• The “Dear Muslima” Fallacy Fallacy

    Most of you are probably familiar with the so-called “Dear Muslima” logical fallacy, otherwise known as the fallacy of relative privation, first world problem fallacy, etc. For those unfamiliar, one common form goes as follows:

    Issue A isn’t as bad as Issue B, so you shouldn’t concern yourself with Issue A.

    Let’s refer to a relevant example. Women in many Muslim majority countries are more oppressed than women in the West; therefore, it’s fair to criticise those who focus their energy on the latter. Taken to its logical conclusion, this faulty line of thinking would mean ignoring all but the most pressing issue faced by humanity—which in itself raises more questions.

    Like many concepts that have recently been diluted to a homeopathic degree, “Dear Muslima” is often erroneously hurled at critics of the regressive left. Indeed, I was immediately accused of committing said fallacy in my most recent visit to the comments section of PZ Myers’ echo chamber over at Freethought Blogs.

    In response to Myers’ contemptible “Where the racist feminists at?” post, I argued that focusing on microaggressions and “offensive” Halloween costumes is obscene in light of how little attention he affords the oppression of women by people who are lower on his privilege hierarchy. Understandably, I was swiftly banned for voicing something other than full-throated approval. But I digress.

    Does my argument look like a version of “Dear Muslima” to you? If so, allow me to explain the difference.

    Bob and Dave are both interested in the subject of food. Bob is more concerned about people who are starving to death, while Dave uses most of his energy complaining about the ratio of yellows to reds in bags of M&M’s. Would it be unfair for Bob to suggest that Dave’s priorities are worth reassessing? That’s the scale of the difference we’re talking about here. It’s not that one issue is slightly more pressing than the other. It’s that one is a major problem in need of our attention, and the other is as consequential as a fart in a hurricane—and that’s being charitable. Many of the topics favoured by the regressive left are purely imaginary grievances.

    This isn’t an effort to undermine legitimate first world concerns that deserve our attention. I’m referring to shrieking students who complain that college is about creating a home and not an intellectual space, people who think a shirt that sports scantily clad cartoon women is a life-destroying offence, outrage junkies who are content to ruin the career of a Nobel Laureate because he made a joke, narcissists who think their feelings trump basic individual rights, and the list goes on.

    It isn’t a logical fallacy to observe that, for many on the far left, their feminism ends where their cultural sensitivity begins. You do not get to advertise yourself as a champion for women’s rights while ignoring or, more egregious still, excusing the worst examples of female oppression. And you certainly don’t get to cry “Dear Muslima” when called on any of your myriad failings as a liberal.

    Category: AtheismFeaturedgenderSkepticismSocial Justice

    Article by: James MacDonald

    James MacDonald is a freelance writer and featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. In addition to sports writing, James holds masters degrees in both Psychology and Social Sciences and covers subjects including sex, gender, secularism, media, and gaming, among others.
    • Ohh, I loved this post!

      You went to Myers’ echo chamber? Eww! I hope your PC didn’t catch a virus…

      • My computer survived, but the sheer stupidity on display almost triggered me.

    • im-skeptical

      “Taken to its logical conclusion, this faulty line of thinking would mean
      ignoring all but the most pressing issue we face—which in itself raises
      more questions.”

      In fairness to Dawkins (which we don’t see too much of these days), I don’t think he said or implied that those relatively minor first-world concerns should be ignored.

      • Yeah, I should have mentioned that. Dawkins was highlighting precisely the same point. For example, propositioning a woman in an elevator. It’s unfortunate that the fallacy has come to be known by that phrase.

    • Otto Greif

      I think a lot of Muslim women like being Muslim women.

      • Judging by the targeted adverts I’m getting from this particular page, they seem pretty/happy.

        • Otto Greif

          That made me think of Muslim dating site where all the women are wearing niqabs.

    • The phrase “Dear Muslima” arose during the course of a conversation about what social norms we (Anglophone) atheists would impose upon ourselves at our own conventions. It was an attempt by Dr. Dawkins to redirect our attention away from (sub)cultural norms clearly under our control to those well beyond our control. As such, it was a red herring distraction, at best.

      • I can’t find the original post. I recall seeing it at the time, but I can’t remember everything it mentioned. My main memory is that he was ridiculing Rebecca Watson for the whole elevator gate thing.

        • The original post was taken down when the comment threads were memory-holed at ScienceBlogs/Pharyngula. Here is the original text:

          Dear Muslima,
          Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and…yawn…don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with. Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so…And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

          The argument here seems to be that sexism is truly abhorrent in parts of the world where we have minimal influence, and therefore we ought not fret about social gaffes which take place within our own movement. That is a terrible form of argument, from where I’m sitting.

          • I’m not sure I would even consider elevator gate a social gaffe. I suspect Dawkins was probably trying to express a similar point to the one in my post. In fact, I recall him using the phrase “zero bad” when referring to the elevator incident, which is to say he wasn’t dismissing what he thought was a legitimate issue.

            However, his comment was interpreted as a dismissal of all first world problems. I think he apologised and clarified that he wasn’t dismissing sexism and misogyny in the West.

            On another note, I don’t believe our influence is as limited as all that. In this day and age, few issues are local. Simply shining a light on these problems has its benefits. Just getting people to acknowledge that a problem exists is a challenge, after all.

            • If you really think some given encounter caused zero harm and zero subjective emotional discomfort, what exactly is the point in comparing it to something else which is obviously far worse? I can see how that might help if you’re trying to make something small look even smaller, but if you’re going to stake out the zero bad position, whence the need to bring FGM into the mix?

            • The issue isn’t whether it caused emotional discomfort. There are presumably many things you and I think are perfectly acceptable that would cause emotional discomfort.

              I think the point was to express exasperation over the extent to which social interaction has become a minefield and to ridicule how petty the gripe was, particularly given how often others are told to check their privilege.

            • I don’t think it’s remotely petty for anyone to ask people not to ask them back to their bedrooms without having engaged any prior flirtation or even conversation. That’s just basic manners.

            • That isn’t what she did. She didn’t tell him in person, as I recall. The admonishment was delivered to her audience, as though she was speaking on behalf of all women.

              By the way, I don’t think this was a major issue (and Watson isn’t at fault for making it a big issue). It was more or less something I would roll my eyes at. However, it was blown up by other people and the whole conversation surrounding the man’s actions evolved.

            • The admonishment was delivered to her audience, as though she was speaking on behalf of all women.

              There are at least two distinct interpretations of the original video available to us. The first is that she was admonishing all men on behalf of all women. The second is that she was communicating primarily with her own fanboys on behalf of herself. All else being equal, the principle of charity should drive us to choose the latter (less readily assailable) interpretation, so as to avoid the risk of burning down a strawman.

              More of my thoughts on this bizarrely divisive topic may be found
              here: http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/2012/10/28/in-support-of-rebecca-watson/

            • josh

              Watson had every chance to back down from the insulting interpretation. Instead she consistently took the line that anyone criticizing her was a sexist woman-hater.

            • Her reaction to subsequent critics doesn’t help us divine her original intent, unless it was under discussion.

            • josh

              Not sure why some hypothetical ‘original intent’ is what matters here. She was politely approached at a conference but in a way she personally didn’t feel comfortable with. It would be a non-issue if she had said “Hey for future reference, guys, please don’t approach me in that way.” If that’s all she meant, again, it would have been easy to clarify after some initial criticism of her remarks. We all know that’s not what happened subsequently.

            • You think it’s polite to invite someone with whom you’ve never previously conversed (much less built up a flirtational rapport) back to your bedroom at 4am?

              Okaaaay.

            • josh

              I think it’s okay to ask someone if they want to have coffee after a round of late night drinking. If that was a secret plot to initiate a fling, it’s the polite way to do it. If I recall, he said (according to our unreliable narrator) “Don’t take this the wrong way, but…”, which is going out of one’s way to deflect any romantic implications.

            • I freely admit that politeness is socially constructed and evolving over time, and I’m a bit of an old fuddy-duddy, but I was raised to believe that before you invite someone up to the place with the bed (and not much else) you should establish some sort of personal rapport with them. See if they are interested and flirting back. Also, don’t corner them in a metal box where they might be made to feel uncomfortable by unsolicited sexual comment. Had this chap made his move back in the hotel bar, I don’t think we’d be talking about it today.

              As to this “secret plot” nonsense, you should read up on how humans sometimes veil intentions in potentially high stakes situations. Or watch this helpful video:

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-son3EJTrU

            • josh

              Oh come on. Hopefully you were raised with enough common sense to realize that a hotel-room has everything including the bed because it’s all in one room! It’s the only room you have to invite someone to join you for anything, which includes sex but also conversations, coffee, drinks, TV, etc. There was no “unsolicited sexual comment”, there was no cornering and that metal-box-dealy is called an elevator. It isn’t a trap and it regularly let’s people on and off, in groups even! Sometimes people will start discussions in this ‘elevator’, especially if they have common interests, like being attendees at the same event, especially if one is a public figure and the other is a fan.

              “As to this “secret plot” nonsense, you should read up on how humans sometimes veil intentions…”

              Yes, and sometimes serial killers pose as nice people. I don’t rule out the possibility that this guy was a) hoping for a liaison or b) a psychopath but if so he was hiding it behind… politeness. How you know the truth is between you and your psychic I guess. (And just to be clear: there is nothing improper about hoping for a romantic outcome, starting a conversation over coffee is how you get to the flirtation stage sometimes.)

              However, is it really necessary to go further down a rabbit hole debating the finer points of etiquette and cultural expectations, or could we stick to the point?

            • I think it was almost surely a veiled invitation for more than coffee, assuming our unreliable narrator is at least reliable enough to get the basic phrasing correct. You are welcome, of course, to interpret it differently. It inarguably unsolicited, since she said nothing (solicitous or otherwise) to this fellow prior to his proposition.

              As to the elevator, you should perhaps allow that some people are more fearful of being enclosed with strangers than you are, even for a short time.

              As to the psychopath comment, I’ve no idea where that came from. I said he was being rude, not psychotic.

            • However, is it really necessary to go further down a rabbit hole debating the finer points of etiquette and cultural expectations, or could we stick to the point?

              Among the many points which I would like to make is that this particular discussion will invariably turn to the question of what sort of sexual propositions ought to be considered polite enough in social context of an atheist convention. This merely an academic question for a long-term monogamist like myself, but much ink has been spilled nonetheless.

            • ahermit

              That basically is all she said. It was basically a good tip about how to avoid awkward social interaction. And what happened subsequently was a torrent of sexist rage, harassment and threats.

            • josh

              Actually, she said, in the context of complaining about “misogyny” in the atheist community, that he had “sexualized” her. A bunch of people pointed out that her description of the event didn’t fit those labels and actually, yeah, she didn’t speak for them and other people had different standards about what was and wasn’t appropriate. Which, as I’ve said, would have been the opportunity for her to say “Yeah, you’re right and I’m just saying how I felt and asking people not to approach me.that way.” This is how reasonable conversations are had. Instead, she doubled down at every opportunity, accused anyone with the temerity to disagree with her of sexism, and smeared the whole atheist community.

              It turns out that that kind of behavior makes you a lot of enemies, and then when people decided they didn’t like her, she and her supporters took this as further evidence of “hatred of women”, equated criticism with harassment and after the whole thing blew up told anyone that would listen that those who didn’t take her side were sending her rape threats. Precious few threats have been seen but no doubt she discovered there are a few busy trolls and some angry keyboard warriors on the internet. Personally, I don’t see the point of working oneself into a froth and sending her hate mail, but that doesn’t excuse her behavior or her followers’.

            • ahermit

              So, a woman asking to be treated with respect, asking that people listen to her expressed desires and not ignore those desires in order to solicit her for sex when she’s clearly stated her dislike of such attention…that’s the kind of behaviour that “wins her enemies?”

              Have you ever looked at the comments that followed that video? Do you honestly think that being called a “cunt” and told to shut up counts as “criticism?” I’m sorry, but you can’t just wave a hand and pretend that she is responding to legitimate criticism when she talks about harassment.

              If that video strikes you as so insulting to men that it justifies the torrent of hatred that followed it then you better grow a thicker skin or stay in Mom’s basement and don’t ever expose yourself to life in the real world son. It gets a lit tougher out here…

            • SexyIsntSexist

              She made her “guys, don’t do that” video on response

              Of that had been that I doubt people would have cared. Buried sparked a wider convo about misogyny and toxic masculinity. Basically, respectful heterosexual flirting and engagement was misogyny.

              I think this incident could have lit the touch paper to the whole “white cis male” bigotry we have now

            • Shatterface

              The place for asking someone not to ask you out would have been there and then, in the elevator, not on stage.

              I’d have liked to see Watson pull that shit this year with #BlackLivesMatter in the audience.

            • If I recall correctly, her onstage performance of outrage and approbation wasn’t directed at Elevator Guy, but rather a young woman in the audience.

            • ahermit

              And it’s a gross exaggeration to describe that talk as “outrage and approbation” directed at that young woman. When someone who is in a leadership position, as Stef McGraw was, publishes a public criticism of someone else that person being criticized has every right to respond in public to that criticism. There was no personal attack on McGraw herself, no anger, just a calm explanation of why Watson felt that public criticism of her (specifically that she should have been flattered by the unwanted attention in the elevator) was in error.

              And as I understand it Watson and McGraw buried the hatchet years ago. I’m not sure how McGraw feels about the way the Watson haters use her to justify their lunacy, but I certainly don;t blame her for staying out of it…

            • A calm explanation of how McGraw was promoting hatred of women. Totes not a personal attack. ?

            • ahermit

              That’s not what was said…I think you really have to work to twist Watson’s actual words into accusing McGraw of promoting hared of women. I take a more charitable and nuanced interpretation, that she was lamenting the way McGraw was passively accepting the idea that women should always be flattered by male attention, even if it’s uninvited, unwanted and, as in the elevator incident, had been actively discouraged immediately prior to the event.

              That was a perfectly legitimate response to McGraw’s public attack on Watson as far as I’m concerned. It certainly doesn’t justify the irrational hatred of Watson that followed.

            • I don’t have to work hard at all. Simple cut and paste will do.

              But the real problem is actually in the first sentence, and it’s sort of the same problem the other commenter has: “My concern is that she takes issue with a man showing interest in her…”

              This is, unfortunately, a pretty standard parroting of misogynistic thought…

              Because there are people in this audience right now who believe this: that a woman’s reasonable expectation to feel safe from sexual objectification and assault at skeptic and atheist events is outweighed by a man’s right to sexually objectify her. That’s basically what these people have been telling me, and it’s not true.

              If parroting misogyny isn’t promoting hatred of women, what is?

            • ahermit

              Are you saying it’s not misogynistic or at least sexist, to tell women they should always be flattered by male attention, regardless of whether it’s wanted or not?

              That’s a reasonable observation about the comment, and “parroting” is not “promoting”. Watson, it seems to me, was lamenting the shallowness of that response, not accusing McGraw of being a misogynist herself. There was no personal attack on McGraw herself, which is the accusation usually leveled over that video.

              And again, it was a polite, calmly expressed response to public criticism. It didn’t warrant the hate and abuse that followed.

            • Are you saying it’s not misogynistic or at least sexist, to tell women they should always be flattered by male attention, regardless of whether it’s wanted or not?

              It would surely be a sexist double standard if someone said that, and then went on to elucidate a different standard for men who experience female attention. As I recall, however, McGraw did not say that anyone should be invariably flattered.

            • ahermit

              She did ignore the fact that the attention in the elevator incident was not only unsolicited but had been actively discouraged immediately prior to the incident. The effect of her comment was to ignore Watson;’s publicly expressed desire to be left alone and admonish her her for not being flattered by the unwanted attention.

              Are you honestly telling me you don’t hear the echoes of old fashioned sexism in a comment like that?

            • The effect of her comment was to ignore Watson’s publicly expressed desire to be left alone and admonish her her for not being flattered by the unwanted attention.

              Saying that Elevator Guy’s advances ought not be considered rude is surely not the same as saying anyone ought to find them flattering. You’re going to have to show me exactly where McGraw said anything about flattery.

            • ahermit

              Her exact words were “My concern is that she takes issue with a man showing interest in her. What’s wrong with that?” which amounts to the same thing. That a man showing sexual interest shouldn’t be a problem even when that interest was not only uninvited but was in fact actively discouraged prior to the incident… (you seem to be forgetting that last bit)

            • So what you’re saying is that because Stef was addressing a particular situation in which a man was making a pass at a woman, we can safely assume that Stef holds a different (sexist) standard with respect to women making passes at men.

              In other words, we can safely discount the possibility that Stef was saying that people of all sexes and genders need to adopt a more casual attitude respecting sexual advances.

            • Are you honestly telling me you don’t hear the echoes of old fashioned sexism in a comment like that?

              Old-fashioned sexism is rooted firmly in sexist double standards, but I’ve never yet seen anything which shows that Stef thinks women should be treated differently than men.

            • That was a perfectly legitimate response to McGraw’s public attack on Watson as far as I’m concerned.

              Public humiliation in front of her peers with no right of reply strikes you as a proportionate response?

            • ahermit

              If someone in a leadership role posts a public criticism of me don;t I have a right to respond publicly to that criticism?

              That’s all Watson was guilty of. If someone in such a position feels humiliated simply by being disagreed with in public they might want to rethink their career choices…

            • All public replies are not created equal. Basically, I’m in substantive agreement with ERV on this issue: http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/07/01/bad-form-rebecca-watson/

              It is very poor form to accuse someone of furthering hatred of women whenever (1) they weren’t actually doing that, (2) they are sitting in the audience with no right of reply. That is public speaking malpractice in my book, using one’s podium as a sniper’s nest for character assassination.

            • ahermit

              1) McGraw was not accuse of furthering hatred of women, it was pointed out that was naively repeating an argument often used by those who do.

              2) Watson was exercising her “right of reply” and McGraw was free to do the same either in the q an a after the presentation or online afterward.

              3) There was no “character assassination”, just an observation about a comment.

              Don’ t try and tell me that if a someone in a leadership position in my community makes a public comment about me online that I’m not entitled to respond to that comment in public.

              Oh, and 4) Watson and McGraw by all accounts settled things amicably shortly thereafter. I don’t see McGraw running around the internet whining about it. I do see a lot of thin skinned little man-children using her as an excuse for their irrational hatefest against Watson.

              Frankly if this is the worst thing Watson ever did she’s a better person than most of us…

            • Re: 1) You seem to be saying that it is possible for a student leader to repeat arguments which are used to further misogyny, without thereby furthering misogyny. This is obviously false.

              Re: 2) I do think Stef should’ve stood her ground as much as possible during Q&A, but the person with the podium is in a position of power and privilege, one which they ought not abuse.

              Re: 3) It is not just “an observation about a comment” to say that someone is thoughtlessly promoting misogyny. It goes to character. Indeed, you’ve characterized McGraw as naive in this very thread.

              You are of course entitled to respond to a comment in public, but not to make the commenter endure public humiliation in front of their peers. Calling out someone in the audience is highly exceptional, I’d wager you cannot find another example of it happening anywhere in the thousands of secular, humanist, or skeptic lectures freely available online.

              Re: 4) Happy to hear Watson and McGraw settled things amicably. That doesn’t change whether public speakers within the secular/skeptic community should be encouraged to launch personal attacks from the stage. You seem to think that sort of public callout is totally acceptable, and that those who disagree should be derogated as “man-children” whereas I disagree on both counts.

            • ahermit

              You’re making a mountain out of a molehill as far as I’m concerned. McGraw made a comment, put her name on it and there’s no good reason to tell the the target of the comment to shut up about it.

              And “man children” is what I think of the whiny little shits I still run across with surprising regularity who use that one incident to justify their own abuse of Watson. I know that doesn’t include you so don’t take it personally.

            • “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill as far as I’m concerned.”

              Maybe so, but if it’s okay to debate the ethics of sexual propositions, then surely it is okay to debate the ethics of how we go about that debate. All I ask is that we try to keep it civil, which few do.

            • ahermit

              Sometimes there’s a not so fine line between ‘debating the ethics of how we debate’ and ‘tone trolling….’

            • I’m a bit of a skeptic about the existence of tone trolls. Trolling means saying things solely for the sake of shock value, and pleas for civility lacks that sort of punch.

            • ahermit

              Using Watson’s honest, polite response to criticism as an excuse for the insane hatred directed her way is not what I call “civility…” That may not be your intention her, but that has been the history here…

            • I do not consider it honest to accuse someone of parroting misogyny when they are not clearly espousing a sexist double standard, nor do I consider it polite to abuse one’s podium power to publicly call out secular allies who are in the audience.

              McGraw’s argument was clearly flawed, on account of several crucial elisions. That doesn’t make it okay to publicly shame her like that. It could have been settled in the usual way, by taking apart the argument itself in a blog or a vlog.

            • ahermit

              It is parroting sexist thinking to tell a woman that she should always welcome male attention, which is what McGraw’s comment did.

              I don’t see how putting the rebuttal in a blog or vlog makes it somehow more aceptable than putting it in a public talk, but then I grew up in a time when there were no blogs or vlogs and a public talk would have been the only venue available, so to me the “usual way” of responding to something like this is to just speak up about it, which Watson did. There’s nothing magical about the internet that somehow makes something which you think is insulting and rude in person not insulting and rude. If you think watson’s response was humiliating and abusive I don;t see how putting it on a vlog would have made it less so. And if it would be acceptable in a vlog than it should be acceptable in a live speech.

            • “It is parroting sexist thinking to tell a woman that she should always welcome male attention, which is what McGraw’s comment did.”

              She said that under those particular circumstances, she did not see why that sort of sexual attention would be problematic. She did not say that all women should welcome sexual attention from all men at all times. You are burning down a strawman of your own making, rather than hitting McGraw’s argument on its own terms. It is a weak enough argument (on account of various elisions) there is no need to make up an even sillier one.

              “There’s nothing magical about the internet that somehow makes something which you think is insulting and rude in person not insulting and rude.”

              It would have been gratuitously insulting under any circumstances to characterize McGraw’s flawed argument as furthering hatred of women as a class. It is easy enough to refute Stef’s post without engaging in that sort of performative outrage.

              As to the difference between the internet and meatspace, only in the latter case must one suffer in silence while someone in a position of authority berates you in front of a crowd.

            • ahermit

              She said that under those particular circumstances, she did not see why that sort of sexual attention would be problematic.

              No I don’t think she actually qualified it at all; and in any case the circumstances were that the sexual advance was not only uninvited and in a confined space it had been actively discouraged in the conversation that preceded it, a fact which you continue to ignore. I don’t know too many people, men or women, who think being propositioned ion those circumstances is OK…

              Whether the crowd is physically present or online is irrelevant. In fact it;s been my experience that people are better able to have a productive conversation in person than online. If you think Watson’s rebuttal would have been acceptable in a vlog than it was certainly acceptable in person.

            • Stef was obviously addressing a specific event, rather than making a general argument that women should always enjoy attention from men. I have no idea why you want to make her post so much worse than it really was, but I have a shrewd guess.

              As to the supposed “fact” which I continue to ignore, I don’t see why it is especially relevant to what we are talking about here. I’ve already admitted that Stef’s argument fails “on account of several crucial elisions” and I don’t see any pressing need to list them out.

              If you really do want to dig into this issue, though, I would ask that you come up with at least one other person who remembers Watson talking about how she hates to be sexualized or hit on at atheist conferences. Preferably at the bar, when Elevator Guy was said to be in the room.

              “…it’s been my experience that people are better able to have a productive conversation in person than online.”

              When both people allowed to talk and exchange ideas, of course. When one of them uses a position of power to call out the other one, not so much.

            • ahermit

              Stef was obviously addressing a specific event,

              Yes, a specific event in which the sexual attention was clearly unsolicited, unwanted, and had been actively discouraged prior to the event. So why would anyone think the target of that attention should be OK with it?

              I would ask that you come up with at least one other person who
              remembers Watson talking about how she hates to be sexualized or hit on
              at atheist conferences.

              Oh for fuck’s sake we’re not in a fucking courtroom; if you’re accepting that the incident happened at all you’ve already decided that Watson is a reliable source since we only know about the incident at all through her account. Yes she could be lying about the whole thing, but if we’re going to have a discussion about the wider implications of what she’s saying I don’t think going all Perry Mason on it is going to further the conversation. Let’s talk about the issues involved instead of asking for CSI to come in and look for DNA…

              In fact it’s the central point of the whole story which illustrates the larger concern that women’s expressed desire to be treated with respect at professional events is more important than some drunk’s dreams of hooking up and that it is not an offense for a woman to express the discomfort she might feel when those expressed desires are ignored by said drunk.

              Watson doesn’t simply “take issue with a man paying attention to her” as McGraw falsely puts it; (that’s an interesting choice of words by the way, If the guy had actually been “paying attention” he should have respected her wishes and left her alone) she takes issue with having her opinions and desires completely ignored.

              Finally, it’s interesting that here in the comments of yet another blog post complaining about “shrieking students who complain that college is about creating a home and not an intellectual space” you are making the case that a student leader who publicly criticizes someone should be shielded from the person they were criticizing.

              I detect just a hint of hypocrisy in your argument…

            • …if you’re accepting that the incident happened at all you’ve already decided that Watson is a reliable source since we only know about the incident at all through her account.

              I’m happy to take her word for what happened in the lift, but you have been making claims about what she said in public. If you cannot find any other witnessess to back that up, you should not be surprised at encountering some skepticism.

              Yes she could be lying about the whole thing, but if we’re going to have a discussion about the wider implications of what she’s saying . . .

              We don’t substantively disagree about what she is saying with respect to whether it is kosher to sexually proposition someone whom you’ve never spoken before after cornering them in an enclosed space at 4am. Even if EG has somehow missed the part where RW announced her intention to go directly to sleep, it would still be rude to cold proposition anyone in that fashion.

              In fact it’s the central point of the whole story which illustrates the larger concern that women’s expressed desire to be treated with respect at professional events is more important than some drunk’s dreams of hooking up . . .

              Professional men and women have been known to get drunk and hook up at professional events. Not that I would call volunteer activism on behalf of sketicism or secularism a profession, mind you. More of an avocation, for almost everyone involved.

              Watson…takes issue with having her opinions and desires completely ignored.

              And rightly so, assuming that those opinions and desires were clearly communicated at some point. You are happy to take her word on this, whereas I’d like to hear from anyone else that was in the pub at the time.

              Finally, it’s interesting that here in the comments of yet another blog post complaining about “shrieking students who complain that college is about creating a home and not an intellectual space” you are making the case that a student leader who publicly criticizes someone should be shielded from the person they were criticizing.

              If by shielded you mean not singled out and publicly shamed by someone in a position of power, yes. It is basic professionalism to avoid doing that.

            • ahermit

              assuming that those opinions and desires were clearly communicated at some point

              And for the sake of argument we can safely assume that they were. No one is talking about taking the guy to court; this is a discussion about principles not a hunt for Bigfoot.

              We’re just going to have to disagree about the correctness of responding to person who has publicly criticized you by name. I just don’t see anything wrong with it. You’re overstating the “position of power” here; Watson has no power to do anything but speak in that situation; she can’t have McGraw fired or expelled or disciplined in anyway, she isn’t marking her exams or grading her. She’s responding publicly to a public criticism. The choice of forum is irrelevant.

            • We can safely assume RW noticed EG listening to her announce her intention to go directly to sleep, even though she later admitted that she would not be able to recognize his face?

            • ahermit

              OK, I give up. You’re right. Watson is a lying monster and deserves all the shit and abuse sent her way. There is no problem with sexism in the A/S community and it’s the women who complain about sexism who are destroying everything good…

              Happy now?

              Because that’s where this goes when you start pretending that looking for reasons to dismiss those concerns (which is what you’re doing when you resort to this nit-picking) is more important than actually discussing the issue.

            • Lying monster? Come now.

              One of the core principles of scientific skepticism is that sincere believers can be sincerely mistaken. Many of the participants in the Million Dollar Challenge, for example, seem genuinely surprised when they fail.

              I do not doubt Rebecca believes that her intentions were clearly communicated to a roomful of noisy drunks at 4am. I do doubt whether she achieved 100% coverage, as she seems to believe. It is okay to doubt that without compromising on the moral principles that ought to govern the case.

              There is no problem with sexism in the A/S community and it’s the women who complain about sexism who are destroying everything good…

              To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never said anything like that.

            • ahermit

              Maybe not but you seem to be more interested in exploring trivialities than dealing with the actual issues. Or as a way of avoiding the issue?

              Whatever you think of Watson herself the response to her complaint has been appalling. The fact that even now, years later, you’d rather quibble over whether EG really heard her or not is ludicrous. She believed he had, his advances were uninvited and unwelcome, they made her uncomfortable, wouldn’t it be nice if people at atheist/skeptic events tried to have a little more consideration for this kind of thing?

              That’s really all she was saying. Do you think the response that followed was grounded in “core principles of scientific skepticism” or could it be something else at work?

            • We need to carefully separate questions of fact and value, especially since we are already so close on the second sort of questions. Hopefully, I’m not far off when I say that we already agree that the social ritual of flirtation requires active listening, a show of mutual interest, and gradual escalation so as to minimize the risk of thoughtlessly putting someone in an uncomfortable position by asking for too much, too soon. This seems to me the most crucial and generalizable moral lesson of the elevator parable, and it remains true regardless of the particular facts on the ground.

              As to trivialities, it is not remotely trivial whether EG actually heard RW announce (1) her desire to not be sexualized or (2) her exhaustion and intention to go straight to bed. If he heard both of these things, then her case against him is that much stronger. He would not merely be violating a set of general social norms, but specifically disregarding her stated preferences in that situation. The thing is, we have no way to know whether he did really hear those things. We don’t know who he is, where he was stationed in the hotel bar, and the only known witness to his existence freely admits that she could not pick him out of a crowd on account of prosopagnosia.

              She believed he had, his advances were uninvited and unwelcome, they made her uncomfortable, wouldn’t it be nice if people at atheist/skeptic events tried to have a little more consideration for this kind of thing?

              Of course, that would be nice. No need to publicly shame anyone to get that point across, though.

            • ahermit

              You’re still imagining that what Watson was doing was setting out to “make a case against” one individual rather than to illustrate a problem.

              And the idea that EG was “publicly shamed” is ludicrous. No one knows who he was, he’s never been identified, no one is looking to find out who he was.

            • There is an expression among skeptics about trying to illustrate a general problem by extrapolating from a particular personal anecdote, “The plural of anecdote isn’t data.” It is my understanding that no such expression may be found among academic feminists, where anecdotes are prized as “lived experience” and one is expected to simply listen and believe.

            • ahermit

              We’re talking about an anecdote used as an illustration of a problem, it was not and never has been presented as some kind of scientific exhibit and responding to it as if it was is missing the point, to say the least. It’s a derailing tactic.

              Do you really not understand the difference? I thought you were smarter than this.

            • If it is okay to illustrate the general problem of men objectifying women with a single anecdote, why not illustrate the general problem of speakers abusing their podiums with another?

              Granted, I’ve never seen another professional or avocational speaker publicly shame someone sitting in the audience like that, but why not use the anecdote anyhow? It’s not like we’re doing science.

            • ahermit

              You’ve never seen a speaker address something said by another person in another forum? Really?

              Don’t get out much, do you?

              What’s the point of this complaint anyway? Seems to be awfully important to you…more important than it is to the supposedly humiliated person. Is it that important to pin something on Watson that you have to resort to this kind of hairsplitting nonsense?

            • “You’ve never seen a speaker address something said by another person in another forum?”

              That is not what I said. Please try again.

              “Is it that important to pin something on Watson that you have to resort to this kind of hairsplitting nonsense?”

              Is it that important to absolve her of any and all wrongdoing?

            • ahermit

              I know that’s not what you said but that is what we are actually talking about.

              It’s important to me that we not exaggerate the supposed wrongdoing; I usually see it being brought up in defense of the hate campaign directed at Watson, or at least as a way of derailing that conversation, so I’m not inclined to be very sympathetic to people whinging on about it. It’s at worst a minor breach of etiquette and pales in comparison to the kind of threats and abuse directed the other way.

            • “It’s important to me that we not exaggerate the supposed wrongdoing…”

              I agree with this 100%. Everyone has done something wrong here, let’s rank them.

              1/10 Stef McGraw: Made a bad argument on a blog, failing to account for all relevant factors. Appropriate punishment: Refutation on a comparable medium.

              3/10 Elevator Guy: Made a rude sexual advance under conditions where he really should have known better. Like McGraw, he failed to take into account all the relevant factors. Appropriate punishment: Constant fear that his name will eventually come out.

              5/10 Rebecca Watson: Normalizes public shaming by abusing her position of power and responsibility in order to humiliate an opponent. Appropriate punishment: No more CFI gigs.

            • ahermit

              1) Stef McGraw made a bad argument on a bog, was responded to in public.

              2) Made a rude sexual advance, was politely turned down and offered some friendly advice on how not to approach women.

              3) Rebecca Watson stood up for herself, dared to speak up about sexism has been subjected to a steady unrelenting stream of sexualized online harassment ever since.

              Which is worse?
              This: https://youtu.be/aqzE16UsNW4?t=12m

              or this: http://skepchick.org/page-o-hate/

              For me there are two sides to this whole debate. On one side are people who are disappointed to find sexism in our community and are talking about it, and on the other are people who are upset that the first group are talking about sexism.

              I just don’t have a lot of patience for the whiners in the second group.

            • I feely admit that a bevy of anonymous insults and threats (from people with no influence in the movement) does make Watson’s on-stage public shaming sponsored by CFI seem less bad by comparison. Strangely enough, though, I hold movement leaders to a different standard than faceless trolls.

            • ahermit

              Don’t you think leaders like Mcgraw should be able to be take being responded to publicly when they publicly challenge someone else?

              And not all those trolls are faceless, I know you’re aware of the Slymepit…

              The other problem is leaders in the movement minimizing or dismissing the problem of the trolls (faceless and otherwise) by treating the people being subjected to the trolling as if they are the problem; “Dear Mulsima” being just the most famous example of that.

              Those leaders who are more upset by the people talking about sexism than they are by the sexism are making themsleves part of the problem.

            • Don’t you think leaders like Mcgraw should be able to be take being responded to publicly when they publicly challenge someone else?

              I’ve already mentioned upthread that not all public responses are created alike. Much like McGraw, you are eliding over the particular circumstances at issue here (power imbalance, public shaming rather than mere refutation) in order to make this particular event look less bad than it really was.

              And not all those trolls are faceless, I know you’re aware of the Slymepit…

              I’ve been fully briefed. Other than Abbie Smith, who from the Pit has ever been entrusted with a podium at a conference? Who is known as a public figure in organized atheism? How many are even known by name?

              “Dear Mulsima” being just the most famous example of that.

              The infamous “Dear Muslima” missive (which I’ve previously dismissed as fallacious) was not an attempt to dismiss online trolling, but rather a clumsy attempt to minimize real world boorishness.

              Those leaders who are more upset by the people talking about sexism than they are by the sexism are making themsleves part of the problem.

              Name one freethought leader who is evidently upset by a civil discussion of sexism.

            • ahermit

              Name one freethought leader who is evidently upset by a civil discussion of sexism.

              Well Richard Dawkins for one…and it’s not just leaders who are the problem.

            • He did seem a bit dyspeptic in the Dear Muslima missive, but as I recall he eventually walked that one back.

            • ahermit

              Nope, he’s still at it. Now promoting the work of a hatemongering MRA…

              https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/692033018970705920?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

              Fuck him.

            • Man, wouldn’t it be weird if intersectional feminists actually did support Muslim bullying tactics?

              https://twitter.com/maryamnamazie/status/671839873968513024

            • ahermit

              Nice attempt at distraction, but sorry, that doesn’t make Dawkin’s tweet look any better.
              The video he linked to isn’t about that fiasco at Goldsmiths, it’s
              making a generalization about feminism as a whole. And the youtube
              channel it’s on belongs to a notorious anti-feminist bigot.

              He’s posted the equivalent of the ignorant uncle telling you “some of my best friends are Jews, I know they’re not all greedy bastards, but look at this great cartoon I found in Der Sturmer…

            • You are comparing criticism of ideology to bigotry against race. Disanalogies abound.

            • ahermit

              No, if you want to pick nits I’m comparing sexism to anti-Semitism. The analogy is apt. Dawkin’s limp disclaimer about being a feminist himself rings just as hollow as the bigoted uncle invoking his “Jewish friends” before pushing the ideas of a notorious anti-Semite.

              And given that he video uses the image of a woman who looks remarkably like an identifiable individual I wonder how you you square that with your previously expressed dislike of atheist leaders using their platforms to single out an identifiable person for criticism. Do you think she has more of a “right of reply” available in Sargon’s
              Youtube comments or on Dawkin’s Twitter feed than Stef McGraw had in
              person? Is there enough of a power imbalance between Dawkins and the woman in that video to raise any concern in that regard? Or do you apply that standard only when it’s convenient?

            • “Rebecca Watson stood up for herself, dared to speak up about sexism has been subjected to a steady unrelenting stream of sexualized online harassment ever since.”

              Ever since when, exactly? Certainly that started well before the McGraw thing.

            • ahermit

              Well yes, that’s why she was talking about it and pointing out the problem with the kind of passive acceptance of the problem evident in McGraw’s post. All it took was “guys don’t do that” and then refusing to shut up when Dawkins told her to…

            • To be clear, you are comparing McGraw’s post (a flawed but civil argument about treating men and women alike as sexual beings) to the infamous wall of hate (a collection of invective, vitriol, and threats)?

              If so, that’s hardly a fair comparison.

            • ahermit

              Don’t be ridiculous, I didn’t say anything of the kind. I’m comparing Watson’s supposedly horrible treatment of McGraw to the treatment she gets from her “critics.” What I’m wondering is why you seem to be so much more concerned about the former than the latter…

            • Because her “critics” are not leaders in the movement, at least not the ones featured on Watson’s wall-o-hate or in Roth’s freestanding exhibit. I’m much more concerned with the actions of those who are given a larger stage (whether that stage is figurative or literal) because they have the potential to do more harm.

            • ahermit

              The problem there is mostly one of indifference. Like them I think you are underestimating the harm being done by everyday sexism. That indifference gives license to the trolls.

            • I’m not in a good place to quantify the impact of everyday sexism, but our disagreement lies over whether McGraw was actually promoting it in her blog.

            • ahermit

              She was parroting the sexist idea that women should always welcome male attention.

            • You evidently did not read the entire post. She makes it quite explicit that she expects men and women to be held to the exact same standard, rather than putting a special burden on men to seek out sexual attention or on women to welcome it.

            • ahermit

              Yes I did read the whole post and the context doesn’t change the fact that she admonishes Watson for not welcoming the unwanted sexual attention. And there was nothing in Watson’s original comment that implied any kind of double standard anyway.

            • McGraw says quite explicitly that she would like men and women to conform to the same social norms regarding sexual advances. Watson then characterizes McGraw’s argument as recycled hatred of women. You may call this fair play if you like, I call it a strawman.

            • ahermit

              Watson characterizes the part of McGraw’s post in which she berates Watson for not welcoming male attention as echoing sexist thinking. Which it pretty clearly does.

            • No, it clearly does not. There is no way to get from McGraw’s argument (men and women alike should not be offended by sexual attention per se) to this ridiculous conclusion:

              https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6e96bc6e4c40f78ebeaddac37b5194b1d8c29b726bc4e88ec163feee888fd9c2.png

            • ahermit

              The important part of that post, the part that Watson was responding to, was the bit where she told Watson she shouldn’t have been bothered by an unwanted sexual advance. You can’t make that bit disappear I’m afraid.

            • Nor can you make it stand alone. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Cherry_picking

            • ahermit

              Nor can you ignore it the way you keep doing.

              It’s not cherry picking becasue the context doesn’t change the sexist implication that women should always be welcoming of male attention. It’s just as stupid to argue that men should also be welcoming of unwanted attention. it’s the “unwanted” part that’s important.

            • The context completely negates the sexist implication that women should always be welcoming of male attention, since the author makes it abundantly clear that she believes men and women should be equally receptive to sexual attention. Sexist means unequal, last I checked.

              “…it’s the “unwanted” part that’s important.”

              Agreed, and I’ve already faulted McGraw for eliding over that part and focusing solely on whether sexual advances are acceptable per se.

            • ahermit

              No, the context is McGraw expressing her wish that men and women should be treated the same and ignoring the fact that this isn’t the case; this assertion that people should be OK with unwelcome sexual advances is almost always directed at women. When she ignores Watson’s expressed desire to be left alone and tells her she should have been OK with the proposition she is falling back on that old sexist argument. The whole argument was lazy and poorly thought out and it deserved the criticism it got.

              But we’re never going to agree on this. It’s a handy little diversionary tool for derailing substantive discussions about sexism in the atheist community, but it doesn’t serve any useful purpose beyond that that I can see, so you’ll excuse me if I stop playing that game now.

            • ahermit
            • Thank God someone had the guts to stand up to Dawkins and his tweets of hate. The world is a safer, better place now. ?

            • ahermit

              That’s what happens when you run around parroting misogynist thought…

            • Satirizing the tactics used by a small minority of feminists counts as misogyny now?

            • ahermit

              Is that what you think that video was doing? I watched the stupid thing; it doesn’t alk about “a small minority of feminists” and if you’re at all familiar with the character who created it you know that’s not the message he’s promoting.

              You’re as out of touch as Dawkins is.

            • Dawkins expressly said that he was talking about a small minority.

              https://twitter.com/NECSS/status/692549219811475458

            • ahermit

              Yes, but he then linked to a video which makes no such distinction; it’s a meaningless attempt to excuse himself from promoting a stupid sexist piece of shit like Sargon of Akkad.

              It’s like declaring yourself to be best friends with black people and then approvingly posting a link to a David Duke speech…

            • There’s a name for this kind of flawed reasoning. The phrase is on the tip of my tongue. Can anyone help me out?

            • ahermit

              Not the same thing at all.

            • And the difference is?

              This should be good.

            • ahermit

              First tell us why you think it’s the same.

            • That should be rather obvious.

              You’re saying what Watson was subjected to was worse than what McGraw was subjected to. You then criticised someone for (in your view) being more concerned about what happened to McGraw.

              How is that not an example of “Dear Muslima”?

            • ahermit

              It’s not the same becasue the two are part of the same issue involving the same people. That should be obvious.

            • How on earth is that relevant? Not only is it irrelevant, but it doesn’t even make sense. Because the individuals are connected to the same story, it’s entirely rational to dismiss the less serious issue?

              Instead of stating something irrelevant, try explaining why it’s different. Your assertion is meaningless unless you explain why it’s relevant.

              You had an opportunity to be intellectually honest and concede that you weren’t being consistent, but instead you’ve chosen to keep digging a hole for yourself.

            • ahermit

              It’s different because Dawkins was using the horrible treatment of women in other parts of the world to dismiss Watson’s concerns about sexism at home (and falsely implying that she was making some sort of equivalence between the two.)

              In this conversation we’re actually talking about the behaviour of specific individuals within the atheist community.

              My question to Damion had to do with the concern he;s expressing about what he sees as mistreatment of Stef McGraw by another member of that community. I’m asking him why he’s more concerned with that example of mistreatment within the atheist community than he is with other examples of mistreatment within the atheist community. It’s all part of the “in-house” discussion involving the same individuals, unlike Dawkins I’m not trying to dismiss or derail the conversation by pointing at some other, separate issue.

            • Let’s take this piece by piece.

              You’re using the horrible treatment of Watson to dismiss how badly McGraw was treated. Whether it’s on a small or large scale, the reasoning is still flawed. It’s irrelevant whether you’re dismissing the treatment of one women or thousands of women.

              It. Is. The. Same. Fallacy.

              The fact that you’re talking about specific individuals is irrelevant. You keep mentioning that as though it actually makes sense.

              Who cares if it’s part of the “in-house” discussion? It’s the same reasoning error. It also doesn’t matter if the issues are separate. You are dismissing how McGraw was treated because you feel Watson was treated worse.

              How is it not blindingly obvious to you that you’re being a hypocrite here? You keep pointing out irrelevant differences. It would be like me using circular reasoning and claiming that it’s not fallacy because I’m talking about specific individuals who are part of an in-house discussion.

            • ahermit

              ‘You’re using the horrible treatment of Watson to dismiss how badly McGraw was treated.’

              No I’m not actully

            • SexyIsntSexist

              Depends who’s asking

            • SexyIsntSexist

              But regardless I don’t think it’s anything to do with manners. He asked her to have coffee with him. That’s not rude at all. It’s to do with her bad faith and lack of humanity. IMHO

            • Sometimes coffee isn’t just coffee, though.

              https://youtu.be/-skZx5liyaM

            • There are presumably many things you and I think are perfectly acceptable that would cause emotional discomfort.

              I can think of several examples, all of which involve some greater good in the offing.

            • I can think of examples that are entirely inconsequential, given that someone somewhere will find the most benign statement/action offensive.

              Someone might be offended by my mentioning that I like Bill Burr’s comedy. I don’t think the offense caused involves any greater good, though.

              I reckon we should turn this discussion into a short ebook. 😉

          • Did you change your Twitter account, by the way?

    • Good stuff, I agree. You inspired me to blog about the same topic: http://www.skepticink.com/notung/2016/01/13/are-relative-privation-arguments-always-fallacious/

      • Nice angle on it. Certainly a bit more in-depth than my own post.

    • Shatterface

      In response to Myers’ contemptible “Where the racist feminists at?” post,

      Did anyone pull the Bearded Taint up at his mocking black speech patterns or is linguistic blackface okay now?

      • That would require some form of dissent, which strikes me as unlikely.

    • ahermit

      What’s always telling to me is how this kind of argument always relies on an exaggeration of the objections being raised.

      This was the heart of the “Dear Muslima” problem; Dawkin’s objection to Watson’s comments about the elevator incident seemed to rely on the idea that she had been making a big deal out of it (she wasn’t) and comparing her discomfort to the plight of oppressed women in Afghanistan…which she absolutely never did.

      Similarly it’s just dishonest to paint the mostly lighthearted responses to “that shirt” as “life destroying” or to Tim Hunt’s sexist “joke” as “ruining” his career. Neither is even close to being true. I’m not sure this kind of pearl-clutching hyperbole helps your case any more than it helps those occasional critics of sexist and racist tendencies in our culture who actually fit your “shrieking student” image.

      • SexyIsntSexist

        The exaggeration was on the part of the feminists. Watson called what happened to her “misogyny”. This led to puritan “anti-harassment” policies at conferences which, amongst other things, listed too much cologne as harassment. If shirtgate had been light-hearted, the guy wouldn’t have been forced to apologize on TV. Tim hunt LOST HIS JOB and was slandered; if people had not defended him just as robustly he would have died with his reputation in tatters. None of these responses is “pearl-clutching hyperbole” and people are very much comforted when idiots like this are taken to task.

        • ahermit

          I watched the whole thing happen in real time…Watson called what happened to her after she said “guys don’t do that” misogyny; you know, the rape threats, pornographic photoshops, death threats…all of that stuff. She never, to my knowledge, called the incident itself anything more than “uncomfortable. It was Dawkins et al who piled on and acted as if she had done something terrible. Her biggest offense was refusing to shut up and pointing out that Dawkins ‘Dear Muslima” was a colossal straw man. Some people just couldn’t forgive her for not being properly deferential to the “great man…”

          The policies instituted at most atheist/skeptic conferences these days are boilerplate copies of what’s been standard at professional and academic meetups for years.

          Nobody forced the shirt guy to apologize, he chose to. He got criticized for doing something which was inappropriate in a professional environment. HE didn’t get death and rape threats like Watson did…

          And Tim Hunt lost an unpaid honorary position which he obviously wasn’t very good at since his “jokes” so offended his Korean hosts that they demanded an apology. And it’s that demand from the professional organization that led to his removal fro the unpaid honorary position, not the lighthearted twitter response. I mean seriously, does this look like a “witch hunt” to you?

          https://twitter.com/twittermedia/timelines/609133276981129216

          The guy got laughed at for saying something stupid, that’s all. If he and his defenders are such thin-skinned little boys that they can’t take a little ribbing they need to grow up.

          I’m a middle aged white guy by the way; the poster boy for privilege, and the biggest whiners I see are guys like me who just can’t stand being asked to treat women and minorities with a little respect. I don’t have much patience for all those the sad little boys…

          • You have an irritating habit using the truth to mislead.

            Nobody forced the “shirt guy” to apologise? Indeed, in much the same way no one forces you to leave your house when it’s burning down. You just tend to do it in the interest of self-preservation.

            Let’s replace shirt guy with Rebecca Watson, and everything else remains the same. Would you be so eager to minimize what she was subjected to?

            Tim Hunt lost his reputation for making a joke. Surprisingly enough, that’s actually significant. It doesn’t just impact future prospects, but also the perception of one’s legacy. If the media characterised you as a racist and your job was terminated as a result, would that have any impact on you at all?

            Do you actually understand what a rib is? Assassinating someone’s character is not a rib. Being branded a misogynist isn’t a bit of harmless banter. Losing a job, honorary or otherwise, isn’t a piss-take.

            You also seem to be under the impression that the account you linked to includes every single response to the Tim Hunt story. In reality, it only includes select tweets for a single hashtag. I could set up a Twitter page and include only legitimate criticisms of Anita Sarkeesian. Would that strike you as a fair representation of comments she receives on Twitter?

            And I have precisely zero interest in what demographic you belong to. Your arguments stand on their own merits, irrespective of whether you want brownie points for acknowledging your privilege.

            By the way, I hope you’re just as willing to apply terms like “thin-skinned” the next time a group of obscenely privileged students lose their collective shit over Halloween costumes.

            • ahermit

              Let’s replace shirt guy with Rebecca Watson

              OK. Show me the rape and death threats and photoshopped porn images sent to the shirt guy…

              There’s no comparison really.

              And Tim Hunt is responsible for his own words, I’m sorry if it offends you that actions have consequences, but if you’re sent to a conference to represent your University and the hosts of that conference end up demanding an apology from you for your behaviour there you haven’t helped your bosses much have you?

            • ahermit

              OK, I just went to the Pharyngula post and read through the comments. You really got your ass handed to you over there, especially by the woman who lives in Germany and is experiencing this stuff first hand.

              No wonder you’re sobbing about it…and lying about why you were kicked from the thread, “Clydey…”

              http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2016/01/09/where-the-racist-feminists-at/#comment-993271

              Not very bright. Using the same photo in JamesMcDonald’s phony G+ profile as Clydey2Times used elsewhere? Tsk. The trolls are getting lazy.

              Banned, obviously.

            • What on earth are you talking about? I never lied about who I was, nor did I lie about having been previously banned. In fact, I’ve talked about it on Twitter. I made zero effort to hide my identity, given that I used my primary e-mail address. I hit the button to log in via G+ and posted. That was the extent of my effort.

              If you think that’s why I was actually banned, I would seriously question your perception of reality. People are routinely banned from Pharyngula because disagreement is interpreted as trolling.

              As for having my “ass handed” to me, I wouldn’t expect you to have a realistic view of that exchange. Allow me to copy and paste part of her initial reply:

              “Stop that shit.
              Now.
              Because I’m really fucking annoyed.
              As a German woman who has been sexually assaulted on German streets I deny you the right to use my victimisation and my life as a gotcha argument for you own agenda.”

              She was sexually assaulted on German soil. Therefore, she denies my right to express my opinion. How about the opinions of other German women? How about the opinions of the people protesting? Living in Germany does not give her the right to censor people who disagree with her

              If that style of discourse works for you, I can only assume you think emotion trumps reason.

            • ahermit

              She said a lot more than that, not that you could be bothered to acknowledge that fact.

              And the lie was in this post where you whine about being blocked for ‘ voicing something other than full-throated approval ‘ when in fact you were kicked out for sock-puppetry.

            • Do you actually think I would have been banned if I had agreed with PZ? Do me a favour.

              People are free to go through the comments to see the entire exchange. You’re acting as though I was hiding something. I linked to PZ’s post in my own post.

            • ahermit

              This is actually a good example of what I’m talking about. You’re playing the martyr, telling us you were booted from that thread for disagreeing, when in fact you were booted for sock-puppetry. You’re misrepresenting the whole situation.

              And don’t tell me no one can disagree in the comments at Myer’s blog; the only time I’ve ever posted more than a single comment there was to take him to task for his stupid insensitive post about Robin Williams suicide. I had a heated discussion with some of the regulars there, but I never got banned, so I know it’s possible.

            • Playing the martyr? My being banned had nothing to do with the substance of the post. You decided to focus on it because you think you’ve stumbled upon some sort of gotcha moment, so let’s not pretend I was harping on about it.

              It’s also telling that you avoided the question.

            • ahermit

              I didn’t say you were harping on it. You’re misrepresenting that now too…

              And I did address your question…

            • By the way, I skimmed through the comments on PZ’s post about Robin Williams. Credit where it’s due, I liked your contributions.

            • ahermit

              You should go back and re-read your convo with Gilliel I think. She raised a lot of excellent points which you completely ignored. (or dismissed without fair consideration) You got spanked on that thread, that’s not a fun experience I know but your post here sounds a bit petty and butt hurt to me.

            • I’ve re-read it, and your take on it has me at a loss. I can only assume it’s because she shares your view on the subject. Tell me what you think her strongest points were, and I’ll gladly respond here.

            • ahermit

              I’ll get back to you on that…must get on with real life here.

            • ahermit

              I’ll just highlight this comment here, because it’s full of excellent material:

              http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2016/01/09/where-the-racist-feminists-at/#comment-993239

              In response to you accusing her of trying to “shutdown discourse” by objecting to the use of the Cologne attacks by some groups to push an anti-immigration agenda she points out that feminist groups have been protesting those attacks, but they get ignored, just as they get ignored when they protest against sexual assaults by German men at Oktoberfest, that it isn’t the case that feminists have been quiet about the Cologne attacks, but rather that those attacks are being condemned by the same people who ignore sexual assault and harassment in so many other circumstances.

              Her objection is to the use of the issue by fascist groups in Germany who in all other cases have been at best indifferent to sexual abuse or have actively opposed feminist efforts to do something about the problem.

              I haven’t seen you acknowledge that concern.

              It’s also dishonest of you, as Gilliel and others pointed out, to accuse Myers and others in his comment section, of ignoring the problems in Islamic cultures when in the very post you criticize he links to a whole plethora of articles doing exactly that.

              It is absolutely not the case that people on the left are “ignoring or… excusing the worst examples of female oppression.” The problem is that a lot of very loud voices only ever object to sexism and misogyny when they can use it as a tool to attack religion or foreign cultures. If those same voices were as committed to women’s rights in their own back yard (instead of doing things like resisting legislation to criminalize marital rape, to use the example Gilliel raises) we might take their indignation over the Cologne incident more seriously. As it is they appear to be opportunistically seizing on the issue not out of a concern about women’s rights but as a handy political club.

              And it appears that you are doing the same thing; your concern isn’t about German women like Gilliel, whose opinion you misrepresent so badly, you’re just using the incident as a rhetorical club to attack people like her and Myers who dare to talk about sexism when it happens at home too.

            • It would be terrific if you could make your points without repeatedly accusing people of dishonesty. I would also appreciate it if you would stop telling me what my concerns and intentions are, as though your faulty intuitions about me constitute an argument.

              “In response to you accusing her of trying to “shutdown discourse” by objecting to the use of the Cologne attacks by some groups to push an anti-immigration agenda she points out that feminist groups have been protesting those attacks, but they get ignored, just as they get ignored when they protest against sexual assaults by German men at Oktoberfest, that it isn’t the case that feminists have been quiet about the Cologne attacks, but rather that those attacks are being condemned by the same people who ignore sexual assault and harassment in so many other circumstances.”

              She *did* try to shutdown discourse. She attempted to deny me the right to express my opinion simply because she’s a German woman who has previously been victimised. On what planet is that a compelling argument?

              She doesn’t speak for every German citizen, and she certainly doesn’t get to use her experience as a victim of sexual assault to guilt people into agreeing with her. There are plenty of victims who disagree with her. Do they have the right to dissent, or does she deny that right, too?

              I am not pushing an anti-immigration agenda. At no point did I state that immigration should grind to a halt. What I would like is an honest conversation about the cultural differences that may have led to what happened.

              We’re talking about a lot of men who come from a truly misogynistic, patriarchal culture, who hold views about women that should concern us. You cannot just dismiss cultural factors because it makes you uncomfortable.

              “Her objection is to the use of the issue by fascist groups in Germany who in all other cases have been at best indifferent to sexual abuse or have actively opposed feminist efforts to do something about the problem.

              I haven’t seen you acknowledge that concern.”

              I’m acknowledging it. It’s a concern. However, it has absolutely nothing to do with me. You cannot just assume that everyone who highlights these serious cultural differences is a rabid right-winger.

              This may come as a shock to you, but I’m a liberal by any reasonable standard. I’m fiscally and socially liberal, and I would vote for Bernie Sanders if I lived in the US. This idea that people who disagree with PZ are all conservatives is a fantasy.

              Now that I’ve acknowledged your concern, I’ll tell you mine. What worries me is that people on the far left abandon their feminism whenever it comes in conflict with multiculturalism. I never claimed that all feminists ignored what happened in Cologne. What I did claim is that the response would have been much more emphatic if these crimes were perpetrated by hundreds of frat boys.

              The attacks wouldn’t just be condemned. We would also hear about the culture of toxic masculinity. However, when the perpetrators are perceived to be an oppressed minority, no one wants to talk about the rather obvious cultural factors, and anyone who does is a bigot. It’s an intellectually bankrupt position to take.

              “It’s also dishonest of you, as Gilliel and others pointed out, to accuse Myers and others in his comment section, of ignoring the problems in Islamic cultures when in the very post you criticize he links to a whole plethora of articles doing exactly that.”

              See above. I don’t think all feminists ignore these issues, and it isn’t just about condemning crimes in other cultures. That’s the bare minimum I would expect. You don’t get a pat on the back for saying, “I condemn rape.”

              People on the far left get criticised because they engage in Olympic-level gymnastics in order to avoid implicating Islam and cultures in Muslim-majority countries. We hear about our own rape culture ad nauseam, yet great care is taken to avoid condemning cultures that are many orders of magnitude worse.

              “It is absolutely not the case that people on the left are “ignoring or… excusing the worst examples of female oppression.” The problem is that a lot of very loud voices only ever object to sexism and misogyny when they can use it as a tool to attack religion or foreign cultures. If those same voices were as committed to women’s rights in their own back yard (instead of doing things like resisting legislation to criminalize marital rape, to use the example Gilliel raises) we might take their indignation over the Cologne incident more seriously. As it is they appear to be opportunistically seizing on the issue not out of a concern about women’s rights but as a handy political club.”

              There’s some truth in that, but you cannot assume that it applies to everyone. The idea that we all just want to bash brown people is absurd. It’s also lazy to dismiss them as bigots rather than engage with their argument.

              I care about real issues. That’s subjective, I grant you. But what I don’t care about is manufactured outrage over microaggressions, safe spaces, Halloween costumes, and every other imaginary grievance we constantly hear about. There are real first world issues I care about, but it isn’t the rubbish you tend to see on PZ Myers’ blog.

              “And it appears that you are doing the same thing; your concern isn’t about German women like Gilliel, whose opinion you misrepresent so badly, you’re just using the incident as a rhetorical club to attack people like her and Myers who dare to talk about sexism when it happens at home too.”

              And you only care about women when they are being victimised by white men. See how easy it was for me to caricature your worldview? Simply asserting baseless nonsense about me is not an argument.

              Here’s me defending a transgender mixed martial artist:

              http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1572761-fallon-fox-and-the-culture-of-ignorance-within-mma

              http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1575170-fallon-fox-and-the-culture-of-ignorance-a-response-to-controversy

              Here I am writing about bisexual erasure:

              http://thepsychedblog.com/2013/12/20/225/

              I’m not the right wing loon you’re looking for, so stop pretending that I am.

            • ahermit

              First of all neither I nor anyone else I’m aware of accused you of being a right wing loon.

              I’m accusing you of dishonesty because you are falsely accusing people of not caring about the Cologne incident and of “Olympic-level gymnastics in order to avoid implicating Islam and cultures in Muslim-majority countries” which is frankly bullshit.

              The point they were trying to make to you was that it is not the case that things are not always so much better in our own culture, however much you might want to pretend they are and that it would be nice if some of the people who are so quick to condemn sexism when it comes from brown Muslim people were just as quick to condemn it when it comes from nice white boys…

              If all you got from that exchange was that people are calling you a right winger then I’m afraid the whole conversation has gone right over your head…

            • You accused me of acting like a martyr. I’m not the reason my ban is being discussed here. I dedicated a sentence to it and called it a digression.

          • josh

            “Some people just couldn’t forgive her for not being properly deferential to the “great man…””

            This is such a crazy interpretation of events that I think you’ve pretty much excused yourself from having a serious opinion. Seriously, I read that kind of thing and think to myself “this person has no interest in dealing with reality.”

            • ahermit

              So all those conversations I had at the time with Dawkins fanboys who were foaming at the mouth over her impertinence never happened? Gee thanks for helping me understand that my own experiences and first hand observation count for nothing when forming an opinion…

            • josh

              Your experiences are your own, but your ability to interpret, much less relay them, is highly doubtful. Any skeptic who doesn’t get this point should turn in his/her badge. People get angry when Dawkins, or anyone really, is unjustly defamed. It has nothing to do with “the great man” or some expected deference, it has to do with making rational points and legitimate criticisms. This is expected of any decent person. People disagree with Watson and her clique, they don’t think she owes some time of fealty to her betters.

            • ahermit

              The flip side of that is that when someone like Dawkins is subjected to legitimate rational criticism, as was the case over the “Dear Muslima” fiasco, he and his supporters should be able to step back, consider the facts and accept that he was wrong about something. Instead we too often see a circling of the wagons, post-hoc rationalizing and personal attacks on the person who raised the criticism.

              A lot of the people I’ve had this conversation with are not interested in considering the possibility that Dawkins could be wrong, and they don;t so much disagree with Watson as demonize her.

              The people sending death and rape threats, pornographic photoshops and hurling sexist slurs at Watson aren’t just “disagreeing” with her…

              And unless you were part of those conversations I rather doubt that your ability to interpret them is superior to my own, regardless of how psychic you think you are…

            • SexyIsntSexist

              Who is defending people who genuinely abuse people on the internet? Most people disagree with Watson for sound reasons. I’m not a great fan of Dawkins atheist incarnation or Watson. Watson said stupid things and the Internet took her to task on that. It happens to anyone on the internet.

            • ahermit

              The people I’m talking about, the people I was talking to at the time, were calling her a “cunt” and saying she deserved to be raped because she asked for women to be treated with respect. Is that what you call reasonable disagreement?

              Regardless of whether there are legitimate criticisms to be made of Watson you can;t deny there was a lot of abuse as well. You can’t just wish that abuse away or pretend that it didn’t happen…

            • SexyIsntSexist

              Not doing that. No one here is doing that so why you’re here arguing as if we did is mystifying. Your anger is aimed at the wrong people

              People here are voicing legitimate criticisms yet you still attempt (and fail) to dismiss them.

            • ahermit

              I never said you or anyone else here was doing the harassing; I’m pointing out that the abuse and harassment exists, that you can’t ignore it and that it is disingenuous of you characterize Watson’s legitimate response to that harassment and abuse (which is what I’m talking about) as an illegitimate response to simple criticism.

            • SexyIsntSexist

              So you won’t discuss the legitimate criticisms because some bad ones exist.

              That abuse and harassment is bad is moot. Who is arguing with you otherwise?

            • ahermit

              You haven’t given me an example of this legitimate criticism though, unless you think Dawkin’s ‘Dear Muslima” rant was somehow legitimate.

              Abuse and harassment is the issue here, so you’ve just asked a good question. Why are you arguing with me?

            • SexyIsntSexist

              Um. I’m not. You’re the one getting your knickers in a twist

            • ahermit

              Actually this all started with you whining about the existence of sexual harassment policies…

            • SexyIsntSexist

              Ah. Namecheck. Explains a lot

              So, if this is about abuse and harassment do you think Dawkins was guilty of that?

            • ahermit

              No, Dawkins was guilty of being insensitive to the issue, of missing the point and of posting a stupid straw-man response

            • SexyIsntSexist

              Yes. I do think Dawkins was legitimate. Do you think it was abusive?

            • ahermit

              So you disagree with the author of this post then? You think “Dear Muslima” was a rational response? In what way was it reasonable? Do you think it’s reasonable to dismiss concerns about problem A because problem B is worse? Or do you think it’s reasonable to accuse someone of ignoring issue B becasue they also talk about issue A?
              Or do you think that that Watson, by drawing attention to the problem of sexual harassment in our own community was somehow saying we should ignore the problems faced by women in fundamentalist Islamic countries?

              Because none of those ideas sound very reasonable to me…

            • SexyIsntSexist

              Not said any of those things. Sometimes it’s okay to disagree. Even with Damion 😉

            • ahermit

              Damion didn’t author the post.

              If you’re not saying any of those things then please explain in what way “Dear Muslima’ was a reasonable response to “guys don’t do that…?”

            • SexyIsntSexist

              You’ll have to wait till I’m at a Pc.

            • SexyIsntSexist

              I actually don’t think there was a problem A on the form of endemic and or blatant misogyny.

              Like the current apparent endemic of rape on campuses. There is rape on campuses but it’s not endemic.

            • ahermit

              Whether one uses the word “endemic” or not isn’t it a problem when it happens at all? In her original video whih mentions the elevator incident Watson herself points out that her experience at that conference was mostly positive, that most of the people there are respectful and reasonable and that not all women experience harassment. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen or that it isn’t a problem when it does it happen.

              Instead of trying to ignore it or dismiss it or telling people they shouldn’t talk about it until women are being treated as badly as they are by the Taliban shouldn’t we be able to have a calm, rational discussion about the problem and what we can do to make it even less of a problem? Seems to me that’s all Watson was doing. I will never understand how anyone who considers themselves a reasonable, rational person could be offended by that.

            • What is it SexyIsntSexist disagrees with me about? Legitimate question.

            • ahermit

              They seem to be arguing that “Dear Muslima” is a legitimate argument. I understood you to take the opposite view.

            • Oh, I do. However, I don’t think Dawkins was guilty of it. I only use the term because the actual fallacy has come to be better known as “Dear Muslima”.

              He used the phrase “zero bad” to describe what happened to Watson. In order words, he wasn’t dismissing a minor issue in light of more serious issues. He was dismissing the incident with Watson was a non-issue.

              By the way, I’m not referring to the fallout from the whole thing. I’m specifically referring to her being propositioned in an elevator. If he had dismissed, say, sexual harassment because Muslim women face more serious issues, I would agree with you.

            • ahermit

              You do think Dear Muslima is a legitimate argument? Or was that typo?

              I’m not sure why dismissing Watson’s complaint about being sexually harassed as “zero bad” somehow absolves Dawkins. If anything it makes it worse. Watson’s story about the elevator was just an illustration of the larger problem of sexism, one small example. It wasn’t a big deal, and Watson never said it was, but it wasn’t nothing and the issue it was illustrating isn’t nothing. Even Dawkins has since acknowledged this, though it took him several years to do it.

              You’re missing another important point I think. The problem with the “Dear Muslima” fiasco is that that it was a colossal straw man. Dawkins was in effect accusing Watson of exaggerating the problems she faces as a Western woman. But neither she nor any of her supporters have ever compared sexism at conferences to the problems women face in say Afghanistan.

            • No, I think it’s a fallacy. I just don’t think Dawkins was guilty of it, ironically.

              Watson was not sexually harassed. And if you actually thought she was sexually harassed, you wouldn’t say “it wasn’t a big deal.” Sexual harassment is a serious issue, so characterizing what happened to Watson as sexual harassment trivializes it.

              I’ll explain the difference. Dawkins wasn’t comparing something awful to something bad. He was comparing something awful to a non-issue (being propositioned in an elevator). You obviously do think it was an issue, but from the perspective of someone who sees it as a non-issue, it isn’t a fallacy to ridicule it in that fashion.

              Dawkins did not accuse Watson of exaggerating the problems of Western women. He ridiculed one specific incident. His Dear Muslima post did not address first world problems generally. You’re reading that into it. He mocked the elevator incident specifically, and nothing else.

              By the way, have you read Dawkins’ “apology”? I’m not sure you could really say that he acknowledged being wrong. Even Watson didn’t particularly care for it.

            • ahermit

              The subject was sexism and how to make women feel more welcome at conferences. Sexism is a serious issue, and making women uncomfortable by ignoring their expressed desires to be left alone is an example of how not to make women feel welcome.

              If Dawkins thought it was a non-issue why did he comment on it at all? And how does dismissing a woman’s concerns about unwanted sexual advances as a “non-issue” any less trivializing than calling it a “non-issue?

              And the fallacy still applies since Watson herself was never making a comparison between her experience and anyone else’s experiences. If Dawkins was addressing the elevator incident specifically he did a piss poor job of understanding what it was about.

              I have read Dawkins apology, and while it’s buried in rather weak and self serving defense of something else he said 9in which he again misrepresents his critics) he does acknowledge being wrong:

              “There should be no rivalry in victimhood, and I’m sorry I once said
              something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting
              them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison.”

            • josh

              One doesn’t need to be psychic to have good judgment, but unfortunately the latter is still hard to come by. The thing is, there simply wasn’t much legitimate or rational criticism of Dawkins. There was a lot of yelling slurs that he was a sexist old white man, there were clueless people arguing that he literally meant we should ignore lesser problems because greater ones exist, there’s you thinking it was a straw-man, etc.. In reality, he said her complaint was trivial and he did it in a sarcastic way. That wasn’t politic and he might have saved himself some trouble by staying above the fray, but it was on point.

              No, at this point people aren’t just disagreeing with her, many actively dislike her because of the way she’s consistently behaved. I’m sure there are some people who hate her far beyond the merits of what she’s actually done. Those people are stupid and anyone sending her threats shouldn’t. I equally disapprove of the stupid anger and smears coming from Watson and her friends.

            • ahermit

              Sorry, but I think that’s a cowardly bit of false equivalence. Dawkin’s hasn’t been subjected to anything like the abuse that’s been directed at Watson. Calling someone a sexist old man (especially when they’ve been behaving like one) is not comparable to the abuse and harassment directed at Watson and other women who supported her.

              This is the real problem with what Dawkin’s did; he posted his ignorant little fly by comment and then carried on oblivious to the fact that he had just emboldened the horde of trolls pursuing Watson with that kind of abuse. It took him years to acknowledge the error. He trivialized the problem of sexism in the atheist community and the trolls took that as support for their hate campaign.

              And his complaint was not “on point” to begin with since it was criticizing Watson for doing something she hadn’t done ie compared what happened to her to the plight of women being oppressed by Islamist regimes. It was a petulant outburst and deserved every bit of contempt it received.

          • SexyIsntSexist

            No. She was talking about “latent misogyny” in the preamble to the coffee incident. The coffee incident was mentioned in this explicit context. Watch it again.

            Nobody forced Matt Taylor to apologise? That’s why he was in tears, obviously. His shirt was no big deal. The Twitter response was light-hearted. In fact shirt “gate” never happened at all. …Is this what you’re saying? Because something happened, and it was caused by very angry people – none of whom were Matt Taylor.

            So you concede Professor Hunt did lose his job. But then suggest he deserved it because the weight of public opinion (based on what we now know are spurious lies and misrepresentation) demanded it. A bit like Matt Taylor. Hm. Witch hunt is exactly what these things look like because that is what they are. His defenders are not “boys”. As if “boys” were a pejorative term. Telling. Keep your masochism to yourself. It’s not healthy or representative.

            As for aftershave and allergies. Have you ever been to a movie theatre or lecture and seen signs banning people from entering if they had personally used toiletries which could set off an allergy in someone. No. Because people who have allergies are masters of their own destiny. They can avoid people who smell too sweet or sour – someone so sensitive they want the rest if the world to conform to their comfort zone is guaranteed to never be satisfied. That’s what’s called a diva or a tyrant. Neither should be coddled. If you’re sensitive to a smell – walk away from it.

            • ahermit

              On cologne and perfume in theatres I suggest you do a little research…lots of venues have policies discouraging their excessive use:

              http://www.rbtl.org/theatre-etiquette.aspx

              There are a number of patrons with severe
              allergies to strongly scented perfumes and colognes. Please use sparingly prior to a performance
              to prevent breathing concerns among patrons with these allergies and sensitivities.

              http://morriscenter.org/theater-etiquette.php

              Go easy with the perfume and cologne, many people are highly allergic.

              http://www.imperialtheatre.com/theatreetiquette.cfm

              Perfume and Cologne

              Go easy with the atomizer; many people are highly allergic to perfume and cologne.

              I’ll respond to the rest later…

            • SexyIsntSexist

              In the minority of places that have such guidelines you will not find this listed as a reason for throwing people out or as harassment. Odeon for example has no such guides – not in the UK anyway.

              This is because pandering to the never ending needs of narcissists and misanthropists is not a good business model. People with genuine allergies know how to protect themselves when going out into the world. They don’t impose their inconvenience on to others. If someone has a problem with the way someone else smells, that is *their* problem for them to deal with. Walk away – wear a face mask – take an antihistamine before you go out. Use common sense

            • ahermit

              In the minority of places that have such guidelines you will not find
              this listed as a reason for throwing people out or as harassment.

              And I don’t believe it’s any different at any conference I’ve come across. This is just another of the frankly ridiculous exaggerations being tossed around by the whiny element of the atheist community who just can’t stand being asked politely to have a little consideration for others.

              Honestly, you guys sound like a pack of spoiled little toddlers.

            • SexyIsntSexist
            • ahermit

              Please
              do not wear heavy fragrances—including perfumes, colognes, scented
              shampoos, etc. Some of those attending have allergic reactions to
              scented products.

              What part of that says you will be thrown out for harassment if you wear too much cologne? Like I said, that’s just asking politely that you have some consideration for the people around you. Are you such a fragile little special snowflake that such a polite request hurts you in some way?

              Fucking crybaby…

            • SexyIsntSexist

              It’s part of a harassment policy

              It also doesn’t have the desired effect when you call people crybaby whilst spitting your own dummy out of the pram I’m afraid.

            • ahermit

              No, it’s part of a code of conduct, which also includes a harassment policy. See that bit in big letters at the top of the page where it says “Conference Code of Conduct”…?

              It also politely asks that people turn off cell phones and take noisy children or loud conversations out of the conference rooms… Are you going to whine and complain about that too?

            • SexyIsntSexist

              This is an exchange That whiney voice you can hear in your head is your’s not mine. We’re never going to agree but that isn’t the point.

              People reading can make up their own minds

            • ahermit

              The point is that none of the things you’re crying about are true. you’re inventing reasons to be offended where none exist. Unless being politely asked to have some consideration for the people around you is offensive to you…

            • ahermit

              She was talking about “latent misogyny” in the preamble to the coffee incident.

              She uses the phrases “blatant misogyny” once before she starts talking about that incident, but she didn’t describe that incident itself as anything more than “uncomfortable.”

              There’s nothing in that video that warrants the frantic angry hate filled reaction it got.

              Nobody forced Matt Taylor to apologise?

              No. He obviously bad about the whole thing, but no one forced him to do anything. He wasn’t officially sanctioned or threatened. I find it really amusing that the same people who tell someone like Watson that she should just grow a thicker skin in the face of rape and death threats get all bent out of shape over a little online mockery over a shirt.

              And I don’t concede anything on Tim Hunt. He lost an unpaid honorary post, not a “job.” He lost it because he offended his hosts in Korea who demanded an apology from him, not because of some mythical “witch hunt” and not because of lies. The only lies in that case are coming from the people trying to blame his failure on the people who reported it.

              I’m sorry boys, but in the real world when you say something stupid other people get to point out that the thing you said was stupid. Free speech works both ways.

              Stop being such fucking crybabies.

            • SexyIsntSexist

              Now now. Don’t get emotional.

              Also, I’m not a boy.

              Yes, this is free speech. That is what this is. 🙂

            • ahermit

              I’m not the one getting emotional. Unless you consider being amused by your whining to be getting emotional…

            • josh

              Hunt didn’t offend his hosts in Korea. They apparently understood his non-sexist, self-deprecating jokes, despite the language barrier, which is more than can be said for a lot of internet crybabies who concluded he was a sexist monster.

            • ahermit

              If that’s the case why did they send him a formal letter demanding an apology? I’ll rely on their actual statements, not on your unsupported assertions:

              https://kofwst.org/bbs/bbs_download.php?bbs_data=aWR4PTU4ODgmc3RhcnRQYWdlPSZsaXN0Tm89JnRhYmxlPWNzX2Jic19kYXRhJmNvZGU9ZV9ub3RpY2Umc2VhcmNoX2l0ZW09JnNlYXJjaF9vcmRlcj0=||&download=1

              KOFWST Executive Council reaffirms that it found the remark to be inappropriate and offensive to women in science and technology, even if meant as a joke.

              And no one called him a sexist monster, they pointed out that his “joke” was sexist. The crybabies are the people who can’t accept that a senior white male scientist could be criticized for doing something stupid…

            • josh

              Bit of confusion here. I consider his hosts to be the people at the meeting, many of whom laughed along with his remarks. KOFWST is a professional organization which “sponsored” the meeting and asked for an apology about a week after the fact when the fracas had reached international standing. And of course “sexist monster” is exactly how many people portrayed him. You’re having trouble with context here, I wasn’t trying to quote someone exactly, I was summarizing the overblown witch hunt (that’s idiomatic by the way) against him.

              Again, no one says he can’t be criticized by virtue of who he is, but he has to be accurately represented, the criticism has to be on point, and it has to be proportionate to any offense.

            • ahermit

              His hosts would be the people who hosted the event, and perhaps

              you should take a moment to read what they actually have to say about the matter. It;’s in that link I posted, but this one might be easier to read:

              https://www.byline.com/column/44/article/616

              as far as KOFWST’s involvement is concerned, the case involving Sir Hunt’s inappropriate remark is a matter brought to resolution; KOFWST requested an apology, Sir Hunt responded with an apology, and his letter of apology, along with its Korean translation, was made public.’

              In light of this, KOFWST issues a warning about the ongoing serious distortion of facts by foreign commentators, suggesting that KOFWST has lied, or that KOFWST’s request to Sir Hunt was influenced by foreign journalists. Such allegations ignore undeniable facts and evidence and demonstrate a lack of regard for KOFWST’s autonomy and integrity.

              Maybe you should stop contributing to those ongoing insults to the Korean Women Scientists.

              And there was no fucking “witch hunt.” He was accurately represented, the criticism was on point and proportionate. His hosts asked for, and received, an apology and the institution he had embarrassed with his ham handed behaviour removed him from his honorary unpaid position as their representative, since his representation was more of a liability than an asset in this case.

            • josh

              [Sigh.] His hosts are the institution he was visiting, that’s not the same thing as a sponsor but please pay attention to the point rather than the semantics. The people he was talking to weren’t offended because they understood the context. People who didn’t have the context misunderstood.

              You might note that the KOFWSTs own reason for asking for an apology was “to calm Korean media criticism against him at the earliest possible stage, and to facilitate his future cooperation with the Korean science community”. That’s a typical response from a big organization that doesn’t want to embroil itself in controversy, similar to the honorary position he held. But, while a formal apology might be appropriate in a professional context, (I don’t think it was merited but one does these things to grease the wheels), losing his position and becoming the target of an internet smear fest was not proportionate. People who quoted snippets of his remarks and lied about the reaction in the room, like Connie St. Louis, misrepresented him. The people who thought he actually argued that women and men should be separated in labs are nowhere near on point. Yes, there was a witch hunt (or lynch mob if you prefer that metaphor).

        • ahermit

          Oh, and the “too much cologne” thing isn’t about harassment, it’s about allergies. Ever find yourself in a movie theatre or lecture hall stuck behind someone drenched in perfume? If you’re at all sensitive to that stuff it really can ruin the experience.

          Same reason some cons remind their attendees to remember to shower occasionally…

          http://nypost.com/2013/10/10/comic-con-plea-shower/

        • blondein_tokyo

          Watson didn’t call that misogyny. She said “Don’t do that.”

          Anti-harassment policies are standard *everywhere* in offices, at bars and clubs, at conferences, and yes – even at sex parties. I’ve been. I know. 😉 That’s hardly “puritan” and it’s hyperbolic nonsense to call it that. Seriously, even SEX PARTIES have policies.

          I can’t be bothered to specifically point out the nonsense of the rest of your examples, but they’re equally hyperbolic.

          If you must resort to exaggeration and lies to make your point, then you should consider that you may not have an especially strong point.

    • Rozza

      Getting banned from the Free Thought Blog really is rite of passage to all free thinkers.

    • Rozza

      PZ needs to spend less time so not being racist and more time accurately surveying minority attitude. Naturally those attitudes includes the Sallafist Imam of Cologne who did the ol 7th century uncovered meat counter accusation of the women who were sexually assaulted around Euroland on NYE.

    • SexyIsntSexist

      Re James’ question about 1st world problems: I think the fallacy lies in thinking human nature is ever satisfied with what it has. There is always more to be achieved. Ambition is our blessing and our curse. As Macbeth demonstrates. The balance is all.

      I’ve found reading Shermer’s The Mind of the Market and Ridley’s The Evolution of Everything insightful on this issue – the battle between fast working top down human interference on large, evolving systems. The former usually fuck up the latter because each generation is born with original sin (in this context that is personal ambition not for the good of the species altruism) – but this will be the case for as long as we are human. Again, the balance is all. IMHO

    • blondein_tokyo

      You don’t seem actually understand the effect that microagressions have. It’s not like having a single raindrop fall on your head. It’s like having a single raindrop fall on your head once a minute for twenty years straight.

      It’s accumulative, and builds up over time until even one inane but insensitive comment can actually infuriate you.

      Try it for yourself. Go live in a foreign country for twenty-five years, like I have, and see how you feel when the 1,000th person attrubutes a ridiculous stereotype to you. Not because they’ve actually seen you exhibit those characteristics; but simply because you weren’t born there.

      You weren’t banned for a simple disagreement. You were banned for being insensitive and for not actually understanding the thing you were arguing against.