Opting Out

Note: I’m overwhelmed by the response this blog has gotten! If your comment has been trapped in moderation, sorry about that–I work full time and didn’t expect my blog would get this level of attention. I’ve left some particularly atrocious comments up because I feel they prove my point. So, survivors, trigger warnings ahead.

There’s a subculture with a healthy Internet presence, centered around passionate advocacy for a particular ideological cause. It has several popular male leaders. These men enjoy comfortable jobs, speaking engagements and publishing credits. That places them in a position of power in this subculture, and they’ve got the dedicated followers to prove it.

And then these leaders are accused of abuse: sustained sexual harassment, even rape, all directed at women, an under-represented demographic in this community. Rather than treat these allegations with respect and serious inquiry, there is backlash. These women, people say, are sluts. They are liars. They exaggerate. They can’t take a joke. They shouldn’t have been drinking. Their allies are traitors. They should be sued.

Did you think of Sovereign Grace Ministries? ABWE? The homeschool and Quiverfull movements? Maybe even the Catholic Church?

Reasonable guesses all but you’d be wrong. The subculture in question is the mainstream atheist/skeptic movement, as it exists in the United States. I’m referring, specifically, to the backlash now facing Karen Stollznow, Carrie Poppy, and other survivors, in addition to their allies, like PZ Myers.

For the uninitiated: the American atheist community has faced accusations of entrenched sexism for some time. You might remember Rebecca Watson and ElevatorGate. Recently, these accusations ramped up again after several women came forward to report serious allegations of rape, assault, and harassment perpetuated by atheist men at popular conventions. These men include Michael Shermer and Ben Radford, among others.

You might also guess that a community centered around the pursuit of reason would react…reasonably, and treat these allegations seriously. But you’d be wrong about that too. Shermer et al enjoy devoted followings and these followers have reacted viciously to the suggestion that their heroes could be capable of abuse.

I have never been particularly involved with the American atheist, humanist or skeptic communities. I sided with Rebecca Watson during ElevatorGate, but the extent of my participation in that fiasco is a single blog post. The backlash Watson received made me wary of any further interaction with this community; I didn’t think that as a feminist, and especially as a survivor of sexual assault, I could share my experiences without finding myself the object of harassment. And after my experiences with Christian fundamentalism, I felt I’d really hit a lifetime quota for that sort of abuse.

But then this week happened. About a month ago, I appeared as a guest on God Discussion, which is run by Al Stefanelli and Deborah Beeksma, along with other members of Homeschoolers Anonymous. I didn’t realize then that Stefanelli has a reputation for being an anti-feminist blowhard. If I’d known, I would have never agreed to appear on his show. His views only became known to me after I read his latest screed against PZ Myers. I felt then, and still feel now, that Stefanelli’s post showed a deep ignorance of how rape and assault survivors respond to trauma, and that his attack on Myers was unwarranted.

And so that’s exactly what I said on Stefanelli’s Facebook. I didn’t accuse Shermer or anyone else of rape. I said, simply, that I was disturbed by Stefanelli’s post for the reasons I described above.

Cue the abuse. I got immediately swarmed by atheist anti-feminist men and the situation escalated until one of them threatened to kill me. Several times, in fact. Al’s since deleted the threats, but as far as I know, he still acknowledges that the threats were made. The person making the threats is possibly unwell; he also told me he’s a genetically engineered soldier. But that doesn’t make me feel any better about the fact that someone repeatedly threatened to kill me.

deaththreat

Which seems reasonable–unless you’re EllenBeth Wachs. Wachs, who identifies herself as the past president of the Florida Humanists Association, told me I’d brought the death threats upon myself for being so easy to troll. She repeated those statements on Twitter.

EllenBeth Wachs1 (2)

EllenBeth Wachs2 again

I’m not sure why Wachs is so convinced the person was joking; there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that’s the case. I have no idea if I was being trolled or not, but ultimately this doesn’t matter: making death threats crosses a line. It’s never funny. It’s totally inappropriate behavior and if Wachs was in the least bit invested in actual rationality, rather than the fevered defense of Michael Shermer, she would have acknowledged that.

But she hasn’t. She still thinks it’s hilarious that someone threatened to kill me and the abuse didn’t end there. Shocked that I called her behavior sociopathic, she demanded an apology–for obvious reasons, she didn’t get it. And that’s when she name-dropped my boss and threatened to call him.

employmentthreat

Summary: she laughed at me for getting threats, told me I deserved it, then threatened my job.

And this is from an atheist. Not a fundamentalist Christian. An atheist. Someone who calls herself rational.

Her definition of rationality is as creative as Ken Ham’s definition of science.

Wachs’ abuse is just a highlight of the abusive tweets I got from other atheists, mostly men, over a 24 hour period. And let me reiterate: I’ve never actually accused Shermer or anyone else of committing a crime. My offense? I suggested atheists take rape allegations more seriously.

This isn’t reason in action, it’s fundamentalism. If your response to the suggestion that you take rape seriously is threaten and abuse me, then you are not rational. If your response to anyone making these allegations is to blame them for their own trauma, you are not rational. If you immediately assume that a woman who says she’s been raped, assaulted or harassed is lying, you are not rational. If you refuse to believe even the possibility that someone you admire is capable of assault, then not only are you irrational, you are actively protecting a toxic subculture.

I grew up with this bullshit. I went to school with this bullshit. I got over this bullshit years ago. My patience for it is buried right alongside my faith in God.

I will not participate in any movement that attacks survivors. I will not swear allegiance to a set of leaders at the cost of my ability to think critically. I will not do either of these things because these are the trappings of fundamentalism and I rejected fundamentalism years ago at no small personal cost.

Over the last 24 hours I’ve heard that I’m milking this for attention, that I’m out for a career as a professional victim. Let me tell you something: if I really wanted to be a professional victim I already have enough material to last me two lifetimes. I experienced religious abuse. I survived a sexual assault. I have an incurable genetic disease.  I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for years.

And the only reason that I am stable, gainfully employed and yes, happy, is because I have rejected victimhood. I am not a victim. I am a survivor.  I do not owe you anything.

I commented on Stefanelli’s article because I know what it’s like to be attacked when you finally come forward about sexual assault. If your response to that is to wish me dead or otherwise abuse me, that says more about you than it does about me. It tells me that you’re fanatical. You’ve bought into this idea of culture war and just like the Christian fundamentalists I knew,  you’re willing to sacrifice the vulnerable in order to protect your movement. If survivors have become collateral damage for your cause, then something has gone terribly, tragically wrong.

So count me out. I’d rather stay here in no man’s land than fight in the trenches on either side of this war. And right now, I feel like I’m stranded in the middle and both sides are trying to gun me down.

But you know what?

That means I’ve done something right. When you speak truth to power, expect power to shout you down. Or at least, it’ll try. I don’t intend to let it win.

See you in the middle.

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224 thoughts on “Opting Out

  1. Ugh. Sarah, I saw all of this except for the threats. They were gone when I heard about them. Even for someone who’s been targeted herself, that was a stunning amount of toxic crap in one place. I’m sorry any of this was aimed at you. I’m horrified that all of that was.

    • Yeah, I had some experience with this sort of thing thanks to being a feminist at Christian college, but even by those standards the last day and night have been intense. People have also been really supportive, though!

  2. Thank you for speaking up.
    I am so sorry that you are being targeted by the crowd of hateful misogynists and pseudoskeptics.

    Please know that there are people who support you, Karen Stollznow, Carrie Poppy, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Jen McCreight, PZ Myers, and so many others.

    I fully agree with and side with you all.
    Those individuals who oppose harassment policies, who issue rape and death threats to their enemies, who harass, stalk, doxx and bully their opponents are people I condemn and want nothing to do with.
    Likewise those who cannot see fit to believe victims of harassment or rape. Neither of those is an extraordinary occurence. As Greta Christina said, they are depressingly ordinary. They happen all the time and are too often swept under the rug. The authorities historically are little if no help and as such little recourse is left to victims but to spread the word and hope that aids in protecting other women in the future.

  3. I’ve been fond of using the rather silly phrase “more power to you” when I don’t know what else to say in support of someone. So, more power to you. Your post is good, as were your FB comments and Tweets against the sexism and harassment status quo crowd.

  4. I would like to add another internet voice in support of your stand on these issues. I don’t post much on these problems because others usually say it better, but I am with you.

  5. Thank you for your courage Ms. Jones. Those of us who still rely on humanistic principles of reason and respect for others need to speak up. We can’t let the cult of popular personality take the place of those
    principles.

  6. There’s a third side; the rationalists, atheists, skeptics, and (actual) humanists who have your back against the sociopaths and misogynists. You aren’t alone; there are plenty who have no tolerance for abuse-minimizing vicious assholes regardless of the flag they fly.

    The only emotion these people deserve is pity, and even that may be giving them more than they deserve.

    Seriously. What the hell kind of ‘humanist’ defends a death threat as a joke? Did I miss an update to the OED? I better check on the entry for ‘sociopath’ while I’m at it…

  7. Wow. Just… wow.

    Another voice adding my support. Sorry you had to be reintroduced this way. But there is a group of us trying to build something better.

    One thing… the link to where EllenBeth name-dropped your boss isn’t just borked… it’s incomprehensible.

  8. I follow the sckeptick atheist comunity in the states from my country and was until recently años admirer of people like shermer and those around the cfi. Since elevatorgate i am totaly disapointed with them and that includes people like dawkins o randi for his lack of empaty. I not sure if pz was right in the formal but i think you have to do something. I think you are the rational one in this and you have my support.

  9. Just another internet voice in support, and I’ll have to look into what Americans United has been up to lately, given that their employees seem kind of awesome. :)

  10. It was almost a year ago that I wrote about this situation among movement atheists. It was an old story back then, and it is now. Unfortunately, it’s also an ongoing story. As I wrote in that link, you can count this sort of thing as one of the reasons I’m not tempted to join the movement.

    I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this. Nothing you wrote sounds unreasonable, and even it was that’s no excuse for continual abuse.

  11. Sorry you had to put up with that very unpleasant wing of the atheist movement. Impressed how well you handled yourself on FB and Twitter with the dogpile of anti-feminists though. Clearly you are no victim.

    Of course if you had “over-reacted” then that would have been more “evidence” of you being a “professional victim”. Unfortunately the “skeptics” at the Slymepit repeat this mantra of “professional victim” ad nauseam. To the point where unless you are an approved tribal member PTSD is not a thing. If you are then anyone triggering one of their tribal members is the worst kind of person, anyone on the other “side” is just a professional victim. Cults exist within atheism and skepticism it seems.

  12. Sarah said:

    Shermer et al enjoy devoted followings and these followers have reacted viciously to the suggestion that their heroes could be capable of abuse.

    I skimmed through your Facebook screen shots and, apart from the few remaining from Cameron Davis – the presumed source of the threats, I certainly don’t see much there to justify “reacted viciously”. In addition, I note that Al’s post clearly acknowledges the possibility that Shermer might be guilty of the charge – which hardly looks like a rejection of “the suggestion that [his hero] could be capable of abuse”.

    You might want to try quoting specifics instead of trying to tar everyone with the same brush.

    Al’s since deleted the threats, but as far as I know, he still acknowledges that the threats were made.

    Would you have preferred that he try to deny that those threats were made? You might have had a case if you’d insisted that he report that fellow to the police – and maybe he did.

    And let me reiterate: I’ve never actually accused Shermer or anyone else of committing a crime. My offense? I suggested atheists take rape allegations more seriously.

    And how do you expect them to do that? In general and in Shermer’s case? Would you expect, in the latter case, that that hearsay evidence should be sufficient for the legal system to incarcerate him? Without him having a chance to defend himself, without the opportunity to confront his accuser?

    The point is that PZ’s post seems to be libelous for which he might well wind up in some serious hot water. While you and many others seem to think that that bit of hearsay PZ posted should be sufficient to condemn Shermer, I really don’t think the legal system works that way nor should it.

    But, in passing and relative to your Facebook comments, I do have to wonder about this one of yours:

    And for the record: no one has a ‘responsibility’ to reduce their risk of being a victim. That’s victim blaming, it’s rape culture, and I’m disappointed to see it in your post.

    A rather problematic though common attitude. But I wonder whether you wear seatbelts when you’re driving or riding in a car which might reasonably be construed as a way of reducing the risk of serious injury. Or how about your support for penalties for driving while under the influence of alcohol which might also be construed as efforts to reduce the risk of being a victim?

    While the first case might be deprecated somewhat because the agents are generally not out to cause harm, the second case seems more consistent with or similar to what might prevail in at least some cases of rape. If the women in the two cases described in PZ’s post were supposedly incapacitated to the extent of not being able to give informed consent then why shouldn’t the same “excuse” or justification be granted to the men, that they were incapacitated – as with drunk driving – to the point of being unable to make rational judgments relative to consent as well?

    While I’ll concede that that is somewhat of a hypothetical scenario, I think it illustrates that those events have a very subjective aspect to them, and that there are a great many possibilities which should preclude hasty and badly-informed judgements.

    See you in the middle.

    There is certainly some justification for taking a position in the middle as I think there are some things to be said for all of the different positions. Although that does tend to mean that one takes shots from both sides – as I know all too well.

    • I will this once, and then I will never say it again: no one has a responsibility to prevent their own rape. Rapists have a responsibility not to rape. Drinking alcohol is not consent to sex, and furthermore: most rapes aren’t committed by random men in bars. They’re committed by men the victim already knows. Friends. Boyfriends. Relatives. Maybe we should just lock ourselves away in our rooms to reduce our risk.

    • Would you have preferred that he try to deny that those threats were made?

      What the hell? No, of course not. Why are you asking this?

      And how do you expect them to do that? In general and in Shermer’s case?[1] Would you expect, in the latter case, that that hearsay evidence should be sufficient for the legal system to incarcerate him?[2] Without him having a chance to defend himself, without the opportunity to confront his accuser?[3]

      1) By not dismissing it out of hand.
      2) No.
      3) How the hell does he not have a chance to defend himself? It’s bloody fucking simple; unless Shermer has a habit of not making sure he has consent, it’s very easy to say, “I’ve always made sure I have consent.” If Shermer needs details and specifics of this particular incident to decide whether or not he’s guilty, he’s already royally fucked up.

      A rather problematic though common attitude. But I wonder whether you wear seatbelts when you’re driving or riding in a car which might reasonably be construed as a way of reducing the risk of serious injury. Or how about your support for penalties for driving while under the influence of alcohol which might also be construed as efforts to reduce the risk of being a victim?

      No one is saying that, by and large, people aren’t responsible for what they drink. What’s being said is that, in the case where one drinks until ones judgement is impaired, one is not responsible for being raped by someone else. If your actions are your responsibility, then rape is the rapist’s responsibility.

      If the women in the two cases described in PZ’s post were supposedly incapacitated to the extent of not being able to give informed consent then why shouldn’t the same “excuse” or justification be granted to the men, that they were incapacitated – as with drunk driving – to the point of being unable to make rational judgments relative to consent as well?

      The mind boggles at such stupidity. You’re responsible for your actions. One is responsible for commiting rape when one does not get informed consent.. It’s really that fucking simple.

    • I don’t know how it’s done in America but over here in the civilized world the law, in the case of a rape crime, rejects the idea that there is any responsibility whatsoever on the part of the victim.

    • You’re got to be kidding me….

      “A rather problematic though common attitude. But I wonder whether you wear seatbelts when you’re driving or riding in a car which might reasonably be construed as a way of reducing the risk of serious injury. ”

      So to reduce the risk of being attacked by some liquid stupidity fueled male, with less control of his baser urges than a 16 year old, women should hide out in convents or wear berkas? Is that what you’re advocating? How about this. How about certain males of my species grow the F up and act like reasonable, responsible adults, who have control over their urges for sex and/or domination? Ever think about THAT as a reasonable solution? Geeezzz! What the hell is wrong with people like you, Steersman? Do you guys somehow miss that part of adolescents where we learned how to respond to females like reasonable adults and not drooling idiots?

      • Paleotn said:

        So to reduce the risk of being attacked by some liquid stupidity fueled male, with less control of his baser urges than a 16 year old, women should hide out in convents or wear berkas? Is that what you’re advocating?

        That’s a rather impressive and spectacular leap of inferential “logic” there. It looks rather analogous to arguing that because some “drug fueled person (male or female)” can’t control their “baser urges” to steal my car I should be obliged to walk or take the bus when it is far easier and more convenient to ensure that I always lock it or otherwise prevent its theft.

        While it might be nice if we could all say that other people should do X, Y, or Z – not steal cars; pay their taxes; not rape, pillage, and murder; look both ways before crossing the street; etc.; etc.; etc. – and have them obey our commands, you may not have noticed that the facts of the matter are, mirabile dictu, that some small segment of the population are, out of perversity, stupidity, or blithe unawareness, rather reluctant to actually do so. In which case, most sensible and rational individuals are going to go with the proactive approach and take steps to minimize the negative consequences of those actions on the part of others.

        I find it rather curious, though rather problematic, that so many refuse to consider the possibility that responsibility is not an all-or-nothing proposition, that as responsible citizens we all have a responsibility to limit the damage to ourselves caused by the actions of others, either through intent or accident. While laws have their place and uses and, no doubt, reduce the incidence of various crimes, being able to say after the fact that a crime was committed, and that “someone should pay!” seems rather cold comfort in comparison to having forestalled the crime in the first place, or having minimized its consequences, by taking a little bit of responsibility for our own welfare.

  13. It’s very sad that you’ve been the subject of death threats, I’ll never understand the reason why people would post such things. You’re making a wise decision to stay out of the whole mess. As someone who has followed both sides of the argument, neither has “clean hands”, both sides can be somewhat vitriolic at times.

    My concern however is that people who disagree with individuals such as Watson are at times labelled as misogynist and rape apologists (not saying by Watson et al. but people online have made such claims. I also do not mean to suggest you make such claims). I’m not sure this is always a fair label. I do not mean to state that anyone who criticizes Watson et al. is definitely not a misogynist. Just that there are critics who are not misogynists. I do not doubt the existence of misogynist abuse. The people who I bother to listen to do not condone rape. I think we can all agree that we’d love to see rapists go to jail (unless of course rape simply ceased happening, but that’s not realistic.) Their concern isn’t that people are reporting rape, but rather, in relation to Shermer, that anonymous hearsay posts are a dangerous game to play. They are not saying the allegations against Shermer are wrong, merely that it’s dangerous to libel someone with such grave accusations instead of going through the authorities.

    Of course, as anyone reading this comment is probably thinking right now, this may suggest a situation whereby people either go to the police or say nothing. Many regard this as revolting as traumatized victims may be left without recourse, (a serious problem for rape victims in court is having to re-live the experience during cross-examination, therefore they don’t want to speak up and go through the ordeal and that is perfectly reasonable) and this is not justice. I’m not sure the options are so black and white. If the victims could come together and collectively publish their accounts, so that Shermer can be offered the chance to defend himself, then it may be more fair, but the authorities would be the preferential option. (Please be aware I’m not demanding they do this, and I am more than willing to believe that victims in this case may be afraid to face their harasser, I’m just suggesting what would be nice to have). I also want to make it clear I do not deny that people have reacted callously to some reports (saying they are “sluts” or “liars”.) But such individuals do not add value and can be swiftly ignored.

    Consider the allegations against Redford. I’ve noticed some who levy criticism against PZ Myers do so because of the anonymous nature of the allegations. These same individuals do not leap to Redford’s defense. Perhaps because they feel that if Redford wished to make a defense, he could with the precise allegations provided,and also because we have identifiable individuals making the claims, and corroborating one another’s stories. I think this contrast shows that some who criticize PZ Myers in this instance are not simply motivated by rampant misogyny but a concern for how these matters are handled.

    If people wish to label me a rape apologist for my comments I ask you to please consider the following stance. I do not condone rape or sexual harassment of any kind. I am unconvinced that every allegation of misconduct against the atheist movement is simply unfounded and should be dismissed as such. I’m wary of hearsay, but I do take these allegations very seriously and would like them aired in such a way which allows for both sides to present a case, and I feel the courts are the appropriate mechanism. If failing that, then at least allow the accused to present their side in the public domain. (I also in no way subscribe to the notion that if you’re unwilling to go to court about it, then you’re a liar, see above).

    However, I fear there may be a disconnect here. As some people (such as Stephanie Zvan I believe?) have received complaints of sexual harassment/assault/worse from (multiple?) victims and believe their veracity, they quite rightly find the idea of sitting back and allowing abusers to escape punishment to be an unacceptable action, vs. someone like myself who has received no such accounts, and therefore lacks a certain impetus in that respect, I understand and must respect that. On that note, genuine question, is this an unreasonable position I’m stating? I fear for anon. reports that we cannot publicly verify, it makes me uneasy to ruin reputations with such remarks.

    Personally I would like to see attention on the very serious issue of providing support and assistance for women to be able to come forward with these allegations to the police (I in no way mean to imply that atheist feminists ignore this issue at present). As a Law graduate in the UK I’ve read cases where the police have done a bad job dealing with victims/witnesses directly injuring that person. But I’ve also read the opposite. I feel it would be beneficial to address this and make the “official channel” more receptive to the needs of victims. Is this not a good cause for our energies which surely everyone can agree upon?

    As for the “professional victimhood” charges levied at you, I fear people seem to have missed what “professional victimhood” actually entails. I’m not sure how exposing your treatment in a post is a “professional” move in any capacity, especially when you personally don’t stand to make any foreseeable material gain. Also, threatening someone’s job after they receive a threat is never justified. Sadly this appears to be an example of people vaguely resembling “my side” making snap callous judgments. :/ I could go on but I’ve taken more than enough of your web-space already.

    To conclude, I hope my post has not seemed inflammatory to anyone, I have no desire to offend and I apologize unreservedly if I have in fact done so. But I’m saddened that such a serious dialogue has been marred by angry insults. I would like to commend you for maintaining your dignity throughout not just this but all the experiences you have listed and hope you will not be threatened or attacked any further. Finally, thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • My concern however is that people who disagree with individuals such as Watson are at times labelled as misogynist and rape apologists (not saying by Watson et al. but people online have made such claims. I also do not mean to suggest you make such claims). I’m not sure this is always a fair label.

      Is this relevant? It looks like concern trolling to me.

      Of course, as anyone reading this comment is probably thinking right now, this may suggest a situation whereby people either go to the police or say nothing. Many regard this as revolting as traumatized victims may be left without recourse, (a serious problem for rape victims in court is having to re-live the experience during cross-examination, therefore they don’t want to speak up and go through the ordeal and that is perfectly reasonable) and this is not justice. I’m not sure the options are so black and white.

      No, it isn’t

      If the victims could come together and collectively publish their accounts, so that Shermer can be offered the chance to defend himself, then it may be more fair, but the authorities would be the preferential option.

      Why can’t Shermer defend himself as it stands? All he needs to say is, “I’ve always made sure I have consent.” There, done. Unless he has a habit of sleeping with women whose consent is in question, he really shouldn’t have a problem.

      Consider the allegations against Redford. I’ve noticed some who levy criticism against PZ Myers do so because of the anonymous nature of the allegations. These same individuals do not leap to Redford’s defense. Perhaps because they feel that if Redford wished to make a defense, he could with the precise allegations provided,and also because we have identifiable individuals making the claims, and corroborating one another’s stories. I think this contrast shows that some who criticize PZ Myers in this instance are not simply motivated by rampant misogyny but a concern for how these matters are handled.

      Radford’s sexual harrassment was, if I remember correctly, verrified by CFI (Ron Lindsay’s blog had a post up verrifying that Radford served suspension). And actually, there were comments in Karen Stollznow’s post claiming that Radford hadn’t recieved due process. Finally, I don’t see many people talking about Radford at all at the moment; not leaping to his defense by virtue of not saying anything is hardly virtuous. You’re likely right, the anonymity is the source of much of the contention. Why though? Anonymity is to be expected when people sling around abuse at rape victims. To see a rape claim made anonymously should not be surprising. Hell, an anonymous claim is easier from which to defend onself.

      If people wish to label me a rape apologist for my comments I ask you to please consider the following stance. I do not condone rape or sexual harassment of any kind. I am unconvinced that every allegation of misconduct against the atheist movement is simply unfounded and should be dismissed as such.

      Words are easy and, as such, easily dismissed. I’m not judging you; I’m just saying this paragraph isn’t in the least convincing.

      If failing that, then at least allow the accused to present their side in the public domain.

      Shermer is allowed to present his side. All he needs to say is that he doesn’t sleep with women whose consent is in question.

      However, I fear there may be a disconnect here. As some people (such as Stephanie Zvan I believe?) have received complaints of sexual harassment/assault/worse from (multiple?) victims and believe their veracity, they quite rightly find the idea of sitting back and allowing abusers to escape punishment to be an unacceptable action, vs. someone like myself who has received no such accounts, and therefore lacks a certain impetus in that respect, I understand and must respect that. On that note, genuine question, is this an unreasonable position I’m stating? I fear for anon. reports that we cannot publicly verify, it makes me uneasy to ruin reputations with such remarks.

      Be uneasy about potentially ruined reputations all you want. Just note that, so far, his reputation remains intact for many.

      Personally I would like to see attention on the very serious issue of providing support and assistance for women to be able to come forward with these allegations to the police (I in no way mean to imply that atheist feminists ignore this issue at present). As a Law graduate in the UK I’ve read cases where the police have done a bad job dealing with victims/witnesses directly injuring that person. But I’ve also read the opposite. I feel it would be beneficial to address this and make the “official channel” more receptive to the needs of victims. Is this not a good cause for our energies which surely everyone can agree upon?

      These is being done. However, it hasn’t been done yet, and we still need to adress current allegations.

  14. “no one has a responsibility to prevent their own rape”

    So you wouldn’t advise your daughter not to become a lap-dancer in a rough bar? Or a cheap prostitute in a dark and seedy part of town?

    By the way, it’s disappointing that freedom of speech is disallowed on this forum.

    • 1. It’s not a forum, it’s my personal blog, and you are not entitled to free speech on it.

      2. However, where on earth have I limited anyone’s free speech?

      3. I would advise you to teach your sons not to rape women. Male violence is, of course, the common thread here. Your priorities are skewed.

      • Serioulsy, where do people get their definition of “ad hominem” from? There is no ad hominem in that post. FFS.

    • People should know that Kevin Solway is an unapologetic male supremacist who sincerely believes that women are in general less rational than men. Amusingly, he attempts to deflect criticism for his obvious bigotry by labeling his views as “feminist.” Just google “Kevin Solway Otto Weininger” and you’ll see what I mean.

      • Sally Strange wrote:
        “Kevin Solway is an unapologetic male supremacist ”

        That is a lie. There are many things that women can do better than men. So does that mean I am also an unapologetic female supremacist?

      • I don’t really care what you call yourself, Kevin Solway. Anyone who reads your essays and posts can see that you hold male supremacist views. Whatever other labels they choose to assign to you is their business. And, of course, your own personal opinion on the matter is irrelevant since you have no credibility.

      • Sally Strange,

        Haven’t you ever heard of the logical fallacy of “ad hominem”. I can’t believe you haven’t heard of it before.

        Try making a rational argument instead of merely labeling people as monsters of various kinds.

      • sarahejones wrote:

        “Is she wrong, Kevin?”

        Yes, she is wrong, and I explained why. I believe that there are many things that women can do better than men. And so I ask you, does that make me a female supremacist?

      • Look Kevin, of course you can be a supremacist AND believe that men/white people/etc. are not better at EVERYTHING. You don’t have a point here and your question is stupid. Also, something is only a fallacy if it used to counter an ARGUMENT. Since you didn’t make an argument and since Sally stated that your OPINION is irrelevant it’s not a fallacy. Capice?

      • sarahejones wrote:

        “Let me guess: those things involve cooking, cleaning and birthing lots of children.”

        I honestly don’t know what they all are, but it would stand to reason that there would be many things. In nature different creatures tend to be specialized for different tasks.

      • CerberusCheerleader wrote:

        “men/white people”

        I haven’t said anything at all about “white people”.

        What is this thing you have with skin color?

        “Also, something is only a fallacy if it used to counter an ARGUMENT. Since you didn’t make an argument”

        I have made several arguments on this page.

        “Sally stated that your OPINION is irrelevant”

        So if it’s my opinion that I’ve been raped, then that’s irrelevant? That’s very generous of her, I must say.

    • I have seen many times SallyStrange pop up at places Kevin Solway comments, and launch this ‘male supremacist’ accusation. Talk about obsession.

      Generally speaking, Men ARE indeed better than women in some things, and Women ARE indeed better than men in some other things. Sally cant wrap her head around this. That is expected.. after all, Wimminz are less rational than men. LOL

      Obama: Women can do whatever a man can do, and they can do it in heels.
      Roosh: Woman can do whatever a man can do, as long as he shows her how first.

      I think Roosh is closer to the truth.

      • I don’t track Kevin Solway. Apparently we both track the same thing: articles about women in the atheist/skeptical community.

        If you think he’s onto something, then I guess that makes you a male supremacist too.

        I don’t care whether male supremacists view my commitment to informing readers of the presence of male supremacists in the conversation as “obsessive” or not.

      • “Roosh: Woman can do whatever a man can do, as long as he shows her how first.”

        lol, and MRAs wonder why everyone labels them misogynists.

      • cyranothe2nd:
        MRAs “dont wonder why everybody labels them misogynists“. MRAs dont care what anybody labels them.
        To start with, we just want to expose feminists for the misandrists they are. And judging by whats happening in the Atheist community, we dont have to bother much. LOL
        Funny how MRAs’ message “Dont be that Girl (who regrets drunk sex and cries rape)” is exactly whats playing out in the Shermer case. And feminists are getting that same message from the Atheist community.

      • Astrokid said:

        That is expected.. after all, Wimminz are less rational than men. LOL

        Maybe you’re just trolling Sally, but if not then I think you’re seriously barking up the wrong tree on that point – as I think I’ve argued with you before. Seems to me that you’re judging an entire group on the basis of the attributes of some smaller segment of it which qualifies as stereotyping at least if not actually sexism. Most if not all attributes for most groups or sub-populations of people fall into a statistical distribution or bell-curve with the majority in the middle with values close to the average with smaller percentages above and below that average value.

        For instance, the statistics for the heights of males in the US puts 50% of the population at heights of from 67 inches to 71 inches (more or less), average 69 inches, with some 10% being 65 inches or less, and 10% being 73 inches or more. And the similar numbers for females are that 50% are between 62 and 66 inches, average 64 inches, with 10% being 60 inches or less and 10% being 67 inches or more. And with those types of numbers and distributions it becomes rather difficult to compare the two populations. For instance, it seems from that data that one can say that some 10% to 15% of the women are taller than 25% of the men, but it is virtual nonsense to say, for example, that men are taller than women.

        And that is for quantities that have some objective measure and spectrum of values – weight and height, for examples. But it becomes rather difficult if not impossible for more subjective attributes such as “rationality” – whatever that is – or intelligence which have a great many facets and aspects to them. However, most of the data of that nature that I’ve seen puts the two populations on par – average values more or less the same between the sexes – with most of the variations at the extreme parts of the curves. In which case, I think the most that can said in such cases is that, for example, 50% of the women are more “rational” than the other 50%, but that the same 50% is probably more “rational” than 50% of the men.

      • Steersman wrote:

        “it is virtual nonsense to say, for example, that men are taller than women.”

        “Virtual nonsense” . . . that’s a new one. Virtual nonsense as opposed to real nonsense? :-)

        If men are on average significantly taller than women – across all the cultures of the world – then there’s nothing wrong with saying that men are taller than women, so long as the statement is a generalization, and isn’t meant to imply that every individual man is taller than every individual woman.

      • Kevin Solway said:

        “Virtual nonsense” . . . that’s a new one. Virtual nonsense as opposed to real nonsense? :-)

        :-) It was late when I posted that; it maybe could have used a review. However, my dictionary – if the use of such in these parts isn’t heresy, and subject to summary burning at the stake – provides the following definition:

        vir•tu•al
        adj.
        1. Existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact, form, or name

        So, “in effect, nonsense” – i.e., superficially not that, but in effect it is.

        … then there’s nothing wrong with saying that men are taller than women, so long as the statement is a generalization, and isn’t meant to imply that every individual man is taller than every individual woman.

        While I’ll generally agree with you as I think it is more logical to infer that it is referring to averages, I think that more than a few people incorrectly take it to mean, or actually mean, that it refers to all members of the indicated classes. Which causes no end of problems in various discussions, particularly when the attributes in question are things like intelligence or “rationality”.

        Why I tend to emphasize the use of various qualifiers: some men are taller than some women, but some women are taller than some men. Or some women are “smarter” than some men, but some men are “smarter” than some women.

        A similar qualifier is the use of “more” which has a few usage problems of its own, although also related to the question of populations: “[being over six feet in height], it’s more of a guy thing” or “[atheist activism], it’s more of a guy thing”. Not at all unreasonable to consider that there are more men than women who are over six feet, particularly when one looks at the data. Yet many seem to balk at considering analogous cases, even when confronted with similar data, probably because there’s an erroneous inference that what one is saying is that all men are more atheist than all women.

        I think that one of the roots of the various on-line battles in the atheist-skeptic community in the last while is poor and sloppy use and understanding of the language, and of statistics. Which isn’t much helped when people refuse to consider or refer to one of the most important arbiters in those discussions, i.e., the dictionary.

      • @Steersman,
        That plenty of people dont understand the difference between generalizations about humans, and universal statements about humans is indeed a big issue in these discussion. (explained very well by Steven Pinker in the Blank Slate).
        When generalizations are applied to non-humans, same people have no problems. for e.g birds fly (even though platypus, kakapo, dodo, ostrich, etc dont).

        Its painful to put up qualifiers like some, all everytime.
        In fact, valid universal statements (those containing all) are extremely difficult to make regarding human groups (whether gender, race, whatever). All men are XXX, All women are YYY… claims fall apart with the proferring of one exception. some reduces the strength of the generalization.. Hey.. some men are XXX, some women are YYY is bound to be true whatever the XXX, YYY may be.

        YOU tripped up on something as simple as men are taller than women. May I recommend the perspicacious GWW on generalizations?

        One of my favorite MRAs once said, “Generalities exist. A bigot thinks there are no exceptions. An idiot thinks everyone is an exception. I am neither.”
        I can’t state clearly enough, it is impossible to talk about gender issues, or society, or culture, or biology without talking in generalities. That sometimes means saying, “women are like this,” and “men are like that,” because it is the only possible way to discuss and examine problems that are systemic, and that are rooted in the different ways men and women think, feel and behave, and the way men and women are perceived in society. This simply cannot be done on a case-by-case basis.

      • @Astrokid

        “Its painful to put up qualifiers like some, all everytime”

        Even though it is traditional to use the term “he” to refer to “he or she”, I once saw Sam Harris rudely interrupted on stage, in the middle of making an important point, by someone objecting to his use of the word “he”.

        This is pure insanity. These people don’t care one iota about truth of any kind. All they care about is power.

    • @Kevin Solway:

      While I’ll agree that it was probably rude to interupt Harris that way, I think it is a bit of stretch to argue that that is a case of “all they care about is power”. I’m kind of sympathetic to the idea that women in general have gotten the short end of the stick throughout history – biology is destiny and all that – which is sort of manifested in the “traditional use” of various pronouns. Which, considering the consequences of various reproductive sciences and technologies, justifies some efforts to change those “traditional uses” – “chairperson” for example. Although I’ll agree that some apparently wish to push the pendulum well past the mid-point with all sorts of silly additional pronouns, possessives, and, presumably verbs as well.

      • Steersman wrote:

        “biology is destiny and all that – which is sort of manifested in the “traditional use” of various pronouns”

        Well that’s a theory, and I don’t buy the theory. What I object to is people trying to violently force their theories down my throat when I don’t buy it. I’m open to being convinced, and if people have a convincing argument to put forward then they should do so, but I’m not open to having violence inflicted upon me.

    • Hey Kevin, I went off to read a bit more about you and I found some of your videos and website. You’re pretty extreme in your views eh? And boy, do you hate women! Going back to the age of 10 it seems when it didn’t work out.

      Are you dangerous? Do you think you should stop being so self indulgent, so easily satisfied with your own intelligence and that independence of mind which you so obviously pride yourself on, and seek some help?

      • JimmyBoy wrote:

        “And boy, do you hate women!”

        As I say, you have chosen the path of violence and abuse. I can guarantee that you will fail, since violence and abuse always fails.

      • @Kevin

        “As I say, you have chosen the path of violence and abuse. I can guarantee that you will fail, since violence and abuse always fails.”

        Kevin – being pompous and accusing other people of violence (to hide your own very clear anti-women agenda) is pretty transparent. When you write stuff like “you have chosen the path of” does it make you feel like some kind of philosopher? And that guarantee of yours… does it make you feel morally superior, a wise old sage, posting stuff like that? When you misrepresent those you are debating with, lie and twist your own their words, do you justify it through some kind of Machiavellian mind-jump, or are you sufficiently delusional that you just not notice you’ve done it? Not sure which is a more worrying possibility…

        From your website:

        There were only a handful of girls studying forestry in my year, which created a very pleasant atmosphere. None of these girls appeared to be especially intelligent, and only one of them was pretty. But again, despite one or two close encounters, none were quite pretty enough to draw me out of my contemplation.”

        Whatever, one might think. Maybe he didn’t get a lot of shagging in his 20’s or something and he’s just trying to feel better about it, to justify why women didn’t like him much, say? But it’s quite a lot deeper than that with you, right?

        Increasingly I realized the inseparability of reason and masculinity. At the same time I could not help noticing the increasing feminization of society. The only course open to me was to attack femininity at the root. My life’s work, I decided, would focus on making people aware of the shortcomings of femininity and the great benefits of masculinity. For there to be wise men, there must first be men.

        As I said: you really do hate women, eh? I really wonder: are you dangerous?

        For those who want to see the source: http://www.theabsolute.net/minefield/aboutme.html

      • JimmyBoy wrote:

        “anti-women agenda”

        I am not anti-women, and I don’t hate women. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat your lies, it doesn’t make them true.

        It doesn’t follow from the fact that a person believes that men and women are different that they hate women.

        Men and women, on the average, naturally have different specialties. You might think that reality is “anti women” or that nature “hates women” but this is entirely in your imagination.

        Such false thinking is violence on your part, and it is doomed to fail.

        “Maybe he didn’t get a lot of shagging in his 20′s or something”

        Everything always boils down to sex with people like you. Don’t you ever think of anything else? I believe this is where the term “mangina” came from. It is a man whose mind is entirely focused on the vagina.

  15. anonymous hearsay posts are a dangerous game to play.

    These reports are neither anonymous nor hearsay.

    They are first-hand reports – some are victims, some are witnesses – from people who are un-named in the reports that have been made public.

    They are not anonymous. I don’t know where you live but here the police will happily put out appeals for information or witnesses or as warnings to potential victims without naming anyone as the source of the reports. If the police can do it for street based stranger rape/assault, then members of a community can do it for each other in their own environments.

    • I’ll agree with you that hearsay was the wrong word, as PZ Myers did quote the victim, so thank you for the correction and I do retract that.

      The anonymous angle I view as more complex. True they are not completely anonymous, as many individuals are able to privately identify the victim and vouch for them. I must also thank you for your correction here. But they are anonymous to Shermer and this limits his ability to answer what is being said, that I find problematic. Some have decided he is guilty, just as some have decided he is not guilty, but we do not have both sides. I do not have a problem with an intention to protect members of a community, but in this example he has been accused of a very severe crime, and that does cause salient damage to his reputation, for which he has no potential response other than to sue in defamation. (I’ve seen people claim this behavior seems to prove his guilt.) I find this to be a worrying situation for a person to be in and that is my concern. (Contrast with the fact I feel no such regret over the treatment Radford received, he can answer his accusation specifically, yet he seems either unwilling or unable to provide a good answer and let that say what it may.)

      Forgive my ignorance but I don’t entirely follow your police example. (I suspect it is my fault, so I do apologize if what I present is a perverse interpretation of your point). The police can report on characteristics of suspects at large, (white male of x build). This describes a suspect. Stating that someone is a suspect in a police investigation is not defamatory if it is true, that is why the police may do so. The police may also relay witness reports if there is a series of crimes as an appeal for information/a heads up. (Reports that someone of x y z description are operating in the area.) Issue here is the police are not naming a specific person, and it is likely impossible for one person to be squarely pinned down by their description. If they could, they would attempt to question that individual in which case see my first point. Thus there is no defamation here.

      However, I don’t see that as being identical to us. Firstly, the police are unable to state “person X committed a crime”, without first his being convicted. They can say he’s a suspect/evading arrest etc. but not that he has committed the act, as has been done here. Secondly, it is not necessarily the case that because the police, the public organisation tasked with enforcing the law act in a certain way, it is appropriate for us to do the same.

      The law of defamation in the UK is very unpopular (especially in the US), and it’s the only one I’ve studied, but it doesn’t allow for such accusations to be made, and at worse there are fears that encouraging such approaches discourages reporting to the proper authorities. I don’t seek to further any such argument at this point however.

      Thank you for you civil response, however I think I’l stop posting on this topic. This particular discussion has been continued at length elsewhere and it would be rather insensitive of me to hijack these comments into a discussion that I happen to have an interest in, especially as it can be quite incendiary and I don’t feel that such debate in the comments of this post is particularly helpful. I hope I do not appear to be belittling your position, I merely disagree with it but i do respect your views and hope that it won’t seem rude if I do not respond to any potential replies.

      I hope it is also clear that I intended to convey my fullest support is to Sarah over the comments she received regardless of the issues with Shermer.

      • Johnny wrote:

        “PZ Myers did quote the victim”

        You don’t know that. You are accepting his word as fact.

        All the evidence suggests that he received the accusation through a third party.

        If it goes to court, Myers will be forced to prove all these things, and reveal his sources.

      • Why is it somehow more rational to assume that Myers is lying? Oh right. It isn’t, unless you think that women making allegations of rape are lying or somehow deserving of the crime.

      • I’m curious as to what evidence Solway has that shows PZ’s source is through a third party.

        You’ll be showing us this evidence, yes?

      • sarahejones wrote:

        “Why is it somehow more rational to assume that Myers is lying?”

        Because Myers posted a statement on his blog saying that he received the accusation through someone by the name of “Carrie”. This would lead a reasonable person to believe that he received the accusation through “Carrie”, otherwise he wouldn’t have posted that information on his own blog.

        Shortly after posting this information, he quickly deleted it, seemingly to make it look as though he received the information first-hand. Until a proper investigation is done we can’t know the truth behind these activities.

      • Replying to Solways conspiracy theories… PZ to my knowledge didn’t delete the post for anything other than legal reasons. In regards to how he found out about the allegation Carrie Poppy has said on Twitter she persuaded the person to contact PZ. Carrie knows the person and it is at least strongly implied PZ does as well. So much for Solway’s conspiracy theory.

    • Hearsay is information gathered by one person from another person concerning some event, condition, or thing of which the first person had no direct experience nor can it be adequately substantiated.

      Considering that PZ explicitly asserted that he had no direct knowledge that the events transpired as they had been described to him, I think we pretty well have to conclude that that tale of his is, ipso facto, hearsay.

      —–
      1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearsay”;

    • adelady wrote:

      “These reports are neither anonymous nor hearsay.”

      That’s like saying that the writers of the Bible aren’t anonymous, because the writers of the Bible did actually have names, even though we don’t know what they are. And it’s not hearsay, because God himself is speaking directly through the authors of the Bible.

  16. Sarah,
    Please do not let the addition of more of the unsavory commenters get you down. You have a lot of people who support you.
    I have no idea why EBW has decided to swim in the muck, but it is ironic that she is whining about being called a sociopath when she hangs out with a crew of individuals who have the morals of bottom feeders. She has been complaining since she defended a rape apologist on Pharyngula earlier this year, and seems to have forgotten that she was a target of the very crowd she hangs out with now.
    EBW’s claim that the death threat was a joke appears to be assfax. How did she reach that conclusion? Is she aware that women sleaking up about rape or feminism online quite often get rape and death threats? Surely she did not dump the contents of her brain when she sided with the people who used to harass her. Surely she knows how often women face threats of violence online. It is extremely common. As such, it make logical sense to believe someone when the make death threats. It does not make sense to disbelieve them. Nor does it make sense to make a leap and assume they were joking. As if joking about killing someone can be distinguished from an actual desire to do so. Again, EBW employs the Argument from Assfax.

    This ‘professional victim’ label is nonsense. As if anyone would want to be a victim. The same pseudoskepticism used by those yoyo’s never applies to their actions. Only to everyone else.

    I hope those Pit-iful baboons do not get you down.

  17. I’m sorry this happened Sara. It’s wrong and it has to stop. EBW has shown herself to be a victim blaming jerk. She’s right at home with the slime.
    Speaking of, I see that some cheerleaders for team misogyny have shown up to do their usual act. I hope they don’t get you down. You have supporters. I’m one of them. Thanks so much for speaking up.

  18. I know almost nothing I can say will help much. Almost is the operative word though, one thing I can say is thank you for speaking out and I stand behind those who oppose evil. I know evil sounds a little melodramatic, but I can’t see the proposition that half the human beings on this planet are inherently lessor as anything else.
    I can’t do much, but I can stand with you in solidarity. Other lurkers please also respond to put the hate-mongers number in perspective.

  19. You make a primary assumption in your post that I can say is not true, at least in my case.

    You seem to assume that the reason for people supporting Michael Shermer in light of these allegations, is that the supporters MUST BE some sort of sycophant-like cult-hero-worshiping person, who turns off his brain when people he adores are under attack.

    I’ll be honest with you, I have only the most vague ideas of who this Michael Shermer guy is.

    You use this premise to dismiss those who support him… I’d like to propose an alternate theory for why people support him.

    Because of principled, skeptical, logical thinking.

    1) Standards of evidence:
    – We don’t know if PZ really got these email reports.
    – We don’t know if these women claiming sexual misconduct actually exist.
    – Assuming they DO exist, we don’t know if the events actually happened.
    – Anecdotes aren’t evidence. We wouldn’t accept an anecdote of an encounter with extra-terrestrials, or a visit from Jesus. We wouldn’t accept an anecdote of a miracle healing done because of the power of prayer… why do we accept anecdotes now, in these cases?

    2) Legal jurisprudence and standards of logic.
    – In our legal system, people are innocent until proven guilty. This is for good reason, and has proved to be far more preferable than the alternative.
    – Imagine if things were NOT this way. All anyone would have to do, to ruin your life, would be to level an accusation at you, and you would then bear the burden of proof to prove a negative. This would be like the ATHEISTS having the burden of proof to prove that god doesn’t exist. We don’t accept such a thing from the religious, why should I now be expected to accept such a thing regarding sexual harassment claims?

    Seriously… you are being logically fallacious here. You are poisoning the well against those who support Shermer by erroneously dismissing them for reasons you can’t back up or support, which are ultimately irrelevant when the other reasons for supporting Shermer are plainly clear.

    In fact, I would go so far as to say, I don’t support Shermer per se. I support logic, reason, evidence… you know, the things that this whole “skeptical community” is supposed to stand for by definition.

    • Oh, for fuck’s sake. Karen Stollznow exists. Carrie Poppy exists. Rebecca Watson exists. We may not know who Myers’ anonymous source is, but you’re suggesting that we ought to consider the possibility that he’s invented the source for…what, exactly? Is there monetary gain to be had? Is he obsessed about his Klout score? Obviously, I don’t speak for Myers and he’s welcome to correct me on any of these points, but–logically–he doesn’t actually stand to benefit from reporting his source’s account of events. The far likelier explanation is that, inspired by the women coming forward about their own attacks, a woman went to a prominent atheist blogger with a demonstrated record of defending women to report her experience in a manner that felt comfortable to her.

      And statistically: given the fact that false rape accusations represent less than 10% of all accusations made, it’s also very, very likely that these women are telling the truth.

      You’ve also assumed that the legal system has a history of capably addressing rape, assault and harassment. It doesn’t. Especially if the victim is queer or a woman of color.

      For a man who just spent an awful lot of time on my blog in the defense of ‘reason’ there’s not much evidence of it in your comment.

      • “possibility that he’s invented the source for…what, exactly?”

        During the witch hunts in Europe, what gain was there in killing thousands of witches? Ask yourself that.

        Our justice system has evolved over thousands of years due to the efforts of many great men and women, as a means of achieving justice in the best way we know how. Now is not the time to throw it out the window.

      • Based on your Facebook, you’ve already made your mind up about Myers. You’re not here to argue in good faith, so you can go fuck yourself at this point.

      • I have no doubt that the accuser is a real person. I also trust that Carrie Poppy would not fabricate such an accusation. What I don’t understand is why PZ deleted that part of the narrative?

      • @oolon, no it wasn’t. That deletion was referred to (with before and after screen shots provided) in the Cease and Desist letter that Shermer’s lawyers sent to PZ, which was their first communication with PZ. Hence, it happened before not at the time or after received that communication. The lawyers were keen to specifically point this out.

        Math completed…

      • My understanding is that the deletion of Poppy’s name was given at her request and was done because the statement made was being misinterpreted.

        Poppy clarified over twitter that she was not an intermediary of the story, but put the claimant in contact with Myers directly.

    • “I’ll be honest with you, I have only the most vague ideas of who this Michael Shermer guy is.”

      Although it’s a very small pool – the vast majority of people who actually know Shermer or have interacted with him personally (that I know of) have responded with…”not surprised”.

      If this were an accusation completely out of the blue, I don’t think it would be getting nearly the traction that it has.

  20. Sarah, “arguing in bad faith” and grounds for dismissal is not “trying to convince someone of a point.” You do that as well. Let’s automatically dismiss you.

    Wanna know why I’m so mad? The fucking hypocrisy. People are scum for not taking shit at face value, for not shutting someone down with no trial whatsoever, yet you people flip flop whenever you want.

    It’s funny that people are burned for flirty comments or being “inappropriate” and happening to be straight (no, they just choose women because they’re misogynists) BUT PZ Myers gets to potentially embarrass the living shit out of a woman on stage. His response was that she was a volunteer – if she was uncomfortable or embarrassed he would have let her walk off but the thing is when people are embarrassed in front of tons of people they may be too damn stricken to make a scene. I’m not saying he’s scum for it but it was certainly not something he should have done. I’m even angrier that he and his followers get to be hypocrites and ignore it. His followers lied for him, saying that he set it up in advance – that she knew she’d have sexual comments directed at her on stage, but that’s certainly not what he said (she was a just volunteer and could get off if she was embarrassed. Yay.). Note that just his folowers lied, not him. He just kept quiet. And even if it were staged (it was not), he didn’t have the audience’s consent to expose them to sex jokes, which is still hypocritical (See: donglegate). And this isn’t an accusation I just heard. I SAW It. It’s on tape. I also saw a screenshot of PZ saying the woman was just a volunteer. So no, I’m not a hypocrite for this.http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=5OhbLDFeE4w&t=91
    Had I simply heard this? I would not have taken it at face value. And neither would you, because it’s your beloved PZ Myers,.

    It’s also funny that when people they really like, like silverman are accused, people shut down their “morewillbenamed” tumblr, tweets of how it’s sad X person is a rapist stop, etc. Yes, indeed, someone must be abusing the tumblr, it’s not okay to just take these anonymous ladies word at face value anymore. Then PZ says he’s being accused, but its of course not plausible because he was just helping an accuser. Clearly its because of that. And canuck was already accused, but no one took his accuser at face value either. Just plain hypocrisy.

    You guys demonize who you want, namely people that were already disliked for something. You pick and choose and then call people enablers when they don’t automatically condemn the person and start shaming them with you – but you do it yourself, even automatically dismissing some claims.

    Then, canuck claims that his trust may have been “violated” and retracts an accusation. But NO word about how people who didn’t take the accusation at face value were attacked for.. guess what… NO REASON. Turns out it was wrong. Just ignored, buried in a bunch of comments.

    I’m not scum. I’m not a rape enabler nor an apologist. (and I’m not an abuser either, heard that floating around from a fucker named Setar. Very nice. Very high school bully-ish of him.) I’m just someone who doesn’t lynch and try to spread rumors with no trial – no “vigilante justice”, when I want, and dismiss stuff when I don’t want it. All of the accusations floating around may or may not be true. And since that’s all I know, that’s all I can say. I won’t dismiss accusations of people I like, like the SJW crowd is doing, and lynch people I don’t like, like the SJW crowd is also doing… they’re turning the indefensible and unacceptable into some kind of duty of -justice- and trying to claim that the people that judge them for it and refuse to do it are the scum.

    And, hey guys? Guess what? No matter how much you ignore it when people highlight the hypocrisy and what we catch you do, we still see it! It’s still known. How can someone condemn someone else and call them rape enablers and apologists for not automatically taking the accusations against someone they like (or so they say.. some of us aren’t even fans of these people) when they’re downright dismissing accusations against people they like? If they truly think that, they have to consider themselves enablers… the blatant hypocrisy is angering. How can someone condemn other people for flirty comments when their own comrade did something way over the line and ignore it and make up lies for it? Don’t they at least think something bad of their comrade? What. the. fuck. This is all just a game full of BS.

    And you wonder why people are pissed off.

  21. That’s cute, sarah. My comment is in moderation. Lemme guess, it won’t be published? You’ll hide it? Keep it to yourself? I’ll MAKE SURE people know you did that if it isn’t published anyway.

  22. Perhaps, before going on a rampage against Ms. Beeksma, you should have contacted her with your concerns. I am sure that if you had, you would have found her as concerned, compassionate and empathetic, as I have. Not only is she NOT against women, but stands up for the rights of women whenever the opportunity presents itself. Her relationship with Mr. Stephanelli is purely professional and though they co-host a radio show together does not mean that they share the same ideas on all issues. In fact, I suggest that you are guilty of the same thing that you are accusing Ms. Beeksma of. Please contact her before you go you go on anymore witch hunts.

    Respectfully
    Rob Robinson

    • Do you lack reading comprehension or something? Deborah Beeksma is mentioned exactly once in this article (” I appeared as a guest on God Discussion, which is run by Al Stefanelli and Deborah Beeksma”)

      • So that excuses his support for the misogynist men’s rights movement? His tirades against ‘feminazis?’ The victim blaming? The fact that he turned on me the instant I criticized his point of view?

        Nope. Not in any rational world is that behavior acceptable.

    • No one dragged Deborah into this. I mentioned her name once and did not credit her with misogynist viewpoints. I’m appalled by her meltdown on my Facebook. It was unprovoked and unwarranted. She repeatedly refuse to educate herself about Stefanelli’s support for Paul Elam and a Voice for Men, and his history of writing abusive tirades against anyone he deems a ‘radical feminist.’

      That’s on her. She refused to educate herself. She willingly associates with Stefanelli. And either she can disassociate herself from him, or she can go down in flames with him. I don’t particularly care which. The only reason she decided to publicly attack is because she’s selling her radio show and is terrified of bad PR.

      What a real advocate for women’s rights.

    • Is there a law/corollary describing this phenomenon? Something like “The easiest way to prove the existence of misogyny is to read the comments in a post about misogyny?”

      • I guess that works, at least if your definition of misogyny is “criticism of women” instead of that which is in virtually every reputable dictionary. Something which seems to be a rather too common perspective as suggested by this comment of Jason Thibeault’s.

      • That hardly looks like much of an attack in any depth on my argument.

        However, considering that, as mentioned, virtually all reputable dictionaries define “misogyny” as “hatred of women” – apparently simply because they are women – maybe you would care to give some substance to your argument by providing an alternative one. Maybe you would support an operational definition based on Ophelia Benson’s tweet to the effect that “connecting the word ‘feminism’ with the word ‘virulent’ is misogyny.” Kind of an untenable position, I think, considering that Amanda Marcotte and Jadehawk, among other card-carrying “feminists”, seem to think that TERFs qualify as “virulent”.

        Seems to me that unless you can come up with a definition of misogyny that is a categorical deprecation of all women – as does the standard version – the word really doesn’t carry much odium which is therefore not of much use or relevance. Seems to me that many are looking for a word that they can use as a cudgel to beat up on people who happen to have opinions at some variance with their own. Which “misogyny” would certainly qualify as. However, that does require that people using that word actually provide evidence that those opinions qualify as that. Evidence which is, I think, decidedly thin on the ground. Although I would certainly entertain any efforts to provide such.

        Hence the effort of you and many others to have your cake and eat it too: to have the opprobrium of the word without the obligation to provide evidence that it is applicable. Classy.

      • I suppose then all you have in the way of a counter-argument is an empty insult – my mother is long dead and I’m long retired – since you’ve made no effort to address the points I’ve raised.

        Most people in similar positions, at least those with any intellectual integrity, tend to concede the point. Not much opportunity for personal or social growth otherwise. Should you wish to rectify that condition you might start with this Edge article on Internet Silos.

      • I suppose then all you have in the way of a counter-argument is an empty insult – my mother is long dead and I’m long retired – since you’ve made no effort to address the points I’ve raised.

        Most people in similar positions, at least those with any intellectual integrity, tend to concede the point. Not much opportunity for personal or social growth otherwise. Should you wish to rectify that condition you might start with this Edge article on Internet Silos (1).

        ——
        1) “_http://www.edge.org/response-detail/23777”

  23. Sarah – THANK YOU for battling this shit.
    That said, Kevin Solway, you are seriously uneducated to think that there was nothing to gain by killing witches. It was ALL about power (and money). The women who had property, and the women (and a few men) who spoke against abuses were the one who were accused and killed as witches. Quiet, submissive women were not. Men in the power structure were not. Accusers many times profited by taking the “witches” property after killing them. At the very least, those in power stopped a challenge to themselves and also gave a powerful warning to those who might have been considering joining in that challenge. Do you think the community wasn’t thinking “hmmm, better watch my step.”? Death threats now different only by degree. The goal is the same – shut up the challengers, and keep the power status-quo.
    You are ignorant. Do a little learning on your own.

    • sezit wrote:

      “you are seriously uneducated to think that there was nothing to gain by killing witches”

      I didn’t say that there was nothing to gain by killing witches. You mentioned power and money as two things that could be gained. Other things that would be gained would include respect, identity, sex, etc. Many things are gained by killing witches.

      “Quiet, submissive women were not [killed]”

      Did you know that nearly half of the witches that were killed were men? A lot of people don’t know that..

    • JimmyBoy wrote:

      “never read or seen any stats that suggest majority male witch killings in the CI”

      Did you look up the reference I gave you?

      Regarding Normandy:
      “Men comprised the majority of those tried and executed for witchcraft. What is more, the proportion of male witches rose over time. Shepherds, blacksmiths, and clerics, were particularly vulnerable to witchcraft accusations.”

      More info in “Witchcraft and the Evil Eye in Guernsey” by Dewar. There were more than 100 witch trials in the small island of Guernsey alone. It must have been wall-to-wall witches, just the same as atheist conferences are wall-to-wall rapists.

      • I read “Male Witches in Early Modern Europe”

        Well the reference you gave had a gender bias in the name, so seemed unlikely to be informative on the distribution of witch trials between the genders. How can you not see this? What is wrong with you? So just to check, I did 30 seconds of Googling and, yup: large majority female witch executions in the Channel Islands. I didn’t bother getting onto Normandy, where no doubt I’d have found the same – by looking at a few sources not one with a stated male bias in its content matter! And no I’m not providing you with my sources (try Google with Witch trials in Channel Islands and take a source that doesn’t have a stated gender bias in the title. Do your own research – and anyone doubting me can do the same).

        Your original statement – which triggered a load of twitching – was:

        Did you know that nearly half of the witches that were killed were men? A lot of people don’t know that..

        Do you know why they don’t know it Kevin? It’s because there isn’t any evidence to support the statement, while there is an awful lot to support the traditional view that this was in very large majority a crime committed against women. And still is by the way.

        You don’t really give a shit about what’s actually true do you? And it could hardly get worse that, in your desperate flailing to reduce what men do to women, you choose something like mediaeval witch trials – and attempt some historic revision there! Why are you so desperate to do this? If you could answer this question honestly, it really should tell you something about your privileged self.

        I came on to this forum wondering about the level of acrimony you were attracting. No wondering at all now. It is no wonder that folks who’ve dealt with you more clearly and pretty consistently think you’re scum. You are.

      • “crime committed against women”

        The witch trials were not a crime committed against women, as you would like people to believe. They were a crime committed against *human beings*, both men and women, who were convicted of “witchcraft”.

        It is you who have no interest in truth.

      • @Kevin Solway

        “crime committed against women”

        The witch trials were not a crime committed against women, as you would like people to believe. They were a crime committed against *human beings*, both men and women, who were convicted of “witchcraft”.

        It is you who have no interest in truth.

        Well Kevin, a more weasely, dishonest half quote its rare to see. Congratulations. Lots of sceptics are regularly called vitriolic and angry. But when what we face is liars like you, it’s not so surprising.

        You are truly despicable. One of the people who make the world a worse place. No doubt – given the slippery ease with which you let yourself off the misrepresentation about the male/female witch trials piece – you’ll just move on from being caught on this one too.

        But there are real world implications to scum like you believing the stuff you believe, and posting what you post. Those are that women feel intimidated; that the harassment, sexual objectification, assault, discrimination that they face constantly is diminished and they have to struggle harder to deal with it. Reading your posts, they can know with absolute certainty, that the world is full of bigots who will diminish them and their experiences. And that means that rape victims for example, are very slow to come forward. They rightly know they will be asked for evidence – when often there can be none (I note you didn’t address questions about what kind of evidence would satisfy). They know that the man will be given a ‘fair hearing’ when this in turn means that they will automatically be disbelieved. They will have false accusations thrown at them. And as victims, shits like you will blame them.

        You appear to think that recognising the disparities between men’s and women’s experiences somehow reduces men’s experience. But facts are still facts, and attempting to restate and misrepresent them just shows all who read you what an absolute shit you are. Blaming rape victims is about as low as it gets round here.

        When discussing with an anonymous on the web I always hope they’ll surprise me: some piece of new information, or a challenging way of looking at the world perhaps. It happens with a regularity that slows me down in my convictions.

        But not here. You are a truly tedious wanker who makes the world a worse place for women. No doubt there are some historic reasons for why you behave like this. But dealing with those and becoming a decent human would be great for the rest of us have to share the air you breathe.

      • Jimmy Boy wrote:

        “Blaming rape victims”

        I haven’t seen anyone blaming rape victims in these comments.

        You have chosen the path of violence and abuse, along with people like PZ Myers, and in so doing you are doing feminism and women a huge disservice.

        In addition, your view that a book must be false because it has the word “Men” in the title is pure misandry. You can’t be aware of this yourself, but all thinking people are aware of it.

        If the witch trials were about discrimination against women, then it doesn’t make any sense that in some areas the vast majority of people found guilty of witchcraft were men – sometimes as high as 70% or more. But since you have an emotional agenda you’re not interested in the reality.

        “They rightly know they will be asked for evidence – when often there can be none:

        We don’t convict people of rape or murder unless there is evidence. That’s the reality, so it’s about time you dealt with it.

        In the civilized world we don’t burn a person at the stake just because some people identify a person as a witch.

        “They know that the man will be given a ‘fair hearing’ ”

        Everyone is given a ‘fair hearing’.

        There is no law that says men are innocent until proven guilty, but women are guilty until proven innocent.

      • @Kevin Solway

        I haven’t seen anyone blaming rape victims in these comments.

        Yes. I know. But then…

        You have chosen the path of violence

        You’ll show where I’ve done that then? The irony of being accused of violence by a rape enabler!!!

        and abuse, along with people like PZ Myers, and in so doing you are doing feminism and women a huge disservice.

        Actually – I’ve called you out for what you are. Sometimes its necessary and reasonable to do so. Sometimes it is the ethically important thing to do.

        I bet the cause of feminism is delighted to have you, liar, rape apologist and victim blamer on their side.

        In addition, your view that a book must be false because it has the word “Men” in the title is pure misandry. You can’t be aware of this yourself, but all thinking people are aware of it.

        When you read, you really do just make it say whatever you want to, right? Have you absolutely no shame? It won’t help, but I could point out that at no point did I suggest the book was false. It just – hint as in the title – explicitly looked at male witch trials, so was unlikely to tell us too much about the female bit. Further, 30 seconds on google initially (and I spent quite a while more last night in fact) confirmed that your entire premise (that Channel Islands and Normandy witch trials were predominantly male) was a lie. Funny that. A liar tells lies.

        We don’t convict people of rape or murder unless there is evidence. That’s the reality, so it’s about time you dealt with it.
        In the civilized world we don’t burn a person at the stake just because some people identify a person as a witch.
        “They know that the man will be given a ‘fair hearing’ ”
        Everyone is given a ‘fair hearing’.
        There is no law that says men are innocent until proven guilty, but women are guilty until proven innocent.

        You know – I just can’t be arsed with soiling myself in conversation with a wanker like you any more.

  24. Where do these idiots get the idea that drunk women legally can’t consent to sex? Sorry, but calling it rape doesn’t make it rape; and only raises questions of what sort of diseased mind thinks it does. These people accusing Shermer clearly have something wrong with them. Once more, with feeling: CONSENSUAL SEX WHILE DRUNK ISN’T RAPE.

      • You wouldn’t care to provide the specific evidence for that, would you Sarah? You know, a citation of the relevant statutes, case law, Supreme Court judgements; that sort of thing. Not that I question your claim, of course, but just for the hyperskeptics in the crowd.

      • If you seriously believe that we should cater to the ignorance of people who think that lack of consent via intoxication is not written into law, then perhaps YOU should be the one doing their homework for them, Steersman.

      • That looks a little disingenuous there, Sally. Considering that your “tribe” is the one promoting that particular perspective – at least since Rebecca Watson’s series of articles and tweets several months ago – one would think you would have your talking points and evidence well organized and ready to go at the drop of a hat. You know, part of your campaign to “win the hearts and minds”. A battle which I don’t think is going all that well for you.

        But otherwise one is tempted to have recourse to Hitchen’s “What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof”. Or, in the immortal words of one of your brothers-in-arms, “FLOOSH”.

      • Guess what, Steersman, expecting to be spoon fed information isn’t skepticism, it’s laziness. If something interests you, you should do a little research yourself. Being a lazy ignorant fool doesn’t make you a skeptic.

      • @Astrokid:

        Yes, I had watched his video, although I hadn’t noticed or followed up on the actual court papers so thanks for that.

        However, as the link had also been posted in the Pit, I had commented there on the rather problematic aspects of the case which, paraphrasing Justicar, seems largely to consist of “feminist legal theory making rape (second degree only?) a strict liability type of offence”. Which Justicar argued was the same type of case as speeding. Which I argued in the Pit was not at all analogous since the evidence in each case generally seems to be of two entirely different types: largely subjective in the case of rape, almost entirely objective – radar cameras and the like – in the case of speeding tickets.

        But one thing that sort of leaped out at me in those court documents – which I certainly haven’t read all of – was the trial court’s instruction to the jury basically mandating an “affirmative defense”:

        The defendant has the burden of proving this defense by a preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance of the evidence means that you must be persuaded, considering all of the evidence in the case, that it is more probably true than not true. If you find that the defendant has established this defense, it will be your duty to return a verdict of not guilty as to this charge.

        With the kicker being the “more probably true than not true”. Which leaves a very large and problematic window whereby some innocent defendants will be found guilty, and some guilty ones will be found innocent. Mirrored by cases where the charges of some “guilty” victims are allowed to stand, and those of innocent ones are denied. Not at all a good situation.

      • IANAL, but my partner is, and while she’s caveating like mad (wants to read the particulars), she IS saying that IF this is actually an affirmative defense, that means that the prosecution has met its burden of proof. That is: the prosecution has the evidence, has presented it, and the defendant is pleading particular exigency. An example of this — though not intended as a parallel — is self-defense and murder — yes, the defendant has definitely murdered, but he claims it is self-defense.

        So here: if you’re asserting an affirmative defense, that means that the prosecution probably has an overwhelming burden of proof to meet the statute in question. Which, yeah, it is kind of appropriate that the defendant has to justify a ‘But no!’

        Now, if you’d like to link the actual decision, instead of a YouTube link, we can go into the particulars. My partner is quite interested and refuses to let me comment more, because, y’know, law can be complicated and not easily reduced to videos neither of us particularly care to watch just now.

      • @CerberusCheerleader:

        Hardly a case of “expecting to be spoon fed information”. If I’m not mistaken, all of this is a discussion wherein all of the parties to it bring different pieces of information to the table for debate and evaluation. Or maybe you think that everybody should know everything before anybody talks about anything. Let me know when you personally have reached that point – or maybe you think you’re already there.

        You might want to consider this argument from the Supreme Court judgemnt in the case referred to by Astrokid (above):

        Partisan advocacy on both sides of a case will best promote the ultimate objective that the guilty be convicted and the innocent go free.

        Which might reasonably be extended to include the validity of various hypotheses. But I rather doubt the courts would think much of the argument that asking for evidence for a particular claim qualifies as “expecting to be spoon fed information”.

      • @Steersman

        [see how easy that is, Sarah?

        We can all see the games that you are playing, pal. Sitting there on your lazy ass, snickering while demanding to be spoon fed information. If people refuse you declare them bad skeptics and if they comply you give them a patronizing pat on the head. You are not the good skeptic here holding everyone to high standards, you are just being an ass. People here don’t need your help to be a good skeptics nor are they required to spoon feed you information.

        But I rather doubt the courts would think much of the argument that asking for evidence for a particular claim qualifies as “expecting to be spoon fed information”.

        Because internet forums are like courts of law.

      • PatrickG said:

        IANAL, but my partner is, and while she’s caveating like mad (wants to read the particulars), she IS saying that IF this is actually an affirmative defense, that means that the prosecution has met its burden of proof. …. Now, if you’d like to link the actual decision, instead of a YouTube link, we can go into the particulars.

        The links were in the YouTube video referenced above, but here (1) is the judgement of the Washington Supreme Court, and here (2) is, apparently, a set of briefs presented to that court.

        While I certainly didn’t read all of it, the conclusion of the court – 6 of the 9 judges, apparently – was that the defendant did not explicitly opt for “the affirmative defense” in which case the instructions to the jury predicated on that argument were invalid and which justified, I gather, a re-trial. However, it seems that one or more of the dissenting judges (2 or 3, I can’t be sure) raise some credible questions as to the testimony of the defendant. But that seems to have been considered secondary, apparently with some justification, to the issue of the abrogation of some of the defendant’s rights.

        —-
        1) “_http://www.courts.wa.gov/index.cfm?fa=controller.managefiles&filePath=Opinions&fileName=861455.pdf”;
        2) “_http://templeofjustice.org/cases/2012/state-v-coristine/”;

      • An affirmative defense is, of course, a valid option for a defendant. The issue in the case you linked is that it happened over the objections of the defendant. This is hardly ordinary, and is easily demonstrated as such by noting that the appellate court sent the case for retrial on that basis.

        As I stated above, typically an affirmative defense is invoked when the state already has demonstrated a preponderance of evidence constituting the burden of proof. It really has nothing to do with what’s going on here.

        Thus, your statement:

        Which leaves a very large and problematic window whereby some innocent defendants will be found guilty, and some guilty ones will be found innocent. Mirrored by cases where the charges of some “guilty” victims are allowed to stand, and those of innocent ones are denied.

        is highly disingenuous. If the state hasn’t met the burden of evidence per the entirety of jury instructions, this affirmative defense doesn’t even come into play. In this case, where it was admitted, the appellate court found it was done improperly and sent the case for retrial. This is, if you hadn’t noticed, an example of the system correcting itself.

        In short, I see no reason to bring this up other than an attempt to deflect or derail. It has no bearing on the the actual topic under discussion here.

      • CerberusCheerleader said:

        People here don’t need your help to be a good skeptics ….

        A decidedly debatable question as the evidence suggests otherwise – pal.

        … nor are they required to spoon feed you information.

        If they wish to be considered “good skeptics” then I would think they wouldn’t be averse to providing information to justify their positions when asked. That you continue to deprecate that request with the pejorative “spoon feeding” suggests you probably don’t qualify as one of those.

        Because internet forums are like courts of law.

        As a matter of fact, they are just “like” courts of law. Although maybe you’re unclear on the concept and operation and attributes of analogies (1), a characteristic indicator of which is:

        Phrases like and so on, and the like, as if, and the very word like also rely on an analogical understanding by the receiver of a message including them.

        So your very use of the word “like” indicates that what is in play is in fact an analogy. But “like” is not equivalent to “the same as” which the above reference clearly indicates:

        It’s important to note that the above analogy [hand is to palm as foot is to sole] is not comparing all the properties between a hand and a foot, but rather comparing the relationship between a hand and its palm to a foot and its sole. While a hand and a foot have many dissimilarities, the analogy is focusing on their similarity in having an inner surface.

        So, internet forums are like courts of law – their similarities – in the presentation of arguments and frequently – at least in cases where the forums aren’t echo chambers or kangaroo courts, e.g., FreethoughtBlogs – the presentation of evidence followed by the rendering of a “verdict” by the jury, even if it is only of public opinion.

        But should you wish to rectify your ignorance on the point, you might start here (2) which provides some “Analogies Worksheets” at a range of levels, one of which, I’m sure, will be suitable for you.

        —–
        1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy”;
        2) “_http://www.englishforeveryone.org/Topics/Analogies.htm”;

      • PatrickG said:

        It really has nothing to do with what’s going on here.

        Seems to me that salient elements of Sarah’s post – presumably what you’re referencing with your “here” – are the accusations against Shermer, and an argument that, as she she said, “atheists take rape allegations more seriously”. And Astrokid’s posting of a link to a recent case where alcohol intoxication was a central part of a rape trial seems entirely consistent with that post of hers – which hardly makes it or my discussions of it a “derail” in any way, shape, or form. In addition, you did ask for the link to the “actual decision” – which I provided as requested.

        Thus, your statement – “… very large and problematic window …” – is highly disingenuous.

        That comment wasn’t related to that trial in particular – which is what it seems you’re suggesting – but to those particular instructions in general which can apparently be read in many different types of cases. It was a general observation on some problematic aspects of a salient element of it, i.e., “more probably true than not true”, with “probably” suggesting an educated guess with all of the sticky, if not unjust, consequences that that might entail. As I alluded to.

      • Steersman, I remind you that you made a rather incendiary claim, based on the affirmative defense trial instructions:

        Which leaves a very large and problematic window whereby some innocent defendants will be found guilty, and some guilty ones will be found innocent. Mirrored by cases where the charges of some “guilty” victims are allowed to stand, and those of innocent ones are denied. Not at all a good situation.

        This case you’re citing has jack-all to do with that, and in fact undermines your position, as far as I can tell.

        From the opinion:

        Coristine maintains he elected to forgo an affirmative defense as a matter of strategy; his sole defense was that the State failed to prove its case. The State disputes this, arguing that Coristine raised the affirmative defense by testifying that L.F. did not “appear” drunk. But Coristine’s testimony served to cast doubt on the State’s case, consistent with his defense that L.F. was capable of consent. There is no basis to conclude Coristine offered this testimony in support of an unargued
        defense that he reasonably believed that L.F. was not mentally incapacitated or physically helpless. Rather, it supported his argument that she was not in fact
        incapacitated or helpless.

        Chapman held that if trial error is of constitutional magnitude, prejudice is presumed and the State bears the burden of proving it was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. at 24; accord State v. Irby, 170 Wn.2d 874, 886, 246 P.3d 796 (20 11 ). The Court announced this rule as a constitutional minimum protection for the rights of accused persons, observing that “we cannot leave to the States the formulation of the authoritative laws, rules, and remedies designed to protect people from infractions by the States of federally guaranteed rights.” Chapman, 386 U.S. at 21.

        Under the Chapman standard, the State has not demonstrated that forcing an affirmative defense upon Coristine after the close of the evidence was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Preliminarily, the error in this case was not merely the giving of a gratuitous or unnecessary correct instruction. This is because the injury was not to Coristine’ s right to be tried by a jury applying accurate instructions of law. Instead, the trial court erred by denying Coristine his Sixth Amendment right
        to mount the defenseof his choosing
        .

        The defense then appealed on Sixth Amendment grounds, claiming that Coristine’s right to self-determination of defense was constitutionally invalid and voided the results of the trial. After a couple of other steps, the question posed by the appellate court is whether the instruction was prejudicial. The appellate court specifically notes that it cannot determine this (how the hell could it?), and therefore the prosecution has failed its burden at the appellate stage.

        This, then, is a case of procedural error on the part of the trial judge (and prosecution, it appears). Nothing more.

        Except you’re choosing to use a proper refutal of incorrect trail procedure to imply that innocent defendants are more likely to be convicted. I restate again, from your original comment:

        Which leaves a very large and problematic window whereby some innocent defendants will be found guilty, and some guilty ones will be found innocent. Mirrored by cases where the charges of some “guilty” victims are allowed to stand, and those of innocent ones are denied. Not at all a good situation.

        The jury instructions in this case have nothing to do with your claim. Thus, it is far to conclude that those jury instructions are completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand, and indeed not an added source of concern. Remember, The appellate court overturned the verdict because they were included.

        You should stop pretending this is at all relevant.

      • @PatrickG
        This, then, is a case of procedural error on the part of the trial judge (and prosecution, it appears). Nothing more.

        You seem to miss the point that the documents you are looking at is the judgement of the supreme court of Washington. Even the appellate court (of 3 judges) agreed with the trial court! And even in the supreme court it as a 6-3 verdict! i.e so many people involved in the system are not acting with integrity.
        And the Supreme Court takes up cases at its own discretion. i.e the guy was exceedingly lucky that the Supreme Court took up his case, and the system corrected itself.

        Are you not aware of the recently highlighted Brian Banks case, where the guy didnt have the capability to fight, and ended up in prison for 5 years on a false rape charge.. when it actually was consensual sex? And after he was released from prison, the woman came forward to agree that it was all made up?
        You can pretend that these are rare cases.. as all feminists do.

      • AstroKid, MRA:

        You seem to be missing the point that procedural error is not confined to these type of cases. To attempt to use such as an indictment of judicial proceedings in this particular case is irrational.

        I’m not familiar with the Brian Banks case, but I’m sure you’re more than willing to tell me how the feminazis were behind that one too. :)

      • But Patrick!! The feminazis are behind everything, didn’t you know? The Secret Cabal makes sure of it. Or at least that’s what it says in my Misandry Handbook.

      • @PatrickG:
        You seem to be missing the point that procedural error is not confined to these type of cases
        Right.. first you couldnt see the fact that the initial link I provided ALSO had the docs.. (and you said.. just providing a YT vid is not enough)
        Then.. You couldnt see that the docs were from Supreme Court.. (i.e error by many people) and kept saying that its from the appellate court. Hey.. your wife is sitting behind you. She’s the lawyer who knows all.
        And somehow it all becomes a procedural error (Hey.. the judges are bumbling fools just like you).. and same as other types of cases.

        YET.. you would claim that Rape is a unique crime where women are NOT willing to come forward to report, the judicial procedure is UNLIKE any other type of crime and the WImminz are put through hell, UNLIKE any other crime.. and so only 2%(IIRC) of rape cases are reported. And when the evidence is against you, its magically just like other crimes.

        @Steersman.. Good luck bro. You are walking the diplomat line.

        PS: Admin sarahejones, one of my comments for Steersman is stuck in moderation queue. Will be much obliged if you can release it.

      • Astrokid, you can go fuck yourself. You’ve had plenty of opportunities to air your misogynist bile on my blog and you’re not getting any more of them. Patrick has probably already wasted enough of his time trying to talk sense into you and Steersman. Check out and head back to A Voice for Men right along with Stefanelli.

      • @ sarahejones: I hadn’t planned to argue with you that much, but yeah… AstroKid and Steersman have a lot of history. I thought it might be fun to draw them out a bit.

        But still, if that is the best case they can come up with to demonstrate the growing influence of the Feminazi Illuminata… heh. They need to read the facts of the case. (Members of the Jury, it’s my client’s contention that she was twitching slightly, and therefore wasn’t comatose…)

      • It disturbs me that people invest so much time and energy trying to argue that rape stats are exaggerated, or that actually rape isn’t so bad, or that it’s not rape if the woman’s drunk, etc etc etc.

      • Er, find where I made those claims. The entirety of what I’ve said is that this case was a strictly constitutional case, with no connection to rape cases per se.

        Projection. It’s what’s for dinner. :)

      • PatrickG said:

        This case you’re citing has jack-all to do with that, and in fact undermines your position, as far as I can tell.

        Well then you’re completely missing my point – which I’ve expended some effort in trying to explain, and that several times. The point isn’t the specifics of that particular case, but that rape cases in general rely on very subjective observations and information. Probably why many of them never go to trial. And probably why, as I suggested, some innocent defendants go to jail – as in the case described by Astrokid – and why some guilty ones go free. To repeat my previous conclusion which you quoted yet seem unable to comprehend, “Not at all a good situation”.

        But that is why, I think, IntegralMath’s video raises some justifiable concerns and questions about the efforts, apparently, to make rape a question of “strict liability” (1) – analogous to speeding tickets – apparently dependent only on the supposed victim’s say-so. You might want to actually watch that video with some attention. And re-read my related comments.

        —-
        1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strict_liability_(criminal)”;

      • Sarah said:

        It disturbs me that people invest so much time and energy trying to argue that rape stats are exaggerated, or that actually rape isn’t so bad, or that it’s not rape if the woman’s drunk, etc etc etc.

        Maybe some people do that, but I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t imply that I’m doing so.

        My point, here at least, is that consent is something that isn’t at all easy to determine as to its presence or absence in every case. And that making a mistake in that regard can have some very problematic consequences for defendants and supposed victims alike.

        Refusing to address that point doesn’t look like what “good skeptics” should be doing.

      • Astrokid said:

        @Steersman.. Good luck bro. You are walking the diplomat line.

        Thanks.

        But I happen to think that both “sides” – generally on most issues, but this one of rape in particular – have some good points and some bad ones. Can’t see that we’re likely to get off the horns of that particular dilemma unless “good people” on each side make some effort to at least consider the arguments on the other side without rejecting them out-of-hand. For instance, even Sally Strange commendably conceded some time ago that “the few isolated good points that MRAs have are indeed good points”, although, unfortunately, she seems unable to take that to the next level.

      • Steersman, since you haven’t answered my question but are responding here, allow me to quote the wiki you linked to:

        In strict liability situations, although the plaintiff does not have to prove fault, the defendant can raise a defense of absence of fault, especially in cases of product liability, where the defense may argue that the defect was the result of the plaintiff’s actions and not of the product, that is, no inference of defect should be drawn solely because an accident occurs.[2]

        I should note that in your previous comment you suggested rape cases should be adjudicated by the standard of a speeding ticket*, and here you’re doing it in a standard primarily applied to product liability.

        Should rape defendants be held to this standard instead of the standards of ordinary criminal statutes?

        * What, do we need an officer of the law to verify that a rape has occurred before a penalty is dealt? I mean, really.

      • @ PatrickG:

        Not for whom, but for what:

        In criminal law, strict liability is liability for which mens rea (Latin for “guilty mind”) does not have to be proven in relation to one or more elements comprising the actus reus (Latin for “guilty act”) although intention, recklessness or knowledge may be required in relation to other elements of the offence. The liability is said to be strict because defendants will be convicted even though they were genuinely ignorant of one or more factors that made their acts or omissions criminal.

        So, liability for the crime of rape. And “genuinely ignorant” in this case apparently means even if the perpetrator was blind drunk or hadn’t realized that consent was a requirement.

        However, I will concede that I made a mistake in that comment of mine – mea culpa – in interpreting both Justicar’s argument and the law in that regard: rape is already a case of strict liability, as it is with speeding. His point, which I here and elsewhere amplified, was that the levels of evidence in each case are very different – largely subjective in the first, almost entirely objective in the second. Which is at least more than a little problematic.

        But I will question his closing argument (more less), i.e., “this strict liability for rape thing is a feminist agenda, not exclusively … but it is part of feminist legal theory, in part, making rape a [case of] strict liability … it should not be [a case of] strict liability” [@ 8:40]. While I suppose it is possible that feminists have been working tirelessly behind the scenes for some decades to implement that “nefarious” law, my impression from several related articles is that rape has been considered a strict liability offense for some time, and that that state of affairs has had nothing to do with “feminist legal theory”. Although I will concede that I could be wrong on that point.

        However, I think his point about the level of evidence required to prove consent still stands. You really should actually watch the video – and carefully – instead of trying to comment on something you apparently haven’t the foggiest clue as to the issues involved, not least of which is the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” – not just on someone’s say-so.

      • @ Steersman:

        So apparently I misinterpreted you. You’re now objecting to the use of “strict liability” for rape cases?

        And “genuinely ignorant” in this case apparently means even if the perpetrator was blind drunk or hadn’t realized that consent was a requirement.

        Well then. Let’s start with a few obvious points:

        (1) Intoxication as excuse for criminal behavior has long been regarded as insufficient defense. “I was drunk when I did it” is not exculpatory.
        (2) Intoxication as evidence of deserving crime is absolutely immoral, and illegal. Think theft, contract law, and, yes, rape. “The victim was drunk” is not exculpatory.
        (3) Ignorance of when consent is required is not exculpatory either. If consent is required by the law, consent is required by the law. That simple. Ignorance of the law and all that.

        I also should note that I really have no interest in watching that video. That’s really a personal preference of mine. I tend to believe that if you can make a point cogently, you can do it in written form much more effectively than in video form. Video for entertainment is a wonderful thing, but I really don’t care to spend 15-20 mins watching something that can be transcribed in two pages.

        Finally, I’m going to simply laugh at you for your presumption that “innocent until proven guilty” is a concept I’m unfamiliar with. This is not an imprecise term; in fact, it has a very specific legal meaning, and I suggest you do some more research on that (hint: it has to do with governmental authority and conduct, and, to go full circle, jury instructions.).

      • PatrickG said:

        So apparently I misinterpreted you. You’re now objecting to the use of “strict liability” for rape cases?

        And you’ve done so again as I am not at all objecting to that – Justicar apparently is, I’m not. I very explicitly said, and I quote:

        However, I will concede that I made a mistake in that comment of mine … in interpreting both Justicar’s argument and the law in that regard: rape is already a case of strict liability…. But I will question his closing argument (more less), i.e., “this strict liability for rape thing is a feminist agenda….” However, I think his point about the level of evidence required to prove consent still stands.

        You might want to spend a little more effort trying to comprehend what I’ve said instead of going off half-cocked on what you think I’ve said.

        I also should note that I really have no interest in watching that video.

        Ok, your choice. However, I might point out, if not to you then to the “jury” here, that the video is only 9:23 in length, and that I did provide an actual time marker of a salient section, along with an approximate transcript at that point, so your “15-20 minutes” looks like a rather disingenuous red herring – to say the least.

        … that “innocent until proven guilty” is … not an imprecise term

        True, although I might note that the qualifying “beyond a reasonable doubt” has a somewhat checkered past which might reasonably cast some doubt on your “not an imprecise term”. However, one might also reasonably suggest that more than a few have apparently already judged Shermer guilty – and on diddly-squat in the way of evidence – except hearsay. With which you apparently agree as suggested by your “What, do we need an officer of the law to verify that a rape has occurred before a penalty is dealt?” Right – all we need is an accuser and a rope and we’re ready for a necktie party. So much for their, if not your, “principles”.

      • [Note: duplicated for mods to links]

        Ok, I stand corrected [see how easy that is, Sarah?]; thanks for the information.

        However, while this may be somewhat of a secondary point, the original assertion of “bovarchist” above – and the question in play – was that “consensual sex while drunk isn’t rape”. Which still seems valid as long as consent isn’t withdrawn at any point during the “process” – however that is defined. For instance (1):

        … a 2007 case in the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, … determined that a person may withdraw sexual consent after having given it, and that the continuation of sexual activity after the withdrawal of consent constitutes rape

        Although that does raise the question – discussed in the video mentioned by Astrokid above – as to whether one can meaningfully give consent at all stages of intoxication: will we insist on breathalyzer tests in rape cases as well as in vehicle accident ones? Will a feature of all dates whereon alcohol is consumed be the use of the same instrument prior to the “consummation” of the evening? The wicket gets even stickier when we get down to the details. Something which is compounded by this bit from the article on the intoxication defense (2):

        The presence or absence of liability may be said to hang on a foreseeability test. The fact that the consumption of alcohol or the ingestion of drugs may cause a loss of control is well-known. Thus, anyone who knowingly consumes is, at the very least, reckless as to the possibility of losing control. If they did not wish to lose control, they would not consume, so loss of control must be within the scope of their intention by continuing to consume.

        Which seems as applicable to the supposed perpetrator as to the supposed victim. And if control is crucial or central to consent then one might argue that voluntarily reducing one’s control is tantamount to voluntarily reducing one’s ability to grant or withdraw consent. Although the first source (1) also notes case law which argues that:

        … violence involving the deliberate and intentional infliction of bodily harm is and remains unlawful notwithstanding that its purpose is the sexual gratification of one or both participants.

        Which raises any number of equally sticky questions.

        But a very complicated issue which is not at all helped by people making simplistic and emotional judgements.

        —-
        1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consent_(criminal_law)#Consensual_activity”;
        2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intoxication_defense#Foreseeability_test”;

    • CONSENSUAL SEX ISN’T RAPE.

      No shit Sherlock. The real problem is of course that a person who is drunk might not be able to give consent. And as they say “if in doubt err on the side of no rape”. Also, if someone could take this

      It is important to emphasize, however, that although a woman’s alcohol consumption may place her at increased risk of sexual assault, she is in no way responsible for the assault. The perpetrators are legally and morally responsible for their behavior.[pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-1/43-51.htm]

      and stuff it down the throat of all these Mr. Deity grade retards that would be great.

    • You’re right. Consensual sex while drunk isn’t rape.

      But alcohol really inhibits a person’s ability *to* consent. Unless you are *damned* sure that the person truly wants to be having sex with you, don’t have sex with them while they’re in an impaired state. It’s that simple.

      Arguing about whether someone was “really” raped is absurd. How about people (read: men) just avoid sex with someone when they’re very drunk, especially when it’s someone they don’t know very well?

    • Because if you’re judgment impaired you can’t consent. It’s one reason we don’t allow teens to have sex with adults, why it’s illegal and unacceptable if a person is mentally disabled, and why drugging someone to have sex is also illegal.

    • Where do you get the idea that there is no such thing as too drunk to consent?

      Steubenville? Ring a bell?

      Depending on where you are, there may be different language explaining what “too drunk” means, but the word “incapacitated” comes up a lot. It’s actually a pretty high bar; but there is no state, that I know of, that it is legal to “help yourself” to the passed out or nearly-passed-out person.

      Thing is – this isn’t a court of law – (as many have pointed out).

      I personally think that someone who makes a habit of proactively trying to encourage people to get drunk and then taking advantage of their subsequent vulnerability to have a fuck and not give a fuck –

      IS A HORRIBLE FUCKING HUMAN BEING.

      I could personally give a shit (in this context – where criminal charges are not filed and may not be filed) what the hair-splitting legal definition of “rape” or “sexual battery” is. FFS we don’t even know what state this happened in.

      Look – I can google shit: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCwQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Frelieffundforsexualassaultvictims.org%2Fresources%2Fsexualassaultchart_NCVLI-D.doc&ei=R-sOUprLJOW22gX3qIDIBw&usg=AFQjCNHCtD-_t85pSYme3Nu5-S1yq4Oj0w&bvm=bv.50768961,d.b2I&cad=rja

      Any state where sex without consent is legal – as long as the person is SO DRUNK that they can’t really fight back?

      Anyplace?

      Cause I think the whole “legal = A Okay” gambit is sort of moot, dontcha think?

      BTW – I would think that any MRA would be horrified as the normalization of taking advantage of people under the influence of drugs or alcohol (or sleeping) in order to rape them – because that’s the most likely way that a woman sexual abuses a man.

      But yeah, we all know that AVfM is much more concerned about spreading their own special version of rape apology than serving the needs of male victims.

      I GET the idea of reserving judgment due to not trusting the source of information (PZ) if (for whatever reason) someone doesn’t trust him.

      However, Al’s post was not JUST that – AT ALL.

      It even had this gem:

      “It makes no distinction between being ‘at fault‘ and being personally responsible for reducing one’s risk for becoming a victim.”

      Out of the AVfM playbook – they’ve even made posters explaining how women are responsible for “what they do” if they are drunk –

      http://manboobz.com/2013/07/12/the-dont-be-that-girl-poster-controversy-in-edmonton-and-a-voice-for-mens-history-of-rape-apologia/

      http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/just-because-you-regret-making-a-stupid-poster-doesnt-mean-it-wasnt-stupid-dont-be-that-movement/

      and pretending as though they aren’t *really* blaming the victim by putting responsibility on them for (in Al’s words) “reducing one’s risk for becoming a victim”.

      But yeah, he had ONE SENTENCE in there giving lip-service to the possibility that the witnesses aren’t lying or just regretting having drunk sex. Because making a rape claim and potentially opening yourself up to the type of abuse expected in a community where the phrase “rape hysteria” is a *thing* makes perfect sense if you just decided that having sex a couple years ago was a bad idea in retrospect.

      • You know who I think is “IS A HORRIBLE FUCKING HUMAN BEING”? Anyone who spends their time on blogs trying to argue the nuances of consent in favour of rapists/potential rapists, whilst demanding “evidence” before we make any judgements where there is a rape accusation out there.

        I wonder if such people make it easier or harder for women who have been raped? I wonder if their actions are likely to increase or decrease the already appalling rape convictions rates across the world?

        Actually. I don’t wonder at all.

        This is easy: Michael Shermer – just say it – tell us that you always get unequivocal consent before shagging someone. Tell us that you are confident that your actions never make women feel scared or uneasy. Tell us that specifically in the context of the many conferences you’ve been too. I would genuinely like to hear you are not the rapist you are accused of being.

    • M.A. Melby said:

      Where do you get the idea that there is no such thing as too drunk to consent?

      An impressive display of umbrage in your entire comment there, Ms. Melby. And – considering your comment was apparently in response to bovarchist’s fairly innocuous “consensual sex while drunk isn’t rape” – of kicking the stuffing out of a strawman. Although I’ll concede that he probably should have included a “necessarily” between “isn’t” and “rape” as I expect you probably read that as “… while drunk is never rape”. And while I think you went off the rails at that point, I’ll agree with you that consent is the rather sticky crux of the matter. Relative to which, considering that the letter from Shermer’s lawyers to Myers refers to “the applicable state statutes and California law”, one might quote the relevant section for California from that link you provided:

      Consent: “positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will” and “the person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved”

      Now if the “victim” is blind drunk then of course consent can not at all be said to be present. But the question – one which that video raised – seems to be what “blood-alcohol-level [BAL]” – is necessary above which one is deemed to be unable to either give or rescind consent.

      • The comment I was referring to was the strawman – in that the CLAIM is that the woman was unable to consent due to alcohol.

        The CLAIM is not “I was drunk and did something I regretted.”

        So, the “Drunk sex isn’t rape” or even “Drunk sex isn’t necessarily rape” is re-framing the claim to a lesser, different claim.

        So, I brought it back to where we stand here.

        BAL is not a reasonable measure – because not everyone responses the same way to alcohol. The statute is descriptive: “positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will” and “the person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved”

        So, essentially, if a person is drunk but they are able to “positively cooperate” and there is no indication that they are confused about what is happening or the possible repercussions; it is not rape.

        If someone is simply drunk (but not out-of-it or confused or down-right incapacitated) and “positively cooperates” what Christina and others have coined as “enthusiastic consent” – that is not rape.

        The claim is that she was in no position to consent – in other words – drunk enough that it would be either obvious or unclear to Shermer that sex was something that she wanted to do.

        Even if (as I said in my more rant-like comment) in some sort of legalistic definition, it would not be deemed “rape” in that particular state – it is being careless with the people you are intimate with to extreme negative effect.

        I think that is wrong – regardless of what the law does or does not say.

      • Melby wrote:

        “the CLAIM is that the woman was unable to consent due to alcohol.”

        The claim didn’t make any mention of alcohol.

        One of the huge problems with the way Myer’s is making his accusation is that he provides no details, and no evidence whatsoever. That’s what makes his behavior so deeply immoral.

      • M.A. Melby said:

        The comment I was referring to was the strawman – in that the CLAIM is that the woman was unable to consent due to alcohol.

        Ok, that seems like it might be a reasonable argument, although it might have helped if you had indicated that you thought that that was a strawman argument of bovarchist’s to begin with.

        However, I think his point – “where do these idiots get the idea that women can’t legally consent to sex?” – is of some value, and that it does not constitute a strawman. For instance, considering that Rebecca Watson started that ball rolling – an avalanche, in fact – with her recent and rather categorical, if not actually dogmatic, tweet that (paraphrasing from memory) “drunk sex is rape”, and which Sarah more or less echoed, I figure bovarchist’s entirely valid point was one worth emphasizing. A point, one might add, that both you and Christina, apparently agree with.

        While there may be some justification, at times, for characterizing an opponent’s position as a strawman argument, my impression is that more than a few use it as a rather intellectually dishonest debating method. Although I’ll concede that it isn’t always easy to decide whether that is the case or not.

        BAL is not a reasonable measure – because not everyone [responds] the same way to alcohol.

        I’ll certainly agree with you that “not everyone responds the same way to alcohol”. But I wonder what other objective measure you think might be available to determine whether someone “under the influence” is still able to give and rescind consent. Signed and notarized affidavits before sex? Videotaping of the act or of walking a straight line prior to consummation? And absent something of that nature there is always going to be the question whether someone’s account – either that of supposed perpetrator or supposed victim – is based either on lying or on faulty memory.

        Although I’ll concede that in the case in question, if the woman very shortly after the event went to someone who remembers that she did so, or who has a record of that then her case is going to have more credibility. But the point is that relying just on someone’s say-so, with zilch in the way of corroborating and factual evidence, looks like a rather slippery slope.

        Even if … in some sort of legalistic definition, it would not be deemed “rape” in that particular state – it is being careless with the people you are intimate with to extreme negative effect.

        I think that is wrong – regardless of what the law does or does not say.

        Careless is one thing, rape is quite another – at least a difference of probably 5 to 10 years in prison. Although I will agree with you that, depending on the specifics of the alleged situation, that it might well qualify as careless, if not callous, at least.

      • Kevin Solway said:

        The claim didn’t make any mention of alcohol.

        While the woman’s statement in PZ’s “Grenade” post didn’t actually refer to alcohol – all she said was that “Mr. Shermer coerced me into a position where I could not consent, and then had sex with me”, PZ did subsequently say in a comment (#51) in the same thread “The coercion involved a rather standard technique for this sort of thing: alcohol. Lots of alcohol.”

      • @ Kevin

        One of the huge problems with the way Myer’s is making his accusation is that he provides no details, and no evidence whatsoever.

        Just not true. Sure – he doesn’t name the accuser. Do you think he should have done? What other details would you like? Positions? Orifices?

        “That’s what makes his behavior so deeply immoral.”

        There are two views on that. Shermer’s course is very clear: he can and will (I believe) litigate. I wonder though a) how successful that will be given that there seem to be plenty of other women who are keen to stand up and say “yup – stacks with my experience of the guy” and b) what all of you demanders of evidence (what would satisfy you I wonder?) will do next? Apologise as publicly or…just disappear? (And pop up again in the next debate to reduce women’s experience – from your mostly male position of superior knowledge and experience)

      • These cases are terrible. Nobody is denying that; but there is no black-and-white easy way to determine if someone was too drunk to consent or not; in a subset of cases. For example, if someone is stumbling drunk and still acting “good to go” and maybe even being sexually aggressive; is having sex with her rape?

        I don’t know. Is it ethical? Absolutely not; unless you have a VERY good reason to believe that she really loves having drunken sex with you.

        However, just because some mythical gray area exists (as it does with almost EVERYTHING – including murder), does not somehow result in the definitions having no meaning what-so-ever.

        For example, let’s say that a person was at a party, and had a lot to drink. The person was stumbling-around drunk; barely coherent; and a mutual friend of yours says, “I’m going to take her back to the hotel room so she can get some rest.”

        In the morning, the person who was drunk last night, comes to you and says that your friend raped her. Guess what – your friend raped her.

        If that P.O.S. starts taking about how, “She just regretted it” or “Drunk people need to take responsibility for their actions” – I would say that you were ethically justified in punching him in the fucking face.

        As far as the “drunk sex is rape” thing – I’m not going to defend something I didn’t actually say. It was unclear what the person making the comment was referring to, and I can’t read Rebecca Watson’s mind.

        However, I would agree with the statement depending on how “drunk” is defined. If someone is “drunk” as in, slurring their speech, stumbling around, etc; I do not think it is okay to have sex with that person. Even in the situation where a prior sexual relationships is established; having sex with someone who is unable to consent is not okay. It would be similar to having sex with a partner while they were sleeping, or something like that. Unless some sort of prior communication has happened (as I said earlier) and you therefor have a positive indication that the interaction is going to be something mutually enjoyable; it is NOT okay.

        You are being careless if you just go ahead, without thinking through how your actions might effect that person – and since there is no criminal report – this is a question of ethics and not law.

        As far as this case, there IS someone who has come forward that said that she recalls the claimant coming to her afterward and being extremely upset. We also have a story from a completely different person, detailing a similar mode of operation. We also have other stories about other inappropriate behavior (even though much less serious). (For example, calling a woman he doesn’t know “naughty naughty” for dropping a set of tongs on a buffet line.)

        There simply is not a red flag to *disbelieve* – there is nothing that doesn’t fit together right, is strange or unusual about the stories or accounts,…and however horrifying it is for people who previously had no clue that raping drunk people and getting away with it is simply ordinary….it is.

        It’s about as bizarre as claiming that someone stole a purse, that has a habit of borrowing shit without asking.

        I can understand a stance of simply not being completely convinced – because the information is going through PZ or the specific incident is not being describe in enough detail for analytic types to ponder over or whatever. This isn’t the type of thing ANYONE wants to be true. I get it.

        However, the POSITIVE assertion that it DID NOT HAPPEN or (worse yet) if it DID happen, that it’s not a big deal or that it must have been the fault of the claimant, or that it’s an “extraordinary claim” or that only accounts told to police could possibly be true, etc, does not sit well with me AT ALL.

        I think Al’s blog post was dreadful, but some of the comments on his blog were much much worse. I think many of the “reactions” are dreadful – that’s no secret.

  25. “Recently, these accusations ramped up again after several women came forward to report serious allegations of rape, assault, and harassment perpetuated by atheist men at popular conventions”
    Actually, that’s not very accurate. What happened was that one youtuber came forward with one story of sexual assault, one blogger decided to come forward with a matter that had been settled and a couple of bloggers decided to post some hearsay on their respective blogs.
    Nothing has (as far as I know, feel free to correct me) been reported to relevant authorities.
    So, yeah.

  26. If a person is going to accuse someone of criminal conduct, and I’m supposed to accept the accusations, then the accuser against whom the crime was committed needs to (1) identify themselves, and (2) demonstrate that the crime was reported to the police. So far, no accuser has done both, so I do not give their claims any weight, because they deserve no weight. And quite frankly, if a person intoxicates themselves, they are (or should be) responsible for what happens. There shouldn’t be one rule for cars, and a second rule for genitals.

    • Most rapes aren’t reported; many times they aren’t reported because the person who survived the rape is justifiably worried that they will be retaliated against and that the police will do nothing (out of difficulty to reach the burden of proof in a criminal court) or lack of funding and apathy http://www.endthebacklog.org/

      Essentially, they don’t report rape because of people like you, who will blame them for their own rape – because according to you – if someone is too drunk to consent, if someone helps themselves it isn’t the person using them as a sex toy (such as the Steubenville rapists) that is to blame, but the person who became drunk.

      You are the reason that girls kill themselves due to being blamed for their own rapes – because people like you would rather focus on their vulnerability than the predatory and unacceptable and entitled and disgusting behavior of the people who took advantage of that vulnerability.

      Apparently, if I come across someone very drunk at a party – if I decide to molest them – nothing is wrong with me? I am not responsible for MY actions?

      The drunk driving analogy is ridiculous – if anything the analogy would hold for someone who becomes sexually aggressive while drunk and becomes drunk anyway. “I was drunk” is not an excuse for rape – being the active person DOING the raping.

      There ARE other laws against taking advantage of people who are drunk – they are considered a “vulnerable class” for IRB approval; having someone who is plastered sign a contract when they don’t understand what the hell they are signing is not legal. Drunk people absolutely are protected from being taken advantage of in other ways.

      And even if they weren’t – how would that magically make it okay?

    • @ Randy

      There shouldn’t be one rule for cars, and a second rule for genitals.

      Really? Lets just wonder which type of genitals you’ve got, with those views…

      There is no police force in Western Europe or the US who would agree with you there. After many years of careful work it is universally accepted now, that both of your 1) and 2) are very seriously problematic for rape victims. And we have different standards of process for many different crimes. Interesting that you equate car crime with rape though. That was your chosen analogous crime. In a survey of 100 women, I wonder how many would agree with that choice?

      But don’t worry that you are the problem, that you and your species are the very reason that women do not report rape and do not name their accusers. You don’t need to worry at all there because, presumably, this doesn’t actually affect you personally?

      so I do not give their claims any weight, because they deserve no weight.

      What – even if they are scared to make the accusation, because history shows its a very dangerous thing to do? No weight to their accusations, eh?

      And quite frankly, if a person intoxicates themselves, they are (or should be) responsible for what happens.

      If only you’d be involved in the Steubenville case: those boys missed having someone with your integrity and sound counsel to hand. Thank you for confirming with such clarity quite what you are – victim blamer and rape apologist.

      You should come home by the way, Kevin: the Channel Islands are full of people with your views – privileged, ignorant. You’d fit right in.

  27. @Steersman:
    Perhaps the analogy was indeed a weak analogy.. I didnt care for the analogy when I listened to it, coz after listening to his summary of the case, I started reading the court briefs. I couldnt believe that they mandated the “affirmative defense”. i.e shifted the burden of proof onto him.

    To a layman-me, it makes sense that lesser levels of proof are acceptable in the case of “affirmative defense”, in whatever rare cases its used. From Wikipedia

    A clear illustration of an affirmative defense is self defense. In its simplest form, a criminal defendant may be exonerated if he can demonstrate that he had an honest and reasonable belief that another’s use of force was unlawful and that the defendant’s conduct was necessary to protect himself

    The State being an extremely powerful actor has the wherewithal to go to great lengths and wields enormous power. It is essential to expect such a force to prove beyond reasonable doubt, as a measure to check tyranny.

    When the defendant is the one trying to prove something, since he is usually nowhere near that powerful.. and may not have the wherewithal to collect evidence (like forensic investigators do, say) to offer that level of proof, lower levels of proof should be acceptable.

    Indeed, in general red flags SHOULD go up when levels of proof are lowered. You might be aware that the US colleges have tribunals to try rape cases in college as well, and take actions such as expelling the student from college.
    Victory for Due Process: Student Punished for Alleged Sexual Assault Cleared by University of North Dakota; Accuser Still Wanted for Lying to Police

    GRAND FORKS, N.D., October 18, 2011—A student convicted of sexual assault and banned from campus by a University of North Dakota (UND) tribunal is free to return to school this week. After a year and a half, UND officials have determined that the university’s finding of guilt against student Caleb Warner was “not substantiated” in the face of the evidence. That same evidence led North Dakota law enforcement to charge Warner’s accuser last year with making a false report to law enforcement—a charge for which she is still wanted by the police. UND finally reexamined Warner’s case only after the university’s behavior was exposed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), to which Warner had turned for help.

    “Using a shamefully low standard of evidence, the University of North Dakota branded Caleb Warner a criminal. Meanwhile, based on the very same evidence, law enforcement officials charged Warner’s accuser with lying to them and issued a warrant for her arrest,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “Cases like this vividly demonstrate the need for due process and fair procedure on campus, as well as a renewed recognition that fundamental rights are important for both victims and the accused.”

  28. Sarah, I opted out some time ago, too, for all the reasons you note. It became clear to me through interactions with Atheist/skeptic groups on Facebook that it suffers a particularly intransigent strain of MRA/Libertarian cancer, and that there is nothing to be done for it other than abandon it to its own death throes. There is a reason why so many women are becoming radicalized. No answer can be spoken to the kind of suppressed violence inherent in a movement that does everything in its power to silence women. These men believe that their right to dominance in society, to use women as sexual and reproductive objects, is so profound it will never change. The small ray of hope therein is that this ensures their own extinction. It will fall to future generations of women to enjoy the harvest we sow for them through our own trauma.

  29. “West is right; it’s time to stop thinking of trolls as idiots who are just seeking attention, and see them for what they are: Misogynists with a political agenda. These are men that absolutely do not want to live in a society where women are treated equally, and they are obsessed with silencing the women online whose writings they rightfully fear are going to help push society in a more feminist direction. They want to harass feminists into silence. If we keep this understanding front and center and discard useless theories about “attention-seeking” or “lulz”, we can begin to have a more productive conversation about what the hell to do about the problem.” http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/08/01/misogynist-trolls-have-an-agenda-and-its-not-lulz/

  30. Guess I’ll drop in rather low on the totem pole and say you shouldn’t have had to put up with that kind of crap. It’s hard to imagine that these people are ones who actually think rationally. It’s hard to think they’re the ones who pile on the Catholics every time yet another priest gets accused, but if you dare to suggest that allegations shouldn’t be ignored, then all of a sudden they call down the wrath of Mr. Deity on you.

    Obviously I’m not saying anything new when I say it isn’t your fault that so many idiots exist. I’ve heard some people say that term shouldn’t be used for those in disagreement, but it’s either that or willfully ignorant jackasses, or even the Ray Comforts and William Lane Craig’s of sexism, so they can pick which one they want to be. They have the ability to think about what they’re doing and saying and they choose not to. Instead they send death threats and rape threats and even convince some women that equality really means women being legally allowed to riverdance on men’s crotches any time they want. Then they try to cover it up by saying atheism is just a word with a dictionary meaning so they can be jerks to whoever they want.

    Your frustration is certainly understandable when dealing with supposed skeptics who deserve to be quoted on Fundies Say the Darnedest Things. I wish you the best.

  31. I wish I were in a position to help by doing more than simply saying I support you and the (apparently difficult) idea that threats, assault and sexist behavior are wrong and should be treated as the serious problems they are. (And wish I’d known financially supporting – via book purchases, etc. – some of the creeps. But no more.)

  32. Wait – so – Ellen Beth is laughing about how it was obvious you were being trolled (even though you weren’t) and Al somehow thinks the issue isn’t as serious because the person is mentally ill –

    – because somehow the house that my relative’s dead mother told him to burn down didn’t actually burn down because he is mentally ill?

    Seems legit.

  33. From all I hear, Shermer was drunk, too. So by feminist reasoning, the woman was a rapist. What’s good for the gander is good for the goose. Under feminist standards, they are either BOTH rapists or both innocent.

    In addition, yes, this complaining about death threats is attention whoring. Posts are open to be read by a billion people. Some among them are immature idiots and send threats and crap all over. There has never been a shred of evidence that serious threats come from the atheist community. What you consider oh-so-serious threats is actually nothing but Internet noise. Yes, it’s reprehensible, but it’s noise – nothing else.

    • 1. Did he initiate it? Do we know if he was as drunk as the woman in question? Or are we simply more interested in talking out of our asses here?

      2. You’re right. I’ll just be very quiet and accept my death threat like a good girl. I had no reason whatsoever to be upset that someone repeatedly threatened to kill me. And certainly, it’s very illogical to assume that someone who identified as an atheist and regularly commented on Al Stefanelli’s Facebook page is part of the atheist community. What a silly little girl I am!

      Seriously, shut the fuck up, and go back under your bridge.

  34. Sarah, I am just dropping by to de-lurk and tell you thank you. I am a feminist, though not an atheist. I am mother to a little boy and a little girl.

    An incident happened this weekend and my 9 yr. old son told a friend – “That’s inappropriate – don’t say that in front of my little sister!” We haven’t had to have detailed discussions to date about supporting women, we haven’t had to emphasize anything except certain things are private. That was sufficient to cause my son to intervene in a potentially bad situation. If a NINE YEAR OLD BOY can figure out that crappy behavior around girls isn’t acceptable, I am totally depressed that grown men can’t figure it out. I thank you for speaking out.

  35. Reblogged this on Homo economicus' Weblog and commented:
    I fear that sort of intimidation and bullying does happen at high levels of the secular and atheist movement. It needs exposing and challenging, not sweeping under the carpet or growing a thicker skin to ignore. Thanks for posting.

    I imagine either the court of public opinion or civil courts will decide the allegations circulating around – far from the ideal way. As you say, irrational responses are not helping here.

  36. M.A. Melby said (5):

    As far as the “drunk sex is rape” thing – I’m not going to defend something I didn’t actually say.

    I wasn’t referring to those tweets of Watson’s in an effort to pin you to the wall or anything like that; it was more to provide some context, and to provide at least some rationale for some of the responses from “our” side (I tend to identify more as someone on the fence, or still trying to understand where everyone is coming from). There really is a very large amount of “he said / she said”, of “atrocities” on each side, that makes this issue a real mess, a Gordian Knot of the first water that is not at all easy to untangle. However, I have no idea what the context was for her first tweets (1), or why she made them , but they certainly seem to have been a bit of a lightning-rod, the trigger for an avalanche or earthquake:

    If you have sex w/ someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape.
    1:33 PM – 17 Dec 2012 [21:33:30 UTC]

    If you “took advantage” of someone who is unable to consent, it is rape. End of story.
    1:33 PM – 17 Dec 2012 [21:33:40 UTC]

    But I’m not sure that such categorical statements really contribute much to a dialog to resolve whatever problems might be underneath them. One might even suggest they qualify as “poisoning the well” if not as criminally irresponsible, on the order of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.

    However, the POSITIVE assertion that it DID NOT HAPPEN or (worse yet) if it DID happen, that it’s not a big deal or that it must have been the fault of the claimant, or that it’s an “extraordinary claim” or that only accounts told to police could possibly be true, etc, does not sit well with me AT ALL.

    I can sympathize – truly; it is horrible to even contemplate the feelings of victims who have been denied justice, although one might suggest that you as well shed a tear or two for the plight of innocent defendants who have been judged guilty – with what is obviously some heartfelt exasperation, frustration, and anger, primarily from women but not exclusively so. However, unless people simply want to indulge themselves in those feelings – as some apparently do, one is obliged to analyze the relevant situations to determine what solutions are within the realm of the possible. And while I’m a long ways from having much of a handle on a complex situation, I sort of get the impression that many on “your” side really aren’t being all that realistic in their way of addressing the problem or in creating solutions. Which is maybe understandable for any number of reasons.

    However, while this may not be the biggest issue, I think the question of responsibility is certainly one that is both central and frequently discussed, and is more or less exemplified or highlighted by Sarah’s “no one has a responsibility to prevent their own rape”. But while that might have a nice stirring ring to it, I think it flies in the face of some nitty-gritty aspects of reality, the ignoring of which really only compounds and exacerbates the problem rather than alleviating it in any way. As I’ve argued elsewhere in this thread, there are probably no few men who could probably qualify as sociopaths or psychopaths for whom no amounts of finger-wagging admonishments to play nice and not rape are going to carry much weight. Probably as with similar admonishments about not stealing or murdering, the first of which is apparently more common than rape.

    But in that case, it makes far more sense to take some degree of responsibility for one’s own welfare – locking the gate to the horse corral before the horse bolts is easier, of less problematic consequence, and of far more utility than doing so afterwards – without that in any way, shape, or form absolving anyone of actually committing any particular crime, whether it is rape, robbery or murder. And that is not at all to deny that there are many situations where that is going to be difficult if not impossible – incest, for example. However, there seems to be any number of other cases where some circumspection and caution – where and with whom and how much one drinks, for example – are likely to pay some dividends – statistically speaking, in any case.

    Which brings us to the accusation in question itself as another case of unrealistic perceptions and expectations. While I certainly haven’t made any assertions that the event did not happen – something shared with Al Stefanelli among many others on “our” side – nor have I insisted that “only accounts told to the police could possibly be true”, the crux of the matter is that Myers’ source – “Jane Doe” – and Myers himself and, apparently, no few commenters (2) on his blog have made a POSITIVE assertion that it DID HAPPEN – and not once but several times, all largely on hearsay. And that apparently and potentially qualifies as libel which entails some non-trivial costs and consequences.

    But while I’m certainly sympathetic to the idea that communities have the right if not obligation to protect themselves from predators of one sort or another – as with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, credit rating agencies, or pedophile tracking organizations – there appears to be some implicit if not explicit limits in how far they can go in doing that – the supposed perpetrators also have some rights. However, those are limits which Jane Doe and Myers, among others, have potentially exceeded, and that in a rather egregious fashion; it is one thing to use tools such as “The Block-Bot” to put various people on various lists based on relatively innocuous if insulting terms, but making accusations of criminal wrong-doing is apparently crossing a not insignificant Rubicon. And while my very limited understanding of the laws on defamation (3) suggest that Myers and company may have some defense against the charge of libel – e.g., proving the charge of rape, or that it was made without “malice” (4), or that there was some overriding social value in making it, such as providing protection – the courts, if the case goes to any type of a trial, may not find those sufficient to outweigh whatever damage was supposedly done with that libel.

    Bit of a thorny though common question to balance the rights of a community to protect itself versus the rights of those supposedly outside of it. But a cavalier or blithe refusal to consider those issues and their consequences before embarking on a particular course of action doesn’t look particularly realistic, skeptical, or wise. Not particularly commendable or admirable in those apparently touting themselves as leaders and opinion makers within the community itself.

    —-
    1) “_http://skepchick.org/2012/12/twitter-users-sad-to-hear-they-may-be-rapists/”;
    2) “_http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4WA4qtemcUs”;
    3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation”;
    4) “_http://www.chillingeffects.org/defamation/faq.cgi#QID537”;
    5) “_http://anthonybsusan.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/opting-out/#comment-1248”;

    • Steersman…let’s just get this straight… In the context of a society where rape of drunk women seems to be commonplace. where it seems reasonable to believe that rape is massively under reported, apologists like you think that a quote of:

      If you have sex w/ someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape.

      or

      If you “took advantage” of someone who is unable to consent, it is rape. End of story.

      might even suggest they qualify as “poisoning the well” if not as criminally irresponsible, on the order of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.

      You cannot be serious????? Presuming we’re talking about sex not stealing their banana, you think it isn’t rape to “take advantage” of someone unable to consent????

      So tell us then: how should women who have been raped while drunk deal with the crime committed against them? Is your answer that they shouldn’t have been drunk?

    • JimmyBoy said:

      … apologists like you think that ….

      As in “rape apologists”? I sure would like to know, assuming that is what you’re inferring, by what torturous “logic” you reached that “conclusion”.

      Presuming we’re talking about sex, not stealing their banana, you think it isn’t rape to “take advantage” of someone unable to consent????

      An equally “head-scratching” “conclusion” that completely misses my point. It isn’t that “taking advantage of someone who is unable to consent” isn’t rape – something which I’ll quite readily concede probably qualifies as rape. It is that being drunk, in itself, is not, contrary to Watson’s Papal Encyclical, automatically proof that consent wasn’t given or that the person who was drunk was unable to rescind consent. Something which M.A. Melby – above (1) – and, apparently, Greta Christina agree with:

      If someone is simply drunk (but not out-of-it or confused or down-right incapacitated) and “positively cooperates” [with] what Christina and others have coined as “enthusiastic consent” – that is not rape.

      Seems to me that we have the makings of a heresy or schism within the “religion” known as “feminism”.

      So tell us then: how should women who have been raped while drunk deal with the crime committed against them? Is your answer that they shouldn’t have been drunk?

      Sticky questions, the answers to which are, I think, highly dependent on the specifics of the case in question which seems to cover a very large spectrum of possibiliities. For instance, if I were the counsel for the defense I might ask how drunk she was and whether she had given any consent to any foreplay, or whether she had given any indication that she was rescinding consent at any point during the act, or whether she had decided to rescind that after the act was completed.

      Trying to use one possible scenario to stand in for all of them, and to judge them all on that basis qualifies, I think, as stereotyping and not something that “good skeptics” should be doing. At least if they have any claim or pretensions to intellectual integrity.

      —-
      1) “_http://anthonybsusan.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/opting-out/#comment-1234”;

      • @ Steersman

        As in “rape apologists”? I sure would like to know, assuming that is what you’re inferring, by what torturous “logic” you reached that “conclusion”.

        Nice use of quote marks. Its a conclusion, whether you like it or not, and whether it’s a good one or not. Outtimng quotes around it is childish.

        But yes. I conclude you are a rape apologist. I do this because you have routinely argued through this thread on the side that makes it harder for women who have ben raped to deal with what happened to them.

        It isn’t that “taking advantage of someone who is unable to consent” isn’t rape – something which I’ll quite readily concede probably qualifies as rape.

        I see that like Kevin, you’re a slippery weasel too.

        I’ll go back over it for you – not because you’ll take responsibility for what you wrote – but because we can see that yes – you are a rape apologist.

        You quoted and said as follows:

        If you have sex w/ someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape.
        1:33 PM – 17 Dec 2012 [21:33:30 UTC]

        If you “took advantage” of someone who is unable to consent, it is rape. End of story.
        1:33 PM – 17 Dec 2012 [21:33:40 UTC]

        But I’m not sure that such categorical statements really contribute much to a dialog to resolve whatever problems might be underneath them. One might even suggest they qualify as “poisoning the well” if not as criminally irresponsible, on the order of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.

        You said stating that ‘taking advantage of someone who is unable to consent is rape’ is equivalent to yelling fire in a crowded theatre.

        No need to debate further. You are a goal-post-moving, victim blaming, rape apologist. No doubt we’ll get a long and tortuous screed back from you on this. Do you know how interested I am in hearing the twisted views of rape apologists?

    • JimmyBoy said:

      You said stating that ‘taking advantage of someone who is unable to consent is rape’ is equivalent to yelling fire in a crowded theatre.

      I didn’t say that at all, although maybe I wasn’t clear enough for you in providing context and analysis in spite of having addressed the point several times. Or maybe you prefer to believe the worst. In any case, I originally quoted two of Rebecca Watson’s tweets, the first of which was the most important and the one I subsequently referred to and discussed, i.e., “if you have sex with someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape”.

      And my subsequent statement was that such “categorical statements … qualify as poisoning the well or … yelling fire in a crowded theatre”. And, since it was central to my point and was likely where you went off the rails, it seems that you’re unclear on the concept of categorical statements or propositions (1), the relevant case of which is “All S are P”. Which, as I subsequently made some efforts to clarify, meant in the case of that tweet that Watson was saying, in effect, that “all cases of having sex while drunk are without consent so therefore considered as rape”. No qualifications, therefore categorical.

      Which was – as I endeavored to explain – pure, unmitigated, and quite toxic horseshit. More specifically, I pointed out – to you, I might add, so I have to question your reading comprehension – that both M.A. Melby and Greta Christina – neither of whom are, presumably, any type of “rape apologists” – agreed that there are, in point of manifest fact, cases in which people can be quite drunk while having sex without that necessitating that consent had been rescinded, which then meant that such cases of drunken sex were not rape.

      Rather difficult to understand how you could have reached that “equivalent to yelling fire” “conclusion”. You might want to consider being a little more careful in your reading. And in your judgements, particularly about “rape apologists”.

      —–
      1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_statement”;

      • Morning Steersman. Ignoring your lengthy ‘harum harum humph’ bit, as it is clearly just a distraction from your rape apology and enablement, and getting right down to the nub…the thing I don’t understand is how you have the balls to disown your own words when quoted back to you in the same thread! That’s truly surreal. Are you entirely well?

        I’m not going to quote you again. Clearly doing so doesn’t seem to work – which makes the conversation pretty pointless.

        Rather difficult to understand how you could have reached that “equivalent to yelling fire” “conclusion”.

        I feel like I’m trapped in a Kafka novel… How about: I reached the conclusion that you had made this disgusting comparison – because….you made it? Or is it the conclusion that you are a rape apologist that you don’t like? Well – of course you find that conclusion difficult. Just ignore it. You’re good at ignoring things that are uncomfortable.

        You might want to consider being a little more careful in your reading. And in your judgements, particularly about “rape apologists”.

        The irony. I am drowning in the river of irony. Not sure how it is possible to be more careful in my reading, when I just requoted you back. I didn’t partially quote. I didn’t take it out of context. What a horrible fucker you are…

        Its interesting that of the two quotes, I discussed one of them, and you now (having seen perhaps as it’s been pointed out, that your comment when applied to it, is clear rape apology) say the other is the more important.

        So laying all this aside for a moment. Do you think that your position on this makes things any better for women who have been raped or not?

      • “Seems to me that we have the makings of a heresy or schism within the “religion” known as “feminism”.”

        No. First – no, not a “religion” (but whatever).

        Second – I was quoting Greta’s phrase “enthusiastic consent” which others use as well; I was not expressing her opinion concerning alcohol and consent.

        Third – There is nothing inconsistent with Rebecca Watson’s tweets and what I said. If someone is drunk and unable to consent and you take advantage of that person – that is rape.

        I suspect that her tweets have to do with using euphemism to justify unjustifiable behavior.

        My clarification to that idea (which is my own here, and only my own, not others I have mentioned) is that, in cases where enthusiastic informed consent is given, it is not rape.

        That is consistent with the law.

        “Someone who has been drinking” and “Someone who is drunk” are not the same thing. When in any doubt that the person you wish to have sex with is too drunk to understand what is happening or is not participating/reciprocating in a way that shows enthusiasm for the progression to the act or doesn’t say “yes” to any inquiries about their wishes; you should not have sex with that person.

        This is not a difficult concept; but yes, it does have some gray area between being unethically careless with another human being and having committed rape. Someone who is not careless with other human beings is not going to accidentally rape someone.

        Someone who gives a shit about the people they are with; does not try to get them as drunk as possible to increase the possibility of compliance; does not have sex with people who are so out of it they don’t hardly know what is going on; they don’t have sex with people who are passed out.

        This is not rocket science; and the suggestion that the feminist “religion” believes that having mutually awesome, agreed upon, enthusiastic animalistic thoroughly enjoyable after-glow inducing fucking after drinking Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat with their three cheese pizza; is rape because both of them are slightly buzzed;

        IS ONE OF THE MOST ANNOYING BULLSHIT STRAWMAN CHARACTERIZATIONS this side of accusing pro-vaccination advocates of wanting to put homeschoolers in concentration camps.

        Just – no. Stop.

        Also, could you please stop conflating the demand that the actions of a rapist (speaking generally here) should be focused upon when discussing rape; and advocating risk-taking behavior?

        They are not the same damn thing – and in the cultural context of the U.S. the message of “protect yourself” is emphasized to the point of stifling the every-day lives of girls and women; while rapists are colored as victims of their accusers even when the acts are undisputed.

        These norms are so toxic, that rape survivors are ashamed of being victims of rape. THAT IS FUCKING BULLSHIT.

        Please – start a damn trend – tell your friends. Quit making these obscene arguments.

        It’s just silly.

        Also, no reasonable person thinks that dealing with false allegations (when they happen) is not without real consequence to real people with real lives; only that the concept of the “false allegation” is being distorted from it’s likely form into the likely form of (dare I say it) rape apology.

        Here is a discussion of that whole thing: http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/just-because-you-regret-making-a-stupid-poster-doesnt-mean-it-wasnt-stupid-dont-be-that-movement/

        And I’ll say it now, just in case I didn’t say it before.

        Very few (I’d guess no-one) thinks this is an ideal situation or the ideal way that these cases should be handled. However, especially at this point, there aren’t many good options if the allegations are founded. In that context, I’m willing to view the actions of PZ with charity in that regard. That does not mean that I am simply assuming that the allegations are true. I only have the opinion that there is a reasonable probability that they are.

        Some of the attitudes expressed about this sensitive topic do absolutely get people riled up and angry. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think that you, or people expressing similar stances, are pro-rape; only that many of these conversations are not helping (and many time are indicative of) deep and disturbing societal norms of gender-related power differences (sometimes collectively referred to as “rape culture”).

      • I want to take this comment out to pizza, have a beer, and have enthusiastically consensual sex with it.

        Well said. Well fucking said.

      • You’re quite welcome! I started to engage with Steersman in the thread above, but realized I had neither the inclination or the free time to deal with his oh-so-reasonable shit.

        That doesn’t preclude me from saluting people who can!

      • M.A. Melby:

        Melby: If someone is drunk and unable to consent and you take advantage of that person – that is rape.

        But that isn’t what Watson said. Her first tweet (1) was:

        Watson: If you have sex w/ someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape.

        With that she is saying that simply being drunk means that one is unable to consent. Your statement is something very different, i.e., “… drunk AND unable to consent ….” The point is that there are levels of drunkenness, a spectrum: at some point in the range of blood-alcohol-levels one is unable to consent, but that is not necessarily at all of them.

        And you yourself basically corroborated that point with this earlier statement of yours:

        Melby: If someone is simply drunk (but not out-of-it or confused or down-right incapacitated) and “positively cooperates” – what Christina and others have coined as “enthusiastic consent” – that is not rape.

        So, you said “… simply drunk … is not rape” in the first case, but your second case, above, was “drunk AND unable to consent”. Those two states – drunk, and the ability to consent – are not necessarily joined at the hip: one can be drunk and able to consent, or drunk and unable to consent. It was the conflation of those two quite separate cases that I, and many others including Ed Clint, objected to. Watson was basically guilty of making an egregious and totally unwarranted and unjustifiable categorical statement (2) – something she has a problematic predilection for. Which isn’t very skeptical of her.

        But as a point of information, you might want to take a look at this (3) article and, in particular, the BAL chart.

        —-
        1) “_http://skepchick.org/2012/12/twitter-users-sad-to-hear-they-may-be-rapists/”;
        2) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_statement”;
        3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_alcohol_level#Blood_Alcohol_Level_Chart”;

      • M. A. Melby:

        Melby: Some of the attitudes expressed about this sensitive topic do absolutely get people riled up and angry. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think that you, or people expressing similar stances, are pro-rape ….

        I can well understand the reasons for that. And I appreciate the vote of confidence.

        Melby: … only that many of these conversations are not helping (and many time are indicative of) deep and disturbing societal norms of gender-related power differences (sometimes collectively referred to as “rape culture”).

        I’ll readily agree that “many of these conversations are not helping”, although I think we might have very different ideas on which ones, or which aspects of them, are the most problematic, and why. But it seems to me that several of the rather dogmatically categorical statements made by Watson – those drunk tweets in particular – are indicative of a general way of speaking and writing which causes no end of problematic consequences, but which manifests itself on virtually all “sides”, to a greater or lesser extent depending on individuals and issues. And it was something quite cogently and succinctly phrased by Ally Fogg in his post (1) Musings on Moderation:

        Fogg: I don’t think one can make sweeping generalisations about feminists or use ‘feminist’ as an insult, and then complain when people make sweeping generalisations about MRAs and use MRA as an insult. You cannot be disrespectful, contemptuous and accusatory to other commenters then complain about the lack of a friendly atmosphere. That seems to me the essence of fairness.

        It is those “sweeping generalizations” – for example, PZ’s rather egregious (2) “every one of them has the name Marc Lépine” – which tend to derail conversations and common efforts to resolve problems. Something we all have a tendency to do as it frequently takes some effort to separate the wheat from the chaff, to differentiate between the “good guys” on the “other side” from the bad guys there; much easier just to tar them all with the same brush.

        But that led to this (3) quite reasonable “directive” from him which seems like it might be a generally useful step to improve the quality of these conversations:

        Fogg: We could call it the HetPat First Directive: Thou shalt not generalise about gender activist movements or judge people by association.

        Generalizations and categorical statements (4) have their places – e.g., “all rapists, or all murderers are reprehensible” – but a too facile or careless use of them, which seems rather too common or frequent, tends to be decidedly counterproductive.

        —-
        1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/07/20/musings-on-moderation/”;
        2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/06/never-forget/”;
        3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/07/20/musings-on-moderation/#comment-6780”;
        4) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_statement”;

      • @M.A Melby
        So I think your post is great. It really nails it. But…

        There is a big difference between being pro-rape, and being a rape apologist or enabler. Its perhaps similar to the difference between my old mum not being racist, but having a few doubts about the whether the eastern European family down the street are just a bunch of scroungers, who don’t want to work. Raising the suggestion all the time makes it very difficult for such people in our society.

        Likewise, those (like Steersman and Kevin) who turn up on these threads questioning the data, blaming the victim, disowning their owns words when questioned: they ARE the problem. They are the ones who make the culture. They are the ones who make the space for rape culture and misogyny to exist and prosper.

        I find it easy: given that we have a massive, global problem with sexual violence against women, and a lesser but very significant global problem with sexual violence against men, those who indulge themselves on the ‘wrong’ side of the argument are just a bunch of scum. How long do we have to continue to make the case to people who think that they are decent members of society; who think that they are just being good sceptics? Or whatever. Let’s just cut to the chase and call them out for what they are: rape enablers and rape apologists. And particularly so when they post dishonestly on a blog like this say.

      • I apologize that my language “simply drunk” was confusing. The issue here is what the definition of “drunk” is in various contexts.

        When I say, “I’m drunk!” *giggle* *giggle* – I generally mean I actually noticed being effected by alcohol; as in, I feel a tad warm and notice a slight lethargy.

        Because I’ve only been *drunk* twice in my life…and barely so. I’ve never experienced black out. I’ve never vomited. I’ve never had a hang-over. In those two times in my life, if someone were to attempt to have sex with me, it would have been very skeezie. It would absolutely have been predatory sexual behavior; waiting until I was vulnerable to attempt to get into my pants.

        As I explained before, only in the most perversely uncharitable reading of Rebecca Watson’s tweets (and I know I said I wasn’t going to defend it, but what the hell) does “drunk” mean “a tad warm with a slight lethargy”.

        I only know a little bit about that whole exchange between Rebecca and Ed. I suspect it had more to do with the personalities than the actual “argument” (if you can even call it that).

        If I have my story right, Ed essentially equated “having sex with a drunk person” with a personal scenario *most likely* similar to the one I described, in an effort to make the tweet seem unreasonable. And that statement, when also taken with no charity, was an admission of, you know, “having sex with a drunk person”.

        My above post is all about the fact that, that was stupid. Re-read it if you like. :)

        I’ll avoid reiterating it too much.

        But no, I can’t read Rebecca’s mind – if you want to know how she feels about these topics in more depth than a tweet – I hear she blogs. :) http://skepchick.org/2012/12/twitter-users-sad-to-hear-they-may-be-rapists/

        That is her explaining everything I just explained, but using the phrase “has been drinking” instead of “simply drunk”. Perhaps it’s because she’s a better writer than me.

        I mean, why do you go on about this stuff when it’s already been clarified to death and back?

      • Steersman – is that last bit directed at JimmyBoy? You were quoting me, but it doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense.

        You seem to be jumping around on me. Don’t make me Rick Roll you.

      • M.A. Melby:

        Melby: Steersman – is that last bit directed at JimmyBoy?

        If you’re referring to the post of mine at “August 26, 2013 at 9:57 am” then it was directed to you. It was some discussion based on the last paragraph of your lengthy comment – starting with: “Some of the attitudes expressed about this sensitive topic do absolutely get people riled up and angry” – at “August 26, 2013 at 7:46 am”.

        In passing, considering that these comments are interleaved and that their widths are rather narrow, I have been trying to limit the length of my responses to you – and to others – by focusing only on single paragraphs or statements in your comments in each of my responding comments. Better, I think, to have, if possible, several comments in response to one of yours – or of others – than trying to mash them all together. Something you might wish to consider doing as well.

      • JimmyBoy – I hear you. I do. Trust me.

        Steersman and Kevin are people I’ve debated online with quite a bit and it seems you have too. They have their own personalities, and I suspect a lot of this is just academic to them. It’s just debate.

        Debate is fun.

        Steerman gets some capital from me for putting on the breaks a bit when others are REALLY going off the rails; even when that isn’t the popular thing to do among those he seems friendly with.

        Kevin, I can engage with because he appears honest and I find his outlook interesting; it’s somewhat unique.

        Neither of them are going to respond well to social types of pressure. They will not – at least not on the internet. I suspect they value the concept of “rationalism” in a traditional sense, with all the connotations of lack of emotionality, literalism, being hyper-analytical, and all of that jazz.

        (Correct me if I’m wrong you two.)

        I doubt that some of the arguments that they put forward that seem off-base are reflected in personal attitudes; if for no other reason than they have generally treated me (someone who challenges them) respectfully.

        That is not the case with many others that I’ve encountered.

        If you want to see how I deal with someone I really think is a real POS; that goes beyond trying to hold a grasp on the status quo, but has signaled that they are, indeed, the enemy of my friends, my family indirectly or directly – as well as those that they should have a social and ethical obligation to love and care for; their friends, their families, their spouses, their children.

        Just look up.

        Randy special type of stupid may very well end in the suffering and possible death of others.

        This is not an exaggeration.

        And if he is just so clueless – that he doesn’t understand the implications of, “And quite frankly, if a person intoxicates themselves, they are (or should be) responsible for what happens,” especially after the high-profile case in Stuebenville; he needs to be told.

        And not nicely.

        This isn’t some parsed-up academic bantering bullshit anymore – once a certain line is crossed.

        You are right in that. I would rather we take the hit of looking “angry” or “divisive”, “uncivil” and name callers – than Randy’s ideas not getting the response they deserve.

        And yeah, I know that Steersman and Kevin make the arguments they make – which is why (if I have the energy) I engage with them. I get that some of their attitudes, far from put them squarely in the “allies” column on this subject.

        However, I have this faint hope that having the types of discussions I have; without alienating them or othering them or using those tactics of pressure; might be worthwhile.

        Most of the time, I think that other people are reading – people I don’t know are there. The invisible audience is getting something out of it.

        And in my fever-dream, I’m thinking, if I get through a little bit, it might embolden them to look at what Randy said and realize that implying if a person becomes drunk that they deserve what ever the hell happens to them – IS FUCKING UNCONSCIONABLE – and they will say something.

        And the people who say those things are more likely to respect Steersman and Kevin more than they will EVER respect me.

      • @ M A Melby

        Apologies for the slow reply…I’ve been following on a phone from any old wifi I could find, while on holiday…

        So:

        Steersman and Kevin are people I’ve debated online with quite a bit and it seems you have too. They have their own personalities, and I suspect a lot of this is just academic to them. It’s just debate.

        Debate is fun.

        I’m not sure how relevant that is though: this might be academic to them, they might feel free to be pompous assholes in public – but, and this is critical – if they constantly make the case for the rapists and the environment such people want, then no doubt about it they are on the side of the rapists.

        Hence my question: do their questions and line of argument ever bring forward the truth? Do they ever improve the lot of victims of sexual abuse?

        No one ever admits to being ‘pro-rape’. But there are some debate positions which clearly facilitate the status quo (or rape culture if you like) which makes life oh so easy for rapists and sexual predators today. Those positions include, in any debate on the subject, always, and I mean fucking always, talking about the responsibility of the victim not to get raped, minimising and reducing the impact on the victim, on talking about different categories of rape, on creating false equivalence, etc etc etc – while NEVER discussing the need to persuade rapists to stop raping. Presumably you are familiar with these lines of debate.

        So now, I just want to see if the other party is prepared to debate with any integrity – and then if I discover not (Steersman, demonstrably dishonest in his comments above – and when really cornered on it just went quiet; Kevin, pompous wanker – and public misogynist, dishonest debater, liar and rape apologist) I call it out. With quotes from their own words. Let’s know who these people are, name them and keep up a robust position in our debate with them.

        Now, I’m with PZ on this: clearly there are many approaches to be had. Sometimes confrontation and just stating it as it is, clearly works (it did with me). Sometimes a softer approach works. Fine – and I don’t criticise those who use that approach.

        But at the same time, let’s none of us be under any illusions about those who participate in rape apology, distraction, false equivalence, victim blaming etc. The reason that Steubenville happens (and continues to happen), that public figures turn out to be rapists and sexual predators, is that we have a very prevalent culture that endorses rape and sexual predation.

        When I bump into those who facilitate it, who argue on the side that endorses that culture – personally I’ve stopped being quite so British about it and I just call it out.

      • I agree – with everything you said.

        Perhaps they don’t realize that even in cases where there is as much evidence as there can be – the same types of arguments are still made to defend the alleged rapist and second-guess/criticize the person making the claim.

        http://www.washtenawwatchdogs.com/4/post/2013/08/the-cover-up-of-the-arrest-of-university-of-michigan-football-player-brendan-gibbons-for-rape.html

        The idea that those pointing out these problems never “shed a tear” if someone is falsely accused is usually crap.

        Who thinks that ALL rape claims are true? Of course they aren’t.

        A few people who claim to be standing up for those falsely accused are also full of shit – making false claims themselves. The truth comes out that, they are actually more interested in attacking those who dare speak the names of rapists than they are of supporting those who have been falsely accused.

        -as the people who are on FtB that have actually had to deal with false accusations are being singled out and attacked by groups such as AVfM instead of being supported.

        At the end of the day (for some – NOT talking specifically about Kevin and Steersman here!), the motivation is to keep women in their place.

        As you said, the benefit of the doubt seems to be always given to the accused; the one making the accusation is always the one attacked.

        But for some people – there IS a cut-off somewhere – and they are motivated by their version of fairness. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a few people who I tend to butt-heads with; but when things get real, they are their fighting beside me.

        Others, as I said, there is no cut-off. They will never stand up for the one making the accusation; they will never call-out bullshit attitudes that disadvantage and harm survivors; they will parse/rationalize that shit until the cows come home.

        In this mode of theirs – I’m just not being charitable enough to Randy – you see. He’s not the one who should be on the defensive about the actual meaning of what he said; instead the ones pointing out how horrid what he said was should be taken to task; You and I should be argued with.

        Same old. Same old.

        But perhaps one of these days, they’ll prove us wrong.

      • Steerman – yeah I’m a bit long winded. I think that last comment touched on some of the issues that I thought you may have directed at JimmyBoy.

        I’m off to bed. I hope you have a good night.

      • M.A. Melby:

        Melby: … and I suspect a lot of this is just academic to them. It’s just debate.

        While it is certainly debate, to be me at least, I think the issues are “serious business” – anything but academic – with a great many problematic consequences, and for which debate seems to be the best available method for resolving those issues. Seems to me that it is really the only game in town, as a matter of fact; one which it might be wise for us to use to its best effect by understanding its rules and limitations.

        Apropos of which, you might be interested in this (1) article on Bohm Dialogue, based on the views of the well-regarded quantum physicist David Bohm. Haven’t read much of it yet myself, but I think it is important to evaluate all possibilities, as far as possible in any case.

        Melby: Steersman gets some capital from me for putting on the breaks a bit ….

        Thanks.

        Melby: The invisible audience is getting something out of it.

        Agreed. One hopes so in any case. I think that the old saw, “a battle for the hearts and minds”, has some relevance here.

        —-
        1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohm_Dialogue”;
        Test

      • JimmyBoy wrote

        “case for the rapists”

        “on the side of the rapist”

        “pro-rape”

        “misogynist”

        “rape apologist”

        I’ve never met *anyone* who is “pro-rape” or “on the side of rapists”. And I am definitely not a misogynist. So you are living in a total fantasy world.

        As I’ve said before, violence and abuse always fail, and for this reason I can guarantee that you and your associates will fail, and fail badly. No sane person wants to live in the world of pure violence that you are trying to create.

        PZ Myers and his family will probably lose lose their house because of what he has done.

        That’s what you get when you choose violence over morality.

  37. Melby wrote:

    “Those (like Steersman and Kevin) who turn up on these threads questioning the data, blaming the victim”

    I have not blamed any victim, and I don’t even know if there is a victim.

    “they ARE the problem”

    You are the problem. Violence is doomed to fail.

      • Melby wrote:

        “Neither of them are going to respond well to social types of pressure.”

        That’s a good point.

        In my view social pressure is *inherently* evil. It is morality based on popular vote, which means no morality at all. The Good becomes a mere number. Soulless.

        The “masculine”, as I call it, when it is present in both men and women, gets its morality from a different source – an infinitely more abstract source. It comes directly from the soul.

        Celia Green says, “Society, they say, exists to safeguard the rights of the individual. If this is so, the primary right of a human being is evidently to live unrealistically.”

        That’s the problem with what is called “social justice”. What it is in reality is social evil.

      • You do realize you’re fetishizing sociopathy, right?

        At the end of the day the vast majority of people require social supports and require relationships with other people. In short: they require security and love. This is how our brains and bodies work. We are social animals.

        That’s why I’m taking Randy’s idea to task so strongly, because if someone that depends on him for those two things: love and security; were presented with his ideas upon sharing with him the traumatic experience of being raped; that person may feel deprived of those needs. Being deprived of those needs is not trivial.

        Social pressures (though they can be evil in specific) are not inherently wrong. Without social pressures, there is no social cohesion. Without social cohesion, there are no social supports.

        The perfect person you seem to envision can only exist living off, independently, in the words somewhere.

        Without the cooperation of others, her power to affect her environment and her world is greatly diminished.

        What good is the ubermensch if no-one cares?

      • Melby wrote:

        “At the end of the day the vast majority of people require social supports and require relationships with other people.”

        I agree that we all require co-operation with others. What I dispute is that co-operation needs to be based on delusion, fantasy, emotion, and ego. Co-operation can be based on truth and reason.

        “the traumatic experience of being raped”

        The best response to any traumatic experience is truth and reason. The traumatized person might feel better if a lynch mob went out and slaughtered all non-believers in cold blood, but this is ultimately detrimental to society.

        “Without social pressures, there is no social cohesion.”

        I don’t agree with that. It took social cohesion for NASA to build a space station, but that cohesion primarily came about by reasoning people wanting to achieve a shared goal. “Social pressures” aren’t required. Reasonable people do things because they have a conscience and want to do the right thing. They don’t do things because they are afraid of being shamed, or afraid of being burned at the stake.

        “What good is the ubermensch if no-one cares?”

        If there is only one good person on earth then there is a society of only one person. Where there is no good, there is no society. It is just a herd of animals.

      • I think you are using a narrow definition of “social pressure” that reserves it’s negative connotation.

        Social pressure can bolster the value placed in “truth and reason”.

        If you would prefer to see Randy’s comment as “unreasonable” instead of “unconscionable” – be my guest. The conclusion is the same.

        You’ll even notice he used a complete shit argument to rationalize his distorted myopic state of mind.

        The expectation to care about empirical truth – is a social expectation; just as much as the expectation not to. The expectation to care about other people – is a social expectation; just as much as celebrating stripping the empathy from young men in order to better use them as the murdering hand of the powerful with big ideas.

        Don’t confuse understanding the worth and power of social expectations and pressures; with leaving them unexamined.

      • Kevin Solway:

        Solway: In my view social pressure is *inherently* evil. It is morality based on popular vote, which means no morality at all. The Good becomes a mere number. Soulless.

        Looks like a categorical statement to me. No possible cases in which the “popular vote” was predicated on a common appreciation of something that was objectively true and valid and “right”? In addition, I think it is rather much to think that children are in a position to decide what is moral and what isn’t. In which case it seems entirely justified to impose or inculcate that in them through “social pressure”.

      • Steersman wrote:

        “Looks like a categorical statement to me. No possible cases in which the “popular vote” was predicated on a common appreciation of something that was objectively true and valid and “right”?”

        Yes, it’s a categorical statement. Social pressure is inherently evil. Any pressure that is applied should come from reason and truth and not from popular vote. It’s not impossible for a society to think reasonably, but in that case the pressure comes from reason and not from society. That is, the pressure doesn’t come from the precious hurt feelings of emotional, deluded, selfish, or insane people.

        Not only are very young children unable to think reasonably, but many adults are also unable to do so. If a person robs a bank and then is put into prison, this is done (hopefully) based on reason, and not because of hurt feelings or “social pressure”.

  38. M.A. Melby:

    Melby: And in my fever-dream, I’m thinking, if I get through a little bit, it might embolden them to look at what Randy said and realize that implying if a person becomes drunk that they deserve what ever the hell happens to them – IS FUCKING UNCONSCIONABLE – and they will say something.

    I can sympathize, and I’ll readily agree with you that there certainly appears to be a not insignificant percentage of the population – possibly more males than females, although that might be moot – who probably qualify as sociopaths and psychopaths, and whose behaviours, many of them in any case, could quite readily be described as unconscionable.

    However, while I don’t know enough about the specifics of what Randy’s position is, or of related ones, I think you might be a little hasty in characterizing it as “they deserve what ever the hell happens to them”. Seems to me that, here at least, all he said that might be somewhat problematic is the following:

    Randy: And quite frankly, if a person intoxicates themselves, they are (or should be) responsible for what happens.

    Seems to that there are a number psychological, philosophical, and legal aspects to the question of responsibility that are quite thorny and somewhat problematic, and which need to be carefully addressed without discrediting them out of the chute with overly judgemental language (1).

    But as an example, I wonder what you would think about the running of the bulls in Spain (2) where there have been 15 deaths by goring since 1910, with some 50 to 100 people seriously injured enough every year to require hospitalization. I think it would certainly be unreasonable, if not unconscionable, to say that those people deserved their fates, but to say that they weren’t in some way responsible for them doesn’t seem particularly credible.

    Now while I will readily agree that the bulls are more akin to “forces of nature” than to the rational agents that humans at least aspire to be, I think many people fail to realize that many men – presumably or primarily those sociopaths and psychopaths among us, particularly in the throws of alcohol induced or influenced lust – are only marginally more rational and moral and conscionable than those bulls. In which case the question of responsibility for becoming victims of rape by those individuals certainly seems debatable at least.

    Somewhat apropos, you might be interested in this article (3) in an Australian magazine titled Advocating risk ranagement is not “victim-blaming”.

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judgmental_language”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running_of_the_Bulls”;
    3) “_http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/advocating-risk-management-is-not-victim-blaming/”;

    • Simply becoming drunk is not risk-taking behavior in the same way that running with the bulls is.

      I’m not a big fan of drunkenness myself, but I think you’re stretching – a lot.

      Thinking of rapists (of which there are more than I think you want to recognize) as animals or sociopaths; is rooted in a toxic social norm that avoids demanding responsibility of men for their actions toward women.

      Instead of they, seeing themselves, as agents; instead they blame attractive women for being witches compelling them to behave in certain ways; or blaming Satan himself.

      You see this theme in religious literature; where attraction to women is considered sinful, and acting on those compulsions is seen as being compelled by man’s sinful nature and not his own agency.

      This theme is plastered all over literature – and is the reason the burka exists.

      Randy did not say – if someone is drunk they are still responsible for WHAT THEY DO. He said they are responsible for “what happens”.

      I’ve been around drunk people. I don’t molest them. If I did, it would not be the drunk person who was responsible for that happening.

      Simply put – the agent is responsible for what THEY do – not what other people do.

      If you think it’s a bad idea to get drunk – then EVERYONE who becomes drunk is equally irresponsible regardless of whether or not someone takes advantage of their vulnerability.

      The problem with Randy’s ideas is that he places responsibility on people for becoming drunk and hurting other people; the SAME as becoming drunk and BEING hurt. The concept of who the actor actually is doesn’t even enter his mind….that’s pretty damned messed up if you ask me.

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