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Posted by on Dec 26, 2012 in Drama, Feminism, Freethought Blogs | 80 comments

Why I Feed The “Trolls.”

First, let’s get something out of the way. “In internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. — Wikipedia. That’s how the word has commonly been used on the internet, and a small atheist blogging group that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the real world can’t single-handedly change that definition. A troll isn’t someone who criticizes you or disagrees with you. A troll isn’t someone who gets angry with you because of your harassment.  An internet “troll” is a word with a specific meaning, and until that meaning changes or expands substantially, that is how I plan on using it.

So I’m not feeding trolls. The people I’m criticizing are real human beings with views and opinions that have repercussions in the real world for many others. They are in no way just trolls (although they do act like trolls at times). Yet people frequently tell me to leave these issues alone, and to just move on. In this post, I’ll going to tell you why I don’t want to, at least not at this point.

1. At the meta level, this isn’t about feminism, Rebecca Watson, or silly coffee invites. It’s about ideology interfering with science. This is an issue that I care about deeply, and it doesn’t matter whether the interference comes from gender-feminist atheists or from Creationists. Besides, they’re using the same tactics and behaving the same way. While I don’t want to see anyone hurt, I strongly oppose the dissemination of misinformation and dogma in the name of science. What’s going on is wrong. I believe this with my whole heart, and I stand by those words. I hope that I would do the same even if I believed every shred of feminist dogma myself (but alas, I don’t).

2. Gender feminism and sociology, at least in the way they’re being presented on the internet, are illogical and not supported by the evidence. This runs counter to everything that a pro-science movement is supposed to be about. If you’re not familiar with the issues, read this article to get up to speed. While I may not agree with every word — I rarely do — it clearly outlines just a few of the problems that we’re facing (aside from ridiculous requests and general histrionics). One of those problems, as stated above, is science denialism.

3. I’ve been lied about and targeted, but the atheist-gender feminists chose the wrong person to attack. I’m stronger than they think, and I’m ready to stand up to the injustice that’s been done to me and to others. Besides, I don’t have much left to lose.

4. I value logic, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and free inquiry. To see these things perverted to accomplish political ends makes me angry, and I want to do what I can to make it right.

5. I value opinions that are different from my own. It is only by considering such opinions that I can make personal progress and learn. And I’m tired of seeing valid opinions dismissed due to stereotyping and reverse discrimination.

6. I can’t tolerate the infantilizing treatment that some of the male feminists in the community show toward women (nor can I tolerate their anti-gay and anti-trans leanings).  You’re not a feminist just because you say you are. You’re a feminist because you respect women as a group, not just the ones who agree with your particular version of feminist theory, which isn’t even a real “theory” in the first place. When you say, “Listen to the women!” that must mean all women, not just the tiny percentage that identifies with your particular political agenda.

7. I can’t tolerate the constant bashing of female scientists who do important work, while praise is heaped on public figures who fill seats at conventions (and often behave abominably). Such figures may be compelling, funny, and entertaining; but they’re also feeding dogma and misinformation to young people. And they’re denying young people the right to question the world around them. These speakers belong at feminist conventions, not scientific or skeptical ones.

8. I’m most certainly not “manufacturing drama,” but I am collecting blog hits from the irrational behavior and manufactured drama of other internet netizens. Note: I don’t keep a penny of what I earn. Everything either goes back into our network, or will eventually be donated. Blogging and online research are an amusing pastime, and I hope that some find what I write either entertaining or informative. I also hope that I learn something in the process. But it’s not my “job.”

 

  • http://twitter.com/Stefanelli Al Stefanelli

    Well stated, Maria. You’ve many friends who share your point of view.

    • bluharmony

      Thanks, Al. I’m honored to have you as a friend.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Phil-Giordana-Fcd/685136164 Phil Giordana Fcd

        Count me in…

        • http://twitter.com/SteveW68 Steve Williamson

          What Phil and Al said!

      • Chill Chick

        And I’m honored to support you, Maria.

  • http://twitter.com/Eshto Ryan Grant Long

    For my part, having a strong interest in sociology especially gender and sexuality issues, as well as being gay and desiring equality, I see them creating a hostile environment where you are not allowed to question and explore social science issues freely and honestly. You are only supposed to say the right things, agree with the right people, and play their little game, otherwise they attack you. This is not the way to treat people who are interested in social science, and it’s not the way to treat would-be allies who care about real social justice issues. While these goofballs are punishing people over trivial semantics and burning bridges, the religious right is organized and working to change laws so that they disenfranchise women, LGBT people, and other minorities.

    • bluharmony

      Yes, and I don’t think that this is a problem that can simply be ignored.

    • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

      “While these goofballs are punishing people over trivial semantics and
      burning bridges, the religious right is organized and working to change
      laws so that they disenfranchise women, LGBT people, and other
      minorities.”

      So true. While I wouldn’t join atheism at the hip to a specific political position, I think that you could get quite a bit of support from atheists for these kind of broad social justice issues. Instead, these idiots have to give “social justice” a really bad name by making it synonymous with a dogmatic ideology and narrow, tendentious, and sometimes extremist political positions. Burning bridges rather than building them. I have to wonder what they hope to accomplish.

    • http://twitter.com/thetimchannel Tim Fuller

      I return hostility when hostility is directed my way. I refuse to be the caricature of a weak willed liberal accommodationalist. Enjoy.

      • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

        We should all feel free to criticize bad behavior, but I think it is important that we try to do so without resorting to the very tactics we find objectionable when used by the FtB crowd.

        • bluharmony

          Agreed.

  • http://twitter.com/thetimchannel Tim Fuller

    Sad to have watched PZ Myers, a guy I used to have a lot of respect for, go off the deep end with the crazygirlz. A thin intellect like Watson is understandable, as are those of her Girlyban faction (dogma over science), but I thought better of PZ. Hell, I even got banned by Matt Dillahunty right before they banned him, another badge of pride I wear. proudly on my atheist dress uniform. On a completely different plane, I noticed Ophelia Benson started following me on Twitter yesterday (aka stalking in Girlyban lingo). Maybe they are ready to start taking notes/hints/directions to planet Earth from somebody other than the shrieking harpies that are leading them around by the snout?

    As a matter of fact, I even butted heads with Big Al Stefani back in the day, but he, like Dillahunty, got a wake up call from reality that he couldn’t overlook.

    I have never threatened anyone. I have never emailed any of these girls threats, love notes or the time of day. I have no beef with women. I have no beef with the women (or men) forming support groups. I encourage them to make whatever EMOTION BASED appeals they want, just NOT inside the easy existing cover of the rationalist umbrella.

    I, like you, will not stand quietly to the side while agent provocateurs leech the lifeblood out of the rationalist community.

    • http://twitter.com/GerhardPrinslo1 Gerhard Prinsloo

      “A thin intellect like Watson is understandable”.

      I would speculate that there is nothing wrong with her intellect. Her character and depth of knowledge are another issue. Her 1st response to critics is often snark and egregious twisting of meaning and I don’t think she’s so stupid that she’s unaware of what she is doing. I am becoming more convinced than ever that she is doing this deliberately to inflame and keep herself and her ‘victimhood’ topical. I strongly suspect that she would go far to avoid reconciliation and it’s effect on the gravy train.

      • bluharmony

        I think Watson is extremely intelligent, perhaps even more so than PZ. But when it comes to knowledge, that takes time and effort, and she doesn’t appear interested. As for character, well…

        • An Ardent Skeptic

          I think it is important not to mistake excellent manipulative abilities for intelligence. Extreme intelligence, to me, means the ability to thoroughly understand and apply abstract thinking. Being excellent at manipulation is something even a dog can master.

          • bluharmony

            You might be right about that. I do think she’s smarter than she appears, though. She strikes me as someone who couldn’t care less about any sort of intellectual pursuit. And it does take an innate curiosity and love of learning to appear intelligent. She doesn’t have that, but I think it’s more of a “won’t” than “can’t.”

    • http://twitter.com/OpheliaBenson Ophelia Benson

      I did not start following you on Twitter yesterday. That must be the “parody” account that uses my real name as its handle, which makes it indistinguishable from mine. This is why I object to that “parody” account, but the wits and critics and brave heroes say I’m just whining and should “grow a pair and move the fuck on.”

      • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

        Old tactic. Somebody who was mad at me on YouTube (a radfem, BTW) created an “Iamcuriousbiue” (with capital “I”) account once. I contacted YouTube about it and it was dropped pretty quickly.

        I distinguish between spoof accounts that are meant to fool people into thinking the false account is the person in question, and often trolling others under that name to stir things up versus a parody account, which is in fact parody. It looks like your parody account has moved from the former to the latter:

        https://twitter.com/OpheiiaBenson

        You should take it as a wake up call when your impersonator, rather than trolling, is actually being more polite than you often are.

        • bluharmony

          Valid points.

      • bluharmony

        I hope you don’t think I’m saying that, and I hope you realize that most people here are saying exactly the opposite. FWIW, I can empathize with your situation; I would be extremely upset if that happened to me.

      • http://www.www.skepticink.com/incredulous Edward Clint

        You should know that conflating an impersonator and parody accounts gives you the appearance of disingenuity. It could be seen as an attempt to paint every satirist as unsavory as those who wish to impersonate. I’m sure this is not your intention, as satire has a place in every healthy community, just as surely as people who merely pretend to be you do not.

        In fact, known meme satirist Y U NO skeptic is seen here calling out the impersonator: https://twitter.com/Y_U_NO_SKEPTIC/status/284752020517314561

        • bluharmony

          Thanks for making the distinction clear.

  • http://twitter.com/thetimchannel Tim Fuller

    One other small observation. Before the girls came to the party, which guy was responsible for the atheist/freethinker jewelry (ala Painted Rock Girl) market? There must have been one since girls and guys are like, so totally the same. LOL. I would love to stay and chat, but there is probably some girl I ought to be talking out of a math and science education right now. /s Enjoy.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    Thanks for writing this. You can count me among those who feels this way too.

    I used to be somewhat conflicted over whether to respond to the bad behavior of the few FtB/Skepchick bloggers we’re talking about or to ignore it and hope that it would deprive them of attention. I’m now leaning toward a third option that involves calm, rational criticism of bad behavior and avoids personal insults. After all, I do not want to engage in the same behaviors I am criticizing them for doing.

    I think that those who express their opposition to FtB/Skepchick exclusively through juvenile name-calling, parody, and attempts to harm their livelihoods are merely lending credibility to their claims of persecution. We cannot act like cretins while claiming any sort of moral high ground without being guilty of hypocrisy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=787488765 Sid Plait

      vjack, the only way to maintain integrity is to speak truth to lies and not get emotional about it. Emotion in me incites emotion in others, and the clear truth becomes obscured, concensus denied. You are on the right track.

    • Karmakin

      I agree entirely. I think a thoughtful, well-thought out message being sent that emphasizes that our criticism comes not from a place of anti-equality, but that we think that gender feminism/neofeminism itself is a poor model not only in convincing people that equality is something that we should fight for, but in achieving said equality as well.

      That’s what’s needed, to slowly convince people that their antics are in the end, counter-producutive.

    • bluharmony

      Exactly. But at the same time, the problem is pervasive enough and serious enough that it can’t just be swept under the table. They won’t just vanish, and they know how to hurt people really bad. Even the “big names” are extremely cautious when they speak out, and that’s because when you do, you’re instantly portrayed as an anti-woman rape apologist. It’s much easier for a female “nobody” like me.

  • jose

    “You’re not a feminist just because you say you are. You’re a feminist because you respect women as a group, not just the ones who agree with your particular version of feminist theory”

    You mean women like that cunt rebeccunt twatson, or like the “crazy cunt lady” benson, or that “numb, dumb cunt” marcotte, or that leech who was just “leeching off scientists to make it big in hollywood” jennifer ouellette, or like that “media whore” rebecca skloot. All that’s respect.

    And respect means shitting on rebeccunt twatson for money, because shitting on twatson gets people a lot more money from blog hits than just criticizing her (who was leeching off others again?), even when simply mentioning her gets you a big boost in traffic, as this network well knows. In fact respect means shitting on rebeccunt twatson so much your sponsor forces you to clean it all up and take all the slime elsewhere because it looks bad on them.

    Impersonating people on social networks to mock them is respect. “Not hating you, just laughing at you” is a respectful motto.

    • bluharmony

      This sort of language is not appropriate on my forum. Please see the comment policy — it applies equally to everyone. Thank you.

      • jose

        Good to know you are against that sort of language. I am too and I wish more people were. Doesn’t make for constructive discourse, wouldn’t you say?

        • bluharmony

          No, it doesn’t. It obfuscates the real issues and gives people legitimate reasons to complain. That goes for both sexist language and name-calling in general. Also, it’s a matter of time, place, and company.

          • tim hem

            I think this character fits nicely into the traditional deffintion of a troll .. because people have all but stopped feeding oolon, now he seeks attention under another guise

      • Clare45

        It seems the “C” and “t” words are not to be used but it is OK to talk about “Don’t be a dick” or prick. Talk about sexism!

        • http://www.facebook.com/kieran.madden2 Kieran Madden

          A fair point perhaps but it’s also the way such expletives are used; repeatedly putting either expletive into people’s names is just childish and abusive, and not the same as saying “don’t be a dick”, surely?

          • bluharmony

            But why is that needed at all? I can’t imagine going to a legal seminar for a lecture called “Don’t Be a Dick.” Why not something like: “How To Persuade Without Offending.” I’m sure there are ways to make that sound more catchy, too. Of course, this brings us back to the realization that atheist/skeptic conventions are basically social events, where non-formal and mildly offensive language is the norm (including gendered insults, so I really don’t see the tremendous problem w/the word “c*nt,” especially considering how it’s used outside of the U.S.)

          • Clare45

            It may be a somewhat childish humorous play on words, but I don’t find it particularly abusive. However, I agree, mostly because it gives them ammunition, that these words should not be thrown around by us, as the people involved don’t seem to appreciate the humour or irony of their double standards. There are also apparently cultural differences at play as these words have quite a different implication in the UK and I believe also in Australia.

          • Erik Johansson

            “repeatedly putting either expletive into people’s names”

            You mean kinda like how they wrote to Dawkins, starting the letters with “Dear Dick”?
            I think you’re slightly missing the point, it’s not that these people are also sexists, it’s that these people are hypocrites.

            There is a consistent double-standard going on, it’s wrong when others do it, but right when we do it:
            When someone calls them “twat”, it’s misogyny and sexism. Then they (Rebecca Watson) call others twats or dicks, it’s not.
            When someone calls them “cunts”, it’s misogyny and sexism, when their friends (Rhys Morgan) use the word, it’s completely fine.
            Same thing with “bitch”, other use it as a slur against a female, that’s sexism, if they (Greg Laden) use it as a slur against a female, it’s not.

            The pitters’ use rude language and “forbidden words” is not solely childish name-calling. By making Myers, Ophelia, Watson, etc cry rivers over how extremely sexist and misogynistic the ‘pit is for using this language, it effectively highlight their own hypocrisy when they themselves use the same language without batting an eyelid.

            I mean really, we’re talking about a gang of people who made it into a meme to tell people to shove rotten porcupines up their asses, but which turned into poor victims of violent threats the moment someone said “If I was a girl, I’d kick her in the cunt”.

          • bluharmony

            While I hear what you’re saying and largely agree, just because they do it doesn’t make it right. I’ve said my piece on gendered slurs in a different post (to sum up, I don’t use them, but I don’t really care about them, either); but at this point it’s about putting our best foot forward and being reasonable and proactive. Their double standards have already been sufficiently exposed and well-documented.

        • bluharmony

          I agree that that’s the case on FTB/Skepchick, but for this forum, I prefer no gendered insults period. I don’t think they add anything useful to the conversation. In fact, I prefer no insults at all. To the extent possible (and I have a hard time with this myself at times), it’s always best to attack the argument, not the arguer.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kieran.madden2 Kieran Madden

      This post is so full of expletives it no longer makes much sense. I personally don’t have a problem with swearing per se but this sort of vitriol is exactly what I’m referring to in my post above – ridiculous, unhelpful and counterproductive.

      • jose

        All those expletives are literal quotes. The sheer amount of vitriol is kind of numbing, isn’t it?

        I also find counterproductive the attitudes I described, such as impersonating people on twitter in order to mock them and mislead bystanders, not only the language. Perhaps it is time for such practices to end, wouldn’t you agree?

        • bluharmony

          I agree. Doubly so when the parodies are intentionally misleading (and use people’s real names). Something that may seem funny and defensive at first, quickly becomes harassing and offensive. The best practice is not to engage in that kind of behavior at all.

        • http://www.facebook.com/kieran.madden2 Kieran Madden

          I see you’ve since added quote marks and a link – without those your post made little sense.

          I fear you were being too subtle and your message got lost. I’m still not entirely sure where you were coming from or what point you were wanting to make about who’s been saying what about whom.

          Regarding your last post, I agree. Some of the parody accounts where funny at the beginning; mockery of silliness can be powerful. But then they went too far and now it’s confusing things IMO.

          • jose

            The quotation marks and the link were there from the beginning. Maybe you read it on a phone or something and it didn’t show properly. Anyway, contact me if you want the source for every expletive and attitude I described above. It’s a bunch of stuff over a couple of years so I understand most readers can’t be familiar with everything I referenced.

        • http://twitter.com/GerhardPrinslo1 Gerhard Prinsloo

          And Ophelia Benson is the one repeating those expletives more than any other (hence the CCL monniker). They were not usually said with vitriol and they were used in specific contexts. Personally, I don’t like it, but I understand the rationale behind using those words. They were used, from the cases I know, as a response to the faux innocent Dear Dick comments to Richard Dawkins and the attempts to proscribe language by people with an “it’s different when we do it” attitude, people quite happy to tell others to die in fires and such like.

          Which would you prefer, to be insulted with ‘bad’ language or be regularly accused of misogyny, rape enabling, racism and making rape and death threats? Those are serious charges, and when it becomes clear that you will not be given an honest hearing, it really is difficult to have any regard for the ones making those charges.

          • bluharmony

            I’ll take bad language any day (though they’ve called me a bitch and an attention “whore” as well). I’ll take it over nasty Google-poisoning tactics, defamation, and piles-ons that try to get you where you’re weakest. They’ve stooped as low as to make fun of me for being raped, disclose my home address in hate threads, and threaten me with more of the same via email.

            So yes, please call me a “cunt” rather than doing all of the above. Doing so reflects on the person doing the name-calling, not on me.

    • http://godlessradio.net/ Reap Paden

      Nothing like a smooth reply to help solidify the points made in the original post huh? Thanks we were well aware of its validity beforehand.

    • http://twitter.com/GerhardPrinslo1 Gerhard Prinsloo

      Jose, what irked many people was being told to ‘listen to the women’ by men like PZ Myers, as long as those women were saying things he approved of. Who is he to decide which point of view a woman should hold with regard to gender issues and interactions with men? How patronising, and it didn’t help convince many women that they needed his brand of ‘protection’ that they were required to be perpetual victims.

      It doesn’t make much sense to respect women as a group. Women, as a group, are just a collection of individuals. They should be respected or disrespected on an individual basis.

      • bluharmony

        When I say “respect women as a group,” I mean view them as competent human beings; equals. This is something that Myers fails to do on a regular basis and, in fact, if a woman disagrees with him in any significant way, then she must be mentally ill. That’s misogyny, methinks.

        But, of course, we should look at each other as individuals first and foremost. That’s the whole problem with the “check your privilege” nonsense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=787488765 Sid Plait

    Count me in. I was for equality for all when it wasn’t very popular. It couldn’t even be discussed.

    I worked for a major (MAJOR) corporation in the late 80s and early 90s and was impressed that gender wasn’t considered part of the management pay structure. I worked hard to make sure each of my employees was paid based on their skill set and contribution. I included women in planning sessions and what were called “green light sessions”, basically brainstorming conclaves where we took a concept or new technology and riffed on how it might impact the corporation and the populace.

    Including women in these meetings was a new concept to the corporation, and we generated some really wiz-bang concepts that blew away my superiors and fellow managers. Women contributed a dimension to these meetings that changed the way we thought, and I welcomed and encouraged it.

    There has never been room in my thinking or my life for segregation of any group from the rest of us, unless that group was hate-based. I just don’t see how alienating a social-based, gender-based, or race-based group of people forwards the human race. We are all human, and we all deserve a chance to make our impact on society.

    Thanks, Maria, for making the issue so much clearer for me. I don’t belong to any groups, online or otherwise, that deal with this issue, so there’s much I don’t know about the ongoing conflict. It’s people like you, who think so clearly and can communicate their thinking that will bring about those societal changes and bring us to a more civil place where we can all respect each other properly, and with grace.

    • bluharmony

      I wish that were true. Thank you for the kind words.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kieran.madden2 Kieran Madden

    A great post, and we need more of this reasonableness. To be honest, I’ve mostly kept away from the Atheism Plus mess since stumbling across it a few months ago both because I don’t have the time or energy to invest in contributing properly, and because part of me thinks that if we let the A+ers play in their sandbox they’ll destroy themselves with their own nuttiness.

    I have, however, sometimes checked the #atheismplus hashtag and what I’ve seen has worried me. The anti-atheism plus comments have sometimes reached such a shrill tone that it makes it look like the anti-A+ group are nuttier than those who support the movement. Anyone who then questions the validity of these comments is then flamed and/or blocked by those making them with language that is to me reminiscant of the worst of partisan US politics.

    For example, I had a conversation with a newcomer to the whole thing who was a centrist feminist and clearly would have gone either way over the whole thing. She was clearly puzzled by the anti-A+ furore so I spent quite a bit of time explaining it to her. She understood what I was saying and understood, but didn’t entirely share, my dislike of the whole Schrödinger’s Rapist thing. The trouble was that she’d been so abused by anti-A+ Twitter users that she no longer had any sympathy for the movement’s critics.

    This is obviously hugely counterproductive – in fact, it’s exactly the behaviour we criticise Atheism+ for. If our criticisms are going to hold any validity we need to keep the moral highground. Picking out threads that are “merely” a bit distasteful and shouting “THIS IS WHY THESE PEOPLE ARE EVIL!!!11!!!” is not helpful; these threads should be criticised but rationally and calmly. And flaming or blocking people who question our criticisms is not only totally counterproductive but it’s deeply hypocritical to boot.

    It would be better, I believe, if those that can’t keep their criticisms reasonable, rational and proportional didn’t say anything at all, as by losing the moral high-ground they are only making Atheism Plus stronger.

    • bluharmony

      I don’t think that Atheism Plus will ever get anywhere, because the in-fighting is already tremendous. But if they want their own “safe space” and their own movement, they can have it; it’s none of my business, and I want nothing to do with it. It’s more the “Skep”chick/FTB alliance and the general shift to feminist “theory” over science that worries me.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kieran.madden2 Kieran Madden

        I agree entirely, and didn’t mean to suggest otherwise – it’s why I’m glad there are still rational, sensible and calm voices such as yourself still willing to invest time and effort into this :).

    • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

      Kieran, you make an excellent point about the impression those who have not been following this drama will understandably form after observing both sides. I periodically check the #ftbullies and #atheismplus hashtags to get a quick sense of what is happening, and you are absolutely right about some of the anti-A+ crowd behaving every bit as badly. Very counterproductive.

    • http://twitter.com/GerhardPrinslo1 Gerhard Prinsloo

      There are 2 main sets of protagonists in the Atheist Wars, one based around the nutty core of FTB and their allied bloggers and the other composed of forums like the Slymepit and various other Atheist bloggers and Twitterers. There are some big names who have been selected for ritual punishment by the FTB faction, but most of them seem to be content to let their records and accomplishments speak for them. There are also a lot of idiots setting up hashtags and doing silly things and it is utterly pointless to worry about them whichever side of the rift you appear to be on. You can’t control them, and it’s a bit presumptuous to try. They aren’t anyone’s responsibility but their own. Leave the false flagging and silencing tactics and guilting by association to the FTB crowd.Cliquiness is a big part of the problem here, so quit worrying about group integrity.

      Many of us know from experience that we are going to be blamed for what someone we’ve never heard of is saying and that there is absolutely no point in trying to defend yourself to the accusers because there is no possibility of a fair hearing on their turf. They will never acknowledge your defence elsewhere without strawmanning it anyway.

      Some, like Mykeru, have decided that the only way forward is mockery on an even playing field away from FTB. It’s quite funny watching him get accused of stalking, rage, intent to shoot Rebecca Watson and so on. PZ Myers and his crew are getting back what they have been dishing out for a long time. It’s a bit rich for them to object now that they have picked targets that know how to hit back.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kieran.madden2 Kieran Madden

        I agree that it’s pointless worrying about group integrity and that cliquiness is much of the problem; I disagree, though, that it’s pointless to worry about the idiots at all.

        To explain, I find it fascinating – from a behavioural science point of view – how this whole thing has become so polarised into two artificial and, in reality, highly disparate groups, both consisting of people who are supposedly rational. People on both sides find themselves “allied” with people who, without this artificial distinction, they would probably find utterly repugnant. Meanwhile they find themselves opposed to those they would otherwise have a lot in common with. I include myself in this behavioural pattern; I find it interesting that I now find myself with an instinctive distaste for anyone who labels themselves as Atheism+ and I have to consciously keep this reaction in check. So yes, in reality, the two groups are rather artificial and highly disparate – and both because of this and because of the nature of the Internet it’s impossible to exercise any degree of control over what individuals do or say and it would be pointless to try.

        We should, however, “worry” about the idiots, particularly on our “side”, for two reasons IMO. Firstly because it is the idiots on the other “side” whom we are often criticising – unless we are going to only criticise the leading lights of A+ and specific individuals. This wouldn’t leave us with a representative view of A+’s battiness, though, and wouldn’t really be practical. Therefore, to expect people – especially newcomers – to ignore the behaviour of the Anti-A+ crazies would be deeply hypocritical.

        Secondly, whether we like it or not, this has descended into an artificially polarised debate. This may be irrational, but it’s reality. We therefore have a responsibility to at least explicitly disassociate ourselves from the crazies with whom we find ourselves accidentally, and unwillingly, “allied”.

        As I said, I agree that trying to stop independent individuals from being idiots is pointless – but that doesn’t stop us from calling out such idiocy, or from ensuring that such idiocy isn’t all people see of the anti-A+ perspective.

        • bluharmony

          This comment would make a good guest post. Want to get it published here?

          • http://www.facebook.com/kieran.madden2 Kieran Madden

            Wow, only just saw this, thanks! By all means :) I guess it’ll need a bit of editing as a separate post for context. Drop me a line on Twitter, @Kieran_Madden if you want to take this offline :)

  • Ingemar Oseth

    Maria, I like your style and grit. It brings to mind something Pres. Truman once said.

    When asked about his “Give ‘Em’ Hell Harry” nickname, Truman responded that he merely tells things as they are, and the people who did not like what he was saying thought it was Hell. Keep Giving ‘Em’ Hell Maria.

    • bluharmony

      Ha! They created the opposition by being unwilling to compromise or listen. Then they tried to paint the opposition as misogynists, sexists, and trolls. But that’s not their *real* opposition at all.

  • http://godlessradio.net/ Reap Paden

    Thank you Maria for this post. It’s good to know there are some people who can see what is happening and understand why it is important to take a stand against it. I know some people see the conflict as “just internet drama” and it does give that impression at times due to the antics of some people who call themselves skeptical when actually they are just judgmental. It’s not about “drama” it is about making sure we don’t fall into another hole as we try to avoid the pit of religion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Russell/1327359416 Mark Russell

    Why four you’se guys be’s sew illiterate? Troll – (Scandanavian folklore) a supernatural creature (either a dwarf or a giant) that is supposed to live in caves or in the mountains.

    • Erik Johansson

      Complaining about others being illiterate while showing that you yourself don’t know that “troll” is from “trolling”, a form of fishing? One would almost think that you where a troll yourself… :o)

      • bluharmony

        To be fair, it can be either. ;-)

        • Socoral

          I have always seen it as both. Without trolling trolls can’t be trolls.

      • Chill Chick

        That would be “trawling”.

        • Ken Phelps

          Sorry, but no. Trawlers use a net, trollers use a lure.

          • Chill Chick

            Ok, I’m obviously no fisherman (fisherperson?) I just assumed “troll” was a mis-spelling of “trawl”. I stand corrected.

    • bluharmony

      Hey, I have one sitting in my backyard.

  • Bea Marot

    Maria Maria . . . lovely post. But remember, women are superior, to men in all ways with the exception of destroying a perfectly good planet in 200 years or less. Explore the ancient matriarchies that existed Globally for thousands of years. These were the good old days, when men were easy come, easy go and if they didn’t come too easy . . . we let ‘em stick around for awhile. When men wanted to establish a Patriarchy where property was handed from father to son . . . that is when the trouble began and according to Leviticusmyass . . . you could murder your wife on your wedding night if she wasn’t a virgin. The rest is HIStory . .

  • Steersman

    Excellent post – covers quite a bit of ground, most of which I agree entirely with. And many fine comments as well, notably the argument that vicious and malicious comments from “our” side are more counterproductive than not which frequently suggests, if not proves, “the paucity of one’s intellectual position”.

    However, one might quibble somewhat with your “you’re a feminist because you respect women as a group …”, although I think it is quite problematic in several areas particularly in the hands or minds of more doctrinaire feminists, notably those who think that “connecting the word ‘feminism’ with the word ‘virulent’ … is misogyny”. For one thing, “women as a group” seems to qualify as the logical fallacy of reification – taking an abstraction – the group – as if it were a concrete entity to which one might tender respect – defer or “bend the knee” to: any number of individual women are entitled to or are deserving of scads of respect, but simply being a member of that group hardly confers much – like other groups such as “men” – and to argue otherwise seems disingenuous at best.

    For instance, I’m reminded of quite a good post by Rebecca Watson which I’m quite sympathetic to, but some of which is more than just a little problematic:

    A few weeks ago, I tweeted a screenshot of this email I received from one “C. C. Velvet” (sure):

    … Similar goes for you. Rebecca, you will go through life thinking that men don’t like you because [you’re] a woman. I want you to know from the bottom of my heart, that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re a cunt.

    The email amused me because of how easily it shows its bias to anyone who isn’t a raging misogynist. Imagine: “You will go through life thinking that white people don’t like you because [you’re] black. I want you to know from the bottom of my heart, that won’t be true. It’ll be because [you’re] a nigger.” Or try Jew/kike, or gay/fag, or any combination of oppressed group and word used to shame, demean, and dehumanize a member of that group.

    But, apart from the highly questionable equating of group and epithet, that “oppressed group” itself really kind of sets my teeth on edge as, echoing Paula Kirby and her Sisterhood of the Oppressed article, it has more than a faint echo of demagoguery; as if to say, “They can’t talk to us like that, Sisters! Onward! To the Bastille!”. Sort of a case of wrapping oneself in the flag, as if to say, for examples, “I’m woman” or “I’m Belgian” [channelling Monty Python] “and they’re criticizing me and you also are [women, Belgians, ….] so you should support me regardless of the reasons for the criticisms”. Some truth to the aphorism that politics is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

    While I’m more than happy to genuflect towards the concept of feminism – it has unquestionably provided a great many benefits to society in general: “no nation rises higher than its women” – its tendency to transmogrify into dogma justifies quite a bit more than just a raised eyebrow. Before I put my name on the line as a feminist, much less my life, I’m going to want to read the fine print – particularly when the section titled “Exceptions apply” happens to be as long as your arm and would be sufficient to drive a Philadelphia lawyer to tears of frustration.

    • bluharmony

      Well, after seeing the “feminism” in this movement, even I won’t identify as a feminist; no more than I’d identify as an MRA (if I ever figure out exactly who they are). As someone else said, human rights are not a zero-sum game.

      Also, I think Kirby’s post was right on the mark. At first I thought that she shouldn’t have used the word “feminazi.” But I was wrong. It wasn’t just name-calling (and who cares if Limbaugh coined it); the word served as a poignant reminder of how dehumanization and real destruction of others begins. And we’ve seen both as this drama has played out. Sure, there have been some nasty words from our side. But that’s all we have as a weapon — words. On the bright side, it appears that we also have intellect, compassion, and independent thinking skills.

      • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

        “no more than I’d identify as an MRA (if I ever figure out exactly who they are).”

        “They” are blogs like A Voice for Men, writers like Warren Farrell, groups like National Coalition for Men, and the like, and their various internet supporters. But who gets labeled an MRA by the “angry feminist brigade” is quite another. Basically, anybody who has criticisms of feminism that isn’t thoroughly based on identifiable women of color or transgender critiques of the cis white feminist movement is treated as an MRA by default, especially if one happens to be male. I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet, but over on Ed Brayton’s blog, Greta Christina has gone so far as to call not being feminist “reprehensible” and equating it that with racism.

        I could agree with 99% of what these people have to say and still see the level of polarization and purity policing coming from this group is cultlike in the extreme, and that alone would make me not want to be any kind of “ally” to these people. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this is more Scientology than any kind of recognizable secularism.

    • Clare45

      I have to say that I don’t quite agree with the black/white analogy. In the quote above about Rebecca, calling her a “C” was not referring to her gender, as it can be used equally well to describe a man. It simply means a person who you hate or dislike.

  • Ronlawhouston

    Have people learned nothing from watching the endless fights with the religious? You may be the most reasonable person in the world, but if you expect the same from a “true believer” then you’re more than a bit mistaken.

    • bluharmony

      It’s not about *winning* the war with this group. It’s about making atheism/humanism welcoming and friendly to newcomers. The feminists can join the feminists, and the rest of us can enjoy diversity.

      The trolling & attacks make all of us look like fools, although I do have to say that the “Angry Skepchick” Twitter account is made of win.

      • Ronlawhouston

        I’m skeptical of any true believer, whether in politics, religion or culture. Then again I take a relativist approach to Relativism.

        • bluharmony

          Well, you’d have to be, wouldn’t you?

  • http://www.hopy.org.in/ hopy

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your article and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your article posts.Any way Ill be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.