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Hot Gossip: We’re All Burqa-wearing Nazis

The jig is up, you guys! Skepchick has been exposed for what it is: a totalitarian Nazi clique who created an anti-harassment policy specifically so that men could harass women in bars and Muslim men could force us to wear burqas. I know it’s true because noted atheist intellectuals Paula Kirby and Thunderf00t said so!

I debated whether or not to write about this because the recent insults about Skepchick have been so self-evidently ignorant and wrong that I felt it would look like we were picking on tiny, angry babies. And no one likes to see that. I’m relenting only because the sheer amount and absurdity of the insults have reached a level that cannot be ignored, like a large mob of angry babies brandishing pacifiers and blankies as weapons.

First up, did anyone happen to find Paula Kirby’s shit anywhere? Because she appears to have completely lost it on Twitter, writing that Skepchick adheres to – I kid you not – “Feminazi doctrine”:

But of course. Those who disagree are by definition strawmanning. That’s part of the Feminazi doctrine, isn’t it?

It’s still part of Feminazi doctrine! Pharyngula, Skepchick and B&W, by contrast, have of course been bastions of calm reason!

On a side note, this comes mere days after a guy threatened to sue me because I told PZ Myers that he called me a “cunt,” when in fact the guy actually called me a “feminazi:”

This guy: “Your honor, I assert that that I never once called that fucking feminazi a “cunt” and to maintain that I did seriously harms my reputation!”

Hon. Judge Blimpishire: “I hereby rule in favor of the shitlord! Ms. Watson, I order you to pay him all the internet points. You also are ordered to keep a diary listing what each shitlord calls you so that you never again make such a grave mistake.”

Me: “Tell my cats I love them!”

Amanda Marcotte has written about the problems that come from pointing out the sexism or racism behind particular words, and I agree with her. But it just continues to amaze me that these clueless misogynists haven’t even figured out how to camouflage their hatred. Like, you assholes do know that Rush Limbaugh came up with the clever epithet “feminazi,” right? Rush Limbaugh, the guy who hates women so much that he spent hours yelling about how Sandra Fluke is literally a filthy whore because she thinks that birth control is medicine that should be covered by health insurance.

And lest you think she just used the term “feminazi” out of pure ignorance about what feminism is or what a Nazi is or what a Rush Limbaugh is, she actually doubled down with even more hilarious slurs, specifically created to express her individuality from Limbaugh:

No, just like me, thanks. I quite like Femistasi too. One form of totalitarian thought is, after all, much like another.

And then she went on to write that Freethought Blogs is le-hitler-ly equivalent to totalitarian East Germany:

I disagree. I see real strains of totalitarian thought over there. And I lived in a totalitarian state for 2 years.

See more over at Butterflies & Wheels.

Speaking of the totalitarian state of Freethought Blogs, did you know that they brought on Thunderf00t, famed host of ABC’s long-running hit America’s Atheist Home Videos? They did! What’s really exciting is how instead of just writing blog posts about things he knows about using sentences that are understandable, Thunderf00t immediately went to work creating a bold mix of visual and performance art. The visual art involves the use of seemingly random punctuation, bolding, italics, capital letters, and double spacing. The performance art involves writing from the perspective and education level of an angry 12-year old.

Thunderf00t’s entire blog is about sexual harassment, and about how people spend too much time talking about it. See? Performance art. It’s like an SUV rally to save the environment.

Today’s post is specifically directed at Skepchick – in particular, the anti-harassment policy we laid out for SkepchickCon, coming up in just a few days. In this bit of performance art, Thunderf00t points out that we ask people to refrain from harassing people, including for their religion. He fantasizes about what would happen if something that would never happen happened:

I would laugh so hard if a series of religious people turn up and every time religion is mentioned they raise their hand and claim this is harassing behavior, and demand that that person be thrown out the conference (ironically this policy doesn’t specify any actionable items, see later), only to have the red faces of the incompetents who wrote this policy.

So at the”requests by other participants” activities they might religiously offensive, such as drinking, dancing (+ maybe women appearing in public without a face covering), this policy requires that people ‘should be respectful of requests by other participants to stop what they’re doing or saying if asked’.

Ha ha ha, that would be so funny you guys! Wouldn’t it? Boy would our faces be red. What a hilarious fantasy that was! I can’t wait to read Thunderf00t’s Skepchick fan fiction, which I’m assuming is going to be his next venture now that Freethought Blogs is going to fire him out of embarrassment:

Rebecca stared as a magic sky fairy believer raised his hand and said “WHAT YOU JUST SAID ABOUT MY RELIGION WAS OFFENSIVE MA’AM I AM MAKING A COMPLIANT”.  Before she could respond, some delusional MUSLIM TERRORIST raised HIS hand and said he WAS OFFENDED TOO and that all the women should wear burqas!  One by one a thousand more ***religo-tards*** raised thier hands and then someone handed her the Skepchicks’ anti-harassment POLICY and as a tear rolled down her cheek she tore it into tiny tiny bits and then ate them and she felt SO STUPID!!!!!!

I would subscribe to that blog and I would love it.

Anyway the rest of Thunderf00t’s performance art is exactly as intellectually rigorous as the above quote – for instance, he is confused that we posted our policy several weeks before he started blogging and yet he is sure that his post from the other day influenced our policy somehow. Which he hates. Anyway, if FtB removes the post before you get a chance to read it, just read the above quote over and over again and then smack your forehead on the table as hard as you can and you’ll get the same basic experience.

Feel free to hop on the bandwagon here and write your own Thunderf00t-SkepchickCon fan fiction. Remember, HTML tags like <em>italics</em> and <strong>bold<strong> will work!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. like a large mob of angry babies brandishing pacifiers and blankies as weapons.

    It is the dirty diapers you’ve got to look out for.

    DUCK! Here comes another one!!!!

  2. Sometimes I think that the world is just a terrible place full of terrible people and then I read one of Rebecca’s posts and suddenly it doesn’t look so bad any more. No one else quite does it like you do.

  3. I would say ditto to what Tortorific said, but I think we all know where that would lead. Instead, I’ll say thank you for all you do, Rebecca.

  4. Although I totally agree, and in particular I was shockingly disappointed in Thunderf00t’s blogging debut (I really like his videos), I don’t think i quite understand the first part of this article.

    “It’s still part of Feminazi doctrine! Pharyngula, Skepchick and B&W, by contrast, have of course been bastions of calm reason!”

    I know I’m seeing this out of context, and that appears to be quite sarcastic in nature, but if I’m reading the punctuation correctly, rather than stating that Skeptchick adheres to feminazi doctrine, it seems to be sarcasticly comparing Skepchick to something else that adhere’s to feminazi doctrine.

    If it’s not being sarcastic, then it’s actually saying the opposite, that Skepchick does not adhere to feminazi doctrine.

    What preceded this tweet from Paula Kirby?

    1. Feel free to follow the links to get more context. Her first sentence is not ironic, as demonstrated in her follow-up tweets, one of which I posted. Her second obviously is.

      1. Thanks Rebecca that does help, I was still a little confused, but I looked at her other tweets. I see the pattern of her blowing off the problem, joking about it, and insulting others who disagree with her instead of trying to be constructive about it.

        Crap like wishing more of you would move on or martyr yourselves as she appears to think Kylie Sturgess did, and indirectly comparing you to the devil:

        “… he may have invited Eve to eat an apple but at least he never invited her 4 coffee.”

        It all seems so odd, as if Paula’s house was on fire, with her leaning out the window hurling insults at the firefighters.

        Keep up the good work Skepchicks! (and PZ!)

  5. Hi Rebecca, was the link at the start of the paragraph beginning “Today’s post” meant to go to thunderf00t’s blog or PZ’s? From the context I would have thought it goes to the former, but it links to the latter.

    And if being a feminist means being called a feminazi/femistasi (Kirby) or Talibanesque (Blackford), can I vote against the Taliban? No way am I dressing in a burqa.

  6. Paula has been on a tear lately with some new-found friends from ERV. She was not being sarcastic at all — she’s quite convinced that FtB & Skepchick are the lairs of evil super-villains.

    And we’ve tried so hard to keep that secret.

    1. So when can we expect the island lair? What will the volcano be shaped like?

      I’m just assuming upfront that there will be on open bar.

  7. At first I was surprised that Thunderf00t would put his foot so far down his own throat, but then I remembered why he’s famous in the first place. It’s not for being a level-headed voice of reason, that’s for sure. He got famous by exciting people against undisputed “bad guys.”
    Creationists, Scientologists, Conservative Muslims, YouTube Libertarians… Now he’s taking on those awful feminists and he’s got so many devoted fans egging him on that he either can’t hear or refuses to listen to the ones trying to point out that the issue isn’t as simple as he wants it to be.

  8. You gals get so much crap from people. I am amazed that you put up with it all with such a sense of humor. Please just consider the source and continue on with all the great stuff you do. You have been a great source of information and fresh insights to me for quite a while.

  9. I’ve been annoyed by Paula for 1 or 2 weeks now as she changed her facebook image with some doodle saying something like ‘skepchick free zone’. These tweets made me unfriend her.

    1. Wow! It does say that on her Facebook image. I seriously do not understand why people are acting so immature. I guess if your arguments aren’t solid you have to resort to name calling and childish antics. Pathetic.

      1. Yeah, she unfriended me on Facebook after my Heresy Club article, then blocked me when I called her condescending and patronising for saying it’s OK to be wrong because of my age.

        1. How could anyone unfriend you Rhys? That’s like unfriending the Skeptic movements Harry Potter.

      2. Yup she mad! She defriended a lot of people, too – I know this because they told me so. Sensible people, not ones with like pitchforks through their heads.

  10. it would look like we were picking on tiny, angry babies. And no one likes to see that.

    Speak for yourself! =P

  11. Ow, I think my brain hurts following the ongoing saga that is people declaring you a nazi/communist/pink donut eater… It’s kind of sad that it seems acceptable in parts to abandon the same sort of ration discussion we demand of Theists/believers when we deal with our own community.
    Now if we could harness the energy of everyone on the intertubes declaring each other Nazis…

    1. If one could extract energy from Nazi accusations, comparisons or analogies, especially on the interwebs, getting off fossil fuels and nuclear energy would be a no-brainer.

  12. I think Thunderf00t has slightly underestimated the problem of harassment and sexism, and slightly overrated the bureaucracy of the policies, but he hasn’t really earned being kicked from FtB. I may not agree with him, but he does have some points that are worth taking seriously.

    1. Keep in mind that this isn’t about kicking him off for being offensive. He used his platform for highpoint but baiting the other bloggers, straw-manning their arguments and general trolling. There are also quality standards to think about.

    2. I don’t know if he should have been kicked off…I’m not sure how that even works on FtB. Regardless, I think it’s tough for me to take his comments seriously when he made some pretty big leaps based on assumptions and anecdotes. Plus, using a YouTube poll to exercise an argument from popularity kinda made me wince. Not only that, but his critique of the SkepchickCON harassment policy made it pretty clear that he was looking to cherry pick things that reinforced his point…especially because the language he pointed to wasn’t even remotely saying what he was accusing it of saying.

      I get it…everyone is quite angry, but his arguments were so egregiously terrible ESPECIALLY because he tried to make it look like a dispassionate, reasoned critique when it was clear he was just as emotionally invested as anyone. Saying that blogs were spending too much time on the topic…and then writing every single one of your blog posts about the topic…was also pretty ridiculous.

    3. Well, he’s also a terrible, terrible writer. LOTS OF CAPS! SO MANY FUCKING CAPS.

      PZ admits that he didn’t get a writing sample before inviting him. That was a mistake.

      1. Exactly… I’d say he’s been booted from FtB for his egregious crimes against the English language, if nothing else. His sheer incoherence makes me cringe, and wonder what he must sound like in everyday conversation.

    4. It is my understanding, via comments by Ed Brayton on his blog blog that there were behind the scenes reasons for TF’s departure.

      Here’s the comment (I hope that’s ok to share Ed)
      Ed Brayton says:
      “I’m sure that lots of people will claim that TFoot was booted solely for disagreeing with others. I’m sure he will claim that himself. Everyone who already thought that will continue to think it. But of course, none of those people is privy to the in-group dynamic of the community or anything that was said in private, nor should they be. The only thing I really care about is keeping the FTB community a healthy one and that’s why I did what I did. Whatever other conclusions people might draw is up to them and not terribly relevant to me.”

  13. I’d honestly never heard of Paula Kirby before this, someone had to tell me who she was. But anyone who uses “feminazi” and “famistasi” in this manner has lost all credibility with me forever. She should be shunned by the atheist community for it.

      1. You just know it all, don’t you? How it should be done. Look-these are longstanding arguments with WAY more backstory than you’ve taken the time to learn about. The people you’re talking to—Ophelia, Ed, Rebecca—have *reasons* for saying what they do. They’re just not just making snap judgments after no provocation.

        If you don’t want people to think of you as a condescending lecturer then extend a little charity and stop making bossy pronouncements on things you know little about (yes, they do read as bossy even if they’re not phrased as direct commands, so just don’t, OK?).

  14. As for Paula, she just seems ignorant about feminism. Her behaviour is frankly banal, and shouldn’t be given more attention than dismissal. It’s the kind of situation where character assassination would be impossible, because the character has already committed suicide.

      1. Is there a difference between shunning and ignoring someone?

        Are we back to “Don’t Feed the Trolls” debate again?

        When a troll makes a factually incorrect statement or makes a fallacious argument in a place where other people might not know that is incorrect, it is worth responding, but when all they are saying or writing is meaningless word drivel, I think ignoring/kill-filing/blocking/banning them is the most efficient strategy.

        I’m saying this as someone who has been assigned the job of fixing the Internet by my local skeptics group, and at this point the task looks pretty daunting. And I’ve completely ignored Twitter and most of YouTube to this point. Help me, Obiwan!

  15. Rebecca Watson,

    I actually used to admire Thunderf00t, now he just ticks me off most of the time. Coughlan 666 (now Coughlan 616 and Coughlan 000) does an excellent job making fun of that guy and pointing out the instances when he’s wrong.

  16. Meanwhile Russell Blackford is shouting – yet again – that ALL DECENT PEOPLE MUST LEAVE FREETHOUGHT BLOGS IMMEDIATELY. #bullies

    They just never get tired of it.

    1. As a DECENT PERSON, I refuse leave Freethought Blogs. But instead suggest decent people should stay away from the likes of Russell Blackford and Paula Kirby, since they’re proving themselves to be as loopy as Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. This is not good the skeptic’s movement.

      1. Edit: Maybe I was hyperbole’ing too much. Then again I was hyperbole’ing noted atheists’ hyperbole. But now I am probably tu quoque’ing by saying that now. Or did I tu quoque myself for just stating that?

        …I suspect some ERV troll out there would set me straight on that.

  17. Thunderf00t’s SkepchickCon fantasy reads like a Chick Tract. In doing so he “miscontrues” the meaning of harassment.

  18. That was the best description I’ve seen of Thunderf00t’s blogging. I lolled so hard that I scared my cat.

  19. Rebecca-is there a way to subscribe to the comments in a thread here? It’s *super* hard to follow a conversation if you go away. There’s no way to make it obvious which comments are new and the nesting gets dizzying.

  20. Personally I’m a femilassi. A radical sister punisher who likes Indian beverages.

    1. I must be a FemiLassie then!

      Seriously, I thought we were all godawful lefty pinko Commies.

      Now I have to go get fitted for my hakenkreuz- emblazoned burqa!

  21. Though I like Thunderf00t’s “Why do people laugh at Creationists” video series, and his various entries on science, in this instance he fails.

    He made a video on this issue as well, in addition to an entry on his blog.
    In both, he does miss the point, and over reacts to the anti-harassment policy.
    Such things would only be a “killjoy” (as he puts it) to those that intend to engage in harassment. Otherwise, I fail to see why any rational minded person would view the rules in such a matter.

    He mentions the threats you recieved in his video, Rebecca, citing this as the work of trolls.
    That seems to be the only reasonable thing I’ve see him say on the issue; that those that make threats to you are just cowardly trolls.

    Anyway, the list of reasonable Youtubers continue to diminish, it seems.
    Least we still have the blogs….

  22. I see real strains of totalitarian thought over there. And I lived in a totalitarian state for 2 years.

    Ooh, ooh, can I play too? I lived in Alabama for fifteen years. And I’m seeing real strains of socially regressive, tribalistic refusal to question one’s own prejudices, coupled with pseudo-skeptically jacking up one’s standard of evidence beyond all reason to avoid having to contemplate uncomfortable ideas. If Freethoughtblogs won’t have Thunderf00t, I’m sure he could find a spot on the Heart of Dixie’s state board of education.

  23. When Thunderf00t posted his first “Rebecca and Elyse are being hysterical women” video, I commented on YouTube about how it was factually incorrect. Of course he didn’t answer, or correct anything.

    He’s a respected (and good) scientist and has great video-making skills, but he’s gone off the rails here. I’ll be unsubscribing from his YouTube channel to avoid giving him ad revenue for what amounts to abuse.

    1. I noticed that about Thunderf00t and comments on his videos; he doesn’t bother to respond to them, even when the response is positive. I wonder why.

      I’ve gotten responses from AronRa (I really hope he doesn’t go off the rails either!), and I imagine he’s a rather busy fellow.

      From his other video, I take it he’s providing his views from the position of white male privalege, which would explain why he claimed to have seen little of harassment.

      Either he’ll learn a valuable lesson, or he will continue on his current path.

      1. My suspicion is that he believes he’s always right and therefore nothing anyone else says will add or subtract to what he’s just written. So why bother replying when his ‘rightness’ is there for us all to receive.

        I appreciate what he’s done. I do. But excelling in one corner does not mean one automatically excels in all others. He’s out of his depth and unable to face up to that possibility.

        1. I first thought this was an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect (is it ironic that both Dunning and Kruger were at Cornell? Or am I misusing ironic?), but a little Googling convinced me it is something else. I think it is an example of Illusory Superiority, of which Dunning-Kruger is also an example, though I’m not sure what type.

          I think it is the same effect where an engineer thinks he knows more about global warming than a climatologist, or a dentist thinks he knows more about evolution than every biologist on the planet. Someone has competence, even high competence, in some field, sometimes a lot of competence, and thinks this means they are competent in any scientific field. Often times, they either are in fields that don’t require great critical thinking skills (the field involves a lot of application of existing rules, like engineering and dentistry, rather than discovery of new rules), or they don’t apply critical thinking to domains outside their field of expertise. Does this effect have a name? I’m sure I’ve read about it somewhere.

          Thunderf00t’s failure to respond to or accept correction fits with this model.

          1. Preview, please! Forgot to close the tag after ironic. Isn’t that ironic?

  24. I was thisclose to actually coming to Convergence in an hajib/abaya combo, because I wanted to cosplay as Dust from X-Men.

    Now I kinda wish I had the time to put it together since I’m sure idiots like him couldn’t tell the difference between that costume and a burqa.

  25. My fan fiction: “I entered the bar, bib tied tight, prepared for FUN. I surveyed my domain, pleased at what I saw. Dozens of juicy drumsticks littered the bar, well-marinated with draft beers and well shots. Drumsticks of all shapes and sizes, all colors light to dark. A veritable feast, and I am the king, entitled to my pick of the tastiest. I approach a promising drumstick, meaty and plump. I lift it to my mouth, only drooling the tiniest bit in anticipation, when a slender hand arrests my movement. The drumstick speaks.

    “Alas, my dear. No one wishes to sate your hunger more than I, but I am afraid that your action has violated the sexual harassment policy. I do not WANT to report this, but I am afraid I must, for once the action is taken it is out of our hands. I am merely a drumstick, with no free will of my own and no choice but to do as the policy dictates. I am sorry, my darling.”

    The drumstick reaches down and pushes a large red button on the table marked “Harassment Alarm.” A loud siren goes off and feminazi officers in burkas armed with AK-47s stream in. As they drag me away to be castrated, I blow one last kiss to my drumstick, who watches, forlorn, tears streaming down her cheeks.”

    The End.

    1. No whole sentences in caps? No bolding? No poor use of internet acronyms? No chunks of text in random colors?

      Sorry, way too well-written to be Thunderf00t.

  26. Geez, the pro-harrassment crowd are a big bunch o’ whiners, aren’t they?

    I am also greatly amused by the phrase ‘feminazi doctrine’. I gotta say, I got left out of the memo on that one. Never saw a copy of the supah scawy feminazi doctrine. Does it involve invading Poland and annexing the Sudatenland? If so, count me out. Personally, I have zero interest in trying to adminitrate Poland and the Sudatenland (no offense to citizens of these areas).

    And I’ve never heard of this Paula Kirby either. Not a fuckin’ clue. And considering Teh Stoopid that drips from her tweets, I think I shall keep that way.

  27. Don’t you people realize that Paula Kirby is a real journalist, she writes for a newspaper that gets printed and everything. All of you “bloggers” just have to realize that her opinion is far more impressive than yours because, well just cuz.

    When iz u whining wimenz gonna git It thru Yur silly little haeds that if some1 can Rite a guud artical ’bout whatever stuff they writes about (like the Kirby and da Thunderf00t) that evrythin that comez from dem is troof?

    If dey says yu is intolernt den youz intolrent. KBYE /sarcasm /lolcatspeak

  28. I call dibs on the biggest burqa.

    Hey, should I actually bring an abaya and shela with me to CONvergence? That might confuse them all.

  29. Up until now I’ve been only reading here and on FTB, but I have to agree with Paula Kirby, it’s so much like the GDR here – you’re not allowed to leave, you’re afraid to talk freely even to close friends because you don’t know if they’re secretly spying on you and if you somehow manage to get out you have to fear that you’ll never be allowed to see or even contact your family again (or you just don’t because you know that might get them into trouble). Seriously, you can even get thrown into jail for watching “the enemy’s” youtube channel…

    Okay, maybe I’m a little unfair, after all Paula Kirby lived there and I only have childhood memories of relatives living there who had to petition for years to visit us (they weren’t allowed to do so until they were pensioners). I also remember a friend of my father who fled from the GDR (he had a visa and didn’t go back so it wasn’t a dramatic flight, but he didn’t know if he would ever see his parents again and they got in trouble with Stasi when he didn’t come back).
    The people with first hand experience of Nazi Germany are dying out so maybe it’s more acceptable to call anyone you don’t agree with “Nazi” now than it was years ago (is it?), but there are still many victims of Stasi and to compare yourself with them in that way is really rude.

    1. I totally agree. I find the insult to the victims of totalitarianism that is contained in this expression much worse than the insult to feminists. Feminists mainly criticise people and institutions for their language and policies. So the victims of the Nazi regime were *criticised*, were they?
      As a feminist, I might simply laugh at the unsoundness of that comparison, but as a person who cares about the victims of dictatorships everywhere I cannot.

  30. Paula Kilby has posted an open letter on this issue, and I am done, life is too short and the internet is too awesome. I only realised last week there is a superman that is set as if the Russians won, seriously: . So here is my open response: tldr, don’t care anymore.

    1. Wow, I saw her open letter. I didn’t read the whole thing (11 pages? really?), but the parts I did read were full of straw arguments and a bunch of hypocritical rambling. She has the nerve to write “as a general rule, I oppose any kind of name-calling” in a document titled “The Sisterhood of the Oppressed”?

      What an absolutely vile person.

      1. She opposes name-calling except when it’s people she really dislikes. Ohhhhhhhh, that’s different! Totally new and ok way to use name-calling.

  31. Truly insidious and genius. If you are all wearing burqas, how can I know that you are wearing a nazi uniform? I can’t. Under every burqa could be a nazi waiting to spring into action…..

  32. i don’t know, i’ve talked to Thunderf00t at the European Atheist convention, he seemed like a decent guy. Also, he’s a scientist…which should imply that he should be smart. Dammit brain!

    1. Just like there are some good actors who should never sing, Thunderf00t is a good scientist who shouldn’t do feminism.

      He just doesn’t have the chops.

    2. Well. He could just be incredibly stubborn and had a lot of people who helped him through grad school. I’m not saying that he did or had but getting a PhD isn’t quite as much of a bar as people think it is.

          1. Then Thunderf00l and The Joker have something in common…depending on which Batman cannon one accepts. Either way though, it is evident to me now that Tf is now a joke. As in, Ph.D in chemistry + social moron.

    3. A quote that I have tried to keep in mind as I wandered the world is “Intelligence does not prevent one from doing stupid things”. Another one that I use as a corollary comes from Benjamin Franklin (paraphrase) “A rational mind is a wonderful thing. It allows one to rationalize what one wanted to believe in the first place.”

      It may seem obvious and trite, but it has kept me from putting my foot in my mouth more than once. I just stop and think, am I just trying to rationalize a position or just being stupid?

  33. Also, in what totalitarian regime did Paula live for 2 years? I’ve lived in one for 5. Just wanted to compare some notes to see what she means by that word.

  34. Ha, SEE! I TOLD you Rebecca was moving towards starting a gossip column.

    But boy, who knew the first scandal she’d blow open was at her very own Skepchick. Self-immolation for stardom, wow!

  35. Just one comment so far … haven’t had a chance to read the other comments yet – I could barely finish the article. Look, it is simple – you shouldn’t put stuff like “It’s like an SUV rally to save the environment.” in the middle. When I am snorting, ROTFLing and LMFAO … it is _really_ hard to get back to reading.

    Thank you.

  36. One quick fact correction:

    Tony Ryan never threatened to sue Rebecca. What actually happened was that other folks suggested that he should, and he noted that he might have a case, but he didn’t actually threaten it.

    He clarifies his statement here:,42324.msg9244651.html#msg9244651
    “Basically, no I did not raise the issue of libel. Lots (LOTS!) of others pointed it out that it was (under UK law) but I am not, and would not, ever use that law. I do not agree with UK libel law, have campaigned against it, and as a result would never use it for my own advantage because of that.”

  37. It seems to me that if you’re using the rhetoric of Limbaugh, you’ve not only lost the debate, you’ve failed as a human being. How can Paula not understand that?

  38. Also everyone knows that all of the Skepchicks bowled 300 the first time they bowled, hit 5 hole-in-ones for a 38-under-par the first time they golfed, and a double-rainbow and a new star accompanied the birth of this website.

  39. I thought Paula Kirby’s point was quite clear and that the letter contained more than a little truth. Skepchick doesn’t allow much dissent (the ban hammer looms for anyone who disagrees here), there’s a general and popular antipathy towards people questioning claims about feminism (despite skepticism supposedly featuring here), and there’s a widespread use of terms like “privilege” to poison the well.

    It’s not something I enjoy saying about a blog I read quite alot, but her claims are borne out by what I read here. It’s been enough of a wake-up for me to actually comment on it.

      1. “Side” in what sense? I said that I agreed with her on some points and then stated what I think the relevant ones are. That doesn’t mean I’m on her side from here on out. It’s precisely this “siding with” feature of these sorts of discussions that I find disturbing. It’s not a case of being either with you or against you.

        I’m trying to be frank here with people I’ve respected for quite some time, so I may not always get my point across in the tone I intend. That doesn’t mean I’m siding with others against people here.

    1. People are banned here for being ignorant and refusing to acknowledge points or being unduly rude. People disagree here every day without being banned but maybe they just disagree in the wrong way for you.

      If Kirby is right why has she not been disappeared yet?

      Rebecca, you run a really sloppy evil organization I must say.

      1. But look at what you’re saying here. People are banned for “being ignorant and refusing to acknowledge points”. If they refuse to acknowledge your points, then it’s possible they simply disagree with your points. The same goes for charges of ignorance. Are people banned because they might be wrong?

        1. No, if someone says I disagree with what you are saying they acknowledge what was said, if however they keep repeating the same things over and over without even disagreeing they are indeed being ignorant.

          We do not have an issue with people who argue with us in good faith, stating something as fact a refusing to refute anyone who debates them is not arguing in good faith.

          As for the with us or against us attitude, it comes from people who have, for the last year and a half, had it out for Rebecca because she said “guys don’t do that”. People like Ms. Kirby who for whatever reason have decided that demanding a place where you can expect to be unmolested is above the pale and decide to do more than simply disagree but to throw around insults, treats, and libelous statements about anyone who would dare defend any Skepchick.

          With us or against us is a false dichotomy set up by those who have attacked first, not those who are defending.

          1. And what’s in an acknowledgment? Does it mean conceding the point? Or does it mean continuing to reply that you disagree, but not repeating your claims? Or something else? If the same courtesy is not extended to the opponent, then there’s still an issue here. Are people who mostly agree with the bloggers here allowed to repeat their points in such a way? If so, then a person who goes looking for examples of this can expect that members committing these infractions will be treated in just this same way, correct?

            What am I to make of the “with us or against us” comment? It seems that Rebecca has used this to imply that I think she’s a nazi, when I do not.

            Now you attempt to answer my worry about this divisiveness by pointing out that it was them who started it (people who criticise skepchicks) and it is us who are defending against it (skepchick defenders). Can you see how that fails to answer my concern about the divisiveness I’m seeing?

    2. and there’s a widespread use of terms like “privilege” to poison the well.

      Just because you don’t understand or don’t like or disagree with the concept of privilege doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or is poisoning the well.

      I have yet to see an instance of someone here pointing out someone else’s privilege when it that person wasn’t displaying their ignorance of it. It doesn’t silence someone or poison the well to point it out. It should be a wake up call to the person to examine their thought process more carefully. It’s a courtesy really, like pointing out your zipper is down. XYZ everyone!!

      1. I never said that I don’t think privilege exists. It clearly does. But what I object to is how it’s used as a way of poisoning the well. Consider a case where someone is accused of speaking from a position of privilege, despite not really doing so: how do they refute it? how do they answer the charge?

        Is there a way to answer such a charge?

        1. Citation needed. Show me a case of this happening here on Skepchick. Every time I’ve seen someone have privilege called on them, they were displaying it. Some of them stepped back and examined their thought process and came to understand a little more about their privilege. And some of them got mad and stomped around because how dare we ask them to get up to speed to participate in this conversation. You think it is used as a tactic to poison the well (and your concern about poisoned wells cracks me up, what did Paula Kirby say when you told her she was poisoning the well by calling us feminazi, btw?) and I’m saying I haven’t seen it used that way. I’d love to see your examples.

          1. I would love to give you a citation, but doing so and having a conversation about a particular case wouldn’t remedy the problem I have with it as a tactic. As I reflected on in the comment you replied to, the worry is not over individual cases but the trouble that accusations of privilege have in being answered. If you have the accusation leveled at you unjustly, how do you deflect or refute it?

          2. To Titania, cite or it never happened.

            You say you don’t want to get into specific cases, but to stick to the general case. However, if there are no specific cases, there is no general case, and this is pure derailing. If you want to claim it is a general issue, then you need to provide at least one uncontestable instance of it actually happening.

    3. I think Jon Stewart had the proper response to this variation of Godwin’s Law.

      “The Fox commentators DO use Nazi analogies, and your point seems to be ‘yeah, but I had a good reason’.”

      Even IF the charges of banning dissenting opinions, etc. were true, comparisons to the perpetrators of some of the worst acts of violence and abuse against human beings is off base. And that goes for the Stasi too. Comparing an organization to fascist murderers because you disagree with their standards for blog comment administration is ACTUALLY poisoning the well. It’s ridiculous AND it insultingly diminishes the impact of the real horrors inflicted by the Nazis and the East German secret police.

      Paula Kirby’s clarity in the matter is as unimportant to me as Bill O’Reilly’s or Rush Limbaugh’s.

      1. I understand the refusal to engage with Kirby directly due to this sort of comment, but it doesn’t excuse a refusal to engage with yourself and others here and in the movement. We’re adults here and we’ve all experienced, I wager, our fair share of internet rudeness, so the outrage about the comparison needs to be kept in proportion.

        Kirby specified in what ways the comparison was meant to work. If you ignore or refuse to acknowledge any nuance underlying it because of the overwhelming disgust at the choice of comparison, you miss putting your own methods and behaviour under examination. Kirby’s choice of comparison could be completely unfair, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t hit on something worth examining.

        I’ve been the victim of such comparisons before and had a similar reaction, but there are ways to use this sort of criticism. Sure, you can say she’s poisoned the well and she probably has, but you can also examine whether she has a point that we’re guilty of doing the same thing.

        1. I’ve been the victim of such comparisons before and had a similar reaction, but there are ways to use this sort of criticism. Sure, you can say she’s poisoned the well and she probably has, but you can also examine whether she has a point that we’re guilty of doing the same thing.

          mmm-kay. If your argument is that we poison the well when we tell someone to examine their privilege, can’t they examine whether or not we have a point?

          Also, it’s really disturbing how you’re basically telling us to suck it up when we’re compared to mass murderers.

          1. Let’s be straight here, I never told anyone here to “suck it up”. My point is instead that taking offense at a tactic used against you should not stop you from examining your own tactics critically in light of any substantive points available from their criticism.

            Of course someone can examine whether or not you have a point about their privilege. But if someone is offended by the “privilege” claim being lobbed their way, should they “suck it up” and just examine their own tactics? You seem to think so in that case, but it’s not clear that you think so in this case with Kirby. Do you?

        2. “Kirby specified in what ways the comparison was meant to work. If you ignore or refuse to acknowledge any nuance underlying it because of the overwhelming disgust at the choice of comparison, you miss putting your own methods and behaviour under examination.”

          Look, people can explain all the nuance in the world about their choice of words, but the fact is Kirby decided arbitrarily to set her own definitions around a word that actually has a documented origin (Rush Limbaugh) and harsh connotations that do not fall into her made up box. The way she hand-waves away that existing content in order to make the words say what she wants them to say now is, frankly, unrealistic.

          “Kirby’s choice of comparison could be completely unfair, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t hit on something worth examining.”

          Now your arguing a separate point. Your initial post stated:

          “I thought Paula Kirby’s point was quite clear and that the letter contained more than a little truth.”

          I disagreed as explained above. Her “clarification” still does not equal a justification. It also comes as less impressive since it is an ex post facto rationalization.

          From her letter:
          “But sometimes an apparently rude term is doing more than being rude: it is conveying a meaningful point in shorthand form.”

          That’s a pretty broad assertion without anything specific to justify such a charge. Furthermore, the attempts at re-defining the “nazi” and “stasi” (which wasn’t even a THING before) suffixes are ridiculous on their face. Grammar-Nazi is a term i personally dislike, but unlike “FEMINAZI”, it doesn’t have actual provenance…being coined by an individual who pretty much derides ALL progressive women’s politics in its use.

          “We’re adults here and we’ve all experienced, I wager, our fair share of internet rudeness, so the outrage about the comparison needs to be kept in proportion.”

          I find it ironic that you are telling people to keep the ‘outrage’ in ‘proportion’ after Kirby decided to go “Godwin” at the drop of the hat. Funny how she “seethed” and considered such a term “grotesquely obscene” when the Pope blamed the rise of the Nazis on secularism. And yes, she asked people to side-step the “slur” to take on the original point of him covering up child rape…but it didn’t change the fact that it was a slur. It’s wrong to call your opponents misogynists for disagreeing! Sure, it’s also wrong to call them, snarkily, Oppressed Sisters and their Approved Male Chorus. How about “hysterical”, “self-pitying”, “whinging”? Y’know, that’s a LOT of name-calling I’ll have to wade through to get to her “nuance” truth to tell.

          Regardless, I read the letter, I really did. And mostly, I found strawmen (characterizations of “prudishness” at conferences), no true scotsman (“real feminists”), arguments from personal experience (her time in business and all those women she talked to to become speakers!) and an ironic moment of a church-like call for ideological purity:

          “To tear a movement apart, to provoke massive divisions within it, to malign the people in it, to distract it from the very purposes that brought the movement together in the first place, over something that is just a feature of life in general and not specific to the movement itself, is a tragic waste.”

          Hey, I know some Catholics who really, really hate what the Church does about all sorts of things…but it’s more important to keep the mission of Catholicism going than to debate what one deems to be important issues, I guess?

          And just to point out something, even if we have heated discussions over this, or any disagreement (and I’ve had a few with other people here myself), it doesn’t mean we’re bullying each other or whatnot. I don’t think you’ll get banned just for talking about this, so if that’s the case, that kinda denies your point right there, because, while this may be anecdotal, the people I’ve actually noticed get banned were abusive in terms of language and the number of posts and the types of responses. Your an adult…don’t spam the threads, and I think you’ll be ok.

          1. Most of your post seems to be railing against Kirby, so I’ll cut most of it short and just say I have no special love for her or her general views. I was interested in a point (or a series of points) she made and that’s the extent to which I’m willing to discuss her.

            Her use of that term communicated to me what she was getting at and quite clearly. My opening post collected a few examples of what her point could be taken to apply to and those are some of my concerns.

            Now let’s finally regard: “I find it ironic that you are telling people to keep the ‘outrage’ in ‘proportion’ after Kirby decided to go “Godwin” at the drop of the hat. Funny how she “seethed” and considered such a term “grotesquely obscene” when the Pope blamed the rise of the Nazis on secularism. And yes, she asked people to side-step the “slur” to take on the original point of him covering up child rape…but it didn’t change the fact that it was a slur. It’s wrong to call your opponents misogynists for disagreeing! Sure, it’s also wrong to call them, snarkily, Oppressed Sisters and their Approved Male Chorus. How about “hysterical”, “self-pitying”, “whinging”? Y’know, that’s a LOT of name-calling I’ll have to wade through to get to her “nuance” truth to tell.”

            If I were more intimately connected with Paula Kirby, I would spend time criticising her where I think criticism is due. As it is, I read skepchick; I do not read Paula Kirby’s comments on Twitter or elsewhere.

            A small point to object to: there is a difference between saying secularism is responsible for the rise of mass-murderers and comparing a blogger’s views on disagreement or criticism to those of totalitarian regimes. The second is something like hyperbole, whereas the second is something else. I’m not familiar with Kirby’s views, but there doesn’t seem to be an underlying contradiction if I grant that how you phrase things is how they are.

            I’d also be careful dismissing Kirby on the basis that some of her evidence is “personal experience”. I very much doubt that people here would appreciate being dismissed on those same grounds.

          2. “Look, people can explain all the nuance in the world about their choice of words, but the fact is Kirby decided arbitrarily to set her own definitions around a word that actually has a documented origin (Rush Limbaugh) and harsh connotations that do not fall into her made up box. The way she hand-waves away that existing content in order to make the words say what she wants them to say now is, frankly, unrealistic.”


    4. Considering how many people comment here, there are very few bans, but you know, nice try.

      Also, “and there’s a widespread use of terms like “privilege” to poison the well.”

      You’re joking, right? This is bullshit.

  40. I don’t even know how exactly to respond to this, because it’s just so mind-boggling. Seriously, what the hell are these folks smoking? And where can I get some, because clearly it’s some pretty potent stuff…

    1. This is a good example of what I have in mind. You’ve dismissed me and charged me with being on drugs, which I admit is a pretty common type of reply to find on the internet so let me be clear that I don’t find your reply offensive. But how would you treat someone who was prone to disagreeing with the movement were they to come here and comment in this way? If someone who disagreed with feminism came here and dismissed the regulars with charges of smoking weed, would they be allowed to remain here?

      The charge for banning such a person could be something like rudeness, but it’s a charge that can be leveled against many here to a greater or lesser degree.

      Hopefully this isn’t considered off topic here, as I am trying to relate it to Kirby’s claims.

      1. Actually, this is an example of how someone who feels attacked can see attacks from everywhere.

        @oniongirl was responding to the OP not to you. The threading system can be confusing here so I’ll give you the benifit of the doubt that you didn’t understand, but the tone-trolling is not helpful. Really not.

        You must not dismiss people, you must not use sarcasm, you must not respond with anger when being compared to fascists. Actually, it’s Rebecca’s blog she can do all those things if she wishs, but your discomfort with that is duly noted.

        1. I don’t feel attacked, but this could be a good example of how someone who dismisses people as those who “see attacks everywhere” and therefore sees such people everywhere. Does this strike you as a fair criticism of your remarks or does it read as condescension? Because this is how you’re responding to me.

          If oniongirl was genuinely responding to the OP and not to my comment, then I apologise for the mistake: however, you have subsequently provided me with a further example anyway.

          I am trying to raise a concern here and it’s one I genuinely care about. But how am I to do this if the tone or concern trolling charge gets laid out on me for doing so and then colours your view, and the general one, of what I say? It’s not much different to my worry over the “privilege” tactic. If I cannot refute it, then it apparently sticks. Tell me how I’m supposed to refute a charge of “tone-trolling”.

          Let me state this clearly, so that people know precisely what my concern is. If they disagree, fine, but at least they’ll have it in mind:

          The culture growing on this blog and elsewhere of dismissing criticism through offense, and of planting your feet more deeply in the soil with every instance of it encountered, is giving me reason to think that an uncritical culture of deflective strategies is supplanting skepticism in the skeptical-feminist movement.

          Now that’s wordy, but it’s my main fear laid out.

          1. I take your points as given and thank you for pointing out how we are doing skepticism wrong. That may come across as condecending and dismissive because it is; I’m not in the mood to be told how to feel and what is good for the movement.

            Kirby and the ERVites and such have decided, for mostly petty reasons, to dismiss and condecend to us so I have every right to do so back.

            I really do understand your points but I have heard them, repeatedly and I’m am full up. So what do we do? Do we try to listen to Kirby’s arguments by wading through the ridiculous amounts of fallicious arguments to get to some kind of point she might have? Do you do that, because I don’t have time for that. If she wants to make a point she should make it, an editor could have cut the 11 pages of her diatribe down to a half a page and it would have been summed up with; “I don’t see a problem therefor there isn’t one and anyone saying there is one is just whining.”

            Consice and to the point, and completely wrong, but at least not swimming in slime. Maybe I would listen to that. But you know what, I wouldn’t have to, just because.

  41. Over at the Intelligent Design website Uncommon Descent, they are “reporting” on the SkepChick’s nude [?] calendar and the Elevator Incident.

    As they tell the story, hundreds of atheists threatened to rape Rebecca, which, for creationists, of course proves that atheists are more sexually predatory than, say, priests, imams, etc.

    I am hoping that Rebecca will read the Uncommon Descent post and report if it is inaccurate. As that is a creationist website, it likely is.

  42. Paula Kirby seems to be just a troll. Is she really so hard to ignore? It’s when they are ignored that they are defeated, not when they are refuted. Trolls cannot be refuted if they choose not to acknowledge having been refuted. Which is what they always choose. Which is why they’re “trolls”.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but Paula Kirby seems to be a VERY successful troll!

  43. I am very late to this party. I have sort of followed Thunderf00t-in-mouth and the controversy he generated in his brief stint at FtB, and the whole flame war over sexual harassment policies. Today was the first time I had a chance to look at the actual policy statement to which he applied his rapier wit.

    FWIW I have worked as a manager for over 10 years in a workplace with a sexual harassment policy which requires me to complete a tutorial followed by re-freshers every two years and pass a test every two years. The implementation and application of of a sexual harassment policy is a subject in which I have bona fide expertise and (sadly) some experience.

    Having read the policy in question my first reaction to TF is

    What the #$#@! are you talking about?

    The policy looks much like model policies I have studied. The best guess I can make is the phrase “We do not tolerate harassment of anyone, in any form, by anyone,” may prove a bit confusing if you do not understand that the definition of harassment that follows clarifies the fact that the policy does not prevent criticism of religion. His performance art clearly shows he does not understand how policies work.

  44. Thank you RW for such a good hearty laugh. I just heard about the latest TF00t drama a day ago and catching up to speed. I’m glad I put down my glass of milk or it would have come out my nose reading the fan fiction. Had tears streaming down my face.

  45. I read Kirby’s essay: The Sisterhood Of The Oppressed.

    It is demonstrably false in it’s “facts” and in it’s interpretations of said “facts”. How a person who claims to be rational can believe these things makes me wonder by what measure she gauges rationality.

    In relation to her comments on the atheist movement and sexism however, I am most saddened. When she says that sexism is not a central issue to the atheism movement, she is saying in no uncertain terms that women and all that it is to be a woman does not matter. If it were racist or homophobic behaviour, would that not matter?

    I am an atheist and have always been wary of atheist organisations, due to their similarities to religious ones. That wariness was waning, that was until I realised that the similarities run deeper than I thought. If Kirby’s, and her ilk’s idea of an atheist movement or organisation is one that cares only about the core idea of atheism and disregards all else, then that is a movement I am not interested in. Is there no room for all the ideas of rationalism and equality? Surely these ideas are inextricably linked with the idea of atheism?

    I would also say that her comments smack of politicism. She says she is dismayed at these issues “tearing the movement apart”. It is plain to see that she is both seeing headlines showing the atheist movement to be a fracturous one, and ceding fuel to anti-atheist fires.

    I cannot believe she compares feminism to a totalitarian ideology. What is more totalitarian than her own ideology. She says that there should be no dissent in her organisation and that it should not appear to be seen as weak and fractured. She says that women should not seek to change a system and ideology of oppression and bias. She says that if a woman fails it is her own fault for not trying hard enough, as if all it takes is willpower in order to succeed. Ultimately she puts forward the idea that we should not seek change in our society, community or our organisations, and that if we all stay silent, work hard for a corrupt system, and smile, smile, smile through our disaffectation and dissatisfaction then it’ll all be fine, fine, fine.

    To quote Ms. Kirby:
    “They(successful women) certainly haven’t diverted their focus from their goals to worrying about how men are treatin them…”

    Yes, Paula, because as we all know it is work that will set you free.

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