• Women In Secularism 2, An Unsafe Place

    Due to the alleged unsafe spaces and misogyny in the Atheist/Skeptic community (?), the Center of Inquiry created Women in Secularism, a supposedly safe place from harassment.

    Sadly, I’ve come to realize this isn’t true. Women in Secularism is an unsafe space where harassment is quite much tolerated and advocated for.

    How can I say such a thing? Well, taking a look at the WiS2 speakers, you can find names such as Ophelia Benson, Melody Hensley and Stephanie Zvan.

    I find it strikingly odd that these three women -and others- have been very much vocal on their hate of a fellow Humanist, Justin Vacula, just because.

    Benson has been campaigning against Justin for months in a hate-mongering fashion I have only seen in the most fundamentalist Islamists.

    She even threatened Justin to have him kicked out of the conference if he tried to engage in rational dialogue (that’s stretching the “harassment” definition way too far, even by their ever-changing standards)! How is “How, how are you doing?” any sort of harassment, by any standard?

    But that was just the beginning.

    Zvan had yet to come in and play the victim, quoting a convenient part of a letter she sent to CFI’s president Ron Lindsay, where she accused Justin of who-knows what and then went back to her drama queen role:

    On the other hand, if he attends, I will have a much less productive conference. Everything I do or say will be observed and reported on by a hostile party.

    I understand why Zvan is so annoyed with the idea of having Justin at WiS2 – we’ve seen what is it like when an actual skeptic sees bullshit at a skeptic conference! Yes, I guess reality-based criticism is bad for your productiveness… but I digress.

    In that same post, Zvan quoted Hensley as saying this:

    Hi, this is Melody, the organizer of Women in Secularism. I can assure you that Women in Secularism is a safe place for everyone and I promise that every speaker and attendee will be taken care of. Comfort and safety is one of my biggest concerns.

    As some of you might know, I have been the victim of cyberstalking and online harassment and it has affected me greatly so I take this matter very seriously.

    You know what? I don’t believe so. Not for a second. I have a serious concern about Justin’s safety there and I have serious reasons as to why!

    Ignore for a second that three of the WiS2 speakers are creating a threatening and unwelcoming environment for Justin.

    Let’s go to the puppet-master, PZ Myers, who has weighed in and is directing hate specifically towards Justin and “his fellow travelers“.  Let’s take a quick look at the perils of disagreeing with PZ Myers on anything and have him state at his blog (or one of those of his minions).

    You can be harassed, you can loose your job, you can be silenced and you can be bullied, just to name a few. And let’s not forget, Justin has already been a victim of these group of people, when he was forced to resign to the position of co-chair for the SCA, on baseless made-up grounds!

    They hate his guts, and he’s going to the lions’ den, a conference of theirs where speakers are already spitting hate and venom to his presence there, having their fandom ready to attack and be hostile and aggresive, and WiS2 organizers seem to be looking the other way.

    I fear for his safety and that of “his fellow travelers“. This is a poisoned environment and I’m afraid he could be in more danger than just being asked for a cup of coffee (which, oddly enough, some people think is harassment – go figure)!

    Category: Uncategorized


    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker

    4 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

    • This is a politically charged situation, in which Justin is by no means a complete innocent, no matter what side of the fence one lies. Even if you do think that PZ and Ophelia are over-reacting to Justin’s presence, none of that would add up to it being an “unsafe space”, or one that tolerates or encourages “harassment”.

      He’s been asked to stay away from two (or three) people, and warned that they would pursue further action if he didn’t. This problem is easily solved: do the civilised thing and stay out of their faces, and then do the variously civilised/uncivilised thing of furiously blogging about your choices.

      You’ve got concerns about his “safety”? Do you really think PZ and Ophelia are going to kneecap him or somesuch? Come on. This hyperbole becomes a little tiring, even when you think it’s in the service of virtue.

      • ool0n

        They are worse than Islamist fundamentalists so they will do something worse than stone him, behead him or somesuch 🙂 Ignoring really is *that* bad!

        • hyperbole much?

          • You, my friend, are forgetting APlussers and the likes are judged by different standards (actually, by no standards). They’re never guilty of anything they accuse other people of doing.

          • ool0n

            Not mine, the bloggers hyperbole! He has apparently only seen such frothing hatred from the *worst* islamist fundamentalists, poor dear, bring out the fainting couch…. Try reading the post, hard I know, but funny if you can laugh at the ridiculousness of it.

            • maybe we should all be less willing to use Muslim fundamentalist comparisons when it comes to censorship. How about comparing censors to China or North Korea?

            • Fine by me. But let’s remember they cry even with t-shirts and want to ban messages in clothing. I think that wouldn’t be fair to Il-sung’s family.

      • Well, they’re not going to kneecap him themselves. That’s what they got their belivers – to do their dirty work (that’s how religions work, remember?).

        It’s not a hyperbole. Ask Stef McGraw how hyperbole is this, that she stopped writing; she was silenced out of activism. Or EllenBeth Wachs, or Abbie Smith.

        How do you think the Slymepit got it’s name? Because Myers called it like that once, and that’s all you need. One word from the King of Femtheism (pun intended) and you are in danger.

        Or you could loose you job, like Michael Payton came to realize when he tweeted about finding FfTB unreadable. His job at CFI Canada was at jeopardy, because a bunch of know-nothings tweeted angrily asking for his head.

        How is that a hyperbole? These people *are* dangerous and we should let everyone know that. I won’t refrain from saying these and stating what I consider to be a threatening and unwelcoming conference just for the sake of a politically charged situation (which, they charged, to begin with – making a drama out of an invitation for coffee, crying because of a t-shirt? Really?).

        It’s they who started calling out conferences they thought were “unwelcoming” or whatever, in this “politically charged situation”. It sticks! Too bad for them.

        By the way, would you please mind supporting with evidence the claim”Justin is by no means a complete innocent”? This is an honest request – I haven’t seen anything so far he’s done or written as to call him not “a complete innocent”, but since you seem to think otherwise, I’d be more than happy to know what makes you say this.

        • ool0n

          Not a complete innocent, maybe you want to ask him what things he admitted to doing wrong and were the reasons for him stepping down from the SCA position. That could be a start since he even admitted he was wrong.

          Why not ask Stef how awful her treatment was, I understand her and Rebecca Watson are good friends now. Must be Stockholm syndrome eh 😉

          • Your claim, your evidence! It’s not my job to go looking the way to support your claims.

            Well, whatever you understand is your problem. It doesn’t justify the way she was treated.

            • ool0n

              So you feel the need to white knight Stef when she is clearly not of the same opinion as you… I wonder why, probably because Stef McGraws *treatment* is one of the foundational bits of butthurt by proxy that kicked off the Slymepit. You are all so desperate to feel sorry for others supposed bad treatment by the FTBullies that you forget she was not as bothered as the professional-proxy-victims at the pit.

              I’m not looking up Vaculas resignation letter for you, its on your blogging network! If you cannot keep up with major incidents around the Vac maybe you shouldn’t be blogging about him with any authority? A good blogger does his background work, no?

            • 1°) There’s no evidence she’s friends with Watson. There’s no proof she’s “not of the same opinion as” me.

              2°) Even if she were friends with Watson, I’m still entitled to my opinion and that’s still that no self respecting human being would treat any other human being like McGraw was treated. Not because she’s a woman, but because she’s human and she was entitled and rightfully so to express her opinion without being bullied.

              3°) You can’t say anything about Payton, or Smith or Wachs. We all know why – I’m right!

              4°) So you provide no evidence whatsoever of Justin’s allegedly misbehaviour you so desperately claim. Don’t take this the wrong way, but then I can claim you’re lying… which is no surprise.

            • doubtthat

              I enjoyed this phrase: “butthurt by proxy”

        • Katyusha

          If you actually asked Michael Payton, you’d find that he resolved the issue with the FTB people. He doesn’t want to be involved in this online drama. Stop using him as an example.

          • Well, that’s his problem. I’m not dragging him or anything. I’m citing an example which is relevant. He doesn’t have to come in and comment.

            I’m perfectly capable myself of judging such a situation, and I’ll keep on doing it. Don’t like it? Again: your problem.

            • I’m perfectly capable myself of judging such a situation,

              You mean you’re perfectly capable of inventing opinions for other people, which is what you’re doing here…

      • I don’t see the point of JV going, and I agree that he is not completely innocent. But he has supporters and, like it or not, there is nothing in his background, no matter what side of the fence one lies, that should prevent him from going to WiS2 if he wants.
        Unless they can predict the future, they should not assume that he will do something out of the ordinary. This looks like preemptive poisoning the well, to me… I believe this wholeheartedly and I don’t even like Justin Vacula (nothing personal, I honestly don’t know why)

        • Exactly, poisoning the well. And these people are dangerous. They’re unable to be rational.

          • doubtthat

            I love when you goofballs say that. Let’s see an example. What’s the height of their irrationality? I don’t care about these obscure, inscrutable personal grudges, I want to see you display the irrationality on some topic.

            Is it comparing someone asking that another stay away from them with Islamic fundamentalists? I love the idea that “please stay away from me” is now harassment.

            • Copyleft

              Suggesting that anyone who questions or disagrees with radical feminism is automatically a misogynist would be one example of irrationality.

              Insisting that certain tenets of Feminism 101 are automatically true and must not be questioned is an example of dogmatism.

              Declaring that a request for evidence on gender-issue statistical claims is unfair is an example of anti-skepticism.

              All of these are quite common on FTB and the A+ forums.

            • doubtthat

              Find me an example of any of those. This is the typical assortment of complaints you folks manufacture, then when it comes time to provide an example, it generally turns out that the person receiving a charge of misogyny did far more than criticize feminism.

              As for the feminism 101, my guess is that what you ran into there was someone asking ridiculously pedantic questions and people rolled their eyes and told them to fuck off. This happens when creationists say silly things about evolution. Explaining basic concepts to people who are willfully ignorant is an annoying thing.

              But again, show me the money. You advanced all of that without evidence, so I advance this without evidence: you haven’t actually encountered any of that.

            • Ohh, yeah. They live by this! They’re a disgrace for skepticism.

            • doubtthat

              But no examples. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-ocking.

              I get that the evil feminists inhabiting the dark corners of your imagination are pretty awful, but I’m more concerned about those that exist in reality.

            • You! What a better example!

            • doubtthat

              You’re really bad at this. I’m asking you to share this irrational dogma so I engage you on substance. You can’t provide any.

              YOU are the one making the claims, YOU need to substantiate them. That you can’t says everything about your hollow, vapid biases.

              You aren’t rationalists, you’re emotional little children with a false sense of self-importance. You can’t even come up with ONE EXAMPLE. One. Amazing.

      • +1 to this. The whole thing is needlessly escalating – there’s no reason why he shouldn’t both be able to go to the conference and enjoy it, while at the same time not deliberately interacting with those who don’t want interaction. This shouldn’t be a big issue at all – it’s just someone attending a conference!

        The more blog posts about it from all parties, the worse the whole situation gets/seems.

        • No one was saying anything, and then that FfTB started to poison the well for Justin.

          I think these clowns need to be called out on their BS every time we spot it. Not doing so was what got us into they bullying everyone and getting away with it for so long that everytime someone does anything they don’t approve of, they’ll do what they’re doing to Justin. Next time it could be you (again), or me, or anyone else.

          But, let’s assume you’re right for the sake of the argument and this is escalating needlessly. What’s your suggestion when you see three and four blog posts on FfTB asking for Justin to be banned or predisposing everyone to be obnoxious at him (like they actually did)? What do you suggest we do? Keep quiet and let them misrepresent his honest intentions? Allow them to stretch the truth until it can be recognized?

          I am asking you, because we’re not in an ideal situation of no one taking anything out of proportion. These attacks are going to keep coming, with their usual lies, and troll calls. We’ve seen ignoring them just empowers them. You can trust your advise will always be considered on this side, and experience has shown us they won’t listen to anyone, so I am asking you: what’s your advise for that scenario?

          • Oh I don’t know really. I’m not trying to offer PR advice – I’m just saying that the amount and manner in which this is being discussed has transformed a situation in which a harmless person is attending a conference into a major altercation.

            If I was to offer advice, it would be just attend the conference quietly, and avoid interaction with those who demanded that you do, whatever you think about that demand. It’s the escalation that’s causing the hyperbole, and if stopping the escalation permits some untruths going un-addressed, I’d say that’s the lesser of the two evils.

          • No one was saying anything, and then that FfTB started to poison the well for Justin.

            You have that wrong I think. Vacula has been pretty vocal about his desire to talk to Benson and others; repeatedly tweeting about having on his little vanity podcast etc. All they did was tell him, again, in no uncertain terms that they aren’t interested in talking to him and asking that he stop pestering them about it.

            Most people would have taken the hint by now…

    • doubtthat

      They hate his guts, and he’s going to the lions’ den, a conference of theirs where speakers are already spitting hate and venom to his presence there, having their fandom ready to attack and be hostile and aggresive, and WiS2 organizers seem to be looking the other way.

      No braver hero has ever existed than the bravely brave Sir. Vacula.

      That reminds me of everyone calling Rand Paul “brave” for saying a lot of stupid shit at Howard University. What did they think was going to happen? A shooting?

      At a certain point do you folks ever become uncomfortable when you review your own work? The histrionics are just incredible.

      • baal

        Your faux outrage notwithstanding, you can’t make claims about a person being childish, or engaging in ‘histrionics’ or attacking from a biased viewpoint without calling into question your own potentials for the same.

        • doubtthat

          Nothing “outraged” about that. I think you precious little folks are highly amusing.

          The childishness of this blog post speaks for itself. The notion that a conference with feminists is a “lion’s den” and that people requesting that Vacula leave them alone is equivalent to Islamic Fundamentalists is quite histrionic.

          I suppose I may have that “potential,” I just don’t engage in such things because I’m an adult.

    • deltmachine

      the cultire industry – the ideology of death


    • Copyleft

      “Safe space” simply means “protection from dissent and disagreement.” This is fundamentally incompatible with reason and skepticism, which is why a safe-space secular conference cannot work unless it abandons reason and skepticism entirely.

      • doubtthat

        Haha, I love how ignorant you are of feminists. Have you ever been around a group of feminists, no matter how organized or informal?

        I think most people involved with feminism would be rather surprised at the notion that they shun disagreement.

        They don’t want to discuss your childish bullshit. They don’t want to deal with assholes who get up to ask a question at a speech and say, “Why aren’t you talking about sexual abuse in prison.”

        Give me an argument that you think is important that they ignore. I will bet you a million internet bucks that I can find an example of a feminists dealing with it.

        • Yes I have. They’re allies of the Bogotá Atheists and Agnostics Association. They’re decent nice people who stand questioning their ideas and debating.

          They ain’t douchebags, drama queens and cry babies. They don’t get all pissed off because they’re invited to coffee and they don’t take offense at t-shirts. They don’t cash U$ 1000 to go read how awful Internet trolls are. They’re actual activists.

          • doubtthat

            So no, you don’t have any arguments, just comedically inept framings of ancient grudges and some useless personal anecdote.

            Good to know.

        • L

          > Give me an argument that you think is important that they ignore.

          Well, that is the crux of it isn’t it. They just don’t consider any arguments that they disagree with important.

      • I couldn’t agree more.

    • Theo Ffensivatheist

      There are some people in the comment section of Butterflies & wheels that are trying to convince (I’m not sure who) that Justin represents a REAL threat & some are seriously talking about bottles of acid being thrown in Womens faces as a real possibility (all without ANY kind of evidence of course). Is there anyone here willing to truthfully say they think they’re trying to be honest & genuine here. Personally i see it as the worst kind of hyperbole &/or downright dishonesty & another example of what we’ve come to expect from many at FtB. The ONLY person who’s even possibly facing any kind of threat is Justin, who’s going to be surrounded by several hundred people, the vast majority of which will disagree on many issues & idea/l/s he holds dear. We can only hope that the most impressionable of those in opposition to his presence don’t try to play the hero. I wish him all the best but can honestly say, “Rather him than me”. I know he’s doing this for all of us. (Even if some don’t realize or appreciate it).

      • Why am I not surprised!

      • Please, tell me you screen-capped any of that. Benson’s saying you’re lying: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/page-o-nonstop-monitoring-and-harassment/

        Ohh, I almost forgot: this is a “demented, paranoia-riddled post”! I guess she should know xD

        • ool0n

          The offensive atheist is a liar then, I’m shocked to see lies from the paragons of virtue at the slymepit, shocked I tell ya!

      • There are some people in the comment section of Butterflies & wheels
        that are trying to convince (I’m not sure who) that Justin represents a
        REAL threat & some are seriously talking about bottles of acid
        being thrown in Womens faces as a real possibility…


        If you’re going to rely on lies to fan your phony outrage you should use something that isn’t so easily checked…by, you know, reading the comments…http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/05/page-o-nonstop-monitoring-and-harassment/

        • Yeah… why is it FfTB ain’t reliable with comments? Ohh, I remember – because they do things like this: http://notungblog.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/follow-up-to-my-last-post/ A lot!

          So that’s not gonna make it. Tampering comments, deleting comments, holding them on consideration is their MO, so I don’t trust them.

          It wouldn’t surprise me if we were to know that at some point there was that kind of comment and now they’re not more.

          So you can say it’s bullshit all you want, I don’t take femtheists’ word at face value and I don’t believe on reading their blogs’ comments section. One day they’ll just magically disappear and you can claim it never happened.

          Sorry, having a blog over at that network implies you’re not trustworthy when it comes to comments. Actions have consequences. The loss of credibility comes from being dishonest. Fool me once…

          • I see, so you can basically accuse them of saying anything the voices in your head invent for them (even though you just admitted you don’t even read the comments) and pretend the evidence just magically disappeared. How convenient for you…

            Excuse me for being skeptical.

            And how does someone on a different blog blocking you from their comments equate to someone else on a different blog deleting comments?

            Somehow “bullshit” is starting to sound like too tame a description for what’s going on around here…

            • I didn’t accuse them of anything (the acid-bottles part)!

              I was told something was being said at their comments’ section, and I said that wouldn’t surprise me. It weren’t voices in my head.

              And I said I don’t trust any kind of evidence regarding going through FfTB’s comments.

              Now, if you have evidence of deleted comments on this blog, please let me know or present your evidence. I’m not afraid of my commenters.

            • I didn’t say anything about deleted comments on this thread…it’s either voices in your head or you just don’t read very well.

              You’re telling us you’re willing to accept any baseless accusation against anyone who blogs at FtB without any evidence whatsoever. And when the evidence is non-existent you tell us it just “magically disappeared.” That’s not very skeptical of you, is it?

            • Nope, you’re the one not reading very well. I said it wouldn’t surprise me if that comment had been made. I didn’t say I believe it.

              Unless there’s evidence, I won’t say that was said. That’s one thing.

              The other thing: it wouldn’t surprise me either, if that comment had been made, that Benson would have deleted it. I’m not saying that’s what happened. I’m simply stating what I expect from the FtB crowd, I’m not claiming anything happened or didn’t happen.

              It didn’t happen until there’s evidence. Happy now?

            • Oh I’m very happy, watching you run around in circles has given me the best laugh I’ve had all day…

            • doubtthat

              It wouldn’t surprise me if on another thread you said that Hitler was awesome, Justin Bieber was the greatest musician of all-time, and the Kardashians should just be elevated to Royal Family of the United States.

              Obviously you just went back and deleted the comment where you said all that (and that you’re into German scat porn). It wouldn’t shock me if one of the moderators around here just deleted it, I mean, I have no evidence but it does seem well within your character…

              (I eagerly await the people breathlessly accusing me of calling Daosorios a Nazi).

      • ool0n

        Pitters screencap everything on FTBs, a comment like that would be Slymepit gold. Put up proof or I’m confident in calling u a liar. Some new commenter there made a non serious suggestion that Justin should be jailed, or at least he said not serious after being called a pit troll. It was on Twitter and presumably the pit in minutes despite many calling hir out for that hyperbole, serious or not, so acid attacks would be capped in seconds. BTW IMO Justin is king of passive aggression, not active in any way, still unpleasant and unwanted tho.

        PS, ROFL at the unlikely development of a comment being more ridiculous than the post, so thanks for that!

        • Of course if we were to follow Daosorios thinking we could argue that anything they say is a screen cap is probably just photoshopped anyway…LOL!

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