Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dick Is Too Forward

In June 2011, Rebecca Watson told a story to the world that would lead to a drama known as elevatorgate. Its creation was a description made of a man that asked her if she wanted "coffee" in his room after spending most of the night in the hotel bar. Describing his behavior, Watson lectured: "Guys, don't do that".

The event was one catalyst in a sort-of schism in the skeptic/atheist community that eventually led Jennifer McCreight to coin the term "Atheism Plus" in August 2012 to describe what was hoped would be a version of secularism without the vile bigotry like sexism and racism that the community had apparently not sufficiently eradicated.

The next months are filled with "social justice" rhetoric about how conferences need harassment policies to fix misbehavior. Very few allegations of anything criminal were made - the focus was on more nebulous patterns of behavior. The grand idea was not to prosecute any specific crimes, but to exclude the creepy white men that was keeping the "movement" from being "inclusive" and a "safe space".

Numerous enemies were named - Justin Vacula was making people feel uncomfortable at conventions, Audi was making problematic commercials, certain women were not towing the "feminist" line. The head of CFI was too pushy, certain men liked to pick up women a bit too much. Even worse, other men were talking too much about dongles. The word "stupid" was ableist and "trigger warnings" were to be applied liberally in order to create a gentler secularism.

Then an allegation of rape was made against a specific conference speaker in August 2013. The allegation was published by PZ Myers, who is apparently publishes anonymous accusations for people who cannot be bothered with creating their own Tumblr. The specific allegation and the resulting mess it created aside, it created a gigantic mass of "supporting evidence" that was absolutely mundane and absurd.

In comment threads, people claimed the accused was a womanizer that convention organizers knew about. One person wrote that the accused on a different occasion made sure her wine glass "stayed full", as if it were an indication of his focus on raping people while on the conference circuit.

Later in 2013, Bora Zivkovic, an editor at Scientific American, was accused of being aggressive in a sexual manner. Zivkovic left the magazine.

An easily excitable Stephanie Zvan took the opportunity to use the heat surrounding Zivkovic to accuse a young woman named Christie of the crime of being too aggressive with a man at a conference.

Later in 2014, people were writing about Richard Feynman being a bad guy for having affairs with married women.

Fast forward to May 2015, and a one Richard Carrier - the self described "intellectual artillery" of Atheism Plus -  writes a blog post titled: "Looking for a Date Middle of May".

A dramatic reading:





For most people, this is about as creepy as a man can get. And even many in "social justice" camps agreed.

Coming to the defense of his friend, PZ Myers writes:

So I read Carrier’s post, and no surprise, I was made terribly uncomfortable by it (no, really, sometimes I feel like a Victorian). But so what. I don’t define what Richard Carrier does.
I have one rule that gets me by: is it consensual? And what do you know, that whole damn post is about getting consent and setting personal boundaries and making crystal clear what he desires, and acknowledging the other participant’s autonomy. How can anyone complain about that?
If I sought to impose my sexual preferences on everyone else, that’s what would be creepy and wrong. If I tried to coerce others into sexual behavior that I enjoyed, but they didn’t, that would be worthy of condemnation. If I stood by while someone deprived another of autonomy so they could get their sick jollies off, I would be ashamed.
But this? Objectively fine. It’s a consentapalooza.

The absurd part of "objectively fine" is that objectivity has not mattered for the last four years.

It is a subjective evaluation of what is creepy that has dominated debate. This simply a fact. There is nothing objectively wrong about asking for coffee, having affairs or being a "womanizer". It does not alone undermine consent. It is a subjective reading of context and intent that leads things to be problematic. Rarely does the "problematic" debate of the hour actually resemble anything that would be described as sexual assault.

Many "social justice" activists believe the catalyst of hatred between them and the rest of the planet is that the rest of the planet disrespects consent. This is not true. What the rest of the planet disrespects is wordy self-rationalizing pseudoacademics that believe they are fundamentally better than everyone else.

Describing one's own crazy sexuality in a thousand public words does not make it more respecting of consent. In fact, the inverse may be true as Richard Carrier's verbose polyamory may be a deliberate self-serving defense against later accusations. Being "out and proud" in this manner preemptively kills the label "unrelenting sex addict" as reality is now clouded with euphemism. 

It is a realm dominated by white nerds of all genders that first and foremost is aroused by having their sex lives documented in words. Everything one does is "empowering", while certain populations participating in precisely same behavior is "toxic". It has nothing to do with what is right and everything to do with what is titillating - as witnessed in the immense capacity "social justice" has for gossip and shallow analysis.

The community that "social justice" is built on is one of plagiarists like CJ Werleman and Avicenna. Clickbait judges like Amanda Marcotte and Jessica Valenti. Accused rapists and doxxers such as Jason Thibeault and PZ Myers. Hopeless womanizers like Hugo Schwyzer and Richard Carrier. 

The message to these abusive "activists" is simple - 

"Guys, don't do that."

6 comments:

  1. Very good post. The off-the-scale hypocrisy of Peezus, FfTB and their assorted cohorts writ large for all to see.

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  2. A little thought experiment will tell you what sort of mentality you are up against. Imagine if someone on another blog network, say Patheos, had posted exactly that same article. The reaction from the Horde would be nuclear: words like 'predator', 'misogynist', 'rapist' etc. would clog Pharyngula's comment section. Given Myers' track record on these things, he would be decrying the moral turpitude of non-SJW atheists and how ashamed he is of his fellow unbelievers.

    The FTB crowd are now so debased that the morality of an action is decided solely by whether it is committed by an in-grouper (good, obviously), or out-grouper (bad).

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    1. This is just what I was thinking. If anyone else had written this PZ and his gang of bullies would have delighted in destroying their careers.

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  3. You are overthinking this. While I agree that the uproars over the other two stories you bring up were way over the top, this is just not in the same category. No one was cornered in a hotel elevator late at night, or put in an awkward (if not fully coercive) with someone in a position to help or destroy their careers. Those truly are creepy behaviors. I agree with PZ, this is not in that category, and it's a poor example of hypocrisy.

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