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Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 in Secularism, Support | 28 comments

In Support of AmbrosiaX

The fresh face of "harassment" floats ominously in a purple haze

The fresh face of “harassment” floats ominously in a purple haze

Whenever I see someone within the movement being unfairly attacked, from a major platform, my reaction is usually to express my support for that person. Today, that person is AmbrosiaX.

The story so far:

AmbrosiaX is a friend of mine, so I’m not particularly objective about this, but I’ve never seen her harass anyone, anywhere, for any reason. She gets a little snarky on Twitter sometimes, but then who doesn’t? I’d say she is friendlier than nine out of ten people that I encounter on social media, and the tenth person is probably one of my elder relatives.

Harassment is, under certain circumstances, a crime in the State of Florida. It is unclear whether PZ is accusing AmbrosiaX of a criminal offense, or whether he means to insult and demean her in a more general sense. Either way, I feel it is incumbent upon him to provide at least some evidence to show where she has done something wrong. Not merely rude and snarky, not merely guilt by association, but something that she actually did which constitutes harassment. Otherwise, she deserves an apology and retraction.

  • EllenBeth Wachs

    These people have totally demolished the meaning of the word “harassment” Julia Larsen threw it at me for merely retweeting her stating that because she had me blocked ( I didn’t know it) my retweet (actually a MT) constituted harassment. The fact that I could retweet her actually contradicts her assertion that she had me blocked.

    • Eucliwood Hellscythe

      Yeah, she definitely didn’t have you blocked. You cannot retweet people who have you blocked…besides when you RT its to your followers even though they get the mention. Petty as fuck. Id just shrug. Only harassment in their circle.

    • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

      You can manually retweet (cut and paste) anyone who has not protected their twitter account. Of course, that’s generally not considered harassment,

    • bluharmony

      There’s something seriously wrong with these people. But then, what else is new?

  • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ John W. Loftus

    Evidence? Now where has he accused others without it? Hmmm.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/girlwriteswhat/videos Astrokid

      Why do we need to offer evidence when we can convince ourselves via thought experiments, and convince others via assertions?

      A wise preacher once said: “Men just need to ask themselves if they would rather be women”.

    • Eucliwood Hellscythe

      Well, if you’re cis, you’d say No.

    • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

      I’d rather be J.K. Rowling than C.S. Lewis, and I’d much rather be AmbrosiaX than Oolon. Character matters more than gender, from where I’m sitting.

  • LegalFauxPas

    One does wonder if the laws of defamation are quickly becoming ill equipped for the virtual age (privacy law has quickly been eviscerated in the UK). Of course, I’m from the UK where our defamation laws are widely despised for being ridiculously pro-claimant (indeed, the USA refuses to acknowledge UK defamation verdicts) However, from a simple position of UK defamation law, there’s good reason to think that individuals are engaging in defamatory remarks at one another with incredible consistency, if we were to simply examine the question of whether ones reputation was damaged (ignoring defenses other than that of truth.)

    The problem is as soon as one person who has a large following makes a claim, which can be defamatory in nature, it gets retweeted and repeated across not just that network but others (such as Facebook). Now many people assume that the statement is true, having no reason or evidence contradicting the position, and suddenly it becomes “common knowledge” that only someone who doesn’t “keep up” wouldn’t know. Indeed this charge was leveled at me earlier, as well as being called a “wanker… out of his depth”. Considering I actually have a law degree, one wonders if I’m not rather more qualified than the person I was “debating” with. Oh well, block ftw. But the question is, how do you defend yourself against this? Reasoned arguments are impossible since people will simply reassert you are a harasser or “defend” harassment and off to the races we go.

    It’s getting tiring to see the echo chamber game in which stating a conclusion ad infinitum becomes evidence of that conclusion.

    • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

      I believe in the need for legal remedies in extreme cases, but given the barrage of attacks on character that we have seen on the internet, I’d say that the best remedy is simple unvarnished skepticism. When someone casts aspersions, we should forthrightly demand evidence.

    • LegalFauxPas

      I think you’re right. It’s just frustrating when people irresponsibly use their platforms to promote conclusions and their followers naturally assume they are correct. (For example, if Dawkins says something on twitter, I’m generally going to assume it’s correct since I’m not a scientist.) If someone is seen as “active” in fighting harassment then people will generally assume that what they say is right if someone is labeled a “harasser”.

      It behooves people with a platform to take care as to what they say with that platform, since not everyone is necessarily in a position to employ skeptical analysis of their claims. Especially when they attack someone in a weaker power position than them at that time. (it’s what annoys me when people speak about “power” in a society as if it just resides in you by identity, I prefer Foucault’s analysis, power is exerted but never actually held. Therefore, a member of a minority with a highly publicized blog has more power than I do, despite me being in a majority group.)

      I think the demand for evidence is correct, but thus far, despite repeated requests, none has been provided. It’s just very frustrating to see good people (I assume good until I see evidence so using “good” very broadly here) being tarnished with no logical case being presented. It’s in times like these that I wonder if legal remedies would be appropriate. I think it may be hard to justify, but the thought does still linger.

  • Didgya

    Why is it that people accept these ‘victims’ without evidence. Total conjecture here but I believe a lot of the ‘victims’ are seeing REAL (no true scotsman fallacy) victims and crave the attention or is the cognitive dissonance so thick that they cannot penetrate it? This attitude of “They can’t do *blank* but we can do it cause we feel *blank*” is totally ridiculous.

    • LegalFauxPas

      With respect I think there’s a third possibility which is not examined strongly enough: That these victims are completely sincere, but are mistaken.

      I’m wary of showing contempt for alleged victims just because I believe their claims have no merit. If someone is indeed in a position which causes them distress, I believe we should examine the claim of that victim very seriously, no matter how they prima facie appear.

      The real problem is when the so called “white knights” arrive and -demand- that something be done, while not actually providing analysis themselves, and being absolutely unwilling to countenance that the original position is actually without merit. To them person X claimed they are being harmed, therefore it must be true. And this, when the individual has a substantial platform, is very dangerous indeed.

    • Didgya

      I agree (I was having an emotional reaction *irony*) I should have explained the ‘cognitive dissonance* better but you have much better than I could. And yes there could be all kinds of explanation and reasons and we should take those into account. Something many of us/them/everyone is not doing. The Hero seeking behavior is typical tribal behavior that skepticism overcomes. The attitude of “Fuck skepticism” from PZ has been at the root of the problem.

  • Eshto

    Why do people read crap like Zvan’s screen capture-filled posts complaining about people she doesn’t like, anyway? It’s just mean-spirited, gossipy trash, it has absolutely nothing to do with promoting freethought in any way. What are the readers getting out of it?

    • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

      Various magazines filled with mostly mean-spirited gossip fill up the shelves at my local grocer, and there are even a few dedicated to gossiping about fictional daytime drama characters. I’m going to assume there is a strong demand for that sort of thing.

    • Eucliwood Hellscythe

      Yet they complain about storify being harassment..its the same thing. Capturing it to show others. Others could claim that Zvan and anyone else is harassing them by showing other people what they have said in public.

    • Didgya

      I know what you mean, She should use Storify (like I do ’cause I am lazy) but that is the devils’ tool :)

  • bluharmony

    Cruelty to others is Zvan’s entire raison d’etre.

  • http://skepticink.com/notung Notung

    The gratuitous naming of AmbrosiaX was a clear act of intimidation, as if to say “don’t mess with us.”

    Calling her a harasser carries on the unfortunate recent fashion of trivialising harassment.

  • TheDevilsTowelboy

    Shallow message – considering how you have previously empowered these clowns with your apologetics and run your own banhammers on those that point it out.

    • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

      I’ve never banned anyone who isn’t on the list of internet kooks, but if you have a problem with the way I run my own blog, please feel free to fill out a complaint form.

  • I have gelato

    I hereby promote this blog to first rate.

    • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt
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  • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    Frequently? I can only think of two or three.

    • 5ulman

      Hah, how many do you need?

    • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

      Six.