It’s time, once again, to return to Tim Farley’s list of people on The Block Bot with credentials. [Update: See the comments. Farley has retracted the list.] In case you need a refresher on that list (now with links to past posts):
- A Research Fellow for a U.S. think-tank who is also deputy editor of a national magazine, and author of numerous books
- A Consultant for Educational Programs for a U.S. national non-profit
- A long-time volunteer for the same national non-profit
- An organizer for a state-level skeptic group in the US
- A past president of a state-level humanist group in the US
- A former director of a state-level atheist group in the US
- An Emmy and Golden Globe award winning comedian
- A TED Fellow
- Co-founder of a well known magazine of philosophy and author of several books
- A philosopher, writer and critic who has authored several books
Tom Foss has a follow-up to Farley’s follow-up that was supposed to clarify why he created such a list. I’m not sure it makes the situation any more clear, but it does still suggest that light should be shone on why people might just want to not see anything from these people on Twitter.
EllenBeth Wachs has a complicated history with the secular movement that is, almost certainly, not entirely her fault. Her problems with the Atheists of Florida is well-known, if not always easy to follow. She is a recent past president of the Florida Humanists Association. Following an nasty argument on Pharyngula earlier this year, she left the Secular Woman private Facebook members’ group and made allegations about the group that didn’t hold up in the light of day.
Wachs’ confrontational style on social media is nothing new, but following that argument at Pharyngula, it’s been getting uglier. What happened after PZ posted the rape allegation against Michael Shermer is a good example of how bad it can get. Al Stefanelli posted his piece condemning PZ’s actions on his Facebook wall. A long discussion ensued [screen capture of the whole discussion as it currently stands]. The beginning of the discussion is mostly notable for people agreeing that rape victims should be able to go public with their stories and disagreement over whether PZ should have helped this rape victim go public with her story.
Americans United’s recent hire Sarah Jones was part of this long discussion. I’m going to quote a few things from her in the early bits because I’m impressed at how well she held her own against a crowd.
I’m glad PZ spoke up, frankly. Sexism has been rampant in the skeptic community for years and there are many, many reasons why victims of rape, assault and harassment don’t report these incidents to the police.
And for the record: no one has a ‘responsibility’ to reduce their risk for being a victim. That’s victim blaming, it’s rape culture, and I’m disappointed to see it in your post.
Drama blogger? He’s amplifying the voices of women who have been consistently attacked by prominent men in the skeptic community. He’s an ally to women.
And Travis, I don’t really buy Al’s ‘but I’m not victim-blaming!’ caveat after that ridiculously stupid statement. Contrary to what Ryan seems to think, no woman (or man) has any sort of responsibility to reduce risk for attack. No one chooses to be a victim. The onus is on the rapist.
Finally, Ryan, I think I’m a hell of a lot better qualified than you are to speak for women’s safety.
This is not about the police. This is about women. But hey, let’s all shame rape survivors some more. Let’s lecture them about how they ought to respond to their own trauma!
This is why I’m glad to see PZ taking a stand and it’s why I haven’t involved myself more with the skeptic movement. I’m a survivor of assault. I got slut shamed and victim blamed by the fundamentalists I grew up with–I expected better from ‘rationalists.’
As this was going on, one of the commenters left comments claiming to be part of Interpol, saying he’d had a hand in solving several high-profile problems of sexual assault, and making outlandish arguments about the nature of laws about sexual assault and rape (which, for the record, vary hugely across jurisdictions). Then this happened. The threats have since been deleted by Stefanelli.
Sarah Jones: Mr. ‘I’m An Interpol Agent Listen to Me!’ is surprisingly ignorant about actual rape laws. Kris is correct. Legally, someone under the influence can’t consent to sex.
EllenBeth Wachs: Sarah, yes, someone under the influence can consent to sex. Please see my prior response.
Sarah Jones: Just checking to make sure everyone saw that an anti-feminist, allegedly rational dickhead waste of a human decided to issue a death threat.
Sarah Jones: Lack of response from atheist men regarding Cameron’s threats of violence is deafening.
Sarah Jones: Keep going. I’m reporting every threat of violence you make.
Sarah Jones: Anyone feel like condemning this? Bueller? Nope? Guess it’s not more important than attacking rape victims. Good showing, rational thinkers!
EllenBeth Wachs: Jesus Christ, Sarah, are you really that easy a trolling target?
Sarah Jones: Yes. Threatening to kill a woman is just fucking hilarious.
Cameron Davis: As far as they’re concerned I’m threatening pixels.
Sarah Jones: Al Stefanelli, is this what you want?
Sarah Jones: You’re legitimately insane, aren’t you?
EllenBeth Wachs: Omg, you are that easy
Sarah Jones: Yes. Clearly I’m the one who should be attacked in this scenario, Ellen, not the insane human who thinks it’s hilarious to threaten to kill people.
EllenBeth Wachs: Yes, Sarah, you are the one that deserves it. You are being trolled. And very easily, I might add, FFS.
Sarah Jones:I…deserve to be threatened with death because…why, exactly? My god, you’re a sick person.
Sarah Jones: You are not a genetically engineered soldier. You are a lonely man-child living in a basement who attacks women by threatening to kill them on Facebook.
EllenBeth Wachs: Sarah, how long have you been on the internet for crying out loud?
Sarah Jones: Ellen, I’m in digital media. Unlike most of the idiots on this thread, I actually work for secularism for a living. And it simply isn’t acceptable human behavior to threaten someone with death, even as a joke.
EllenBeth Wachs: Now, I’m bored. Have your fun with her, Cameron. Jesus
Sarah Jones: Good to know you’re tired of mocking someone who’s getting death threats, Ellen, you’re a real peach of a person.
Sometime after this, Stefanelli came back and cleaned up the threats. His comment on this at the slime pit does not indicate trolling.
Seriously and legitimately mentally ill. Anyone who would have bothered to read the comments on that thread (my Facebook account is public) would have immediately understood this. But just in case there is any doubt, the young man who issued the threats is a paranoid schizophrenic that suffers from delusions and hallucinations when he is not on his medication. I’ve known this kid for a while, and when he goes off his meds he gets very unpredictable, and thus I have had to block him a time or two over the years.
Stefanelli, however, considers this a reason to immediately dismiss the threats. [Side note: While most people with mental illness never harm anyone but themselves, professionals in the field still take direct threats to real people quite seriously.]
They would have immediately dismissed the threats for what they were, and moved on.
But Sarah Jones did not include these facts in her twitter meltdown. She decided to milk the living fuck out of it for reasons which are glaringly obvious and quite predictable.
Sarah Jones was then, last night, subject to Twitter conversations of ridiculous length with the Twitter atheist misogynist brigade that should be posted somewhere as advertisements for The Block Bot for talking about what had happened on Facebook. Here’s a tiny sample of just her side of this to give you a taste of its grinding nature.
Wachs responded, still referring to threats from a delusional person as “trolling”.
Jones objected to the characterization.
Her Twitter correspondent asked a man to settle the question.
Then Wachs brought the legal threats.
Then the threats to Jones’ employment.
Then came this morning.
@EllenBethWachs: I actually saw professional victimhood in progress last night. It was not a pretty sight.
And now Wachs is claiming that what we can all see above didn’t happen.
@EllenBethWachs: Sigh, now I guess I wil lhave to write a blog about this
You’ll all be happy to know that Sarah Jones says Barry Lynn tells her her job is safe.
Welcome to the movement, Sarah. Holler if you need anything. By the way, can I introduce you to The Block Bot?