• The Ophelia Benson canard

    Some of you may have already seen the joint statement Richard Dawkins and Ophelia Benson released:

    Disagreement is inevitable, but bullying and harassment are not. If we want secularism and atheism to gain respect, we have to be able to disagree with each other without trying to destroy each other. In other words we have to be able to manage disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults, as opposed to brawling like enraged children who need a nap. It should go without saying, but this means no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people’s appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.

    My fellow SINner Damion thinks it is “pretty uncontroversial“, but I have to disagree with him. You just can’t expect everyone to grab their hands and sing Kumbaya, when one side of the table has engaged in and promoted bullying just for disagreements. What I mean to say: I’m calling Ophelia Benson’s bullshit. Before I take any word that comes from her, she needs to make amends: does she still think we’re having a white supremacist movement? You don’t get to liken my activism to Nazis and then expect I’ll be all hug-y when you issue a statement. I seriously want to know if Ophelia Benson still thinks that calling to the boycott of Dawkins’ books is managing “disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults”. I want to know if she still condones the way Rebecca Watson bullied Stef McGraw and got her to shut down her blog. What part of that is not “trying to destroy the other”? Remember Michael Payton, whose job was put at jeopardy just because Benson and her pals couldn’t figure out a tweet and thought he had a different opinion? That’s pretty destroying, if you ask me. Does Benson still think that people should be put on jail just because someone else claims they’re rapists but fails to provide any shred of evidence whatsoever (and no, a testimony is not evidence). Does she think Michael Shermer and Ben Radford should be in jail, although there’s no evidence against any of them, and none have been convicted? Does Ophelia Benson think Schrödinger’s Rapist and the Bechdel test are legitimate ways to approach reality, gender related issues and social conventions? How is that any different from “attacking people’s sex and appearance”? Does Ophelia Benson approve of Paul Zachary Myers‘ dishonest tactic of banning rational commenters to further the victim card? Isn’t such tactic the something proper of “enraged children”? Is underplaying Richard Dawkins’ sex assault a way to “manage disagreement ethically”? Is asking for coffee (in an elevator, and taking a “No” for an answer) a legitimate exercise of free speech? Or should we expect to keep having this paramount human right and civil liberty distorted? Is comparing such a First World ‘problem’ with FGM under Islamic societies no longer a carte blanche for bullying? And last, but not least: when will my fellow SINners bullied by Benson and her ilk get a proper apology? I’m talking specifically about Maria Maltseva, Staks Rosch and Damion Reinhardt. Or should they just forget every single attack made from Benson’s side just because she issued a statement? I don’t know about you, but I think all these issues (and the list is longer, if you should know) should be addressed and Ophelia Benson owes a hell lot of people a heartfelt apology. Her joint statement means nothing -it’s not even a bad joke- before that.

    Category: AtheismSkepticism and Science

    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker

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    • Jack Handy

      It’s a bit worse than meaningless, I think. It is proof of insincerity. Self-promotion seems to trump her ideals. She is happy to contradict many things she has said with great, if supposed, moral indignation bordering outrage, if she believes she stands to gain from it.

      Not long after this statement, Benson has defended the use of “fuckwit” because it is “vulgar” but not an “epithet”. Apparently this is an important difference. So remember, when she’s shouting “Fuckwit!” at you, you are not being bullied because it is not an epithet. Instead, you’re having a polite conversation among polite, gentile folks.

      [Just to be clear though, “fuckwit” does meet the definition of “epithet”; Any dictionary will tell you one of its meanings is “a word, phrase, or expression used invectively as a term of abuse or contempt.”. There are other meanings, none of them definitionally negative.]

      • Perhaps someone NOT already on their “Block-Bot” list should call her a “Fuck-wit” & see what happens?

      • Yes, you’re right!

    • Steersman

      While I think that more than a few in the SlymePit have been guilty of the odd “cheap shot”, and while I think more than a few outside of it have gone off the deep end in their “venting of spleen”, I also think that more than a few in the FTB/Skepchick/AtheismPlus nexus are also guilty of having contributed to this rather sad state of affairs – though maybe its part of the human condition as it seems typical of many other communities.

      Maybe what we need is a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”. One might suggest that, as a sign of good faith and as a starting point, Ophelia Benson could repudiate her “connecting ‘virulent’ with ‘feminism’ is misogyny”.

      • Good luck with that. I haven’t done anything wrong; I’ve stood up for freedom when that crowd gets all collectivist and start shouting “Misogynist” at anyone who dares to question their dogma.

        So I don’t need to reconcile with anyone. They need to start apologizing.

    • Jack Rawlinson

      Dead right. Benson and her crowd have behaved abominably and with giddying hypocrisy for the last few years and this joint statement looks like little more than a cynically opportunistic grab at a chance to share a little bit of Dawkins’ far greater fame and respect. Benson, Myers, Watson… the whole nasty gang owe a lot of people a lot of apologies, and until they get a clue and recognise that they can go to hell. They’ve made pariahs of themselves.

      • Turned out to be “a cynically opportunistic grab at a chance to share a little bit of Dawkins’ far greater fame and respect”.

        Who’d say?!?

    • Kira Des

      What’s most ridiculous is right before publishing this joint statement, she personally attacked Jaclyn Glenn with about a dozen posts on her blog. Utter hypocrisy.

      • iamcuriousblue

        I noticed that right after the “peace treaty”, Stephanie Zvan issued a call for skeptic orgs to shun Jaclyn Glenn:


        These kind of campaigns to shut down anybody who’s the slightest bit critical of them or their politics is a behavior that should not be accepted under any kind of “peace”.

        • Kira Des

          They have called for the boycott of many atheists before this based on very trivial perceived “offences”. And they dare call themselves skeptics. Sad.

          • I think some of them have dropped the Skeptic label, because a few folks were mean &/or cruel (Disagreed with them about something).

            • If they have dropped the label, they should make it loud and clear, instead of pretending to be part of us

          • Sad indeed.

      • They’re FTBullies, after all…

        I’ve lost my ability to be surprised any time they reach a new low

    • latsot

      Why don’t your links say what you say they say?

    • The whole rotten bunch have started to realise how irrelevant they’ve become, this is just an attempt at riding the coat-tails of someone who has some cache, back into some kind of dwindling limelight that they crave.

      • Clare45

        I wonder what prompted Richard Dawkins to associate himself with Ophelia Benson and her extreme type of third wave feminism? I understand that he wants peace in the atheist movement-and that’s great-but I am not sure that this joint statement will achieve anything. It actually seems to reinforce the idea that there were “death threats” and “rape threats” within the community. I don’t believe any charges were laid or any convictions resulted if there were. Correct me if I am wrong.

      • I can only hope one day no one will care for what these people have to say.

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