Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hate the bikini, love the burqa

Despite Rebecca Watson and the rest of the 'feminist' crew labelling reddit as a hotbed of misogyny, our Atheism+ friends have gone and set up shop.

When discussing the usual "Why I need feminism" campaign, (link) an interesting discussion took place.

We'll get to the discussion in a moment, after explaining a few things.

For those not familiar with the typical "Why I need feminism" campaign - it's essentially an ad campaign for a vague ideal of 'feminism' wherein it solves everything from the most complex social problems to the most banal issue had by young undergraduates. The problems are usually scribbled on whiteboards.

For example:

Either this is the most absurd statement one has read in some time, or there are a few words missing here.

You could add the word 'criminal' - as in, 'sex trafficking is the 2nd biggest criminal industry worldwide'.

Yet even that statement is quite a grand claim. If sex trafficking occupied the number two spot in criminal enterprise, it would mean that it would be larger than either drug trafficking or prostitution in the typical sense. 

That is unless one believes that all sex in exchange for money (including porn) is just another form of sex trafficking, which is not a stretch for many 'feminists'.

This is provided just as an example of a "Why I need feminism" campaign. Best not to think about it too much.

Back to the original topic, this discussion of the "Why I need feminism" campaign on reddit. It's something else.

It turns out one person (rumblestiltsken) is a huge fan of hijab-wearing muslim women being fans of feminism, while another (fifthredditincarnati) does their best to call them on it.

This is cool to start with, but I think it is particularly cool because it really shows variety.
In particular - the Islamic women both state their prime reason for feminism is "because patriarchy is oppressive, not my religion/choice of dress". Their defining reason for feminism is tied directly into how western feminists treat them for being Islamic. Pretty telling as to what they actually feel oppresses them.
A number of the guys specifically make statements about restrictive male gender rolls, which is great ... the agree that feminism is for their empowerment too.
Several women of colour make specific mention of misogynistic slurs that target women of colour more strongly - "b**ch" for example. More evidence regarding the exclusionary nature of SlutWalk, methinks.
Maybe a slight predisposition to concerns about career and rape among white women, and family issues among Asian women?
fifthredditincarnati:Yeah that Islamic women not being oppressed by their religion thing - perhaps true in the west, not so much with the vast majority of muslim women. Western muslim women need to stop speaking for all muslim women and own their western privilege.
rumblestiltsken:F**king hell. They are holding up a sign about why they, personally, need feminism.
Pick your battles. That is really dismissive.
fifthredditincarnati:That's not true, they don't get to plead "I was only talking about me" on this one. Literally yes they were, but that's not all it was. They knew they were participating in a project with a specific agenda and they tailored their message to suit that. Their pictures were selected and posted online because they fit with the agenda being advanced here.
There is a problem when that agenda does not recognize, or erases, or is dismissive of the vast majority of Muslim women in the world.
You would not be telling me to shut up and stop rocking the boat if the message in question had displayed toxic male privilege or cis privilege or straight privilege or white privilege.
The message displays toxic first world privilege. If you don't see it and don't think it's a big deal, I suggest you examine your own...
In order to do that you might need to shut the fuck up and listen. Not tell those without western privilege to stop talking about it already because it's so annoying to you.
rumblestiltsken:They are telling you that as a minority they feel marginalised by feminists. You know nothing about those women, and I strongly suspect they would be just as critical of fundamentalists and patriarchal Arab/Persian/other ME culture as you are.
They are not privileged by being Muslim in the UK. They are privileged by being in UK, like everyone of every creed is.
To hold the position you do ("dismissive of the vast majority of Muslim women in the world") is literally analagous to complaining that "UK women discussing their oppression are being dismissive of all women elsewhere in the world, because those other women have it worse".
Western women are all relatively privileged compared to women in developing countries, but they still get to express their own experience. They still get oppressed. Just because women elsewhere have it worse means nothing.
Why is it so hard to parse out anti-Islam criticism from Islam apologetics? These women feel an intersection with culture/religion and gender which is fucking obvious. Women in burqas get yelled at and spat on in the street. They get excluded from feminist spaces. How is that not a problem?
Why are you connecting "having western privilege" with this issue? You are not doing it with the non-Islamic women.

Quite a bit to parse here. Let's roll it out.

Claim #1: Muslim women choose to wear the hijab out of their own free choice, and it's 'feminist' to support women's decisions
 It is not decidedly feminist to support women's choices in all situations.

This runs the risk of infantilizing several groups, but it remains to be said that the best example of ignoring choices leading to better results is the case of children.

What does Little Bobby want for dinner? Ice cream. Are we abusing the rights of children by ignoring that choice?

Similarly when the rich and poor alike want to entirely disembowel the welfare state, (notably for different reasons) we should ignore them. Their desired action (axing the state) does not support their stated aim (more wealth for all).

To use a more specific 'men's rights' topic to compare to feminist concerns - men often should be ignored for their own sake. For example, if a man says he is 'happy' with his circumcision, this subjective data point does not support the idea that routine infant circumcision is a good thing.

In short, women that choose to wear the hijab/niqab/burqa should be treated as if they are poor tax protestors or men pleased with their circumcised penises.

Claim #2: Islamic theology is distinct from systemic patriarchy in cultures

A bizarre statement attempted to state that Muslim 'feminists' are true critics of patriarchal cultures in the middle east and south east Asia.

The concept is that these women have a faith disconnected from patriarchy. Patriarchal culture has spoiled Islam more than Islam has spoiled gender relations.

The fact of the matter is that the Islamic holy books are simply ancient patriarchal culture codified into vague sentences and handed down through generations.

The evidence? Everything Islam says about gender roles - if one had to pick one item, polygamy stands out as particularly wrongheaded.

Claim #3: SlutWalk is exclusionary because of it's acceptance of labels many women find unacceptable

Just what is 'SlutWalk'?

It is an attempt by some to remove the negative connotations of the word and similar brandings of women. It could be classified as a 'sex positive' feminist movement.

If 'SlutWalk' is your thing, partake. If not, don't. 'SlutWalk', like FEMEN, doesn't judge.

Yet apparently 'SlutWalk' is exclusionary because some particular demographics are squeamish about words. Which is a rather curious accusation as it's precisely what 'SlutWalk' is trying to address.

Let's talk about what is really exclusionary.

How about a faith that says your fate for all eternity is suspect if you don't comply with all the rules? There is a short list of people headed for paradise, while everyone else is damned. Sounds more exclusionary than marching around town once a year to effect cultural change.

Claim #4: Arab/Persian/Middle Eastern cultures are patriarchal and muslim women/'western' feminists have a common enemy in this respect

This is related to the earlier claim about Islamic theology somehow being purer than the world it was created by.

This is compounded by the joke that Muslims or Muslim women specifically can and will address the problems of patriarchal societies on their own. Apparently western feminists are getting in the way, acting unilaterally and suppressing the voices of Muslim women.

This can only be seriously believed by someone who does not think Arabs are capable of disbelief,

What is the mantra of feminism in the west?

Leave the catholic church! Leave the convent! And take that habit off!

To eastern nations, the message changes - "leave the hijab on, we dare not suggest anything different"

This is similar to 'supporting women in the workplace' by suggesting careers that 'suit' them. It's entirely condescending to assume everyone's comfort level.

Claim #5: It's a problem that muslim women are excluded from feminist spaces

Oh, gee. Muslim women are excluded from feminist spaces?

This is an especially hilarious 'problem' to have given that a sizable army of 'conservative', 'sex positive', etc secular feminists have already been voted off woman island by the 'feminist' hive mind.

By all means welcome women embedded with opinions from one of the most patriarchal faiths into the ivory tower of feel-good 'feminism'.

Just as long as we can keep pretending that Margaret Thatcher, Ayn Rand, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christina Hoff Sommers and all the 'MRA' ladies don't exist, there will be plenty of space for women that believe that Muhammad hooking up with a nine year old was completely halal.

Do these 'feminists' see the disconnect?

Let's try to put this into pictures, as they often say a thousand words.

Who is this woman?

The secular progressive 'feminist' answer -

The woman is:

  • Blinded by western patriarchy
  • Does not choose freely; body image is formed by the media
  • Shoving her lifestyle choices down other people's throats by stating that 'slut' is not an insult
  • An instrument of western cultural imperialism
  • Doing females everywhere a disservice

Now, who is the woman in this niqab?

The secular progressive 'feminist' answer -

The woman is:

  • A clear eyed, studious believer in one of the world's oldest faiths, as noble as any other
  • Choosing to dress up this way out of her own free will
  • Probably dressing the next generation this way so they may avoid hellfire but that is entirely her prerogative
  • Quietly devising a future for women's rights that will solve all our problems


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Victim blaming, femsplaining and entitlement

While free will may be a myth, it is surely difficult to predict people's reactions to certain items.

Not too long ago, a simple question was asked - is this social justice? 

The short version of the story - while all parties were travelling on a bus, a man directly labelled a woman (Sam) in his proximity using a racial slur. A friend of the woman (Ellen) physically hit the man.

The post asked the question, is this appropriate? What actually happened?

It was not directly shared with anyone involved, as doing as much as tweeting a link to someone is usually represented as harassment and obsession by 'feminist' thinkers. At the very least, it would be labelled "mansplaining" by people that eagerly assume gender.

It turns out that the parties present have found the post anyways:

Rewind a little bit - even before Ellen found the post, it was accused of 'victim blaming':
You use the same kind of language as rape apologists when shedding "doubt" on survivors stories. Your victim blaming might be what causes you to all but completly overlook the massive rasism in the described attack. Maybe pay some attention to what's actually going on?
Ellen then arrives:

Hi, this is Ellen, the one whose tweets you've published without asking and who was actually there with Sam when she was racially abused on the bus. Firstly- your blog has a horribly victim blaming tone to it. Is there any excuse for these men to have harrassed us, racially or otherwise? They interrupted because of entitlement. We were two lone women, whose time they decided was theirs to waste. We asked politely for them to leave us alone, they didn't. Why is this acceptable to you? Why must we justify our feelings about being spoken to when we wanted to chat alone together? Why do you assume I insulted him? I did insofar as telling him not to talk to me was an insult, and getting back to our own conversation. In fact, weirdly, this did not work. It's almost as if they had no respect for us or out autonomy to exist on a bus without unwanted attention from sniggering men. 
As for the bus full of people, they defended the actions of 2 men who were harassing women, before any racist remarks had been made. They yelled for us to sit down and shut up, baying at the women to stop making a fuss. When he called Sam a paki the bus cheered- have you any idea how fucked up that is?
My actions were what they were, a reaction of fear and anger and righteous indignation that this straight, white man felt it ok to harass us in a sexist, racist way. I don't think what I did was wrong, he deserved a slap.

User "sad kant" agrees:

sad kant
Er, no. Anyone who is racially abused and sexually harassed has a right to defend themselves and respond. It is not "more fucked up" to hit your aggressor than to racially abuse them. Kindly fuck off.

Then another (perhaps Ellen again?) adds:

Must not have black women standing up for themselves; up would become down, white people might actually be held accountable for their coercive powers all over the world. 
You menz make me laugh. Quaking in your boots as you are. You obviously have far too much time on your hands. Get a life. 
Who the fuck are you to say how racist abuse if felt and whether it is minor or not? I class that as a serious incident of abuse and for the record, don't know where you are in the world, but use of that word is illegal in the UK and a pre-emptive strike to defend oneself whether it be verbal or physical, is our right by law.
I have a feeling you're in the States where lynching of PoC is the norm and for you, that's when PoC can justify any defence. Well, it's commonly known that America actively encourages racial segregation so who knows, you might be right when it concerns the people in your own back yard. Here though, nah, for what it's worth we have an illusion of caring for our non-whites. 

Let's back up a bit.

Recall that reactions are often difficult to anticipate.

Sometimes, differences amount to problems of perspective or semantics.

And then occasionally, some things are so far out in left field that reconciliation might not happen.

Items of possible agreement

If you feel threatened, you may preemptively strike. You may have misjudged the situation, and overestimated the threat, but it doesn't change that you were right to strike. If you think you will be attacked or that things will escalate out of control if you don't intervene, you may use force.

Points of contention

Racist slurs are not worse than physical abuse. The law does not state and logic does not support the idea that hearing a racial slur is worse than being hit in the face. Generally, the only countries that think insults are worse than assault are the ones where blasphemy and apostasy are illegal.

Being offended is not a terribly good reason to slap someone. It boggles the mind that this needs be said.

Imagine for a moment that a wife labelled her husband with some insult of a sexual nature. "Impotent", "small penis", or perhaps it's a mixed race relationship and she drops the n-word. How many times could the husband strike his wife before both parties are equally wronged?

From the aforementioned discussion - "being called a paki isn't as [bad as] being walloped apparently."

Perhaps there is a word mix-up here - does "walloped" mean something else in the United Kingdom?

Under no legal system is it legal to use a preemptive strike to prevent verbal abuse.

This statement:
"use of that word is illegal in the UK and a pre-emptive strike to defend oneself whether it be verbal or physical, is our right by law."
Is simply nonsense.
The man on the bus may have committed a crime. Physical intervention to prevent crimes is sometimes warranted. Is someone pointing a gun at you? Do something.

However it does not follow that there would be a judge in the land that would agree that assaulting someone to protect your honor or frail sensibilities would be legal without question.

If it were, then if Ellen loved using the c-word in "real life" as much as she loves to use it on Twitter, then presumably she would spend most of her day dodging the fists of fellow noble Britons.

White people have no magical coercive powers by virtue of being white.

The quote, presumably from Ellen again:
Must not have black women standing up for themselves; up would become down, white people might actually be held accountable for their coercive powers all over the world.
It would seem that the biggest mistake Rosa Parks made was to immediately strike the bus driver in the face. He may have been a lowly bus driver, but acts like this would indeed be a fatal blow to white supremacists everywhere. 

If every black woman took it upon themselves to assault every bigoted white person they come across surely racism would soon be over.

This blog did not publish nor "leak" the details of this incident. It's strange to find people claim it's improper to link to tweets online.

Do people not understand that Twitter is public?

If you care to share that you assaulted a stranger on a bus on Facebook, by Twitter direct messages or by email, then you have some reasonable expectation of at least a little bit of privacy.

Someone that simply live-tweets everything that happens to them cannot have the same expectation of privacy. There is no walled garden of data that was circumvented here.

What we have is someone that announced to the world, putting no constraints on this information, that they had hit another individual.

It cannot be that speaking of this event is now an impolite invasion of privacy.

Describing one's feelings is not the same thing as describing facts about the event. 

Ellen goes to great lengths to generally describe how vile the man was, and how awfully offended both her and Sam were, but none of this actually adds any details about the incident.

In fact Ellen's comments clarify details that really makes one wonder just what was going on. Before the man said anything racist, which one assumes means before Ellen struck him, the bus "defended the actions" of the "interrupting" men. Why?

Is everyone in London a bunch of jerks?

Let's hit on what this story is really about.

This is a story about entitlement.

A criticism often leveled at males by 'feminists' is that the males are prone to 'mansplaining'.

Generally the accusation is given after the male has attempted to explain a situation that a person, man or woman, finds sexist.

'Mansplaining' is shorthand way to say that what the man is doing is attempting to selfishly defend his entitlement while making a completely unconvincing argument.

Similarly, let's assess the arguments made by 'feminists' in these 'incidents'.

In Ellen's bus incident, the victims were truly two "lone women" that were interrupted "because of entitlement".

There are other stories to be told here.

Such as the story about the "lone adulterer and his friend" that were sharing stories, that had their photo placed on Facebook because of 'feminist' entitlement.

And the story of the "two lone programmers" that shared a dongle joke with each other, that had their photo put on Twitter because of 'feminist' entitlement.

Finally, there is the story of a man who used a racist slur, out of rage or bigotry, against two young women on the bus. For that he was assaulted because of 'feminist' entitlement.

One more answer.
"I'd like to know if they are on Twitter."
@uberfeminist is indeed on Twitter.

Everyone need not worry - @uberfeminist was blocked long before assaulting people on buses was in fashion.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Preachy Prevaricating Progressive Podcasters

This 'press release' has shown up on Skepchick, PZ Myers', Stephanie Zvan's, LousyCanuck's and Ophelia Benson's blog already:

Point of Inquiry Team Resigns, Launches New Show with Mother Jones
On Friday, Point of Inquiry’s two co-hosts—Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney—resigned from their positions at the Center for Inquiry. On Monday, Point of Inquiry producer Adam Isaak followed suit. This note is to explain our reasons for departing CFI and our future plans.
In May of 2013, when the Women in Secularism II conference took place in Washington, D.C., Point of Inquiry—the flagship podcast of the Center for Inquiry—was more successful that it has ever been. Following a format change in 2010, our audience has increased by 60 percent and our growth rate has doubled in the last year and a half. We’d recently done a highly successful live show featuring Steven Pinker before a packed room at the 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, and interviewed guests like Oliver Sacks, Jared Diamond, Paul Krugman, and Mary Roach. We had started to incorporate new, successful video content. 2013 featured our most listened-to show ever and we were averaging well over 2 million total downloads per year.
Then came the events at that conference—including a widely criticized speech by Center for Inquiry President & CEO Ronald Lindsay. Lindsay then went further, writing a blog post which referred to a post by one of his critics—Rebecca Watson—as follows: “It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea.”
In response to public criticism of Lindsay’s speech and blog post, CFI’s Board of Directors issued an ambiguous statement regretting the controversy, but going no further than that.
These actions have generated much discussion, criticism and polarization within our community. In addition, they created an environment at CFI that made it very difficult for our producer, Adam Isaak, to continue working there.
We, like others, welcome Lindsay’s recent apology. That apology, however, was not followed by any direct effort to retain Chris or Indre, nor did it make up for the very real toll this controversy has taken upon our podcast and our ability to produce it.
The actions of Lindsay and the Board have made it overwhelmingly difficult for us to continue in our goal to provide thoughtful and compelling content, including coverage of feminist issues, as in past interviews with guests like Amanda Marcotte, Katha Pollitt, MG Lord, and Carol Tavris.
The Center for Inquiry has supported us in the past and has asked Chris and Indre to speak at many of its conferences. We are thankful for that. But we’re a team and we do this together. We believe that this controversy has impaired our ability to produce the highest quality podcast under the auspices of CFI and that our talents will be put to better use elsewhere.
To that end, we are in the process of formalizing a new podcast that will allow us to continue to provide the in-depth interviews with leading intellectuals that made Point of Inquiry such a success. We’ll announce the name and more details about the new podcast shortly but as of right now, we can already announce something we’re all incredibly excited about: the new show will be produced in collaboration with the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones. You can follow @MotherJones on Twitter to get the latest updates on the show’s official launch. We all look forward to turning our attention to the work at hand, and leaving this controversy behind.
Adam Isaak, Indre Viskontas, and Chris Mooney
For more information or to schedule an interview with Chris Mooney or Indre Viskontas, please contact Adam Isaak at [redacted]

How these "podcasters" want you to read this "press release":

Generally the conclusion they want you to arrive at is that they were flying high only to run into a wall after something impolitic Ron Lindsay said which overnight ruined everything they worked hard to build.

Apparently Ron's words basically made it impossible to do their jobs, for reasons left unstated. Either the listeners weren't turning in, or the podcasters themselves were shackled in some moral dilemma.

The podcasters have taken a principled stand and left CFI, the organization that is slowly sliding into darkness.

Some commenters at Skepchick have bought this narrative -

"morelia" writes:
What a relief! I loved Point of Inquiry, and its hosts, but had stopped listening due to its association with CFI and the too little too late on the apology Mr. Lindsay.
"Scott Wood" adds:
I was conflicted about continuing to listen to the podcast, so I’m glad they’re leaving CFI. Keep us posted when more info about their new podcast is available?
"dephiote" claims:
See CFI? This is how you take ACTION. When you care, you don’t just talk, you DO. Way to stick up for your convictions, Indre, Adam, and Chris!

What these three progressive pontiffs have left out:

What CFI was to do to "retain Chris and Indre"

Did they want cash? A more personal apology from Ron? A hug perhaps? First class tickets to Tacoma?

Keep in mind that characters like Ophelia Benson are going to CSICON and speaking. Did she get special treatment from CFI?

Just what is the "very real toll" on the show keeping them from talking about "feminist issues"

Apparently Ron's misogyny was keeping them booking feminist interviewees.

Interviewees like Amanda Marcotte, who was called out by name as one having an issue with the CFI.

Except she doesn't seem to have a problem with CFI anymore:

Sounds like things are patched up between CFI and one of its most vocal critics.

Yet the podcasters have packed it up anyways.

Mother Jones is trading up, isn't it?

The sting of an employee's departure is somehow lessened when you learn that they're leaving for the major leagues.

As far as "progressive" politics go, Mother Jones is a step up from Center For Inquiry.

By every measure, Mother Jones is bigger. Page views. Twitter followers. Potential listeners. And yes, most likely the dollar figures.

It's like receiving a strongly worded letter about how you manage your t-ball league, from someone who was just picked up by the New York Yankees.

In the words of PZ Myers:
"Mother Jones is not at all a bad place to land."
No shit?

Think of it this way - you could quietly depart and switch to your new employer, or you could shove it in their face and poach listeners from them.

It would be novel, if it didn't happen in the entertainment business all the time.

And finally...

Just who are we sleeping with?

One may be wondering why these prideful podcasters are getting so much promotion from FTB, a group that has supposedly reconciled with CFI to some degree.

As it turns out, Adam Isaak (one of the podcasters) may be dating Rebecca Watson, the one person that went as far as to call for a boycott of the organization. 

Suddenly, a few things make sense:
  • The promotion of this press release among a tight group of friends
  • The specific call out of the treatment of Watson in the letter
  • The blissful ignorance of Marcotte's rather rosy statements regarding CFI
  • The need to flame CFI on the way out - it buttresses Watson's profile just as much as the podcasters
It is admittedly not the most noble thing to take the supermarket tabloid approach to this story.

If one were to solely get their news from the Atheism+ crowd, one's view of the godless world would be that there is a general revolt happening within the secular movement.

In reality, the game we are playing is "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon".

Except in this case, only two degrees are necessary.

And Kevin Bacon just happens to be a self-appointed 30-something spokesperson for secular women, living in New York.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Is this social justice?

Twitter feminist find themselves in a predicament.

Some pieces of the story are missing.

  1. Why did the man feel the need to interrupt? Was he drunk or simply annoyed?
  2. When the man interrupted, did Ellen respond with an insult of her own?
  3. Did the "whole bus defend him" only after Ellen hit him?
  4. Did he attempt to hit Ellen before Ellen hit him?
  5. Why did other women tell Ellen and Sam to shut up and sit down?

Surely using racial epithets against strangers on a bus is a terrible thing to do. 

Yet somehow it doesn't seem at all better to assault strangers and then make idle threats on Twitter about how you will "kill them all" and "make them pay".

The Twitter 'feminists' however don't need any more information. A woman hit a man, and provided her reasons for doing so. Skepticism about the correctness of her actions is just "mansplaining".

In this light, just what is 'social justice'?

When a woman hears a sexist joke, she is entitled to broadcast a photo of the culprit to everyone.

When a woman hears a man more or less admit to adultery, she can put it up on Facebook for all to judge. 

Now, when a woman hears a man use racist language, she can straight up assault him.

If someone tells you they're into social justice, run the other way.

It's a dogmatic self-absorbed vigilante willing to do pretty much anything to make things more 'right' and 'just'.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

His Noodly Appendage is much too phallic

Bored now that PZ has crushed Catholicism through his host desecration, the FreeThoughtBloggers have turned their sights on the holy church of Pastafarianism.

Kate D in a post entitled "Proposed: That We’d Just Be Better Off If We Forgot About That Flying Spaghetti Monster Stuff" writes:

It’s not that the original Flying Spaghetti Monster wasn’t a useful allegory–in fact, it was a hilarious allegory with enough snark to give us atheists yearsof rib-elbowing and behind-hand snickering. It’s just that now, it’s become part of the dialect, if you will. OMFSM. Pastafarians. Whatever this was.
And I think, as this movement focuses more on social justice [...] we need to take a look at things like this:
[Excerpted from The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster]
Q: If there’s a Beer Volcano and a Stripper Factory in Heaven, what’s FSM Hell like?
A: We’re not entirely certain, but we imagine it’s similar to FSM Heaven, only the beer is stale and the strippers have venereal diseases. Not unlike Las Vegas.
Sorry, one of the big in-jokes in atheism has a stripper factory? A factory? Like the sort where inanimate objects are made? And simultaneously, we’re looking about for reasons women are less likely to be atheists than men?
Oh, there’s male strippers too:
[FSM Gospel] Q: Are there male strippers in FSM Heaven for women?
A: Probably, but they are invisible to the non-homo guys.
Cuz it wouldn’t be heaven if straight men had to see nearly-naked dudes!
[FSM Gospel] Antarctica, the cursed, is the continent that is the Pastafarian equivalent to Christianity’s Hell. The Beer Volcano froze over millennia ago, the strippers wear big bulky parkas and snow pants, and the place is covered in ice and snow.
Yeah, the real problem is when strippers cover up. That’s hell. </sarcasm>
I’d like to argue that this is not, perhaps, the face we want to put on our message. We do not want the intrepid high school google-er, sitting at her computer when her parents are out, trying to find out more about her unbelief and why there keep being pasta jokes and coming upon….Stripper Factory.
Oh, but you say, it’s just become part of what we do. It’s offhand! Most people don’t even know the whole thing about the Kansas School Board and the book and most of the people who do know about the book haven’t read it–and—–
Have you recently told a Christian they can’t just pick and choose the gay friendly parts of the bible, or giggled along as a Family Values Politician divorced–what does his bible have to say about that? Did you let them get away with pleading ignorance, or that it was the main message that was important? But you want me to ignore the strippers, because the important part is about teaching science in school?
I think not.

What Pastarfarianism portrays: The Pastafarian heaven is an obvious stereotypical immature hedonistic male fantasy. Like many religions, it speaks to the would-be wishes of a bunch of dudes of a particular time. The comparison is made purposefully in order to adequately mock religious wish thinking as the same time as it speaks to the patriarchal nature of many religions.

The parody doubles down when it applies a ham-fisted afterthought approach to equality in the afterlife. What would women and homosexuals want in a heaven? Strippers of a different kind, of course! Problem solved! Every religion carries this theme.

What "Feminists" read: The parody, to feminists, is just another half-assed rape joke that cannot be saved.

Many 'feminists' seem to actually think so lowly of males that they expect that a fembot stripper factory would actually be appealing to a broad set of males in a very literal sense. Somehow even talking about a stripper factory leads the tender male minds into sexually abusive tendencies.

This is where the discussion typically ends. There is no where to go from here. The misogyny brand has been applied to another organization, and tomorrow the selfsame critique will be directed somewhere else.

The largest hole in this blogging behavior is the microscope is never directed at certain people. People too close to criticize publicly.

Can we think of any?

Pastafarianism is preferable to worshipping The Bearded Taint.

As we continue down this road, it is becoming clear that Atheism Plus/Twitter 'feminism' isn't capable of mocking religion.

Atheism Plus exists merely to copy religion.

JT Eberhard is into feminism for the chicks

"Olivia" posted an article on "Teen Skepchick" entitled "CFI Board: You Owe Me An Apology"

All things considered, an apology is the cheapest of the demands Skepchicks have of CFI. Watson is still waiting for her conference tickets.

In any case, what stood out from this particular post is what appears in the comments.

Greg Laden writes:
I think we are seeing the last, dying, struggles of the old guard that was hoping feminism and certain other progressive movements would not notice them. The CFI (the national, US based version of it) was using a lot of talent to develop programs that served to raise funds from their long-time supporters. The problem is, I think, that the values and views of those long-time supporters (not all, but a good number) are actually in conflict with the talent they were using, and with some of the people they were attracting to at least some of their events as paying participants. This conflict has been showing through for some time now.
I have to assume Ron Lindsay’s talk was something of a gauntlet being thrown down, very unwisely. And that is the kindest interpretation I can think of for that. A less kind interpretation is that Lindsay’s intent was to excise certain categories of people from the organization, in service to these long time supporters. An even less kind interpretation is that he’s a cranky old man that could not control himself, but really, I very much doubt that.
The old guard, the anti-feminists and others, is not all generationally in one boat. There are plenty of younger folk in that camp as well, ranging from the outrageous sliymepitters who are easily identified, at least, as date-rape apologists, and a few others. I just read, and it was very very hard to read, JT’s post on his blog i which he tries to let everyone know that he really is a feminist, yet he also really agrees with Ron that feminists are doing it wrong. A word of advice for JT: You know that thing that people say, that if you act like a feminist the feminists will sleep with you? Its a joke. It does not really happen. You can stop now, JT. Anyway, he is evidence that while there may be a generational effect, we can’t just wait for the bad old days to go away by themselves. Rather, we have to keep on it. The price of feminism is eternal vigilance.
The CFI board’s statement about all this makes it all very clear. I assume the board sat down, thought about this all, and made a decision. The decision they made was to throw the activist feminists who are part of the secular, skeptical, atheist, and humanist movements under the bus.
I think the best thing to do now is to just not care about the CFI any more and move on. There are a lot of things to do. A period of vigorous commentary and critique is appropriate and that is happening now, but I hope that every time someone writes a blog post or commentary somewhere about how clueless CFI/Lindsay are, they are thinking in the back of their minds of what their next move is going to be, and that the next move is forward.

Enraged by Greg's comments, KellyM responds:

I read JT’s post via Greg’s link and I disagree with at least a couple of JT’s points. First his, “I also think that most of the people who inhabit the slymepit are, well, slime.” I would say that at least the overwhelming majority of ‘pitters are slime. I can’t for the life of me think of a single valid reason why someone who does not actively support misogyny and/or harassment would frequent the site. I also think that JT is way way too nice when discussing Justin Vacula.
That being said, I think Greg’s attack on JT is both pointlessly vicious and deeply stupid. Are you seriously suggesting that JT tried to fake his feminism to get laid? Or were you trying to be funny?
The day JT is drummed out of the feminist/skeptical/secular community because he doesn’t pass Greg Laden’s “purity” test is the day this middle-aged feminist leaves for good. (I’ve already stopped supporting the JREF and CFI,) Believe me I can find some other use for my resources.

The funniest bit about this farce - this is a supposedly a site for teenagers.

Apparently a site for teens is the best place to demand CFI change their leadership.

Further, it is the best place for 30- and 40-somethings to accuse each other of being into feminism for the sex.

Stay classy, Skepchick.

Atheists lack a moral compass

The conference artists behind FreeThoughtBlogs have taken their long held opinions about meetups and finally applied some effort to host a "con" of their own.

The title of this meeting of the "FreeThought" minds?

FTBConscience: Atheism with a conscience

Quite the tagline + use of color in the branding. The description reads:
An Online Conference
19-21 July 2013
FtBCon is a free, online conference organized by the Freethought Blogs network. It will take place on July 19-21 and will focus on social justice, technology, and the future of the freethought movement. Without travel, registration, or hotel costs, FtBCon will be accessible to freethinkers around the world. Conference sessions will be held through Google+ hangouts, and attendees will have the opportunity to interact with each other in chat rooms and to submit questions to moderators.
We are currently assembling our schedule. If you or your organization are interested in participating, submit your session ideas for consideration by e-mailing PZ Myers with a proposal.

PZ then followed it up with a blog post entitled "Announcing FTBConscience", adding to the description:

[FreeThoughtBlogs] has decided to put on a show. We go to conferences a lot, we have conversations with all kinds of atheists, we have things to say and we know you do, too, so we have decided to put on our own conference, with our themes and interests. And because we’re a blog network, we’re entirely comfortable with doing it all in our pajamas, so we propose to do this entirely with the technology our readers have on hand already: the internet. And further, we’re going to do it entirely for free — if you can get on the internet, you can access the talks and panels. If you can type, you can converse with everyone in our chat room.

The speakers list is currently: All the FreeThoughtBloggers, (Maybe they do support A+?) Jeremy Beahan, Jamila Bey, Ania Bula, Ian Bushfield, Chris Clarke, James Croft, JT Eberhard, Debbie Goddard, Julia Galef, Nicole Harris, Robin Marty, Beth Presswood, Desiree Schell, David Silverman, Xavier Trapp, Rebecca Watson, Bora Zivkovic.

Let's get one thing straight immediately - these are people that are doing what they want to do, voicing their opinions and that is fine. There are a number of hilarious ways an internet conference can fail, but it is not the high road to wish them spotty connections and technical glitches.

It is also not the most upscale event imaginable, but it is rather laudable that they are not burning jetfuel just so they can have the pleasure of gazing into each other's eyes as they voice they agree on some mundane pre-approved "progressive" talking point.

What is truly distasteful about the conference is what their messaging suggests.

One massively popular and unfortunate criticism of atheism is a tired argument that atheism lacks basic moral values. Things like The Ten Commandments - ideals written in stone. Without a supreme creator father figure, the argument goes, humanity doesn't really have a basis for the basics as it were.

The line of attack follows that a godless universe requires some concocted Darwinian self-centered basis for all moral behavior and somehow that takes the joie de vivre out of existence.

Add in a few nasty anti-theist characters from history and you end up with a predictable conclusion.

Atheists lack a truth about existence. Atheists lack a moral compass. Atheists lack basic moral values.

We know this as one prominent FreeThoughtBlogger, Richard Carrier, states as much as often as he gets an opportunity.

The FreeThoughtBlogs "Conscience Con" has proven without a shadow of a doubt that the worst theistic opinion actually has merit.

They accomplish this in two ways:

  1. FreeThoughtBlogs accepts the idea that atheists are lacking basic moral values
  2. FreeThoughtBlogs behaves as if it lacked basic moral values

Atheists lack a moral compass. This is both accepted and exemplified.

The Acceptance

This is tacitly accepted by FTB in that they sell this conference as a conference that has what others often lack - a conscience.

Presumably the other secular conventions are toiling in hedonism, spending their days aimlessly watching television when they aren't going to atheist meetups that function as satan worshipping orgies in Las Vegas.

Remember that their opponents lack the basics of morality. This is not a nuanced conference to discuss a moral dilemma that secular philosophy is faced with.

This is a "safe space" for the atheists that happen to have something called "a conscience". People that dare criticize the conscience-con are the unwashed barbarian hordes that are utterly incapable of making correct moral choices.

The Example

At this moment, religious apologists are having a field day. Popular secularists of their time have accepted one of their most vacuous pieces of propaganda.

But where would FreeThoughtBlogs be providing an example of secularists lacking moral scruples?

This is where the flip side of the coin comes into play - not only does the "conscience con" accept as fact that the secular community at large can't figure out that murder is wrong, it provides a glaring example of just how  immoral atheists can be.

For just how self-concerned, self-serving and downright wrong is it to state your peers (or even your critics) would steal candy from a baby while your own clique is the last bastion of human compassion.

When one is saying things that the Republicans would be embarrassed to say about the Democrats, (or vice versa) then one may want to check one's talking points.

This sideshow really wouldn't be happening without the constant trolling and gaslighting by PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson.

They're willing to go as far as to suggest that their opponents are racist, misogynist or even ambivalent about rape, just to score political points.

At this point, it would actually be more morally appropriate if PZ Myers were to reveal that he was in it for the lulz all this time than actually be honestly using a stunted projection of the moral capabilities of his opponents for his own selfish purposes.

All told, it is quite the con.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Bearded Taint of Atheism Plus

It turns out Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) is not a fan of PZ Myers:

Over at The Bearded Taint's blog, the citizens have lit torches, grabbed pitchforks and come after me (again). I don't think I have seen more concentrated hate in one place. It's actually quite fascinating from a mental health perspective.
I left my own comments on the Bearded Taint's blog if you want to follow along.
The interesting thing is that I'm reasonably sure my haters and I have exactly the same opinions on the topics they are getting worked up about. But once the Internet decides you are a holocaust-denying, creationist, science-hating, sexist, sock puppet, all evidence seems to support that view. And in this case, these science-loving folks are basing their views on rumors, stuff taken out of context, misinterpretations, faulty memory of stuff they once read but don't fully remember, and that sort of thing.
I'll say it again because it is so interesting: The people who are hating me because of my opinions have exactly the same opinions. They just don't realize it because of the fog of confirmation bias.
I'm totally guilty of blogging in a way that was guaranteed to get this sort of reaction. I'll own that. I think there is an audience for people who are willing to play with ideas and not take any of it too seriously. The problem is that I become a target for advocates who need well-known enemies, manufactured or real. But I do understand that is part of my chosen profession. It's more fascinating than annoying. I love watching normally rational people get spun out of their minds by The Bearded Taint and his type.

Bearded Taint.

It almost could be an honorific.

His Excellency PZ Myers, Divine Bearded Taint of Atheism Plus.

The Daily Show explains the c-word

It turns out that The Daily Show has demonstrated the perfect use of the c-word. (not to be confused with the d-word)

Do you take racism seriously?

Critics are currently tearing apart the last post about the American Atheists racial discrimination case.

In a Pharyngula post entitled "CFI response roundup" -

SallyStrange comments:
Today “Uberfeminist” claimed that I and anyone who said something positive about David Silverman’s response to the racial discrimination lawsuit against American Atheists were “whitesplaining white atheists.” That Dave Silverman is just as racist as Dawkins! I was like, probably, yeah. I.e., probably Silverman and Dawkins have similar levels of racism, and probably we’re whitesplaining how OK Silverman’s response was. That would be a totally legit and interesting conversation to have, IF you cared. But you don’t. It’s just another “gotcha” moment. Another tool transformed to a weapon, senselessly.

This is an interesting perspective.

Let's recap:
  1. 'Feminists' feign concern about racism just to score points against 'men's rights activists'
  2. 'Feminists' half-heartedly accuse Richard Dawkins and FEMEN of being racist
  3. 'Feminists' suddenly fall silent when a man they generally support is accused of racism (in a real court, by the way, not Twitter court)

After being informed of these details, some people may conclude that is the "social justice" warriors that are not taking the issue of racism seriously.

However this is miles apart from how a true Twitter activist would read this information. In fact, it all means precisely the opposite - it means everyone is even more racist than they thought!

Somehow, publicizing this information is a grand conspiracy to discredit modern-day Martin Luther Kings so the evil "harassers" can reconstitute the Confederate States of America. 

It is not clear if this would happen before or after the Earth-killing Libertarian conspirators would deport the Hispanic population and erect a 100ft high border wall.

Some details still need to be ironed out. 

The important thing that for now, the goose-stepping white supremacists need to create write blog posts that create the appearance of caring for the truth and social issues in the face of ridiculous hypocrisy and drama. 

You can't get anything past these Twitter heroes of racial equality. They know your motivations better than you do.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Skepchick Privilege

Watson is now boycotting Center For Inquiry.

The details, in "So Much for Center for Inquiry", Watson explains:

A lot of people held their collective breath, waiting to find out if the board would issue an official apology, force Lindsay to issue a real apology, censure Lindsay in some other way, or take any strong action to show that CFI was going to recommit itself to addressing women’s concerns in concrete ways while marginalizing those who are harassing us.
If you’ve read that a few times, wondering what it says, allow me to clarify: it says nothing. It makes vague statements about equality and respect without mentioning anything about the harassment of women in this community and how Ron Lindsay has enabled it. It expresses unhappiness without mentioning what exactly they’re unhappy about: Lindsay’s talk? Uppity women complaining about his talk? Men’s Rights Advocates (MRAs) now supporting CFI while continuing to hate women? No idea. It also suggests that the “controversy” is about the conference, and not about 10 minutes of the opening talk of the conference, delivered by Ron Lindsay.
In a way, I’m glad they made it so very obvious that they don’t care. Had they written something complex and layered, doing nothing but promising something (anything), it would be much harder for me to say this: I’m finished supporting Center for Inquiry.

For the past two years I’ve worked my ass off to make their annual CSICon a success, by hosting their parties, getting the SGU and other popular speakers involved, helping them create a gender-equal schedule, coordinating a blood drive through Maria Walters, facilitating scholarships through Surly Amy, and just promoting the hell out of it. This year they have yet to issue me an invite. With this statement, it couldn’t be clearer: my participation is not wanted, in the exact same way that after six years of supporting JREF’s Amaz!ng Meeting, DJ Grothe made it clear they didn’t want me, either.
My haters like to pretend I organized some kind of boycott against Richard Dawkins after he attacked me, a lie that became so pernicious I edited in a statement saying I have not (facts, as usual, had no impact on the behavior of my haters). The boycott accusation was confusing on a number of levels but these two particularly: 1. Dawkins, not me, is the one who has made demands to organizers that I not share a stage with him (it’ll be interesting if he shows up on CSICon’s bill this year) and 2. there is nothing morally wrong with people calling for a boycott of something they disagree with or, in this case, something that actively causes them harm.

Just to knock those two statements out of the park:

  1. Dawkins not wanting to again be on a panel with Watson is a complete red herring. This information was not published nor advertised by organizers or by Dawkins himself for that matter. 
  2. Nobody has claimed that boycotts are morally wrong. 
Oddly enough, Dawkins making a private request to not be on a panel with his harasser is apparently "a boycott" in Watson's world.

The only thing Watson's critics have requested is a modicum of honesty - when you publicly announce to your fans that you're no longer purchasing Dawkins books, it's an endorsement of this action as acceptable if not preferable.

Watson feels she gets a free pass because she refrained from explicitly requesting her fans do the same and using the b-word ("boycott").

It's similar to a movie reviewer giving a film 10 out of 10, then saying that they are not actually endorsing the production because the reviewer did not actually ask his or her readers to pay money to see the film.

So clever. 

Watson continues:
With that last point in mind, fuck it: I’m boycotting and I hope you do, too. I’m not giving any more of my time or money to Center for Inquiry, just as I’ll no longer give any time or money to the JREF and Richard Dawkins.But in addition to this personal decision I’ve made, I’m actually asking you to do the same.

Oh, this changes everything!

Or not.

Watson continues:
Do not support an organization that does not have the courage to stand up for women. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. [this theme is a wagon she hopped on in her earlier article] If you are a speaker at a paid event for these organizations, cancel your appearance. If you regularly donate money to them, stop. If you work for them, look for a new job. I have a lot of friends and loved ones who currently do one, some, or all of those things, and I trust we’ll continue to be friends regardless of what happens. But I do think that continued support of CFI will send a message that it’s okay for a supposedly humanist organization to never take a stand to help the women in its community.
I hesitate to suggest where you should redirect your energies, because the last time I did that, I convinced many people to start supporting CFI, and we can see how well that went (sorry about that). There’s always Equality Now or Planned Parenthood or the SPCA I guess. They may not be directly about skepticism or secularism or humanism, but at the very least you can be fairly certain you’re helping make the world better.

Endorsing Planned Parenthood is a step forward for Skepchick, who previously endorsed AU as the last best hope for women's rights. Planned Parenthood is a lot less bizarre of a choice.

In any case, there you have it. Rebecca Watson is now boycotting CFI and admitting to the existing boycott of Dawkins and JREF. This is something the Skepchick clique should have disclosed months if not years ago.

But it's ultimately up to them. Skepchick and FTB can boycott whoever they want, and they have a right to be snide about it.

Yet what is extremely telling about this baloney about boycotts?

It is dripping with privilege.

Just a few examples:

Watson writes: "[CFI's letter] expresses unhappiness without mentioning what exactly [we're] unhappy about"

Why it's privileged: Essentially Watson expects her criticisms of an organization and its director to be summarized and mirrored in full.

For those keeping track, Watson's oft-retweeted criticism of CFI is quite simply (direct quote) "Very strange to open #wiscfi w a white male CEO lecturing women about using the concept of privilege to silence men."

It would seem CFI was to somehow relay this mature critique of its CEO in its letter. The organization essentially owes Watson a platform.

Watson writes: "This year [CFI] have yet to issue me an invite [to CSICON]."

Why it's privileged: Watson has already been invited to CSICON. Not only has Watson been invited, but you have been invited as well. How is this possible? It's an open event.

When Watson states that she has not been invited, presumably she means she has not received free round-trip tickets from Brooklyn to Tacoma, Washington along with a customary speaker's fee.

Let's be clear: Watson expects an invite before the organizers have even completed the conference website.

One imagines Watson checking her email waiting wondering why she hasn't been giving a speaker's slot.

Once Watson realized CFI wasn't going to give her a soapbox and she was going to have to attend a CFI conference as one of the secular proletariat, she threw a fit of public boycotts.

Watson, in her position of privilege, expects two things from an organization in return for her support: money and a platform. It's all about the coin with these "social justice" activists.

It's rather humorous to watch these "rationalists" expose their Victorian sensibilities.

No invite to speak? No travel expenses covered? This is a disrespect! How dare they!

Until next time, on as the skeptical world turns...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

PZ evades taxes?

A funny thing has happened. Minnesota has decided that Amazon needs to collect sales tax.

People in Minnesota were already obligated to pay sales taxes on Amazon purchases, but Amazon was not obligated to collect it.

The idea is that you buy some shiny new thing on Amazon, then send tax money to the local state authorities.

But who does that?

Minnesota decided to shut the door on tax evaders - by declaring that Amazon has a substantial physical presence in the state (due to its affiliate program) and therefore it must collect sales tax:

Minnesota E-Fairness legislation, signed by Gov. Mark Dayton [Democrat] on May 23 and going into effect July 1, classifies independent bloggers and online reviewers as a physical presence of a business in the state. This means online companies who pay these people to generate new sales must collect tax not just on those sales, but on all sales in the state.
The tax on online sales is already due, but the onus has been on consumers, who often never pay the tax. The new law puts the onus on Amazon, as long as they have a single blogger posting links to its products from Minnesota.
The state has estimated the new law will generate $5 million in new revenue, but Amazon is having none of it.
The company sent an email to associates in Minnesota, saying it will close all accounts in the state to avoid the tax.

One of the bloggers that received this email is none other than PZ Myers.

In a blog post entitled "Amazon did what?!??", PZ writes:
So…all the Amazon links scattered throughout my site will still be contributing to Amazon’s revenue stream, but I no longer get any reward for them. That’s fai…wait, no, that’s totally unfair. Is this the kind of treatment we can all expect when the New World Order of Amazon achieves complete domination of the planet? That’s worrisome.
Hey, legal people: if I were instead to have my daughter, who lives out of state, set up Amazon Associate status, and then replace the code in my links to redirect income to her, would that be reasonable? I have no interest in evading state taxes and would happily pay those, but I would be interested in evading Amazon’s punitive behavior.
Then later in the comments: 
Any revenue would still be reported (as it was on my last tax form!), but I wouldn’t want my daughter to get hit with additional taxes, nor would I like the income being double-taxed if it were transferred.
Another possibility is just signing it over to a worthy organization. I know NCSE welcomed Amazon Associate dollars.
When asked to consider stopping linking to Amazon, PZ replies:
I don’t really think that if I stop linking to Amazon, they’ll collapse and go bankrupt.
I also stopped shopping at WalMart, and I’m amazed that they’re still around.

Presumably, PZ (or someone like PZ) is not paying sales taxes on online purchases, which forces the State of Minnesota to act.

Amazon, wishing to comply with the law, can either collect the tax or end it's "presence" in the state.

Amazon can choose to invest in the affiliate program, or not invest and have the advantage of not having to collect taxes for consumers in Minnesota.

Simply by running the numbers, they chose to cut the bloggers out of the equation. Poor bloggers. Such first world problems they have.

A quick recap of PZ's arguments:

  1. It is "totally unfair" of Amazon to end his associate status, because life owes PZ money or something.
  2. PZ writes as if Amazon acted unilaterally and he was completely unaware of the law.
  3. PZ presents a way for Minnesotans to evade taxes and for PZ to take his cut - funnel money through his daughter! Myers is a real 'family values' type of guy.
  4. PZ pretends that he'd be compliant with the law by reporting the income on his IRS 1040. This is compliant in the same way an international corporation running their money through Nassau is compliant.
  5. An Amazon boycott to support Minnesota's progressive tax structure is out of the question. Boycotts are ineffective apparently.
It's interesting to watch "progressives" go full libertarian once things hit them in the wallet. One day they're voting in Democrats, the next they're running money through their daughter. For a "good cause", we're assured.

Let's also ponder the speed at which PZ dismisses the possibility of a boycott. Here we have a major US corporation that chooses to subvert the intentions of state law. "Social justice" warriors are usually all about this sort of thing, aren't they?

Boycotts were previously regarded as a strong principled stand when many stood up and boycotted TAM and boycotted CFI. When did those boycotts happen? Literally yesterday.

Maybe we should take the Atheism+ boycotts for what they are - a vain attempt to settle a score of no consequence.

This is simply another example.

When things actually matter, PZ and the Atheism+ crowd will simply roll over and ask for their hand out.

So much for the principled approach.

American Atheists doesn't care about black people

At least that's what Kanye West would say.

It seems that American Atheists is in a bit of trouble. It's being accused of discrimination, and it has responded directly to those claims.

The facts of the matter:

  1. American Atheists fired a young black woman
  2. Her replacement was a "more experienced" white male. (who is presumably paid more)
  3. The woman claims to have been offended by an ad campaign comparing theism to slavery
  4. The woman claims to have heard racist jokes at work
  5. American Atheists defense downplays her role in the organization
  6. American Atheists uses the lawsuit itself as support of its decision to fire her

So there you have it.

This is one part patriarchy, one part racism, one part misogyny, one part pay equity, one part glass ceiling. 

Now, it largely remains to be seen what the anti-racist social justice warriors think of all this.

They already think Richard Dawkins is racist.

Will they label David Silverman as racist after all this? Or will they find some rationalization, apply skepticism to the woman's claims, and then excommunicate her as they do to all women that cross the untouchable "social justice" alpha males? (As Marcotte would put it, "Team Feminism" is the entity that she would be exiled from)

Unfortunately it seems like this will quickly be swept under the rug, as the plaintiff made some rookie mistakes in the allegations.

Perhaps the following changes could be applied:

  1. Drop allegations of racial discrimination, exchange it for a sexual harassment claim.
  2. Make a claim about unwanted sexual advances in a completely private, enclosed space. For example, an elevator.
  3. Avoid direct claims of misbehavior if at all possible. Make several claims that bring the target's character into question without attempting to make concrete descriptions of your interactions with them.
This is more of a recipe for success. Rest assured it would win over the hearts and minds that are easily molded by a few iterations of the Two Minutes Hate on Twitter/Tumblr/Pharyngula.

Interestingly enough, it would seem the allegation of the racial discrimination has distanced the plantiff from the sympathies of the secular white Twitter feminists.

The Twitter feminists and David Silverman will both exercise their solidarity in "white privilege" instead of arguing about the intricacies of Silverman's "male privilege" in the workplace.

For next time, simply remember: Elevator. "Coffee".

Monday, June 17, 2013

Team Twitter Feminism is not happy

Breaking news from Amanda Marcotte, in a post on Rawstory titled "The Center For Inquiry Likes Atheism’s Cranky White Guy Image, So Screw You Ladies".

Here’s an update on the Center for Inquiry situation for those who are following.

"The situation" is whether or not Ron Lindsay gets the boot.

That is what the Center for Inquiry is doing by releasing this cowardly “both sides” statement full of bureaucratic doublespeak that is really beneath people who claim to be for “free inquiry” and even features the namby-pamby statement, “Going forward, we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement to enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity as we struggle together for full equality and respect for women around the world.”
 Seems like a fair statement from the CFI.

Marcotte finds a problem:

The problem with that statement is that “all elements” of the secular movement most assuredly do not share the “common value” of “full equality and respect for women around the world”. Sure, the pro-harassment folks that are trying to drum feminists out of the movement say they do, but then again, so do Republicans who are trying to craft laws banning abortion and trying to end the Violence Against Women Act. Skepticism is supposed to be about clearing out the bullshit, and if you do that, what you have are two factions that really, truly have a fundamental disagreement over the issues of diversity and mission within the secular movement. One side, the feminist side, believes that the movement should strive to make itself more diverse, in no small part by putting more emphasis on secular issues that have a broader appeal to women and people of color and by aggressively fighting off reactionary elements within the movement who make public skeptical spaces uncomfortable for women by engaging in sexual harassment. The other side thinks the movement should ignore feminism and that sexual harassers should be given preferential treatment over their targets when it comes to who should be made unwelcome. It’s really pretty straightforward. As such, if you believe in women’s full equality and respect, there really is only one side to take in this fight: The feminist side.

Here are the list of things that are simply absurd in this paragraph:

  1. Apparently "feminism" is one monolithic block, and it happens to agree with whatever Amanda Marcotte says. 
  2. Opponents of Marcotte think sexual harassment is cool. To the contrary, sexual harassment is not cool, and PZ should cut it out. Other things that aren't cool: rape culture.
  3. Marcotte has evidence to support the idea that Republicans don't support women's rights - stating they are anti-abortion rights and anti-VAWA. But Marcotte does not provide any evidence to support her argument that "the other side" do not support women's rights.
Marcotte continues:

In fact, that’s what CFI was doing when it decided to host Women in Secularism. Let’s be clear: The anti-feminist faction disapproved of the conference even existing. A handful of anti-feminists specifically showed up at the conference with the intention of disrupting it, which they were mildly successful in doing insofar as Ron Lindsay helped them out. They flooded a Twitter hashtag dedicated to the conference in hopes that people would be unable to follow what was going on there. There isn’t going to be peaceful co-existence with them. They want feminism and all its claims, particularly about the full equality of women, to go the fuck away. And they will do whatever it takes to get that done.
It's simply a lie that people disapprove of the conference existing. The very same conference happened last year, and no one cared.

What changed?

Well, there happened to be a full year of complete and utter nonsense from the usual cast of characters.

Basic history of events:

July 2011 - Elevatorgate. All things considered, these were calm waters.

May 18 - 20, 2012 - Women in Secularism 1

July 12-15, 2012 - TAM 2012, where all the Harriet Hall stuff happened. and the 'feminists' had a lot of bad things about DJ Grothe for some reason. Also remember what Marcotte had to say about Harriet Hall.
October 2012 - Petition against Justin Vacula authored

December 2012 - Ophelia Benson writes an article that essentially chastises Michael Shermer for not getting it.

March 2013 - Donglegate. And the corresponding events with EllenBeth Wachs and Julian.

Then Richard Carrier goes full-on Atheism+ at the American Atheists convention.

April 2013 - Rebecca Watson responds to the open letter from secular leaders. Richard Carrier continues to call people CHUDs.

May 17-19, 2013 - Women in Secularism 2

Within all this was also a full year of Atheism+ "social justice" bent on the excommunication of the "evildoers".

For a full review of what has happened in the past several months, read the rest of this blog or visit this site  for a concise description of some events.

All one really needs to grasp: Marcotte is entirely dismissive of the events of the past year - probably because she isn't aware of them. Marcotte thinks Women in Secularism 2 happened in a vacuum, and people criticizing it are criticizing feminist organization as a concept. This is wrong.

The fact of the matter is that men and women criticize Women in Secularism 2 because it wasn't about women. It was about a specific group of people putting forward their specific political opinions.

By claiming not to pick sides, the CFI leadership* ended up picking the side of the pro-harassers who oppose greater reach and diversity for the secularist movement. That is their choice, and they are too cowardly to admit it. If you have any doubts, look at the reactions out there: Feminists are dismayed, while people who want to stomp feminism out of the movement are elated. Real world evidence should trump empty bullshit on this account. Especially if you call yourself a “skeptic”.

Once again, the "feminist" viewpoint is to claim greater reach, without actually proving it.

It would seem Marcotte's argument is this: Agree with me, and the females will flood into the secular movement.

It is a rather curious opinion, as it is glaringly obvious that Marcotte and her comrades are not celebrities in their own right and do not command a considerable following. Nor would it seem that their opinions are particularly popular among women.

Setting aside the gross immorality of choosing the side that opposes diversity and supports harassment over the side that does the opposite, I have to reiterate how stupid this decision is politically. The pro-feminist faction that sees secularism as part of a greater tapestry of modernism and progressivism that includes feminism, anti-racism, and humanism generally is exponentially larger than the side that just really hates religion but doesn’t really care for the people most harmed by it. Pandering to sexists means picking the side with way fewer and frankly stupider people on it. I looked at some Twitter accounts to get a general idea of what this decision means for CFI. Rebecca Watson, who is now boycotting CFI in response to their cowardice, has nearly 30,000 Twitter follorws. PZ Myers, who is Team Feminist, has over 135,000 followers. Greta Christina, who has also written a post denouncing CFI for this, has over 7,500 followers.

Lots of the usual nonsense packed into this paragraph.

First there is the contention that Marcotte's opponents are racist harassers. Apparently there are a bunch of evil white guys that aim to bring down 'feminism'.

Then there is the statement about 'anti-racism'. If you recall, Richard Dawkins is racist according to these 'feminists'.

Finally, there is this ridiculous accounting of Twitter "follorws".

Indeed. PZ Myers, "Team Feminist". We are surely doomed.

In any case, Marcotte's Twitter math is simply wrong.

Marcotte's mistake is thinking that the "harassers" she interacts with on Twitter are somehow "ringleaders".

When one steps back and looks at how the atheist/skeptic movement is really made up, the conclusion must be that the group of people that haven't bought into the Atheism+ ridiculousness far outnumbers the true "social justice" believers.

The perspective Marcotte has only allows her to see the people that disagree with her most vehemently. Then, Marcotte brands them king of the "others":
Meanwhile, the ringleader for the pro-harassment team is under 1,000 followers, and 850 of them he probably got for no other reason than his dogged harassment and abuse of feminists.
If you want an effective movement with a broad reach, this is roughly the dumbest move you could make. However, if your goal is to reinforce the public’s belief that secularism and atheism particularly is nothing but a bunch of misanthropic white guys whose only real goal is feeling superior to believers but who don’t care about making real change in the world, well job well done. And fuck you.

It's interesting that Marcotte projects her own beliefs about the secular movement onto the general public.

Where would the general public get this idea?

Probably from the recent popularity of "the four horsemen". Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and Dennett.

Who are they to Marcotte? "Misanthropic white guys whose only real goal is feeling superior to believers but who don’t care about making real change in the world".

*To be clear, their staff is still the same great group of people they always were, and I hope people don’t take this out on them.
It's an interesting footnote to put on this article. A big shout out to the CFI staff for being awesome!

Why is it here?

Why, to support Melody Hensley, of course. She works for CFI-DC, doesn't think "chill girls" is an insult, and is largely seen by 'feminists' as the leader-to-be as soon as the white guys get out of the way.

Hensley's current Twitter background:

So here lies the solution to the problem.

The problem being that the public thinks secularists are a bunch of Ayn Rand-loving Libertarian misanthropes!

What the public doesn't understand is that secularism is a bunch of red-clenched-fist hello-1960s bra burners that read a lot of Dworkin!

All this time, one supposes the public thought they were Christians.

Thankfully, Marcotte has cleared things up.