          It’s like a gift you have.

          • Avatar of

            I appreciate you are being sarcastic but I actually do believe that questioning why we believe what we believe, querying how we support are positions is in fact a very helpful and healthy thing to do in any skeptical community.

            If all someone can do is insult me when I (or anyone else) query why they believe what they believe, what data they used to reach and support their conclusions, then I don’t think that bodes well.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception

            @wicknight – Since you are so skeptical I assume you have heard of Occam’s Razor.

            I assume you do not deny that there is problem with harassment and abuse outside of the skeptical community.

            So the question becomes, is it more likely that the skeptical community has a harassment problem similar to or slightly less than the general public, or that all harassment magically disappears because of the superior minds involved?

            If the community has a problem similar to the outside world and they wish to draw women they need to address it. Asking the victims to prove they were truly harassed (and implying at the same time that they are lying) is not the way to do that.

            Now once again I ask you to take your victim-blaming, false-equivalence-making, gas-light, tone-troll, goalpost moving, JAQ-offing, not-really-trying-to-help ass and fuck off.

        • Avatar of rempetis

          I don’t agree with you that there’s data required on this subject. There’s obviously no data but i doubt that there’s no problem because there’s no data.

          Anyway, i think that the gathering of data on the subject would probably be something helpful. Maybe from such data we could even discover something helpful in order to be more effective in changing the situation for women in the atheist community for the better.

          • Avatar of

            “I don’t agree with you that there’s data required on this subject. There’s obviously no data but i doubt that there’s no problem because there’s no data.”

            Well given the individual cases there is clearly a problem. The difficulty I have is judging the extent of the problem.

            Lets use this thread as an example of what I’m talking about. I’ve received a number of quite abusive and negative comments on this thread. Now almost without thinking this colours your perception of the space in which such comments are made. It would seem natural to me to say “Skepchick is a horrible place for anyone with a view point that is not the accepted one” based on this.

            But the skeptical rational side keeps me from doing that. Why? Because I have received this abuse from only a handful of posters. Only a handful of posters have called me a dishonest troll and told me to fuck off. I’ve no idea if this is or isn’t representational of the entire Skepchick community. I don’t know how many members it has, and I don’t know the majority would react.

            The “other side” of this sexism debate, bloggers who take issue with the position of Rebecca Watson and others are quite dismissive of Skepchick.org. There is an idea that there is a prevailing group think attitude on this site.

            Now oddly because I’m supposed to be totally in league with all of them and secretly a spy sent in to troll this site :-) I would question that assumption as much as any other, even though my experience on this site has so far been rather negative. But that negative experience is as anecdotal as any other. It could be isolated, or those creating this negative experience could be a tiny minority of the wider community.

            So I would no more dismiss the entire Skepchick community based on my negative experience than I would assume there is wide spread abusive sexism in the skeptical community based on ancedotal experience.

            Does that mean I didn’t have a negative experience on Skepchick? Nope, I certainly have. I would consider this a problem with this forum, but without wider data to support a wider conclusion I can’t say how much of a problem it is.

            The data is important, not to know that individual negative experiences have taken place (which can be dealt with individually), but to know if a wider trend is emerging from these experiences.

            “Anyway, i think that the gathering of data on the subject would probably be something helpful. Maybe from such data we could even discover something helpful in order to be more effective in changing the situation for women in the atheist community for the better.”

            I agree entirely. Again I’m some what dismayed that on a skeptical forum this point needs to be made to some people but the point of skepticism in the first place is to get an accurate view of reality because an accurate view of reality informs us far more than an inaccurate view, even if the inaccurate view is closer to our assumptions of how things should be.

            By knowing what is or isn’t happening, and the extend to which it is or isn’t happening, we will be in a far better position to deal with the problems that arise.

  35. Avatar of Michael Nugent

    Thanks for all the positive feedback, and thanks to Amy for asking me to contribute.

    One practical suggestion that I made in the article was that we should create a united front of online activists from different online communities, to properly research the impact of this abuse across all online communities, and to work together to find the best ways to eradicate it.

    If anyone has any ideas on how best to do this, or if there are existing online initiatives through which it could be channeled, I’d be grateful to hear any opinions.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      I want to thank you for your thoughtful statement and apologize for having a slap fight with a troll in the comments thereof.

      I do not know of a current initiative to quantify the problem, I hope someone else will have info on that. I just wanted to say thanks.

  36. Avatar of rempetis

    I don’t agree with wicknight about the requirement of data on the abuse of women in the skeptical community BUT i agree with him about the (in my limited experience) need to make the discussions in this community more civil. There can be no real discussion if one side (the “home team” ) can get away with saying almost anything.

    Again, since i’m new here i don’t know how wide-spread this is but i saw it done to me a few days ago here and i think that i’m seeing it a little bit in this thread too.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      What happened the other day with you was unfortunate. You were defending a position that is often used to derail. The difference was you realized that the argument was going nowhere and stopped, proving yourself not to be a troll. It’s hard to tell the difference and sometime we are a bit quick to anger. If I was part of that, I apologize.

      @wicknight here on the other hand has pulled almost every derailing tactic there is. He has shown no inclination to actually try to see the problem despite saying that he wishes to. He started with a false-equivalency with some victim-blaming thrown in and quickly moved the goalpost to give me data, but not just any data, the data I know doesn’t exist.

      Unlike you, he has shown no inclination to back off of a “misunderstood” argument to show he is not trolling. Instead he is arguing from tone, which you will find does not go over well here. The tone was fine until he showed himself to not be arguing in good faith.

      He is a troll that deserves to be thrown back under his bridge.

      • Avatar of rempetis

        The difference was you realized that the argument was going nowhere and stopped, proving yourself not to be a troll. It’s hard to tell the difference and sometime we are a bit quick to anger.

        I think that i understand what you mean.

        If I was part of that, I apologize.

        You’re too kind, and no you wasn’t a part of it.

        In my opinion problem here is that wicknight repeating the same thing over and over again is meaningless, he said all that he had to say several posts ago. Even if we accept his view that it’s somehow your fault because you don’t understand what he’s saying i don’t see the point in this continuing since there’s nothing to be gained by this discussion any more.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          I agree, and I am surprised he is still here. People who question the validity of the threats and harassment don’t last long here, rightly I believe.

      • Avatar of quietmarc

        For me, the line was crossed when he claimed ignorance of how google works. “What words do I use to find this evidence! I found the internet yesterday and don’t understaaaaaand!”

        Then he was provided with links which he hasn’t bothered to explore. We could sit him down, tie him to a chair, and present 24 hours worth of data and he still wouldn’t believe it.

        I’m not even willing to engage him on the “evidence doesn’t exist” front, because there IS evidence that sexism exists, there IS evidence that it is a problem with REAL and MEASURABLE effects on women and society at large. Sociology, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, economics are all fields that have studied, documented, and analyzed the phemonenon, and the results of that research is available EVERYWHERE.

        If this guy can’t even take the leap of faith that even one person claiming to be a victim of misogyny and sexism is telling the truth and that that one person is worth protecting, I don’t know what can help him. For him, it is easier to believe that every single woman who has ever stepped forward to admit that she has been treated poorly is either a liar or confused than that even one is telling the truth. There is no way to have a rational argument with this guy.

        At this point “Fuck off troll” is the best of all possible responses.

  37. Avatar of Michael Nugent

    Wicknight, one of the difficulties with getting reliable statistics about any sort of intimidation, is that by definition many of the victims are afraid to say that they are being intimidated.

    It’s like asking how many people are afraid to say that they are afraid. Whatever response you get, it will always be under-reported.

    That said, there is enough data in the research links that I included in my article to show both that the problem exists and that it has real-life adverse affects on the lives of real-life people.

    Professor Citron’s report in particular suggests that online harassment today might be viewed somewhat like workplace sexual harassment or domestic violence against women were viewed forty years ago.

    But whatever the actual scale, let’s work together to eradicate it.

    • Avatar of Will

      But whatever the actual scale, let’s work together to eradicate it.

      Exactly. Thanks for the post and for this! =)

  38. Avatar of

    @mrmisconception

    Since you are so skeptical I assume you have heard of Occam’s Razor.

    I certainly have. I’m also aware of the many many misrepresentations of it. Did you know for example it proves the existence of God, since God is the simplest thing imaginable and Occam said the simplest explanation is the correct one (which of course he didn’t but try telling that to some Christians!)

    I assume you do not deny that there is problem with harassment and abuse outside of the skeptical community.

    Correct, though I would point out that I also don’t deny that there is a problem with harassment and abuse inside of the skeptical community either.

    So the question becomes, is it more likely that the skeptical community has a harassment problem similar to or slightly less than the general public, or that all harassment magically disappears because of the superior minds involved?

    I’ve no idea, since I don’t have enough data to judge the likihood of either position.

    If you are suggesting that because harassment is wide spread in general we can assume the same level of harassment in the skeptical community I would say that this is faulty logic (and breaking Occum’s Razor, some what ironically since you brought it up).

    Under this logic one could assert the wide spread existence of sexual harassment in any group. Sexual harassment is wide spread in wider society so therefore it is likely wide spread on my softball team, excuse me I have to find out which 7 of the 14 players I have on my team has received sexual harassement from one or more of the other 14 players.

    This is a form of the Ecological fallacy, the assumption that broad statistical averages maintain themselves at the same rate as you decrease the sample size. So the skeptical community, a much smaller set than society in general, will maintain the statistical spread of the wider society, and my softball team must have 7 women who have faced sexual abuse from other members of the softball team because that is what the wider statistics say.

    Of course this is faulty logic. This is again why skeptics should look for data on the group rather than making assumptions about the group either from the very large (society wide trends) or the very small (individual anecdotal accounts).

    But then asking for this rather than simply assuming we already know what is happening is victim blaming, apparently. I wonder did the group that compiled the study showing that 50% of school children faced harassment know that by compiling such statistics, rather than simply assuming a “lot” of children faced harassment, that they were in fact blaming the children and implying that they were lying. How dare they try and compile accurate statistics on something! By requiring such statistics they are acting as child harassment deniers!

    If the community has a problem similar to the outside world and they wish to draw women they need to address it.

    They certainly do. First though it would be helpful to establish empirically that they have a problem similar to the outside world. As myself and rempetis mentioned, knowing the nature of the problem including how wide spread it is or isn’t will change how it is dealt with.

    Asking the victims to prove they were truly harassed (and implying at the same time that they are lying) is not the way to do that.

    I am not asking the victims to prove they were truly harassed, or implying that anyone is lying.

    Now once again I ask you to take your victim-blaming, false-equivalence-making, gas-light, tone-troll, goalpost moving, JAQ-offing, not-really-trying-to-help ass and fuck off.

    More insults, still no data.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      The data doesn’t exist because those who could have gathered it did not feel it was important enough. It is much easier for them to blame Rebecca, the Skepchicks, other feminist bloggers, and the victims of harassment of making it all up to fulfill some sort of persecution complex than to deal with reality.

      I can understand why since Rebecca is just so damned unlikable. In fact if I can be honest she has wronged me too.

      You see, Rebecca Watson stole my shoe and she won’t give it back.

      • Avatar of

        The data doesn’t exist because those who could have gathered it did not feel it was important enough.

        If the data doesn’t exist then what are you using to support the conclusion that sexual harassment is wide spread in the skeptical community?

        You seem to be effectively staying that you have no empirical evidence this is the case but you believe it anyway and then are berating and insulting me for not doing the same.

        On a skeptics forum for crying out loud!!

        In other news, I know Bigfoot exists just don’t ask me for the data!

        It is much easier for them to blame Rebecca, the Skepchicks, other feminist bloggers, and the victims of harassment of making it all up to fulfill some sort of persecution complex than to deal with reality.

        The reality that you have no empirical data for?

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          What we have is anecdotal which you will dismiss because, you know “bitchez be lyin’ and shit.”

          You don’t believe the problem exists unless you have evidence yet the evidence can only be compiled by those who believe the problem doesn’t exist so therefore they need not compile the data to show that the problem exists.

          You seem like a smart fella for being so obtuse, do you know what that’s called?

          • Avatar of

            What we have is anecdotal which you will dismiss because, you know “bitchez be lyin’ and shit.”

            Is it really necessary to explain on a skeptics forum why anecdotal evidence is not sufficient to draw accurate general conclusions. Really? On a skeptics forum?

            You don’t believe the problem exists unless you have evidence

            Correct, that is almost the exact definition of a skeptic (though I imagine you meant it as some sort of insult).

            yet the evidence can only be compiled by those who believe the problem doesn’t exist so therefore they need not compile the data to show that the problem exists.

            What are you talking about?

            Why can the data only be compiled by those who believe the problem doesn’t exist? The beliefs of the person studying this issue is surely irrelevant to the methodology they use to gather such data.

            Do you think the people who carried out the survey you linked to that determined 50% of school children faced sexual harassment all believed that school children never faced sexual harassment?

            You seem like a smart fella for being so obtuse, do you know what that’s called?

            I would like to think I’m a smart fella, smart enough not to accept a position without data simply because I will be bullied and insulted if I don’t.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception

            Anecdotal evidence is proof, no. But is sure as hell is an indication, one that leads to the existence of harassment within the community.

            This isn’t a scientific issue, period. Stop pretending that it is.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception

            That should have been is not proof.

            Since you will not admit there is any problem without just the right data, and since I have a job and a life, I am finished with you.

            Goodbye, troll. I wish you well in you trolly adventures.

        • Avatar of Displaced Northerner

          You got the analogy wrong. If you asked for evidence that Bigfoot does NOT exist then you would be more on target. Without data showing Bigfoot doesn’t exist, I guess there’s still a possibility he’s partying it up with Nessy. Do you use the same tactics for belief in god?

          • Avatar of

            Sweet mother of God. I have never said it is not worth doing something about, even if only one poster out of a million ever received a treat it is worth doing something.

            Once again I actually suggested doing something about it in the very first post on this thread, and idea that was shot down by practically everyone because it didn’t allow for them to respond to abuse with further abuse.

    • Avatar of Displaced Northerner

      I’m late to this party and KNOW that I’m going to regret even entering this discussion (not having slept in the last 24hours may be clouding my judgment) but I’m confused as to why the burden of proof lies with the women claiming harassment. Since significant harassment is documented (with data!) in the population as a whole, shouldn’t the working assumption be that because the skeptical community is a subset of the general population, there is significant harassment within the skeptical community as well? You are right, you need data- but the data needs to come from the people claiming there is no problem. There needs to be evidence that skeptics are operating in a way to elevate themselves above that of the general public. Do you have anything to support this viewpoint? It would be irrational to assume that the skeptical community is any better at combatting misogyny than the general public- unless there were data to support that claim. I look forward to your response.

      • Avatar of

        I’m confused as to why the burden of proof lies with the women claiming harassment.

        Claiming that you were harassed is not the same as claiming that harassment is widespread among the skeptical community. One is a person making a personal claim about their own experience, the other is someone making a general claim about the experiences of the majority of women in the skeptical community.

        The person making the claim of individual harassment has the experience of their harassment as evidence that the harassment took place.

        The person making the wider claim about a general level of wide spread harassment equally requires evidence to back that assertion up.

        Since significant harassment is documented (with data!) in the population as a whole, shouldn’t the working assumption be that because the skeptical community is a subset of the general population, there is significant harassment within the skeptical community as well?

        No. There are significant problems with such an assumption, problems that would apply no matter what we were discussing. For example, the majority of Americans are religious. Should we assume then that the majority of the skeptical community are also religious because we map the general statistic to the smaller sub group? Right away you run into an issue there since the majority of the skeptical community are not religious.

        Statistics do not work like this.

        You are right, you need data- but the data needs to come from the people claiming there is no problem.

        I don’t see any reason why that is the case. The data simply needs to come from someone who knows how to properly prepare a statistically valid survey, something anyone with a basic statistics knowledge should be able to do, what ever their personal views on this matter.

        There needs to be evidence that skeptics are operating in a way to elevate themselves above that of the general public. Do you have anything to support this viewpoint?

        That isn’t my view point, so unsurprisingly I’ve nothing to support it with :-)

        It would be irrational to assume that the skeptical community is any better at combatting misogyny than the general public- unless there were data to support that claim. I look forward to your response.

        You are correct, that is irrational. But since it isn’t my claim I’ve no issue with that. It is pretty much irrational and unskeptical to assume anything about the skeptical community without the data to back that position up. After all with out the data you just have assumption about how people should be.

        Which is why when a claim is made about wide spread sexual harassment in the skeptical community my first instinct is to ask for the data. This apparently puts me on the wrong side of how a lot of people think one should behave. I’m ok with that.

        • Avatar of Displaced Northerner

          I suppose we shouldn’t assume anything about the religious beliefs of the skeptical community. Without seeing the data, I have no way of knowing what the religious makeup of the skeptical community is. I therefore cannot comment on your point here because it is irrelevant given our current data requirements. please provide data that I should not assume that most skeptics are religious. The data must be collected by a statistician with no fewer than two publications in reputable peer reviewed journals. Also, the design must be one that would stand up against rigorous criticism.

          Snark aside, we can make the assumption that most skeptics are not religious based upon our experiences in the community and the close ties between atheist and skeptical groups. There are no logical reasons or documented experiences (to my knowledge) to support a belief that skeptics are less likely to be misogynistic than the general populace.

          How would data either that supported or disproved the claim that misogyny is widespread in the skeptical community change how you would address things like having a harassment policy in place at skeptical events (I am very curious about this)?

          • Avatar of

            The data must be collected by a statistician with no fewer than two publications in reputable peer reviewed journals. Also, the design must be one that would stand up against rigorous criticism.

            You say that as if people have been drowning me in statistical evidence of wide spread sexual harassment in the skeptical community and I’ve been rejecting it because it wasn’t published in Nature :-)

            So far the most I’ve gotten is assurances it is out there is I just bothered to look, to assurances that it doesn’t exist, to calls that I should fuck off the website.

            Snark aside, we can make the assumption that most skeptics are not religious based upon our experiences in the community and the close ties between atheist and skeptical groups. There are no logical reasons or documented experiences (to my knowledge) to support a belief that skeptics are less likely to be misogynistic than the general populace.

            Its not an assumption about religion, it is based on surveys of individual skeptic communities (I’ll try and dig out the statistics). And there is no assumption that skeptics are more or less misogynistic than the general population. But that is not evidence for something. You can’t assume a prevalence of misogyny nor an absence of it.

            How would data either that supported or disproved the claim that misogyny is widespread in the skeptical community change how you would address things like having a harassment policy in place at skeptical events (I am very curious about this)?

            Ok, off the top of my head, say that such a survey identified that such misogyny is common on public forums such as YouTube, but much less prevelant at conferences such as TAM (NOT stating this is the case, just an example).

            Well wouldn’t the money and resources used to combat this be better put into providing an alternative to YouTube that was better moderated, rather than hiring a ton of security at a conference.

            And vice versa, we could say well this is an online problem with trolls we need better moderation of online spaces and it turns out that no in fact the vast majority of threat comes from men at conferences. Then you need better security at these things.

            It is hard to make any judgements as to what to do without the facts.

          • Avatar of Displaced Northerner

            If there was evidence of a group as functional as YouTube with less misogyny that would be a great place to devote resources. When you find it let me know.

            You’re also wrong about not being able to infer data about a subset of a population based upon the characteristics of the larger population. This is basic statistics. If the characteristic being selected for (skepticism in this case) has no bearing on an unrelated characteristic (misogyny) you CAN infer that the presence is similar.

            Additionally, you DO have facts. Those facts are the cited experiences of MANY females in the skeptical community. For some reason, you’ve chosen to focus on the breadth of the problem. I think you are misguided here. I would argue that the breadth is irrelevant. Prove me wrong.

            Color me confused. You neither believe there is or is not misogyny in the skeptical community. But you know it exists because you’ve seen proof. What you’ve seen can’t even allow you to form a hypothesis? And you ARE assuming something when you place the burden of proof on one side in a debate. You are assuming the null hypothesis is “there is not widespread misogyny”. If you had instead demanded proof that the incidence of misogyny is LOWER amongst skeptics then your null hypothesis would be that “there is widespread misogyny”. It may not be conscious but your questions betray your bias.

  39. Avatar of

    @ mythbri

    Even if the prevalence of harassment and sexism in the skeptic/atheist community is no worse than the base level in society at large, why is that acceptable to you?

    It is not acceptable to me.

    We should ignore reasonable requests for anti-harassment policies at conferences and conventions because of the kind of hyper-skepticism you exhibit here?

    No? Where did I ever say anyone should ignore anti-harassment policies at conferences?

    If I say, “I was harassed online” or “I was harassed at a con”, that is not an extraordinary claim, and does not require extraordinary evidence.

    If someone makes claims they were harassed online it seems entirely appropriate to ask for evidence. In the vast majority of cases this isn’t even necessary since most produce such evidence in the claim itself (since they have the original insulting post).

    If someone wishes to claim that such abuse is wide spread then it also makes sense to ask for evidence to back this claim up.

    I really can’t believe on a skeptical community asking for evidence is met with such distain and mis-trust.

    • Avatar of Displaced Northerner

      Please clarify for me: until you see the data, you will assume that misogyny among skeptics is ________. Please fill in the blank so I can better understand the point you are trying to make.

      • Avatar of punchdrunk

        Having those data points would, of course, change nothing.

        It happens. Policies should be in place to deal with it. The information he’s asking for is apropos of nothing.

        • Avatar of Displaced Northerner

          Ah yes- but you are coming from a rational viewpoint. It is irrational to demand resources be spent proving the breadth of an already well documented problem when those same resources could be spent taking steps to solve that problem. If I want to determine the rationale of the irrational does that make me irrational? ;)

          • Avatar of punchdrunk

            “If I want to determine the rationale of the irrational does that make me irrational?”

            That’s how these trolls suck us right in, isn’t it? :D

          • Avatar of

            That would be true if the problem was well documented. I’ve yet to see this, in fact much to my surprise I was told a few posts ago that in fact there is no empirical evidence that there even is a problem (this was presented as not being all that big a deal)

            Now as I’m sure you know absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Not having evidence of a problem does not mean there is no problem. But I would have thought the first thing anyone would want to do if they even suspect their might be a problem is determine if there is or not and the extent to which it is a problem.

            This is generally how these things work, turn a suspicion or suggestion into hard evidence. Present the data and methodology used to collect said data to be examined. Repeat if necessary until confidence in accuracy of position is high.

            Why would a skeptical community demand this of pretty much everything except their own community?

          • Avatar of Displaced Northerner

            You continue to baffle me. The thread to which you are replying gives 10 quick examples. Previous posts here have documented dozens more. A quick trip to reddit or Thundf00t will show you many more. Now you have documentation of the presence of a problem. What do you say we work together to fix it, regardless of the extent of the problem?

      • Avatar of

        Please clarify for me: until you see the data, you will assume that misogyny among skeptics is ________. Please fill in the blank so I can better understand the point you are trying to make.

        Until I see the data I’m not going to assume anything about how wide spread misogyny is among skeptics.

        This should not be an odd statement for a skeptic to make.

  40. Avatar of Timid Atheist

    http://www.secularcensus.us/analysis/2012/07-31

    Let the goal post moving commence.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk

      Huzzah! He gets his numbers!

      Also this:
      http://www.secularcensus.us/analysis/2012-05-31

      • Avatar of Timid Atheist

        I know it won’t make any difference because now the numbers will be picked apart and shown that they aren’t enough to warrant doing anything about them. I just want to see it happen so I can use him as an example for future reference.

      • Avatar of

        You say that as if it is bad thing.

        To quote the site

        “But this is also an emotional, subjective conversation rarely punctuated by objective facts. At the American Secular Census, we hope to contribute a few.”

        Given that I was informed only a few posts ago that such data doesn’t exist and in fact shouldn’t even require it in the first place, it is nice to see the American Secular Census group not take such ridiculously unskeptical viewpoint.

        • Avatar of Will

          Given that I was informed only a few posts ago that such data doesn’t exist

          You’re so full of shit. Yes, some people said that, but others of us told you to google it for yourself because the data is out there and easily findable. You just refused to do so because it didn’t fit your preconceived narrative.

    • Avatar of

      http://www.secularcensus.us/analysis/2012/07-31

      Let the goal post moving commence.

      That is freaking awesome, thank you :-)

      • Avatar of punchdrunk

        wicknight: “It is hard to make any judgements as to what to do without the facts.”

        So, how do these facts change your opinion about whether or not to have harassment policies? How does this change your opinion on whether or not to call people out who say misogynistic things? Because those are the only remedies being discussed.

        • Avatar of

          So, how do these facts change your opinion about whether or not to have harassment policies?

          Some what of a loaded question considered I never objected to having harassment policies. But the data is interesting. Surprisingly unwanted advances by organizers of these events is nearly as high a complaint as unwanted advances by participants.

          To me this would suggest harassment policies alone may not be sufficient as the organizers would draft these policies and may feel themselves that since they are organizing the event the rules don’t apply to them.

          How does this change your opinion on whether or not to call people out who say misogynistic things?

          By that I assume you mean publicly insult them on the internet. No, strangely my position on that has not changed given these statistics.

          Because those are the only remedies being discussed.

          They shouldn’t be the only remedies being discussed. One of them isn’t even a remedy.

  41. Avatar of utakata

    I am seeing some interesting data myself on this thread…

    A one wicknight who has never to my mind ever posted on Skepchicks before from my regular daily lurking here, has deciderd to drop about 45 posts, ballooning what has been on average about 30 to 60 posts of of Amy’s watershed series, into a about 140 posts. Well doubling over the post count. I believe it was PZ Myers who pointed out when someone is likely trolling is when the post of a regular topic start to skyrocket adnormally. Usually caused by the persistant, obsessive posting of mainly one individual who clocks over 20% of the average postings. This strongly suggests, this thread has a problem poster.

    From what I’ve read of this one wicknight seems to be a lot of turgid concern trolling, blowing a lot of flowery smoke and seemingly false equivelances…with a dash of the occasioned false accusations and a complete thread derail thrown in. And not really offering any convincing and compelling evidence to persaude the patrons here to his postion. Again this strongly suggests a problem poster. One I very much doubt whose here for the reasons he is considering that he might be wrong.

    It’s certainly not my place to say what the Skeptchick admin should do with this problem poster. But from the data I am obseving, I think he’s had more than his 15 minuts here. Just saying.

    • Avatar of

      Well Jez, that doesn’t give me that much hope does it. You discussed things too much and replied to much to the points put to you by other posters, clearly you are a troll!!

      Ok, so replying to points made to you makes you a troll. Who would have thought it. Once again I find myself double checking I’m actually on a skeptics website.

      • Avatar of utakata

        As many of us are higly doubting your claim as a skeptic. But nice, yet needless ad hominem of this site and its patrons.

        That being said, I listed a number of other criteria which youhave painfully and conveniently ignored, that distinguish someone who whose being a troll from being just obsessive. Although the first criteria of someone obsessively posting is a good indicator of a problematic poster. I have yet to see an exception to this, not to say that there isn’t.

        As for your indication of anything you posted as factually correct and sound, it apears from many of the responses so far that the majority of posters disagree with you with convincing, articulate and compelling reasons. Leading many of us to conclude that your postings are likely neither. /shrug

        • Avatar of

          Although the first criteria of someone obsessively posting is a good indicator of a problematic poster.

          Can you define “obsessively posting”. Now admittedly I’m unfortunately current in hospital so I don’t have a lot to do at the moment. This thread has been keeping the boredom away. But perhaps I should turn off my laptop and go do something else, lest I be accused once again of being a troll again.

          As for your indication of anything you posted as factually correct and sound, it apears from many of the responses so far that the majority of posters disagree with you with convincing, articulate and compelling reasons.

          Would those be the convincing and articulate posts that told me to fuck off, or said I was a dishonest shit, or explained to me that by asking for evidence I was supporting rape culture, or perhaps the posts that said we don’t need to evidence to hold our positions, or the posts that informed me I was a troll that wasn’t worth engaging with (other than of course to inform me I was a troll), or the posts that said they planned to abuse me off this website, or the posts that simply took my position reversed it and then proceeded to inform me how horrible I was based on that.

          All convincing articulate and compelling reasons, one and all. Not that I’m bitter or anything. :-)

          Can I ask you what you think my position actually is?

          • Avatar of utakata

            I am not speaking about the snipes of those who have lost patience with you after carefully addressed at some length to your concerns which you seem to have not taken in, thus /head desking. I am speaking of those who are have rationaly and reasonably debating your position in general. And that includes those who have thrown up their hands after in frustration as previously mentioned.

            I am sorry to here you are held up in hospital with nothing to do, but this does not give you an excuse for many of the crimes against internet debate you are inflicting upon the readership here. I’m sure you can do much better with your time, such as watch the Olympics or something with whatever device you are using to communicate with. But if this is any consulation, I do hope you get better.

          • Avatar of utakata

            Also, please note to what Amy has directed you to do below.

  42. Avatar of Timid Atheist

    @wicknight

    It is hard to make any judgements as to what to do without the facts.

    So if we don’t have proof of harassment then we can’t do anything about it? Except we have examples all over the place, but because those examples weren’t part of a study they aren’t valid?

    Have you ever experienced harassment? Discrimination? Hate mail? Hate speech? Judging by your picture it doesn’t seem likely to me since you appear to be a white, cis male. I could be wrong, however. Perhaps you’re not cis. Or perhaps you’re not straight. (I can’t tell by looking at people if they’re straight or gay.)

    What I can tell by your demands for civility and for data is that you don’t understand what it’s like to be treated as less than. You don’t know what it’s like to have someone treat you like the “other” because of your gender or skin color or orientation. If you did, your insistence that we have data and facts before we do anything to fix the problems of harassment wouldn’t be littering this post.

    I don’t know if you think you’re an ally. But if you are then you’ll stop demanding data and start supporting people who have proof they have been harassed. (All of these ladies’ examples are proof.) You’ll start asking how you can help them (us) feel safe and welcome in this community. And you’ll stop demanding that we control our tone and our words.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      I have seen ample data to determine that @wicknight has no intention of doing anything but trolling.

      But, you know, that’s not a study so I’m sure that it’s just a ethereal phantom of perception, or sumthin’.

      • Avatar of Timid Atheist

        You are very likely correct. But I figured I’d give it a shot anyway. Sadly we can’t force anyone to change their mind.

        We should do a study on trolling. Oh wait, I bet that’s already been done. >.>

        • Avatar of Rebecca Watson

          Yeah, I’ve been letting him go but he’s certainly coming close to spamming, along with the blatant concern trolling and derailing. I’ll give him another hour or so to see if he continues this ridiculous pace, before I boot him.

    • Avatar of

      So if we don’t have proof of harassment then we can’t do anything about it? Except we have examples all over the place, but because those examples weren’t part of a study they aren’t valid?

      I some times wonder why bother repeating my position when it is simply ignored and replaced with a straw man one.

      I never said there is nothing we can do about it, I said having a clear view of the facts and data informs us as to what to do about it.

      I never said that individual examples are not valid because they are not part of a study. I said that they do not by themselves constitute statistical evidence of trends.

      Have you ever experienced harassment? Discrimination? Hate mail? Hate speech? Judging by your picture it doesn’t seem likely to me since you appear to be a white, cis male. I could be wrong, however. Perhaps you’re not cis. Or perhaps you’re not straight. (I can’t tell by looking at people if they’re straight or gay.)

      I assume you mean other than on this thread where I have been insulted and harassed from pretty much the get go.

      And yes I have suffered all those things (try being an atheist in a traditional conservative Catholic country). Not that this actually matters to any of the points I’ve been making.

      What I can tell by your demands for civility and for data is that you don’t understand what it’s like to be treated as less than. You don’t know what it’s like to have someone treat you like the “other” because of your gender or skin color or orientation. If you did, your insistence that we have data and facts before we do anything to fix the problems of harassment wouldn’t be littering this post.</blockquote
      I've not claimed that we wait for facts and data before we do anything to fix the problems of harassment. In fact I suggested something to do in the first post on this thread.

      • Avatar of Timid Atheist

        And yes I have suffered all those things (try being an atheist in a traditional conservative Catholic country). Not that this actually matters to any of the points I’ve been making.

        Try being a woman in an industry where men are considered superior. Try being a black woman in a country where your sex and your skin color make you inferior. Try being a black trans woman where your sex, gender and skin color make you the primary target for murder and rape and discrimination.

        This all matters to the points you’ve been making because it doesn’t matter how much “data” you collect, if you can’t accept that even once instance of harassment, rape or death threats is one too many then you don’t get it.

        And really, if you are subject to terrible things as an atheist in a catholic country, would you really want people demanding evidence of a wide spread problem? If it’s just happening to you then it’s no big deal, right?

        Except it is a big deal. One person being harmed is one too many. But if you are demanding evidence then you aren’t working toward a solution. You’re stalling. You’re trying to slow down what everyone else is doing to stop harassment. You aren’t helping, you’re part of the problem.

        I’ve not claimed that we wait for facts and data before we do anything to fix the problems of harassment. In fact I suggested something to do in the first post on this thread.

        Your suggestion is not a good one. Why should I have to isolate myself in order to feel safe? Why should I be punished and shunned into a corner of the internet when the ones who are doing the harassing and the rape threats are allowed free reign of the internet? Why is it not a better idea to call out the harassment and let people see what it is and who it is from? If we accept that the internet is simply going to have that kind of harassment then we are letting them win. We’re telling the ones doing the harassing and sending the rape and death threats that what they are doing is acceptable. And it’s not acceptable. It’ll never be acceptable.

        And if I want to call them fucking assholes for doing it, I should be able to without being told that I’m just as bad as they are.

        • Avatar of

          This all matters to the points you’ve been making because it doesn’t matter how much “data” you collect, if you can’t accept that even once instance of harassment, rape or death threats is one too many then you don’t get it.

          Well then clearly I do get it since I have not once suggested in this entire thread that one instance of harassment or threat should be tolerated.

          I’m in fact the only one I can see calling for such posts to be removed through moderation or filtering to provide a safer environment for people to discuss topics rationally. All the while this is ironically as I’m facing a constant stream of replies that are insulting and abusive.

          You don’t seem to want to deal with abusive or threatening comments. You seem to want to leave them all as they are but to be able to scream abuse back at them. That in no way increases welcoming safe communities.

          Your suggestion is not a good one. Why should I have to isolate myself in order to feel safe?

          Because you don’t own YouTube and Twitter and therefore cannot require them to do this, not that you seem to want them to do it anyway. Again you don’t seem to want these abusive posts removed, you want to instead shout abuse at the person who posted them.

          Explain to me the alternative to what I’m suggesting. Someone threatens to rape you on Twitter. So in reply you respond with a torrent of abuse back at them. This makes you safer how exactly?

          If we accept that the internet is simply going to have that kind of harassment then we are letting them win.

          You say that as if you have some how figured out how to get abusive and threatening comments off the Internet. Needless to say simply abusing them back doesn’t achieve this. It might make you feel better, but it neither stops the original abuse nor does it increase your safety.

          So the question to me seems to be is this about producing safe online communities where people do not feel threatened by the behavior of other members of the community?

          Or is this about providing a platform to shout abuse at people you don’t like, people who have insulted you or people who have threatened you.

          Because needless to say I don’t think the latter is what Michael had in mind with his post.

          • Avatar of Will

            I’m in fact the only one I can see calling for such posts to be removed through moderation or filtering to provide a safer environment for people to discuss topics rationally.

            Yeah, see, the thing is, we already do this behind the scenes. You would not believe the number of comments that get deleted and never pass through the moderation filter.

            And then, when we do ban people or delete their comments? We get accused of unfair censorship and all that bullshit, which increases the number of hateful comments and e-mails. And so on and so forth.

            So, moderation and comment filtering is already happening, at least on Skepchick and the sister sites.

          • Avatar of Timid Atheist

            You don’t seem to want to deal with abusive or threatening comments. You seem to want to leave them all as they are but to be able to scream abuse back at them. That in no way increases welcoming safe communities.

            You claim to be misrepresented yet you are doing the same to me. No where have I stated that that I should be able to -just- scream abuse back. I didn’t give my position on what should be done at all.

            What I do think should be done is for the community to take seriously instances where abuse and threats are exposed and treat them as examples for what not to do to other people. They should be displayed as examples of people who are not to be trusted or tolerated until they apologize and then prove they are no longer vicious and uncaring. Those people should be the ones isolated and not allowed further platforms for their abusive rhetoric.

            Because you don’t own YouTube and Twitter and therefore cannot require them to do this, not that you seem to want them to do it anyway. Again you don’t seem to want these abusive posts removed, you want to instead shout abuse at the person who posted them.

            Explain to me the alternative to what I’m suggesting. Someone threatens to rape you on Twitter. So in reply you respond with a torrent of abuse back at them. This makes you safer how exactly?

            Again, you’re attributing something to me that I’ve never promoted. Yes, I absolutely get to respond to that person by calling them a fucking asshole for threatening to rape me. It doesn’t make me safer, it makes me heard and it exposes the person threatening me to the public. And, of course, like the Skepchicks, I would report such a threat to the police and/or FBI. And I would make sure that anyone who knows that person knew they were sending out rape threats. Of course if it’s anonymous that doesn’t work, but exposing the threat is just as good of a deterrent. If that kind of behavior is condemned as a whole by a community it’s less likely to happen.

            You say that as if you have some how figured out how to get abusive and threatening comments off the Internet. Needless to say simply abusing them back doesn’t achieve this. It might make you feel better, but it neither stops the original abuse nor does it increase your safety.

            You don’t get to tell anyone who to deal with their own harassment. You are making claims that you can’t support. How do you know it doesn’t stop the abuse or increase safety? Do you have evidence to back that claim up?

            So the question to me seems to be is this about producing safe online communities where people do not feel threatened by the behavior of other members of the community?

            Or is this about providing a platform to shout abuse at people you don’t like, people who have insulted you or people who have threatened you.

            Because needless to say I don’t think the latter is what Michael had in mind with his post.

            Why is it that you assume that when I’m providing an example of harassment, let’s say a rape threat, that the example is simply there in order to allow me to shout abuse at the person who abused me? And by the way, calling someone a fucking asshole for threatening to rape me is like saying I’m a bigot for telling someone else they’re a bigot. One of these things is not like the other.

            This is absolutely about creating a safe, online community. And that community will start being safe when people like you and people who are sending out harassing emails and death threats stop trying to put the victims into little boxes so that no one can see or hear them. The victims have every right to have a platform in order to promote safety and equality and to shout down the harassment.

      • Avatar of Will

        And yes I have suffered all those things (try being an atheist in a traditional conservative Catholic country).

        ANECDOTAL! I’m going to need at least 25 peer reviewed, methodologically perfect, quantitative studies that demonstrate that there is a widespread suffering of atheists in your particular traditional conservative Catholic country. None of that qualitative bullshit because, you know, anecdotes are not evidence!

        • Avatar of

          Ok, you will notice I pointed out that his was anecdotal and irrelevant in the post you quoted by clearly didn’t read.

          • Avatar of Will

            *whoosh* thank you for flying Delta!

            I was being facetious to point out the absurdity of what you’re doing in this very thread (where people have already admitted it’s anecdotal but you keep pointing it out).

            Look, you got what you were looking for. But in the process, you’ve completely ignored the very valid criticisms of the way you’ve gone about engaging in this conversation. You’ve used practically every derailing tactic in the book, you’ve engaged in the exact types of behaviors that MRA trolls do, and you’ve basically demonstrated that you cannot be trusted as an ally on the topic of social justice.

            Now, if you’re truly as rational as you claim to be, you will take a step back and think about the critiques of your approach to this thread. You will go off and educate yourself about how to engage in conversation in feminist and social justice spaces, and you will immediately cease and desist from using these tactics that put so many of us on edge.

            If you can’t do any of that, then you’re part of the problem and you’re one of the ones we need to weed out of this space.

  43. Avatar of Brian G

    ZAPHOD BEEBLEBROX: Er, man, like what’s your name?

    MAN: I don’t know. Why, do you think I ought to have one? It seems odd to give a bundle of vague sensory perceptions a name.

    ZARNIWOOP: Listen. We must ask you some questions.

    MAN: All right. You can sing to my cat if you like.

    ARTHUR DENT: Would he like that?

    MAN: You’d better ask him that.

    ZARNIWOOP: How long have you been ruling the Universe?

    MAN: Ah, this is a question about the past is it?

    ZARNIWOOP: Yes.

    MAN: How can I tell that the past isn’t a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?

    ZARNIWOOP: Do you answer all questions like this?

    MAN: I say what it occurs to me to say when I think I hear people say things. More I cannot say.

    ZARNIWOOP: No. Listen. People come to you, yes?

    MAN: I think so.

    ZARNIWOOP: And they ask you to make decisions—about wars, about economies, about people, about everything going on out there in the Universe?

    MAN: I only decide about my Universe. My Universe is what happens to my eyes and ears. Anything else is surmise and hearsay. For all I know, these people may not exist. You may not exist. I say what it occurs to me to say.

    ZARNIWOOP: But don’t you see? What you decide affects the fate of millions of people.

    MAN: I don’t know them, I’ve never met them. They only exist in words I think I hear.

  44. Avatar of mildlymagnificent

    Surely the sample size should be a number statistically significant given the size of women in the skeptical community.

    I’m not a statistician so I don’t know the mathematics to work that out. I would have assumed though it would have been the first thing anyone compiling such data would have done.

    Not being a statistician, how would you judge the validity of any numbers, trends, error bars and conclusions? Or would you want a Statistics 101 to help you through that little briar patch.

    Well wouldn’t the money and resources used to combat this be better put into providing an alternative to YouTube that was better moderated, rather than hiring a ton of security at a conference.

    Are you seriously arguing that this is about a “rational” allocation of resources? There’s only so much we “should” spend or do to deal with such problems so we must focus resources on the biggest and baddest. If there are problems of various kinds in workplaces, schools, homes, online and in shopping centres we spend our time finding where the very worst are and spend all our funds and efforts on one or two and ignore the rest?

    That’s not how the world works. We pay attention and allocate resources rationally by doing the best we can wherever we can. So we spend buckets of money and massive regulation on workplace safety in coal mining. Elsewhere we ‘pick the the low-hanging fruit’ implementing sensible, cheap policies on schoolyard or workplace bullying and harassment.

    When it comes to conferences, we’re in real ‘low-hanging fruit’ territory. These events are held in places where there are already policies and practices relating to personal safety and property protection – hygiene, fire, evacuation, bad behaviour, security. One page for admin and attendees in documentation. Half an hour included in general training for staff, attendants and security personnel. Done. No need to worry about how big the problem is – it’s just like using Caution: Wet Floor signs when cleaning. Very few people get serious injuries from slipping on wet floors in public spaces- but it’s worth the organisation’s while to do their best to minimise that consequence.

    Taking on the practices of a large online organisation and their millions of daily transactions? You can start petitions and write letters if you like. But no sensible person would give such a project priority over something really, really simple and straightforward that’s entirely within the control of their own organisations.

    • Avatar of

      Not being a statistician, how would you judge the validity of any numbers, trends, error bars and conclusions? Or would you want a Statistics 101 to help you through that little briar patch.

      Well like most things I’m not an expert in (which is most things) I would defer to those that are.

      Are you seriously arguing that this is about a “rational” allocation of resources? There’s only so much we “should” spend or do to deal with such problems so we must focus resources on the biggest and baddest. If there are problems of various kinds in workplaces, schools, homes, online and in shopping centres we spend our time finding where the very worst are and spend all our funds and efforts on one or two and ignore the rest?

      I’m sorry but are you suggesting an irrational allocation of resources?

      Very few people get serious injuries from slipping on wet floors in public spaces- but it’s worth the organisation’s while to do their best to minimise that consequence.

      Which is an example of rational allocation of resources. A “Wet floor” sign is sufficant to prevent most people slipping on a wet floor. We don’t require that hotels or shops build massive barriers around wet floors, or invest millions in instant drying floors or any other such over reactions. Rational allocation of resources.

      Taking on the practices of a large online organisation and their millions of daily transactions? You can start petitions and write letters if you like. But no sensible person would give such a project priority over something really, really simple and straightforward that’s entirely within the control of their own organisations.

      Yes, that is precisely my point. People can complain about Twitter or YouTube all they like and get into all the flame wars they like on these sites. They aren’t going to stop online abuse on them.

      I think a better allocation of time and effort would be creating our own online spaces that are moderated using better more strict policies that stop abusive comments.

      A lot of people don’t like this idea, they think it is hiding. Though frankly I’m at a loss as to what they think they achieve shouting abuse back to people on these unmoderated spaces.

  45. Avatar of mrmisconception

    “Dozens have died at this stop light just this month.”

    “Quick, count all the cars!”

    “But people are dying.”

    “No matter, we must know the scope before we act.”

    o_O really?

    • Avatar of

      Nice straw man.

      Out of curiosity, what do you suggest we do? Have you come up with a plan that will solve this problem but we have to act urgently to implement it?

      • Avatar of James Fox

        I find that education and empathy generally take care of the immature, but asses just need to wipe themselves or leave the room.

      • Avatar of mrmisconception

        How about harassment policies for meeting and organizations? That might be a good start, except that is what has everyone in a wad right now.

        We better study it and make sure it would bring the optimal outcome, wouldn’t want to be accused of acting rashly.

  46. Avatar of

    @Will

    Who cares if you get accused of censorship. This is a private website, you have no requirement not to censor people particularly if they are being abusive to other posters?

    So, moderation and comment filtering is already happening, at least on Skepchick and the sister sites.

    Great, though perhaps I would suggest extending the filtering policy to include posts that do nothing other than to tell a poster to “fuck off”

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      Not the first time a troll has suggested I don’t tell them to fuck off.

      I told them to fuck off and I’m telling you again.

    • Avatar of Will

      I don’t care about the cries of censorship, that wasn’t the point. The point was that they put out their censorship bat signal, and it brings in more of the same bullshit that has to be moderated and deleted.

      And “dirty language” is not the problem, despite your insistence that we focus on it. Honestly, I don’t think any of the “fuck offs” directed at you were unwarranted. You’ve been somewhat of an ass in this thread. Some people have tried to gently point it out to you, and you just blah-blah-blah at them and don’t seem to grasp what they’re saying to you.

      Also, see my comment above about why your presence in this thread has been so troublesome.

  47. Avatar of mildlymagnificent

    I’m sorry but are you suggesting an irrational allocation of resources?

    Nice move. But you could have let the cursor slide over to include the next couple of lines of the quote you abbreviated.

    That’s not how the world works. We pay attention and allocate resources rationally by doing the best we can wherever we can.

    And you really don’t think anti-harassment policies at our own organisations, at places full of staff who are already trained to identify and deal with unacceptable behaviour, isn’t cheap, simple and easily managed in exactly the same way as managing other easily foreseen risks like wet floors?

    In other words, a rational use of very little effort and even less resources.

    • Avatar of

      I’ve never said we shouldn’t have anti-harassment policies.

      If though 80% of women at a skeptics conference face real physical threat (which could be hundreds of women) then simply having an anti-harassment policy and a few organizers read to take reports, is going to be rather insufficient.

      • Avatar of Amy

        Just stop. Please stop with the constant posting. Reread this post and then go read Dan Barker’s post that gives numbers but PLEASE stop posting every 2 minutes. Give yourself some time to absorb the information. You are seriously derailing with your constant denial of what has been shared and explained. Even ONE person being harassed and cyber stalked is too many when we as a community can do things to help eradicate it.

        • Avatar of

          Oh my god!

          Amy can you please point out where I suggested anything otherwise?

          I’m constantly posting on this thread because I have about 10 posters constantly misrepresenting what I said (plus I’m in hospital and rather bored :-) )

          I hope you can appreciate how frustrating that is, when people try to make out a straw man of your position over and over and over again because they think you know what you must mean even if you never said it (I’m a woman hating misognistic harassment denying troll who supports Thunderf00t and hates Ophelia, don’t you know)

          I have never said that single instances of abuse or threat should not be dealt with. In fact in my ORIGINAL POST I suggest a way I think they should be dealt with, an idea that was rejected by most of the posters here as too extreme, some of who objected because it didn’t allow for them to reply in an abusive manner back to those who upset them.

          Let me repeat that and then I can go, I have never stated that individual abusive or threatening comments or posts should not be dealt with, I in fact SUGGESTED THE EXACT OPPOSITE THING.

          Given that Rebecca Watson seems to be saying I’m going to be kicked off if I continue to “concern troll” (not complaining, just given context, its here website she can kick who she likes) I probably should leave and do something else.

          But can I ask everyone to go back over this thread and examine where the heck they got such ridiculous ideas as to what I was saying. Where did I say no one should deal with online harassment until we have clear statistics? Where did I say there is no wide spread threat of harassment in the skeptical community? Where did I say I support the “otherside” and bloggers like Thunderf00t? Where did I say people have no right to be angry if they are harassed? Where did I say people have no right to respond to those who harass them? Where did I say I oppose harassment policies at conferences?

          On this thread I made two rather simply points

          1) The skeptic community needs to create safer online communities for members where they can post without threat of abuse (all abuse, not just abuse from those we disagree with) and that the best way to achieve this is with heavily moderated online spaces. Abusive comments, no matter how rewarding they feel or how justified the abuser feels they are to be angry, add nothing to a discussion other than to make the online space seem hostile and aggressive.

          2) It is the definition of a skeptic to be skeptical or non-accepting of a claim, any claim, until it is supported by the data. This includes claims that some people should simply be accept because they exist. Being skeptical is not a crime, nor is it an endorment of the alternative position. You should be equally skeptical of that position (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence). Bullying and insulting someone because they won’t accept what you say despite you not providing the data to support it is the very antithesis of skepticism, and the posters who did that on this forum should be ashamed to call themselves skeptics.

          Disagree with those two points all you like. But stop freaking making up positions I don’t hold. The knee jerk reactions (never mind the abusive comments) as to what I must mean even though I didn’t say it (or even said the opposite) is frankly shocking. Post after post from people who are supposed to be skeptics presenting a position that is not only not my position but in fact the exact opposite of my stated position.

          Now if you excuse me I’m going to go argue with some Creationists, their nonsense is mild in comparison to what has been going on here.

          (if I appear angry I assure you it is only to avoid further comments that I’m polite trolling :-))

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          Amy, I apologize to you (and to Michael) for dirtying up you series with bad language.

  48. Avatar of lauralina

    Wicknight – people are insulting you because you are displaying annoying behavior. I occasionally see “help rejecting” patients. These are patients who cry for help but then reject any suggestions you make without even trying to follow these suggestions.

    You ask for statistics on this problem. People have responded to this and have given you several links and also have explained why it is difficult to find statistics on this problem of harrassment of women in the skeptical community.

    A few people have mentioned any kind of abuse online is unacceptable. I don’t think you have really acknowledged that point.

    Then you keep asking what people propose for solutions. What Amy is doing now with these posts is a solution. It is powerful to hear leaders of different communities speak out against harrassment and abuse of anyone at conferences or online.
    Some sites do use the solution of deleting or blocking abusive posts. There have been other solutions mentioned in this thread as well as on other websites.

    But no matter the solution suggested, you find a way to reject it. If you are so eager for a solution, why aren’t you taking the time to think about this issue and then come back and tell people your thoughts? YOu may not come up with anything but at least people will know you tried, that you are doing some of the work. You will then find people will stop insulting you

  49. Avatar of captaintripps

    This is absolutely the best one yet!

  50. Avatar of lauralina

    In my haste to confront Wicknight, I have forgotten to say how much I have loved this series. Thank you, Amy, for thinking of this series and for putting your ideas into action

  51. Avatar of Michael Nugent

    Wicknight, I think some people may not be hearing your plea for civil discussion in the way that you mean to convey it. Here is why I think that may be happening.

    I agree that personal insults don’t add anything to the content of a discussion, and that we should address the post and not attack the poster. But we should also factor in empathy and compassion and ethics and emphasis and priorities and perspective.

    For example, Ophelia has spent more than year suffering vile abuse from a person called Hoggle/Ivanoff, who among other things has called her nightmarishly ugly and repulsive, and has written about kicking her in the cunt. Ophelia has responded by calling him a vile little weirdo.

    You have responded to this by saying that the abusive insulting language that Ophelia used was neither helpful nor necessary in order to have a rational discussion about the topic at hand. As it happens, I agree, but the problem is that your reaction begins at an arbitrary place in the sequence of events.

    Your first emotional and ethical reaction to this news should be something like: ‘He wrote what? That’s really shocking. For more than a year?!?! Wow, that is outrageous! How can we stop this?’

    It is important to articulate that emotional and ethical reaction, particularly when you are directly talking with the victim. Don’t just brush past the horrific experience that Ophelia described in order to continue making your (accurate) point that trading insults does not add to the solution.

    You could have started by saying (and meaning): ‘That is really terrible. Ophelia, I’m really sorry that you had to put up with that level of vile abuse. How can we stop this Hoggle/Ivanoff character from behaving like that? Is he breaking any laws? Do we know who his ISP is? Has he behaved like that to any other people? Is there anything we can do to help?’

    During the ensuing discussion about how to stop this problem, you could then have included your original comment about it not being helpful to insult him back, and it would have been seen in a different perspective. It would not have seemed like a clinical observation, that just glides over what Ophelia has had to put up with for more than a year, and that seems to put Ophelia on a par with this Hoggle/Ivanoff person.

    Think about it – more than a year of relentless vile personal abuse every time she turned on her computer. That’s the ethical priority to deal with here, while also of course addressing how we respond to it.

    Perhaps we could have the discussions about how to discuss things reasonably, and the discussions about the scale of the problem, under separate articles dedicated to those topics, and focus here on how best to tackle the issues that I raised in this article?

    • Avatar of

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for your considered post, you make some very good points about perception, something I can certainly learn from. Perhaps though we should continue that discussion on the A&A forum on Boards.ie, I believe I’m on my last legs on this site and I don’t really have any desire to continue to fulfill the prophecy of me being banned for continue to post.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      @ Michael Nugent – Once again I apologize for loosing my temper, I wish you luck if you continue this conversation with him, and thank you again for your measured response.

      • Avatar of Michael Nugent

        Thanks, mrmisconception. I appreciate that.

        I know it can be frustrating having the same conversation many times with different people, but in reality that is the only way to gradually help more sincere people to accurately understand what we are saying.

        I’m not suggesting that you can have nuanced ethical dialogues with people like Hoggle/Ivanoff, but I generally try to err on the side of believing that posters are acting in good faith for as long as I can.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          Thanks, I let my temper get the better of me. Doesn’t happen often but it can be a beast when unleashed.

  52. Avatar of davew

    @wicknight Sorry to see you go. I think you have some good points and you have made them with more patience and stamina than I ever could. Good luck and happy healing.

    • Avatar of utakata

      …while testing most eveyone elses’ here patience and stamina. I don’t consider this a good or a productive thing by any stretch of the imagination. Beside one can make good points in a few paragraphs or less, not hijack and derail the entire thread.

  53. Avatar of BlackCat

    Wicknight — you used the term Ecological Fallacy before, and I looked it up, and you are wrong about it’s usage. (Page search ecological to see his post.)

    From wiki: “An ecological fallacy is a logical fallacy … whereby inferences about the nature of individuals are based solely upon aggregate statistics collected for the group to which those individuals belong.”

    Basically it says that when you have info about a group, you can’t make inferences of an individual of that group based on the group.

    However, it says absolutely nothing about a smaller subset of the group.

    So yes, we can use information that we gather about harassment from society, and infer it to another subset of society i.e. skeptics/atheists/humanists.

  54. Avatar of mikerattlesnake

    ALL HE WANTS US TO DO IS TELL HIM THAT HAVING HEAVILY MODERATED NICENESS WEBSITES WHERE WE ALL STAY ALL THE TIME IS A GREAT IDEA, PAT HIM ON THE HEAD, AND PIN A “MOST SKEPTICAL AWESOME GUY MEDAL” TO HIS CHEST. CAN WE JUST DO THAT AND MOVE ON?

  55. Avatar of mikerattlesnake

    Sorry for the yelling, I have never encountered a more relentlessly boring, repetitive doofus than this particular fella. I mean… dang.

  56. Avatar of kagerato

    Recent, ahem, events suggest to me the need for a five comment limit per thread.

    Some people seriously do not know how to shut up.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      m
      Memmem hheheh, sorry ’bout that.

      That is not Wolverine!

      • Avatar of kagerato

        I was referring more to a certain someone who managed to pick a fight with pretty much the entire commenter base, ballooning what would have been a relatively calm and well managed thread into an unstable and unproductive back-and-forth argument.

        Wicknight actually broke sixty posts. Sixty! That, friends, is egotism.

        It wouldn’t be that notable except this exact same behavior happens a lot, around here and elsewhere. It’s as though a few are convinced that somehow you can win an argument by repeating yourself enough times.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception

          Oh, I know you weren’t talking about me but I rarely get to do a Beavis impression.

          Plus I played whack-a-troll and that help balloon the comments. :)

  57. Avatar of mrmisconception

    He reminded me of the little brother who throws a ball directly at his older sister’s head and whet caught says “WHAT?”.

    You are being knowingly dense and can’t understand why people get peeved.

    I think I’ll head over to a particle physics forum and loudly say, “So, now how do you people refute God? You’re the ones who found his particle.”

  58. Avatar of marilove

    Jesus. Where do you MRA trolls come from?? NONE of what you’re saying is new. Google this shit. You guys reproduce like bunnies. Every week or two a new tone troll and/or “prove to me this problem is real you bitches.”

    Even the overly polite “Hi, (nym)” is there. Like being overly (fake) polite makes it any less obvious that you’re JAQing off?

    Go read some old threads. You are a fucking MRA troll clone.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk

      Our right to dignity is a game to him and all the pompous monocle poppers. An intellectual puzzle he’s using to stave off his boredom, apparently.
      He doesn’t give a fuck.
      And those survey numbers changed EVERYTHING, didn’t they?

  59. Avatar of fwtbc

    Michael Nugent: Thank you for your contribution. I concur that this is the best one so far.

    wicknight: When I was reading one of your first comments, I was really pleased with your suggestions and thoughts on moderation.

    I agree that having moderators on hand who’ll step in and nudge people back on topic and draw lines in the sand ultimately leads to better, more productive discussions. A blog that is very serious about maintaining such a safe commenting environment is Shakesville. The severe irony is, if you pulled this shit over there, you’d be long fucking gone because you’re a disingenuous turd more interested in semantic point scoring than getting shit done.

    • Avatar of

      A blog that is very serious about maintaining such a safe commenting environment is Shakesville. The severe irony is, if you pulled this shit over there, you’d be long fucking gone because you’re a disingenuous turd more interested in semantic point scoring than getting shit done.

      You might not believe me, but I actually agree with you (well about the “fucking gone” bit at least) :-)

      Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out

      • Avatar of marilove

        You’re an ASSHOLE, you know that? This isn’t a fucking game for us, even though it clearly amuses the shit out of you. Fuck off, you idiot.

  60. Avatar of

    Before I begin I want to emphasise that I am not saying this issue is not widespread because I do not know.

    I want to just make one point which seems to stick out to me.

    People are being lambasted (verbally abused even) on this website for being skeptical to claims made by some people that are backed up only with anecdotal evidence – not empirical evidence.

    Isn’t that ironic?
    Isn’t that as bad as homeopathy groups etc doing the same thing?

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      No, homeopathy has no known mechanism through which it could work.

      Harassment and abuse does, it’s called the patriarchy.

      People are not being abused (abused? really? The only name I called him was troll.) for asking questions but for asking these questions and then repeating their question ad nauseum while ignoring answers, moving goalposts, gaslighting, etc. So basically showing trolling behavior with no inclination to actually want the answers to the questions they are asking. trolling.

      Just asking questions, especially in an overly polite way, is a well known derailing tactic. (known as JAQ-ing off)It has the unfortunate side effect of making people with genuine questions seem suspect.

    • Avatar of marilove

      Comparing sexual assault claims to HOMEOPATHY?! REALLY?

      Are people really this fucking stupid?

      • Avatar of punchdrunk

        Stupid people who think they’re really smart. It’s a plague around these parts.

  61. Avatar of

    I’m not getting back into the discussion but I would like to offer an apology to Ophelia Benson.

    It was particularly stupid of me not to do better research into the comments that I picked when asked for examples of abuse and insults by Unnullifier. At the time I was unaware of the context of Benson’s comments about that blogger. Since then Michael and others have educated me as to the absolutely vile and horrible series of comments that blogger has made against her that has been sustained over a number of months.

    I believed at the time that I was picking examples of flippant insulting comments from prominent members of the community on both sides of this debate. On reflection picking Ophelia’s comments as examples of this was grossly unfair to both her and the situation she has had to ordeal from this blogger. While my intention was never to equate her comments with the insults she received from the blogger (I wasn’t even aware of them at the time), it was stupid of me not to research the background to these comments or to anticipate the negative dismissive way my characterization of her comments as mere flippant abuse would be appear to those aware of what this blogger has posted about her.*

    I also appreciate Ophelia’s point that this was not an original insult she was making up and choosing to direct at this blogger, she was merely echoing the feelings of other commenters who had previously expressed this view. This makes my choosing of Ophelia’s comment even more inappropriate.

    So again I apologize to Ophelia and everyone else for choosing these comments without making myself aware of the context in which they were said and the hate Ophelia has had to put up with from this blogger. It was a presumptuous, arrogant and dismissive way to behave.

    I would also like to thank Michael and others for taking the time to help me understand the situation better and to educate myself. Michael you are a star.

    Thanks guys
    Wick

    *just to clarify that this is genuine, it is not me saying it is really all you guys fault for perceiving what I meant wrong :-)

    • Avatar of Amy

      Thank you for apologizing to Ophelia. Good on you. It is appreciated.

      Now, please ALSO realize that Ophelia is not the only one being cyber stalked and harassed daily and please consider helping us to stop this abuse so we can get back to our lives and work.

      Thanks.

      • Avatar of Ophelia Benson

        Yes that too. Definitely.

        And while I’m at it – a word about these demands for evidence. I could find a shit ton of evidence, but here’s a news flash: I don’t want to. It’s not fun. It’s not fun collecting blog posts that call you a cunt and add a bunch of degrading shit for good measure. It’s not fun linking to shit like that. It’s not fun making it even more public. These Proud Skeptics ranting at us for being deficient in skepticism should be able to figure that out.

        It’s there. It’s fucking there. I’m not lying. Amy’s not lying, Rebecca’s not lying, none of us are lying. The shit is there. I prefer not to look at it. Duh. Get a fucking clue.

        • Avatar of Amy

          Yeah, this is a very important point to make. We do post links or screen caps of some of the abuse in fact that is what started this series:http://skepchick.org/2012/07/ask-surly-amy-how-to-deal-with-hate/ and it wasn’t the first post by far. So to ask me or the other women to go back again and again and read and post the bullying and abusive comments/images to prove again and again to every person that it exists is unfair and ends up being more abusive to us. The evidence is out there already. And why would we want to bring more attention to these people?

          Blog post after blog post has come out. We have been mischaracterized as radical feminists or man haters, and we have been accused of trying to speak for all women. We were sluts, then we were prudes. We are too ugly to rape or we should be raped to teach us a lesson. We are irrational or hysterical. It goes on and on. And it doesn’t stop. We have continued on, and still raise money for charity and write and many of us speak at public events but some of us are constantly harassed. I am one of the people targeted with daily online abuse. The focus was brought to us. We did not intend to be in this position. And I am actively trying to move the focus to something positive which is why I have been reaching out to respected men in the secular community for comment. We need to rise up as a community and put a stop to this. We don’t need to mirror the abuse that is already there.

    • Avatar of marilove

      You know, you could make yourself useful and take up this project yourself. If you actually are serious about this, you’d do that. Instead of putting the onus FURTHER onto the victims. You’re still an asshole and your apology is nowhere near sincere, because in the end, you still don’t fucking get it, and you’re STILL demanding ~evidence~.

  62. Avatar of TonyInBatavia

    Good on ya’, wicknight. And, yes, Michael is definitely a star.

  63. Avatar of Ophelia Benson

    Hey…Thanks, wicknight. That was indeed the problem I had, and it does describe why I have such a short fuse about it. (It’s more than months, by the way – it’s over a year now.) Thanks very much for the apology. (And thanks Michael Nugent!)

  64. Avatar of spokesgay

    I’m sorry, but wicknight shouldn’t have had to do “research” to figure out that Ophelia was justified in insulting someone who said she should be kicked in the cunt. Normal people automatically recognize that there’s no moral equivalence between the two. Ethical, non-narcissistic people don’t look at a bullied kid and chide him for being “flippant” and “abusive right back” when he tells the bully hitting him he’s a creep and to fuck off.

    Apology not accepted. Something’s seriously wrong with your perspective.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      Well, you know I used a naughty word and called him a troll so he was totes abused don’t cha know.

    • Avatar of marilove

      Exactly. 100% agreed. He’s still an MRA troll. Wonder when he’ll start in on the JAQing off? Either that or he’ll disappear.

      Seriously, I feel like we go through this exact same shit ever 2 or 3 weeks. WHERE DO THEY FIND US??

      The same fucking questions over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

      “But I’m being so polite! OH MY GOD YOU USED A NAUGHTY WORD!”

      It’s so fucking predictable.

      As soon as he said, “Hi, there ” I knew he was an MRA troll. I didn’t even read anything else he said, and I already fucking knew it.

      Is there an MRA Troll University or something?

  65. Avatar of

    Cyber stalking and hate/abuse towards others on the internet is going to remain for as long as the internet is perceived as anonymous. Thankfully with high profile incidents that involve the police more people are realising the internet is not a completely anonymous place.

    One thing that would greatly help tone down the internet would be the owners/moderators of websites/forums not allowing abuse to be directed at other posters. This thread is covered in posters personally abusing other posters and this form of hate comes from the same place as hate directed at women. It should not be tolerated anywhere no matter who it is directed at.

    @Amy and other moderators/owners of this site. You do not like the way hate is thrown at women and I agree with your cause. Please read through this thread and look at the posts that are being allowed here. They are full of hate and anger directed at other posters. It might be prudent to lead by example and show other site owners how they should not tolerate any hate/abuse on the internet – obviously including that which is directed at women.

    Also marilove, you misread my post. I referred to the way some (if not many) homeopathy and other groups (zealots) threat those who don’t agree with them i.e. with abuse. I did not compare homeopathy to sexual assault claims. Surely you don’t want to work on the same level as them.

    • Avatar of Amy

      Yeah, see there is a BIG difference between cyber stalking, rape threats, blatant lies and then people using bad words in comment threads. This blog is actually much more heavily moderated than most but we do not ban people for calling people stupid when they are indeed acting stupid. Anger alone is not the problem. I am angry at injustice and bigotry, not at being told to fuck off by a commenter on a blog post. The hate we are dealing with is a much bigger problem than blog moderation.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk

      Nope. The victims of abuse and harassment are allowed to express their anger. That’s part of creating ‘safe spaces’ for those whose experiences are routinely doubted and dismissed. And this particular turd monkey immediately started scoffing and dismissing.
      You don’t understand the concept of social justice at all, do you?

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      I have never been personally threatened online, but my friends have and hell yes that makes me angry.

      I read through the thread before I commented and saw exactly where wingnut wicknight was coming from. He started with false equivalency and victim blaming and when that was shot down quickly switched to “evidence” where he could play semantic gymnastics to “prove” that we weren’t real skeptics.

      So I called him a troll and told him to fuck off. Was I nice? No, no I was not because he had proved himself to be resistant to subtlety. So I went blunt and hard but, and I can not stress this enough, the only insult I threw was troll (and echoed someone else’s turd) and I never threatened him. GOT IT?

      Telling someone to fuck off, while rude, is not a threat but trollboy insisted that he was abused. Verbal abuse, SERIOUSLY, that is what he said. I apparently hurt his feelings which was not entirely unintended but I didn’t hurt them enough that he actually left, instead he stayed to make more ridiculous claims and try to score points, despite the fact that I repeatedly told him I wasn’t going to argue.

      He showed that he had no intention of arguing in good faith and part of the reason I seemed so mean was because I wasn’t playing that game, no way to win when your opponent won’t play.

      If I was engaged with him I would have torn his ridiculously wrong interpretation of Occam’s Razor to teeny tiny shreds. He is obviously new to skepticism and believes that he has it all figured out.

      He can go elsewhere and feel superior, we have work to do here and we don’t need deadbeats like him standing in the fucking way.

    • Avatar of marilove

      Yes you did compare it and yes it is stupid. You do realize that I didn’t call YOU stupid, but rather your comparison, right? There is a fucking difference.

  66. Avatar of

    @amy, it doesn’t matter about other blogs. Surely you should lead by example and show that hate is not acceptable. For instance I was called stupid by marilove because he/she misread my post. Seems a bit over the top to allow such a personal attack (and that’s just one example on this thread). What type of message do you think it sends out when people see hateful attacks on your site with it being defended by owners/moderators? What affect do you think that has on young teens etc reading this site? From what I can see it tells them hate/personal abuse is acceptable in the skeptics community – including directed towards women. That to me seems counter productive to the issue.

    • Avatar of Amy

      This site is not geared towards teenagers. We have a site that is. It’s called TeenSkepchick. It is moderated with that audience in mind.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      If you don’t like the atmosphere here, go elsewhere. The World Wide Web is a wide place, IT’S RIGHT IN THE TITLE!

      I’m sure you can find a blog where no one ever says those nasty words to each other. I would recommend the Bronie community, they seem nice.

  67. Avatar of

    @amy that’s good to know but it would be naive to think they don’t come to this website to read what is going on too. My point is also not just about teens.

    • Avatar of Amy

      Thank you for your input about tone and for calling me naive. Your ‘concern’ has been addressed multiple times. Please refrain from posting about it anymore and you won’t have to worry about anyone calling you a tone troll or concern troll or annoying or any other name that may bother you or anyone else who may stumble across this already too long comment thread.

      Have a nice day. :)

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      Did you really just go to “what about the children?”

      Seriously?

    • Avatar of marilove

      Oh for Fuck’s sake.

  68. Avatar of punchdrunk

    Can I say, I have two young teens, and I wouldn’t be worried about them reading this site, or these comments. And if they were to say the kind of idiotic dismissive things we’ve seen here, I would hope they would get the same reception. Maybe they’d learn that systems of oppression do real harm to real people, and that those people have a right to be heard without their experiences being dismissed and their anger being muzzled. Maybe they’d learn that oppression isn’t an abstract logic puzzle, but a real, visceral harm done to real people.

  69. Avatar of

    Yeah, see there is a BIG difference between cyber stalking, rape threats, blatant lies and then people using bad words in comment threads. This blog is actually much more heavily moderated than most but we do not ban people for calling people stupid when they are indeed acting stupid. Anger alone is not the problem. I am angry at injustice and bigotry, not at being told to fuck off by a commenter on a blog post. The hate we are dealing with is a much bigger problem than blog moderation.

    @Amy

    Well that is really the last straw. So much for polite trolling …

    So far on this thread I have been informed by multiple posters (who have no idea who I am and have nothing to back any of this up with other than their own prejudice) that I am a misogynistic liar and troll who not only wishes to deny sexual harassment takes place but who actively works to cover it up when it does.

    But it is ok, this apparently is just harmless “bad words” right?

    No need to do anything, I just need to toughen up, take my medicine and get over it. Its the Internet after all. Grow a pair Wicknight.

    In fact people apparently have every right to be angry at me, after all they are just venting at all the bigotry I’m supposed to support. I’m acting stupidly and they are calling me on it, while also at the same time, you know, repeatably stating I hate women and deny sexual harassment takes place. They are just putting me back to my place. After all we want the world free of hate right. What better way to do that than to shout abuse at people we hate. Seems perfectly logical.

    I’m still waiting for someone, anyone, to provide a single quote from me any where where I called on or even suggested harassment claims are to be ignored or suppressed. I asked that I think two days ago. Oddly those making the charge disappear after such a request. But don’t worry they pop up again a little later ignoring my request and continue on as if nothing has changed.

    After all this is data and we don’t need no damn stinking data! I’m a misogynistic MRA supporting troll (there is a university you can go to apparently), so everyone already knows what I believe, I don’t actually have to say anything in support of such a position. I mean I was being awfully polite at the start of the thread, saying “Hi” and other such suspicious behaviour. If that is not proof I’m a misogynist frankly I don’t know what else is.

    Members of my family and close friends have suffered sexual harassment and abuse. I have suffered sexual abuse.

    Oddly I find the repeatedly stated idea that I not only don’t care about this when it happens but actively attempt to surpress it when it does far more offensive and distressing than any faux threat of violence I might (and have BTW) received from an internet troll I’m never going to meet. I guess that is my fault, I’m being overly sensitive to the use of bad words. It is probably my male privilege sneaking through.

    After all how do I know what it is like to be a woman who has had to face some idiot saying on Twitter they want to rape you. My privileged male brain won’t, nah can’t imagine what that is like. I’m just a man who was, you know, actually sexually assaulted. Who am I to get offended at the repeated assertion I support the surpression and denial of sexual harassment claims! Who am I to say that that is hateful and not becoming of a rational discussion.

    Aside from the fact that I clearly am misogynist who deserves everything he gets on this thread, these things are just bad words. I’m not a Twitter rape victim, I’m just you know a plain old real world sexual assault victim. WTF do I know about truly feeling abused!

    That you dismiss and even support this sort of hate filled bile as harmless and justified is frankly very very disappointing. It is also ridiculous, mind blowingly, stunningly, hypocritical.

    You and the other posters on this hate filled website can go fuck yourselves.

    • Avatar of spokesgay

      You’re not a victim. You’re a self-absorbed, egotistical insensitive prick who thinks he’s a Nice Guy. You’re not.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk

      This is the most honest you’ve been. Finally.

      Stop fixating on having things proven to your satisfaction, and listen. When you scoff and doubt – which you did, repeatedly, along with refusing to listen to what people were saying to you – you provide cover to the people who are doing the harm. You’re using every derail tactic in the book. As was pointed out to you. You used obfuscating tactics. That’s why you were ‘mistaken’ for a garden variety trolling bigot.

      And I can’t agree that it’s a mistake, or implement a remedy to the mistake, until I you provide me some numbers pertinent to your particular moral fiber.

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson

      This guy’s been banned now, finally. Obviously.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception

      Jesus, the butthurt is palpable.

    • Avatar of TonyInBatavia

      Wholly, shit! As in, that’s a whole lot of horseshit after his faux apology to Ophelia. If he had just left it right there, at the apology, I *might* have thought the dude was redeemable, that he was inching his way up the learning curve, maybe just a little. And even after reading marilove’s (and others’) post-”apology” thoughts, I found myself thinking “well, he *did* talk to Nugent … maybe he’s not truly hopeless.” But after this whiny, horseshit post, it’s safe to say this guy is utterly hopeless. Crimany, what an asshatted snot. (BTW, asshat: That was an insult; please don’t confuse it with abuse.)

  70. Avatar of rebeccasdystopia

    “Michael also mentioned to me that Atheist Ireland is organising an international Women in Secularism Conference in Dublin next year”

    Wow. I know it’s early stages but I’m excited for more details on this! I might actually be able to attend something! Huzzah!

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