Hey, remember last year when Ben Radford tried to use legal threats to bury a woman’s accusations about his behavior, and how that didn’t work very well? Apparently, Richard Carrier saw that and thought it looked like a great idea, because he has had a lawyer send a threatening letter to Amy Frank, a woman who posted a Facebook message last month warning other people that Carrier was creepy to her at a post-lecture party last year.
And yes, I’m not understating her accusations, here. She didn’t accuse him of raping her, or hurting her in any way. She merely pointed out that he was way too sexually forward with her and it made her uncomfortable enough that she immediately made a complaint to the Secular Student Alliance’s speaker’s bureau, and she doesn’t want to attend his talks or be near him again.
Carrier responded by saying that he had been sexually aggressive with a student around that time but it wasn’t Frank, and that his conversation with her was much more benign. He then hired a lawyer to send threats of a defamation lawsuit to Frank as well as to Skepticon, who banned him from speaking at their conference due to allegations of his creepy behavior, and PZ Myers and Stephanie Zvan, who reported on these allegations.
While reading up on all of this, I noticed a trend of people stepping up to support Carrier by reporting that he was never creepy toward them. With that in mind, I’ll add my voice to the choir: I’ve hung out with Carrier at many events and never felt uncomfortable or pressured in any way by him at all. I’ll also point out that that’s a completely ridiculous response to these accusations. “Well John Wilkes Booth never assassinated me so I’m not sure where this is coming from.” It’s normal to want to support your friends but seriously: think before you speak.
It’s also fair to point out that we don’t know what the actual conversation was like between Frank and Carrier that night. Maybe Carrier was a perfect gentleman! Maybe Frank was overly sensitive. But it doesn’t matter: Frank is allowed to feel like Carrier was a creep, and she’s also allowed to say as much on her Facebook page. Carrier is allowed to feel like not-a-creep, and he’s allowed to say as much on his blog.
But dear lord is it disgusting and ridiculous (in my opinion — call off your legal dogs, Carrier!) that the skeptical community has yet another prominent man who resorts to legal threats to silence a woman from voicing her concerns.
I know firsthand how expensive it can be to retain legal counsel just to respond to a letter from a lawyer, and that’s why I’m going to donate some money to Frank’s legal fund and I hope you can, too, if you have some cash to spare. Here’s hoping Carrier reads up on the Streisand effect and drops this nonsense before it goes any further.