An open letter to Michael Nugent

This was too long to fit on Twitter and I didn’t want to take to your comments section.

I recognize that you don’t owe me a response, and I feel like you are almost certainly working on one, but I would like to discuss the fact that you saw fit to respond to Richard Carrier before you responded to the “more considered posts” by me, M. A. Melby, or Secular Woman. It’s worth pointing out that you haven’t entirely ignored M. A. Melby’s post because of “having” to respond to Richard Carrier, just the “quite reasonable,” as you put it, part of it.   I would like to highlight the not unreasonable conclusion that one could draw, that indeed we were already discussing: You prioritize getting into petty internet fights about tone over everything else. In this case, you prioritize getting into petty internet fights about tone over serious-minded discussion about an accused rapist in the movement.

You’ve sat with our discussion for over a week now. There are nearly 1000 comments between the two blog posts on my site about this topic. Two other women have chosen to write about this. And done so in a tone that is much more to your preference than the tone of Mr. Carrier. And yet you choose to write a blog not in response to the women who are trying to have a discussion with you about something that they are deeply concerned about, who are writing in what you consider an appropriate tone. You choose instead to respond to a blog post written by a man relying heavily on the posts written by those women — indeed over half his post is dedicated to linking to the other sources on which he’s based his post. You choose to prove the point that if one writes in an aggressive tone, one will get attention and responses, while if one writes in a reasonable tone, one will be put on hold. I now wonder if I might have gotten a faster blog response if I’d written in a less reasonable tone myself.

And I get it, that’s an easy 3000 words to write, just like it’s easier to write 3000 angry words calling someone a fuckhead than it is to write something nuanced. But I think in choosing to respond to the angry tone instead of the nuanced tone you’re guilty of promoting the same thing you’re saying you’re against.

Mr. Nugent, you also state at the beginning of the article that you “have to” respond because of how Mr. Carrier has portrayed you and Atheist Ireland. You really didn’t. You chose to. There are always going to be people misrepresenting you on the internet. There are always going to be people whose tone you’re going to want to correct. There’s always some new fight to be had if you’re itching to write 3000 words about how someone is wrong on the internet. And, to be clear, you chose to respond to that one. And that’s fine, but I want you to understand the message that all of this sends, because it’s the same message you were already sending: Michael Nugent cares more about tone than he does about women.

I don’t think that’s the message you want to be sending, based on the mission of Atheist Ireland, I know it’s not.

 

ETA from comment below: The point of this, like the previous posts, is not that Michael Nugent is a bad guy. It’s that he keeps doing things online that make him look like a bad guy and he’s either unaware of them, in which case hopefully writing them out calmly in a blog post and explaining why they look how they look will help him understand why people see them the way they do, or he doesn’t care about the people who are interpreting his actions that way and he’d just as soon write them off as engage with them, in which case I think his tone arguments are hypocritical. Either way, I don’t see a course of action for myself that is more rational than to call his attention to the interpretations and see what he makes of them.

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An open letter to Michael Nugent
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309 thoughts on “An open letter to Michael Nugent

  1. 9

    Edward Gemmer @ # 5: … Carrier [has] seemingly closed comments on his post.

    Carrier always holds comments for moderation. A “Leave a Reply” box still showed up when I went to the linked post; those do not appear when the blogger explicitly closes commenting.

  2. 10

    What Butler said.

    The comments will only show up when personally checked by Carrier, which may take some time, if he’s busy with something else. This is not a special policy for this issue, but the way
    Carrier has chosen to moderate comments across his entire blog, regardless of subject.

  3. 11

    Nugent has a similar comment policy. Although it seems like favorable comments, or comments from frequent posters get fast-tracked.

    Regardless, it seems pretty obvious that Nugent’s commitment to tone is selective. Of course, this is usually true, since tone policing is often intended to sideline the complaints of marginalized people, in this case women.

  4. 13

    Ashley. I think to accuse Michael Nugent of not caring about women because he responded to another blogger prior to your good self is a bit ludicrous. Especially given the issue of social justice for women and Atheist Ireland’s involvement in that struggle, features rather heavily in Michael Nugents post. Especially given how busy Nugent and Atheist Ireland clearly are with so much else at the moment. Especially given he has stated that he is working on a response, but could not finish it due to more smears and misinformation being spread about him and Atheist Ireland and its male and female members. Which is hardly about merely “tone.”

    I know what with smartphones and everything we’re all getting used to instantaneous gratification, but come on.

  5. 14

    Kurt H said:

    … it seems like favorable comments, or comments from frequent posters get fast-tracked.

    And on what evidence do you base that opinion on?

    Regardless, it seems pretty obvious that Nugent’s commitment to tone is selective.

    And on what evidence do you base that opinion on?

    Of course, this is usually true, since tone policing is often intended to sideline the complaints of marginalized people, in this case women.

    Nonsense; complete fabrication. Sexist too.

    LeSchlumb said:

    The real convo is not going to be between Nugent and Carrier, that’s for sure.

    True enough. Carrier doesn’t ever “convo”‘ he pontificates, dictates, and spews.

  6. 16

    @Ashley #15

    Ummm, obviously you were comparing priorities rather than absolutes. I was making the point that there are good reasons for those priorities that can hardly be characterised as being uncaring about women, as a significant part of his post is related to the issue of women and women’s oppression in Ireland.

  7. 18

    The point of this, like the previous posts, is not that Michael Nugent is a bad guy. It’s that he keeps doing things online that make him look like a bad guy and he’s either unaware of them, in which case hopefully writing them out calmly in a blog post and explaining why they look how they look will help him understand why people see them the way they do, or he doesn’t care about the people who are interpreting his actions that way and he’d just as soon write them off as engage with them, in which case I think his tone arguments are hypocritical. Either way, I don’t see a course of action for myself that is more rational than to call his attention to the interpretations and see what he makes of them.

  8. 19

    Ashley, only this: excellently done!

    I’m not able to engage in a discussion at this moment (too much happening in the meat space) and I have to remain one of the deeply interested but mostly silent readers. Just a short remark: it seems to me that the type of a challenge you are presenting is exactly what is needed.

    I don’t think though that the real problem is that

    Michael Nugent cares more about tone than he does about women.


    I would rather say that it has more to do with the fact that

    that’s an easy 3000 words to write, just like it’s easier to write 3000 angry words calling someone a fuckhead than it is to write something nuanced.


    Yes, it’s definitely easier to build your case around “smears” than to seriously countenance the question of why, really, there are people who do not support Michael Nugent (and the pit) in this fight. Indeed, it’s so much easier to list misrepresentations and offences than to engage in a nuanced discussion where your opponents will also have something important to say!

    Michael Nugent, if you are reading this: lists of smears and misrepresentations are the easy way of doing politics. However, they can only take you that far. Maybe the time has come for something new? What do you think?

  9. 20

    @Ashley #17

    I’m sorry for any ambiguity in my rephrasing of your post, but it doesn’t change the poverty of your argument one iota. Your statement is that michael looks like he “cares more about tone than he does about women.” Which is ludicrous as his priorities clearly involve answering smears that Atheist Ireland women activists are involved in “anti-feminist hate-sites.” Placing a priority on refuting this smear precisely shows he places a priority on issues surrounding women’s oppression.

    Moreover, Atheist Ireland have an excellent record on fighting for women’s rights in Ireland, making your accusation even more ludicrous.

  10. 21

    Ashley (OP):

    In this case, you prioritize getting into petty internet fights about tone over serious-minded discussion about an accused rapist in the movement. …. but I want you to understand the message that all of this sends, because it’s the same message you were already sending: Michael Nugent cares more about tone than he does about women.

    To kind of emphasize and agree with Gunboat Diplomat (#13), I think you make some reasonable points, but saying Nugent “cares more about tone than he does about women” looks rather categorical, and dogmatic and not particularly credible. You’re a better man than that, Gunga Din. So to speak. 🙂

    But I can sympathize with your concern about what to do about “an accused rapist in the movement”. However, I can’t see that you’ve really made much of a case for what it is that you expect to be done about that, apart from allowing Alison to make and have published her accusations. Which has already been done. And it seems that anything that you might suggest doing about said “accused rapist” that is in any way predicated on the assumption that he is, in fact, a rapist looks to be rather problematic to say the least.

    However, I will agree with you to the extent of conceding that Nugent may not have been particularly fair in his criticism of Myers’ “Grenade” post (1). For instance, this from his LBJ post (2):

    In the last year or so, you have publicly accused Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes ….

    Now, that was posted in September of last year whereas Myers’ Grenade post was in August of 2013 so I’m not entirely sure what Nugent was actually referring to. But at least that post of Myers did not explicitly accuse Shermer of rape so maybe Nugent was being somewhat unfair at least. However, it seems that Myers then insisted (3) on shooting himself in the feet by later accusing Shermer of precisely that, and Nugent of defending him. And that you apparently are unwilling to address that looks rather problematic to say the least. So while it might take a Philadelphia lawyer to disentangle all of the “he said; she said” in that to portion out the blame, I at least find it hard not to think that Nugent has the more credible case.

    In addition, while you may have some justifications for your accusations about tone, I think you’re putting far too much weight on it. Consider this summary from Nugent’s LBJ post:

    In the last year or so, you have publicly accused Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes, Richard Dawkins of seeming to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children, and Russell Blackford of being a lying fuckhead. Less seriously, but still setting a metaphorical tone for your blog, you have joked about Rebecca Watson shanking Phil Mason in the kidneys, and about you stabbing Christians and throwing people off a pier.

    Seems hard not to conclude that Myers has turned into a bit of a loose cannon, and that he is more of a liability than an asset to “the movement”. While I can sympathize with the maybe questionable objective of “disassociation” as that can be a two-edged sword, I can’t see that the concept itself is without merit. After all, we do attempt to disassociate ourselves from various criminals by incarcerating them, although I’ll concede it might be moot just what Myers’ crime is, and what is the appropriate penalty.

    —–
    1) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20150418200324/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/08/what-do-you-do-when-someone-pulls-the-pin-and-hands-you-a-grenade/”;
    2) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/09/19/the-lbj-legend-and-my-email-to-pz-myers/”;
    3) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20150414191629/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/11/01/the-end-of-the-micknugent-saga/”;

  11. 22

    I commented on Nugent’s blog pretty extensively on his response to me, and the only comments that were put in moderation were the very long ones that happen to use particular words that might be in his filters. All the others appeared right away.

  12. 23

    Who wants to bet we’ll see another 3,000 (or more) words from Michael – which will contain about as much substance as if he wrote “Nah, I’m totes not!” – and that the serious points brought up by Ashley, MA Melby and Secular Woman will go forever unreplied-to?

  13. 25

    Steersman 21 says

    I can sympathize with your concern about what to do about “an accused rapist in the movement”.

    That is quite clearly not the case.

    And it seems that anything that you might suggest doing about said “accused rapist” that is in any way predicated on the assumption that he is, in fact, a rapist looks to be rather problematic to say the least.

    I cannot nor would not speak for Ashley, but here are some things I would suggest doing about said “accused rapist” that are indeed predicated on the assumption that he is, in fact, a rapist.

    -Signal boost. His accusers are credible. And anyone paying the slightest bit of attention is only too aware that any rape accusation is far, far more likely to devastate the life of the accuser than the accused, and that this devastation is increased by an order of magnitude when the accused is an esteemed white dude. Victims know this too. (Reason # 2,135,327 that rape is severely underreported.)

    -Boycott. Ensure that organizations promoting speakers who are the subject of multiple credible sexual assault and harassment allegations (or other epic shitweaselry) pay a steep price in reputation, endorsements, donations and attendance.

    -Build. Despite battling relentless tone trolling, poo-flinging, rape apologia and denial, threats of death and dismemberment, ceaseless harassment campaigns and hyperskeptic plagues of biblical proportions—and with whatever energy one has left—strive to create the kinds of inclusive spaces and dynamic movement(s) that one wishes to be a part of. Not just for one’s own benefit, either. But so that maybe—just maybe—the next generations of activists will not have to fight the exact same battles they have been fighting since the dawn of humanity. (Hahaha. As if.)

    To the extent that Steersman finds any of that “problematic to say the least,” well, that probably means I’m onto something.

    I at least find it hard not to think that Nugent has the more credible case.

    Of course you find that hard, sweetie. Bless your heart.

    Seems hard not to conclude that Myers has turned into a bit of a loose cannon, and that he is more of a liability than an asset to “the movement”.

    LOL. Myers has always been a “loose cannon”—in the very best sense. That is what makes him an asset. You know what’s really a liability to “the movement”? Rapists. Their reactionary defenders. Hero-worshipping, entitled dudebros and their fangirlz.

    After all, we do attempt to disassociate ourselves from various criminals by incarcerating them,

    Yes we do. Well, except for rapists of course.

  14. 26

    What’s with the scarequotes around “accused rapist”?

    He is, in fact, an accused rapist. No quotation marks needed. If you put it in quotation marks that shows skepticism or ridicule.
    “Rapist” might be appropriate, showing that you are withholding judgement, etc., but “accused rapist” is not, unless you mean to convey skepticism towards or ridicule of the fact that he has been accused.

    A not-so-subtle way of downplaying the seriousness of the accusation.

    Once again your bias is showing.

  15. 27

    In case I didn’t make it clear enough, “accused rapist” would convey skepticism not of the truthfulness of the accusation, but rather that any serious accusation had even been MADE.

  16. 28

    Jafafa Hots (#26):

    What’s with the scarequotes around “accused rapist”?
    He is, in fact, an accused rapist. No quotation marks needed.

    At least one set of quote marks was to point out that I was, in fact, quoting Ashley. They’re not always used to frighten dogs and small children ….

    Though one might still wonder if he really can be characterized as an “accused rapist” since I’m not aware of any charges that have actually been laid against him. Seems that the most that one might say is that Alison has alleged that Shermer raped her, particularly since she doesn’t actually say, at least in that Grenade post of Myers’, that “Michael Shermer raped me”.

  17. 29

    Then, Wowbagger, would you be content if Nugent replied with only a single paragraph?

    Or would that be too short?

    By the way, this blog post has got to be a joke. It has to be. Michael Nugent wrote a response to Richard Carrier first and not Ashley or Melby, therefore Nugent mustn’t care much about women. Holy shit. The leaps of logic to arrive at that conclusion is just … wow. It astounds me. It really does. The sense of entitlement is just off the charts.

  18. 30

    @Steersman

    Seems that the most that one might say is that Alison has alleged that Shermer raped her, particularly since she doesn’t actually say, at least in that Grenade post of Myers’, that “Michael Shermer raped me”.

    Really? From your link the grenade post. Allison speaking:

    At a conference, Mr. Shermer coerced me into a position where I could not consent, and then had sex with me

    I now that you, and the whole MRA / Freeze Peach / Rape apologist brigade have a hard time with the concept of consent, but having sex with someone without consent is the definition of RAPE . talk about own goal, Steersman.

  19. 31

    Though one might still wonder if he really can be characterized as an “accused rapist” since I’m not aware of any charges that have actually been laid against him. Seems that the most that one might say is that Alison has alleged that Shermer raped her, particularly since she doesn’t actually say, at least in that Grenade post of Myers’, that “Michael Shermer raped me”.

    So it’s not an accusation unless there were legal charges?
    And someone saying that someone had sex with them without consent is not the same as accusing that person of rape?
    And you can’t be considered to be accused if all someone has done is allege?

    Jesus but you really like to weasel, don’t you? As I’ve said previously, you are one slippery character. That is not a positive trait.

    Fine. Change accused rapist to alleged rapist. Then lose the scarequotes.
    And explain, with regard to that grenade post, how (alleged) sex without consent is not (alleged) rape.

    Actually, skip that last part, don’t explain… I’ve just eaten.

  20. 32

    Can you explain what “coerced me into a position where I could not consent” means, Donnie?

    Because it still doesn’t make sense to me.

    Moreover, I still think it’s hilarious that free speech to some has now become “Freeze Peach” because apparently it’s not an inalienable right that should be protected. I adore it. It makes me giggle everytime when someone who uses that phrase also thinks their right to speak is being infringed upon. Irony.

  21. 34

    Moreover, I still think it’s hilarious that free speech to some has now become “Freeze Peach” because apparently it’s not an inalienable right that should be protected.

    You are allowed your view. I am allowed to criticize your views. If you don’t like your views criticized and complain, that is freeze peach. You sound like you want freeze peach, not free speach, as you don’t want to be criticized for your views.
    Enough for now. Try thinking for a change.

  22. 35

    Irisvanderpluym (#25):

    Steersman: I can sympathize with your concern about what to do about “an accused rapist in the movement”.
    That is quite clearly not the case.

    Actually I do. Just that I question the wisdom of certain courses of action that have been suggested. And have actually spent a not inconsiderable amount of time and effort trying to develop a technological solution that while hardly perfect and one that only addresses one aspect of the problem, might actually go some distance in reducing the prevalence of the crime.

    LOL. Myers has always been a “loose cannon”—in the very best sense. That is what makes him an asset.

    Ah, so. I guess you then think that accusing Dawkins of having “developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children” (1) and of having been “by brain parasites” (2), and accusing Ayaan Hirsi Ali of “happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices” (3) qualifies as being an “asset”? Ok, but I rather doubt most mainstream atheist or secularist organizations would have very much sympathy for that view.

    … hyperskeptic plagues of biblical proportions ….

    Nice turn of phrase; mind if I quote you? 🙂

    However, relative to your suggestion of “signal boosting”, and “boycotting”, while I do sympathize, and wouldn’t see it all that “problematic to say the least” for individuals to vote with their pocketbooks, I would think it quite a bit more so for anyone to make some sort of formal submission or threat to various organizations that Shermer should be boycotted in any way, shape, or form. Seems to me that that is playing with some serious fire, and I can well imagine that most other reputable organizations wouldn’t touch you or anyone else trying that with a ten-foot pole.

    Although I’ll agree that “building” the movement is generally a worthwhile goal. But playing fast and loose with the law would seem to be somewhat inconsistent with that. Unless your target demographic is anarchists.

    Steersman: After all, we do attempt to disassociate ourselves from various criminals by incarcerating them,
    Irisvanderpluym: Yes we do. Well, except for rapists of course.

    As a great feminist skeptic (?) of some note once said, “♫One of these things is not like the other one, not like the other one, not like the other one…♫” 😉

    Kind of sucks that the conviction rate is apparently so low. However, the thing is that we don’t normally go down to the bar, or the current A/S conference, and pick someone up, and invite them back to our homes to steal our cars or TVs. Seems to me that there is a rather significant, and quite important, asymmetry between crimes of rape, and of various types of robbery and assault. Which is apparently compounded by the ingestion of rather significant quantities of alcohol, the purpose of which is frequently to reduce our inhibitions surrounding the acts in question.

    Consequently it seems rather more difficult in the former case to obtain evidence – including proof of consent or its retraction – that a crime has been committed. Which then naturally reduces the number of people who are charged and convicted. Seems to me that if people were really serious about reducing the number of rapes then they might actually be willing to be a little more cautious, a little more proactive, about the circumstances that they get themselves into. As I’ve suggested several times.

    —-
    1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/09/19/the-lbj-legend-and-my-email-to-pz-myers/”;
    2) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/09/17/recent-media-misrepresentations-of-the-atheist-movement-and-the-role-of-pz-myers-in-the-culture-of-demonising-people/”;
    3) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2015/04/05/ayaan-hirsi-ali-pz-myers/”;

  23. 36

    However, the thing is that we don’t normally go down to the bar, or the current A/S conference, and pick someone up, and invite them back to our homes to steal our cars or TVs. Seems to me that there is a rather significant, and quite important, asymmetry between crimes of rape, and of various types of robbery and assault.

    Your rhetoric is disgusting.

    No one picks someone up and invites them back home to commit rape.

    The analogy you’re looking for is

    No one gives away used televisions or money sitting in their pockets – and feels good for doing it! – while still maintaining that they don’t want to be burgled or robbed!

    It’s just that you didn’t use that analogy because it’s patently fucking false.

    The only way your original analogy of inviting people to commit crimes of a non-sexual nature could be made to work is if people were generally in the habit of inviting people to commit crimes of a sexual nature. Good grief! Could you blame rape victims just a little bit harder? It can’t be easy, but with your skills, you could probably accomplish it with a good old college try – especially a good old college fraternity try.

  24. 37

    @Ashley:

    There’s always some new fight to be had if you’re itching to write 3000 words about how someone is wrong on the internet. And, to be clear, you chose to respond to that one. And that’s fine, but I want you to understand the message that all of this sends, because it’s the same message you were already sending: Michael Nugent cares more about tone than he does about women.

    I don’t think that’s the message you want to be sending, based on the mission of Atheist Ireland, I know it’s not.

    I don’t know it’s not.

    Then again, you could be entirely right that he doesn’t want to send such a message…but such a message is entirely accurate anyway.

    In order to care more about challenging tone on the internet than about reducing sexual harassment, sexual assault, and gender discrimination in nominally atheist/skeptic spaces, he don’t have to give zero fucks about reducing such things. He just has to give fewer fucks than he does about challenging tone.

    Given that he’s spent 75000+ words on PZ and prioritizes challenging Carrier’s tone over responding to the substance of feminist criticisms, it would in fact be quite easy to give many fewer fucks about ending gendered injustices in atheist/skeptic spaces than about challenging internet tone and still actually give a fair few about ending gendered injustices in atheist/skeptic spaces.

    I have no problem believing he gives a lower, but non-zero number of fucks about women. To claim otherwise, one would have to join Gunboat Diplomat in ignoring the context in which all this takes place…essentially relying on the claim that one cannot judge priorities based on how a person spends their time over a period of months because a single post didn’t entirely ignore women’s concerns! Really! Didn’t entirely ignore them! Yes, he’s going off about tone and not trying to fix the actual gendered injustices under discussion, but hey! That tone was just too categorical and emphatic and if taken to its logical conclusion it not only would give a false impression of Michael Nugent, but some women might be mischaracterized as well! Rush! Rush to address that first, Michael Nugent, and be assured that in your righteousness no one will notice that your actual priorities are, in fact, reflected in what you address first and what you address most often and what you spend the most time/words addressing – by fucking definition. Or, well, if some people notice, at least Gunboat Diplomat won’t.

    You, Ashley, are bending over backward to give MN’s work an interpretation so charitable as to be undeserved.

    It may well be that he doesn’t want to communicate that message.
    It may even be that how he spends his time off the internet would give me a different picture of his priorities than how he spends his time on it.

    But you can’t fault me for going with the only evidence I have: not knowing MN, that’s his internet habits. His internet habits, at least in the last 6 months, frankly don’t deserve to be remotely credited with prioritizing ending gendered injustices over challenging tone.

  25. 38

    Seems to me that if people were really serious about reducing the number of rapes then they might actually be willing to be a little more cautious, a little more proactive, about the circumstances that they get themselves into. As I’ve suggested several times.

    Yes. Exactly. If rapists don’t want to be accused of rape, they should be more proactive about not raping, about not getting themselves into circumstances in which one can correctly brand them a rapist. Good point, dude!

  26. 39

    Saurs (#38):

    Yes. Exactly. If rapists don’t want to be accused of rape, they should be more proactive about not raping, about not getting themselves into circumstances in which one can correctly brand them a rapist. Good point, dude!

    Say, how is that working out in the case of robbery and assault? You maybe think that saying, “hey guys, don’t commit robbery or burglarly or aggravated assault” has had any noticeable effect on those crimes? The actual statistics suggest that – surprise, surprise, surprise – it has had precisely diddly-squat in the way effect in reducing them (figures for 2013/2014 (reported per 100,000)). Although maybe they just haven’t gotten the message yet, and all you really need to do is to invite them over for cookies and tea and show them the errors of their ways. In any case, the numbers:

    Forcible rape: —————— 27.0 / 26.9
    Robbery: ———————— 113.9 / 112.9
    Aggravated assault: ——— 241.5 / 242.3
    Total Violent crime: ——— 387.1 / 386.9

    Burglary: —————- 701.3 / 670.2
    Larceny-theft:———1,974.1 / 1,959.3
    Motor vehicle theft: — 230.0 / 229.7

  27. 40

    I know Rape Culture Central doesn’t like facts but here’s a few:

    Ashley Miller’s post on this subject was April 12. Nugent hinted he might respond someday.

    Carrier’s mean post was April 16. Nugent couldn’t respond fast enough because of how much he loves playing the victim when he thinks people are mean to him.

    I don’t think Ashley Miller is out of line when she notes that Nugent is ignoring her post because he would rather attack Carrier for being mean rather than respond to concerns that he prefers petty bickering to discussing real issues about mistreatment of women.

    If you’re not part of the crowd at Rape Culture Central, it’s easy to see why so many people agree with Miller.

  28. 41

    It’s possible, Steersman, that the reason that the rate of conviction of people accused of stealing TV sets is higher is because we don’t have a huge amount of people including cops and random theft-esxcusers on the internet accusing people whose TV sets are stolen of lying, of secretly wanting their sets stolen, of giving away TVs so often that any thief couldn’t help but assume they were free for the taking, of having TVs not even worth taking so who the hell would even try it, of being reckless with where they took their TV, of constantly lying about TVs being stolen because they want attention… and that we don’t have a huge amount of people arguing rhetorically that TVs can’t technically exist, or over the definition of what a TV is, or that no way can this accused person be the type who would take a TV, or that some people have unfair control of the TV supply so it’s only natural that others would… blah blah blah…

    You completed ignored the fact that the link you provided includes an accusation of rape when you claimed it doesn’t Steersman.

    Or maybe, like your slimy pal Pitchguest does, you are going to pretend that you don’t understand what the word coercion means, maybe you’re going to claim that you cannot possibly see how someone could be coerced into drinking more than they intended to the point where they were unable to give consent.

    I’ve been far, far too generous to you. You are not merely slippery.
    You’ve shown a level of dishonestly that goes way beyond being unable to be pinned down on facts and definitions.
    You make false claims, you ignore when you’ve been shown to be wrong, you twist definitions and quotes…
    But I’m not going to call you a rape apologist.

    You go beyond that. You go beyond excusing accused rapists and denying victims’ accusations.
    In your last two comments you show that you question the very concept of the existence of rape by acquaintance, you show you feel that an invitation home means guaranteed consent from that point forward… you have virtually questioned the existence of unprosecuted or unconvicted rapists…

    Given the fact that you have proven that you are blatantly dishonest with your rhetoric, I have to assume that you do these things not out of misunderstanding but rather with specific intent. You are trying to advance preconceptions that throw all rapes into question, and you are doing so through dishonest means.

    So no, you are not a rape apologist, Steersman.

    You’re a rape advocate.

  29. 42

    @steersman, #39:

    I note that your statistics tend to out-deceive “damn lies” by quite a fair margin.

    In your #39, for example, we learn that you are attempting to prove that

    You maybe think that saying, “hey guys, don’t commit robbery or burglarly or aggravated assault” has had any noticeable effect on those crimes? The actual statistics suggest that – surprise, surprise, surprise – it has had precisely diddly-squat in the way effect in reducing them

    in proving that cultural messages encouraging people not to commit robbery or burglary or aggravated assault has had “no [noticeable] effect” on those crimes, one MIGHT look at a social milieu pre-those messages and post-those messages and see if there was, in fact, a decline that correlates with the introduction of the experimental intervention.

    Ooops. You don’t do that. You just pick two years. They don’t show [noticeable] differences to you, thus you are victorious!

    Except what you’ve failed to notice, skeptic-dude, is that even if dramatic reductions had occurred between those years, it wouldn’t have had any noticeable effect on any attempt to prove or disprove your assertion.

    But gosh, statistics sure are truthy!

  30. 43

    Crip Dyke (#36):

    No one picks someone up and invites them back home to commit rape.

    No one picks someone up and invites them back home to commit rape.
    The analogy you’re looking for is:

    No one gives away used televisions or money sitting in their pockets – and feels good for doing it! – while still maintaining that they don’t want to be burgled or robbed!

    It’s just that you didn’t use that analogy because it’s patently fucking false.

    Don’t be such an ignorant twat – of course they don’t. While I’ll concede that your analogy is maybe somewhat more accurate – I was looking for a better one and nothing else sprang to mind, but I thought it would do for a start – I think yours still falls rather short. Seems a better one in the same progression is a case in which someone goes to the bar and says, “How would you like to come home with me and try out my new Maserati, maybe drive me around town? And then we can watch a movie on my 54” LED TV!” And then the invitee steals car and TV.

    But of particular note in comparing those two cases – rape on the one hand, and robbery on the other – is the fact that cars and TVs are rather tangible, and one doesn’t normally give them away. In which case, some person possessing them, absent a bill of sale, might reasonably be construed to have stolen them. But in the case of rape, what has been “stolen” is substantially less tangible, although “it” is something that is periodically if not frequently “given” away, and therefore there’s less in the way of evidence to show that something has been taken without authorization – or “consent”. Which, one might argue, might have some effect on the differences between the number of people being charged and convicted of those different crimes. Q.E.D.

    Good grief! Could you blame rape victims just a little bit harder? It can’t be easy, but with your skills, you could probably accomplish it with a good old college try – especially a good old college fraternity try.

    Long ways past being in a fraterity, either by age or inclination. But nice try, though you may wish to tune up your inference engine.

    In any case, what I’m suggesting is some thing, process, or perspective that might prevent people from winding up as victims in the first place. In which case your “blame rape victims” is a third swing-and-a-miss; want to go for the best 4 out of 7?

  31. 44

    Dude, Steersman, you don’t “give up” or “surrender” (or tarnish, or dirty, or diminish) your genitalia when you have consensual sex with someone.

    Likewise, we don’t look upon simple assault or murder as ambiguous crimes because what has been damaged is less “tangible” than a television.

    Your language choices here speak volumes.

  32. 45

    Jafafa Hots (#41):

    It’s possible, Steersman, that the reason that the rate of conviction of people accused of stealing TV sets is higher is because we don’t have a huge amount of people including cops and random theft-exscusers ….

    Whew. All without taking a breath? I’m impressed. And amused. 🙂

    But as I’ve argued, maybe there’s a difference in the rate of conviction because what is “stolen” in the case of rape is a little less tangible than what is stolen in the case of property theft. Which makes it a little more difficult to prove that something has been “taken” without consent.

    You completed ignored the fact that the link you provided includes an accusation of rape when you claimed it doesn’t Steersman.

    What link? Which accusation? Where did I claim that? But I assume you mean in my comment (#39) which, if you’d actually followed the link, merely showed the number of incidents reported for each of several different crimes, including rape, without saying anything about the conviction rate. My point was that – in the case of any crime, including rape – saying “guys, don’t do that” – presumably the message of laws in general – has apparently a very limited effect on reducing the crime rate.

    In your last two comments you show that you question the very concept of the existence of rape by acquaintance ….

    What demented horseshit.

    Given the fact that you have proven that you are blatantly dishonest with your rhetoric, I have to assume that you do these things not out of misunderstanding but rather with specific intent.

    You assume wrong. Or are you going to claim that you’re a mind reader? Before or after picking up a cool mill from James Randi?

    So no, you are not a rape apologist, Steersman.
    You’re a rape advocate.

    Wow. And even an upgrade. And my mother said I’d never amount to anything ….

  33. 46

    The point of this, like the previous posts, is not that Michael Nugent is a bad guy. It’s that he keeps doing things online that make him look like a bad guy and he’s either unaware of them, in which case hopefully writing them out calmly in a blog post and explaining why they look how they look will help him understand why people see them the way they do, or he doesn’t care about the people who are interpreting his actions that way and he’d just as soon write them off as engage with them, in which case I think his tone arguments are hypocritical.

    Or, you know, maybe he is, in fact, a bad guy. I mean, here he’s doing and saying all these things that make him look like a raging asshole, has it occurred to you that maybe it’s because he is, in fact, a raging asshole? It appears to be the most parsimonious explanation, after all.

  34. 47

    Saurs (#44):

    Dude, Steersman, you don’t “give up” or “surrender” (or tarnish, or dirty, or diminish) your genitalia when you have consensual sex with someone.

    Really? I’d never noticed that ….

    Likewise, we don’t look upon simple assault or murder as ambiguous crimes because what has been damaged is less “tangible” than a television.

    Except that wasn’t the point, although it would help if you were to quote what you’re referring to instead of obliging others to guess.

    Your language choices here speak volumes.

    As does your reading comprehension, or lack thereof. Or as does your inability to follow a thread. You might note that this conversation started when Irisvanderpluym said to me (in #25):

    Steersman: After all, we do attempt to disassociate ourselves from various criminals by incarcerating them,
    Irisvanderpluym: Yes we do. Well, except for rapists of course.

    And her statement linked to some statistics for rape that showed a 32% reporting rate along with a 2% conviction rate. But it is about 10 to 20 times higher for most other crimes such as burglarly, robbery, and assault. Maybe the fact that what is “taken”, at least in the first two of those three cases, is more tangible than what is “taken” in a case of rape might have something to do with that difference?

  35. 48

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy (#46):

    It appears to be the most parsimonious explanation, after all.

    What a fucking idiot. You might note this from the Wikipedia article on Occam’s razor:

    An often-quoted version of this constraint (which cannot be verified as posited by Einstein himself) says “Everything should be kept as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

    Given all of the many things that Nugent, along with Atheist Ireland, have accomplished over the last while, I would say you’ve rather clearly gone past that point.

  36. 49

    Ashley
    The phenomenon you’re noticing is well known on Pharyngula, where contrary to popular opinion not everybody is a big old meanie with a potty mouth. Given that there’s always a lot of responses there are always those with a really agressive tone and those calmly and politely explaining the issue.
    The calm ones are getting ignored and the agressive ones get attacked for their tone.

    +++
    Ahhh, the “people shouldn’t get themselves into the situation where they’re getting raped.” Given that women are getting raped in all sorts of situations, it basically means “stop existing”. It’s a nice device where “reasonable precautions” are always one step ahead of whatever precaution the person, usually a woman, took.
    Don’t wear too revealing clothing, but probably not a burqa either, ’cause that makes them agressive

  37. 50

    Mr. Nugent, you also state at the beginning of the article that you “have to” respond because of how Mr. Carrier has portrayed you and Atheist Ireland. You really didn’t. You chose to. There are always going to be people misrepresenting you on the internet.

    And those people will probably continue to push their way to the front of the attention queue, which gets back to Nugent’s original thesis. The few can muck things up for the many. It’s like you’re having a conversation with someone in a park and then a guy walks by and hits you in the face with a stick. The proper response isn’t “why aren’t you talking to me?; I was talking to you first, can’t you just turn the other cheek?,” it’s “why did you hit her in the face with a stick?”. It’s not Nugent’s fault Carrier decided to write a dishonest piece. Why don’t you direct your complaints to him?

  38. 51

    Giliell (#49):

    Ahhh, the “people shouldn’t get themselves into the situation where they’re getting raped.”

    “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. If you would prefer to deal with a 2% conviction rate in the latter case, along with any and all associated trauma, then that’s your choice. But seems kind of pigheaded to me.

    Given that women are getting raped in all sorts of situations, it basically means “stop existing”.

    What horsecrap. Apropos of which.

  39. 52

    If you’re not part of the crowd at Rape Culture Central, it’s easy to see why so many people agree with Miller.

    Now this is part of rape culture? Cuckoo, cuckoo.

  40. 53

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that “broken windows/broken bones/bloody nose” style rape has a conviction rate comparable to murder and theft, and that acquaintance and date rape have a considerably lower conviction rate. Which would kind of go along with the fact that these are difficult crimes to prove.

  41. 54

    @Crip Dyke #37

    I have no problem believing he gives a lower, but non-zero number of fucks about women. To claim otherwise, one would have to join Gunboat Diplomat in ignoring the context in which all this takes place…essentially relying on the claim that one cannot judge priorities based on how a person spends their time over a period of months because a single post didn’t entirely ignore women’s concerns! Really! Didn’t entirely ignore them!….
    But you can’t fault me for going with the only evidence I have: not knowing MN, that’s his internet habits. His internet habits, at least in the last 6 months, frankly don’t deserve to be remotely credited with prioritizing ending gendered injustices over challenging tone

    Well if the only evidence you consider is valid are the distortions and falsehoods propagated by several bloggers on Freethoughtblogs then of course you can’t be faulted. However, you could go and look at Michaels actual blog – i.e. the primary source material for your spurious claim.

    I’ve done that for you, free of charge. I counted up the number of blog posts Michael has written since Jan 1 (81). 15 of these were posts related to the ongoing dispute with PZ Myers, which include combatting smears of misogyny. 66 were on the many other issues Atheist Ireland fight for, including promoting access to contraception, fighting to repeal laws on abortion, fighting against the control the Catholic Church has on education of children, opposing Catholic Church control of health services, supporting a yes vote in the upcoming Irish referendum on marriage equality, amongst many others. Rather more than the one partial post (ONE!!) you claim.

    On what planet could this activity possibly be described as not “prioritising gendered injustices over challenging tone”? I’m sorry if this is all a bit too second wave feminist for you, but first of all, Atheist Ireland is not a feminist organisation (although it has feminists as members). Secondly, women in Ireland don’t have the luxury of a separation of church and state or even the nominal legality of abortion rights. So these issues are rather more salient here than in most of the rest of Europe or much of North America. Thirdly, Atheist Ireland is a good example of how the struggle for secularism intersects with the need to oppose the oppression of women and other groups such as LGBT.

  42. 55

    Steersman @ 51

    A link to Yahoo Answers? Really? The sauce is weak, sir. If you’re linking as evidence, an anecdote isn’t it. If you’re linking to ask the question at the link, just ask the question. Tying it to a third party anecdote muddies the water (to an extent, poisons the well, even).

    All of the arguments for “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” boil out to telling the victim that they didn’t fight back hard enough, pre-encounter. That’s bullshit, and a terrible thing to expect of anyone.

    Expecting women to use “an ounce of prevention” every time they are in public is a terrible sort of mental oppression. It’s bullshit, and a terrible thing to expect of anyone.

    Difficulty of conviction isn’t what we’re talking about. That’s unrelated.

  43. 56

    @40 Hoosier X On top of that, Nugent told me he was going to respond and get back to me last weekend. That he didn’t is fine, I’m merely noting that he did immediate turn around for Carrier. And it’s been over a week since he said he’d get back to me.

    Other people: I am really creeped out by this comparison of stealing TVs to rape. Is rape comparable to stealing rather than assault? Cuz… what?

    @50 Hunt I think the comparison of physical assault to some jackass writing things on a blog is completely useless and fallacious. This is more like two adults talking and some child going ‘neener neener neener’ and one of the adults feeling the need to stop their adult conversation to try to hold rational conversation with the toddler, instead of teaching the child that you don’t get rewarded with attention for being annoying. Negative attention is reinforcing the bad behavior.

    I didn’t yell at Carrier because I also think that Nugent is misinterpreting Carrier’s article with the most negative possible read, so I avoided the content altogether. I may have been addressing how Nugent did the thing he did rather than the content, but I am sure Nugent is really OK with that approach.

  44. 57

    Ashley Miller,
    I can see where you are coming from, though I do not come to the same conclusion you do as regards Nugent’s relative priorities (or the outward appearances thereof). In any case, I hope and expect that he will respond, in short order, to you and the other persons mentioned.

    When I take a step back look at the bigger picture, in the larger context of what Nugent and AI are doing (figting for access to abortion, for marriage equality, etc.), his record of real life activism seems to serve as a counter-point to your concern. Not that I’m saying he’s beyond reproach or anything remotely like that. I’m just saying that you seem to be focusing disproportionately on this one particular issue, as compared against his record of good work and real life activism.

    As to your main point:

    … I want you to understand the message that all of this sends, because it’s the same message you were already sending: Michael Nugent cares more about tone than he does about women.

    Your reasoning seems to be: Nugent’s decision to respond to [problem x] before responding (further) to [problem y] is a good reason for supposing that he cares less about [y] than he does about [x]. Or: Nugent’s decision to, at this particular moment, devote more attention to [problem x] than to [problem y] is a good reason for supposing that he cares less about [y] than he does about [x]. Is that more or less right? If not, please correct me.

  45. 58

    Ashley (#56):

    Other people: I am really creeped out by this comparison of stealing TVs to rape. Is rape comparable to stealing rather than assault? Cuz… what?

    I can sympathize, and while I certainly don’t want to trivialize the issue, I don’t think you could really argue that I’m doing so. But I might point out that doing a comparison is not asserting that all elements of the cases being compared are in fact the same or identical – nothwithstanding Ophelia Benson getting her knickers in a twist when faced with the argument that she had compared TAM with Nazi Germany. In any case, a relevant definition:

    compare [kuh m-pair]
    verb (used with object), compared, comparing.
    1. to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences

    And similarly, one can compare two right triangles – say of sides 3-4-5, and 30-40-50 – and note that they have the same interior angles, and the same ratios between corresponding sides, while having very different magnitudes in the lengths of the sides themselves. Which is then the basis of saying that they are analogous (1).

    So comparing “stealing TVs to rape”, or, equivalently, asserting that they are analogous, is hardly insisting that all elements in each case are the same, only that some of them are with the balance being different. For instance, they are both crimes – felonies in fact – that can lead to lengthy prison sentences. And the notable difference, at least in my argument – which I might note followed from a comment from Irisvanderpluym (#25) and the statistics (2) she linked to – is that rape has a conviction rate of something like 2% whereas robbery and burglarly have conviction rates in the range of 50% to 60% (3). [I might note that I earlier misinterpreted the graph which shows separate percentages of those going to either prison or jail; I had used the figures just for the former. Mea culpa – it was late.]

    But given that difference, it seems quite reasonable to ask why that might be the case. And while I expect many might want to go with “the patriarchy!!11!!”, although that seems untenable for any number of reasons – notably that men are charged and convicted of crimes at much higher rates than are women, it seems more credible to argue that the general lack of evidence in the case of rape in comparison to the cases of robbery or burglarly is the significant contributing factor. Which might lead most rational people to think that if the objective is a higher conviction rate for rape then increasing the probability that there is evidence of the activities in question might be a reasonable step in the right direction.

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy#Identity_of_relation”;
    2) “_https://rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates”;
    3) “_http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fdluc04.pdf”;

  46. 59

    @johngreg:

    You ask for my evidence? I have posted several times on Nugent’s blog on his Carrier “rebuttal.” One of my posts has been awaiting moderation for over a day, the other two arrived with such a delay that any replies to them would be dozens of posts below mine.

    I pointed out that tone policing is often used to silence marginalized persons. You said “Nonsense; complete fabrication. Sexist too.”

    I have no idea why you think that makes any sense. The very phrase tone policing emerged as a shorthand to describe the tactic of undermining the concerns of marginalized persons by labeling them as “shrill” or “angry.” You might have noticed that this is the sort of bullshit that theists pull on atheists all the time.

  47. 60

    Kurt H (#59):

    @johngreg: You ask for my evidence? I have posted several times on Nugent’s blog on his Carrier “rebuttal.” One of my posts has been awaiting moderation for over a day, the other two arrived with such a delay that any replies to them would be dozens of posts below mine.

    I find Nugent’s moderation pretty reasonable and generally don’t see any delays like that, although that might be partly because I’ve been posting there long enough to build a reputation of reasonable comments. But I might note that he has a fairly aggressive filter: for instance, accusing someone of lying – even using other words with that one as a root – will put you into moderation. As will two or more HTML links.

    BTW, you might consider quoting people and/or referencing a comment number instead of obliging other people to do the searching.

  48. 63

    Ashley F [email protected]

    Why do I get the feeling that when Nugent responds, he’ll focus on your open letter instead of on the original missive? That way he can lecture on how rude it was for you to infringe on his time and expect an answer from someone doing such important work.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  49. 64

    It’s disingenuous to compare people’s bodies to possessions, which can be replaced, can be left behind, can be safely stowed away, can be repaired. We already know this. It’s a cliché at this point, that rape-skeptics want to pretend victims of rape and sexual assault have somehow failed to perform their due diligence, are culpable in ways that a victim of robbery would never be (legally or morally).

    It’s equally disingenuous to pretend that rape is difficult to prove because people have sex all the time; it’s “hard” for an “objective” third party to gauge whether parties consented or not because they have a sexual history that involves consensual sex. I buy objects, I return objects, I barter objects. There is no similar willful confusion about what happened to me if I report a mugging. This has already been hashed out, ad infinitum. You are not the first person to analogize women to property, to whinge that Rape is Hard. It doesn’t strengthen your arguments. It makes you look dishonest, like you’re grasping at straws to explain away why women are liars or are deserving victims, and like you’ve never properly thought about this before. Amateur hour, Steersman, echo chambers. You specialize in the one, you belong in the other. Ever going to sing a different tune?

  50. 65

    Other people: I am really creeped out by this comparison of stealing TVs to rape.

    Yes. How you moderate your blog is of course up to you, but Steersman must feel it is Christmas.

  51. 66

    Davehooke (#65):

    Ashley: Other people: I am really creeped out by this comparison of stealing TVs to rape.
    Davehooke: Yes. How you moderate your blog is of course up to you, but Steersman must feel it is Christmas.

    🙂 Though “With all of the horseshit being flung about I’m sure there must be a horse under the Christmas tree for me!” [Modified punch line from an old joke on differences between optimists & pessimists …]

    However, I might point out that Ally Fogg’s blog is equally open-minded and fair, as was Avicenna’s, as was Ed Brayton’s (at least for a while until this issue came up which led to banning), and as is Yemisi’s – all of which I know through commenting fairly extensively at. It’s really only a “Scotch-handful” or two where I, and most Pitters, have been declared persona non grata, where the moderation policies basically create and enforce echo chambers and “Internet Silos”. Which I don’t think really does anyone any good at all, least of all FTB.

  52. 67

    Oh wow, Nugent is even worse than I thought. He just recently approved my comment (#90) and he EDITED IT to remove Shermer’s name. Nugent is apparently so invested in defending Shermer that he will put words in other people’s mouths to do it.

  53. 68

    Kurt H (#67):

    Oh noes! The horror!!!11!! Even worse than deleting it. Or disemvoweling it …..

    Hardly something he’s making an example of you over as it’s a policy he applies to everyone, including himself – all he ever says, if I’m not mistaken, is “[named person]”. Hardly something to write home about, much less using it as a pretext for an egregious accusation ….

  54. 69

    For those keeping track: Richard Carrier has moderated and published a batch of comments on his post linked to above, including some by ‘pitters and other Nugentophiles.

    I was particularly struck by a rather wordy and sycophantic one from a midlevel Atheist Ireland officer, who repeated the accusation that PZ Myers attacked Shermer by relaying “hearsay” of the latter’s misbehavior. I’ve been to Ireland, but somehow avoided getting caught up in the criminal justice system there: does direct first-person testimony by the victim of a crime count only as “hearsay” in Irish courts?

  55. 70

    Pitchguest:

    Can you explain what “coerced me into a position where I could not consent” means, Donnie?

    Because it still doesn’t make sense to me.

    Says the person who only about a year ago didn’t understand that raping an unconscious person is, well, rape.

    It means alcohol facilitated rape, in this case.

    I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept for your to grasp. It’s easy enough for the average rapist to figure out, seems like you should be able to as well.

  56. 71

    @ Pierce Butler,

    Hearsay has a non-legal definition, and is typically defined as a rumor or gossip. In a legal sense, hearsay has a particular definition, which is an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter offered in the statement. I’m not aware of any wide differences between American and Irish law here.

    I don’t know if it’s particularly accurate to say PZ’s post is based on hearsay, if he actually communicated with Alison Smith. However, his post, which by it’s very nature couldn’t be substantiated by anyone, could perhaps qualify.

  57. 72

    co·erce (kō-ûrs′)

    tr.v. co·erced, co·erc·ing, co·erc·es
    – to pressure, intimidate, or force (someone) into doing something.
    – to bring about or gain by pressure, threat, or force: coerced agreement among the parties; coerced a confession from the suspect.

    (tr)
    – to compel or restrain by force or authority without regard to individual wishes or desires
    – to compel by force or intimidation: to coerce someone into signing a document.
    – to bring about through force; exact: to coerce obedience.
    – to dominate or control, esp. by exploiting fear, anxiety, etc.

    So, presumably, the assumption is that Sherner intimidated Smith into, what, drinking too much? To the point of being incapable of observing good judgement and in being unable to make informed/knowledgeable consent? Right? Power differentials and so on, correct?

  58. 73

    @ leni,

    Says the person who only about a year ago didn’t understand that raping an unconscious person is, well, rape.

    It means alcohol facilitated rape, in this case.

    I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept for your to grasp. It’s easy enough for the average rapist to figure out, seems like you should be able to as well.

    I think the issue is she said Shermer “coerced” her into drinking so much that she couldn’t consent. “Coerce” has a particular meaning, suggesting she had no choice in her drinking (for example, drink this or your fired). This doesn’t sound like what actually happened. That doesn’t preclude rape. IMO, it was just bad word choice.

  59. 74

    Leni (#70):

    Pitchguest: Can you explain what “coerced me into a position where I could not consent” means, Donnie? Because it still doesn’t make sense to me.

    Leni: Says the person who only about a year ago didn’t understand that raping an unconscious person is, well, rape.
    It means alcohol facilitated rape, in this case.
    I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept for your to grasp.

    I’m not sure what were the precursors to your conversation, but I think you’re misunderstanding his point. Which seems to be related to the meaning of the word “coerced”. Presumably Pitchguest is asking how it is that Shermer had presumably “coerced” Alison into that position. Did he hold her down and pour a bottle of scotch down her throat? Spike her drink? Presumably she knew what she was doing – drinking – so it seems her “coerced me into a position” really doesn’t hold all that much if any water.

    And you may wish to reflect on this portion of an Wikipedia article on the topic “Intoxication defense”:

    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. But, loss of control is not instantaneous and without symptoms. The issue of involuntary consumption is therefore contentious.

  60. 75

    Edward Gemmer @ # 71: I don’t know if it’s particularly accurate to say PZ’s post is based on hearsay, if he actually communicated with Alison Smith. However, his post, which by it’s very nature couldn’t be substantiated by anyone, could perhaps qualify.

    Here, folks, we have yet another sterling example of a slymepitter arguing in bad faith. You might read EG as proclaiming here he has not read the Myers post which blew the lid of the long-simmering Shermer predation pot – in which case all the wordage he’s strewn around the internet has no basis in comprehension of the issue. Or you might concede that he has read the post, and thus knows the meat of it quotes the victim/witness at length, yet still tries to mischaracterize it as “hearsay”.

    The one thing nobody can do – though I have no doubt some loof here will try – is to say that comment was either honest or written with constructive intent. Slyme, all the way down.

  61. 76

    Steersman @74,
    As to what coercion means in this context, you might be interested to note that the very same questions were asked and answered over on this other thread, comments 225-235 to be specific:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2015/04/10/the-background-of-atheist-irelands-breakup-with-pz-its-about-michael-shermer/

    Here’s a what sff9 had to say, cross-posted from this other thread:

    If you make sure my glass is always full so that I’m not sure how much I drank, you’re making me drink too much. If you order drinks larger than I asked for, you’re making me drink too much. If you insist that I take another drink even though I’m arguing that I drank enough and should stop, you’re making me drink too much.

  62. 77

    Here, folks, we have yet another sterling example of a slymepitter arguing in bad faith. You might read EG as proclaiming here he has not read the Myers post which blew the lid of the long-simmering Shermer predation pot – in which case all the wordage he’s strewn around the internet has no basis in comprehension of the issue. Or you might concede that he has read the post, and thus knows the meat of it quotes the victim/witness at length, yet still tries to mischaracterize it as “hearsay”.

    The one thing nobody can do – though I have no doubt some loof here will try – is to say that comment was either honest or written with constructive intent. Slyme, all the way down.

    This is why no one bothers to answer your questions.

  63. 78

    @ Steersman:

    The consistency of Nugent’s blackout regarding Shermer’s name is not really the point. He can have whatever silly rule he wants in his comment threads, and I can criticize it too. Don’t you think it’s weird to avoid naming Shermer?

  64. 79

    Pierce R. Butler @ 75

    Here we have an example of discounting what someone says because of who with and where they associate.

    Edward Gemmer @ # 71: I don’t know if it’s particularly accurate to say PZ’s post is based on hearsay, if he actually communicated with Alison Smith. However, his post, which by it’s very nature couldn’t be substantiated by anyone, could perhaps qualify.
    Here, folks, we have yet another sterling example of a slymepitter arguing in bad faith. You might read EG as proclaiming here he has not read the Myers post which blew the lid of the long-simmering Shermer predation pot – in which case all the wordage he’s strewn around the internet has no basis in comprehension of the issue. Or you might concede that he has read the post, and thus knows the meat of it quotes the victim/witness at length, yet still tries to mischaracterize it as “hearsay”.
    The one thing nobody can do – though I have no doubt some loof here will try – is to say that comment was either honest or written with constructive intent. Slyme, all the way down.

    Otherwise I’m not sure how you could have missed the parsing:

    a) the post is not based on heresay because it is based on Allison’s testimony;
    b) the post itself could possibly be considered heresay because PZ Myers is not the primary source and the testimony has not been substantiated.

    But no. Slimey McSlimeperson said it therefore it can immediately be discounted as Slyme.

  65. 80

    Kurt H (#78):

    He can have whatever silly rule he wants in his comment threads, and I can criticize it too.

    You’re the one who looks silly if you can’t provide any justifications for your criticisms. And accusations – which looked rather peevish and odious.

    Don’t you think it’s weird to avoid naming Shermer?

    I expect there’s some quite reasonable justifications for that based on Irish libel law. Which I think he has referenced or discussed to some extent – though maybe only on Twitter. You might ask him.

  66. 82

    @Steersman, #74:

    And you may wish to reflect on this portion of an Wikipedia article on the topic “Intoxication defense”:

    Again with the victim blaming. Let me just say that, generally, you get lots of law wrong. You should probably either really study it or stop offering up “information” about applicable law that is terribly unreliable.

    The intoxication defense is a defense against criminal liability when accused of a crime.

    Being raped is not a fucking crime.

    First you attempt to argue that rape is more difficult to convict upon because, unlike other crimes, we actually invite people to rape us.

    Then you assert that my analogy which compares consensual behavior (giving away possessions or money) to consensual behavior (yippee-fun-time-sex) and crime (stealing TVs and cash) to crime (rape/sexual assault) is only “somewhat more accurate” and that comparing consensual sex to burglary/robbery (or “consensual rape”, whatever the fuck that would be, to same) was a good place to start!

    Then you assert that somehow that shows you aren’t engaged in victim blaming – because asserting that some rapes are consensual is, what? Totes not victim blaming?

    Now, in #74, you are attempting to suggest that a rape victim’s statements about alcohol should be analyzed under the rubric of a defense against criminal charges?

    First, we’re not in a court of law.

    Second, holy fuck, what criminal charge are you suggesting is or should be brought?

    Your rhetoric is so thoroughly disgusting is amazing to me that you aren’t embarrassed.

  67. 83

    KiwiInOz @ # 79 – Try to read for comprehension, not for points to attack.

    The “hearsay” label (as referenced in this thread) came from the Atheist Ireland person commenting in Richard Carrier’s post cited above. Other than the online overlap between AI and S’pit membership – which I did not bring up until now – no other attribution was made.

    I was the one who made the points a) & b) you cite, in refutation of the label misapplied by AI’s “funkyderek” at Casa Carrier. I also did point out yet another instance of Slymer dishonesty when faced with E Gemmer’s feeble attempt at verbal smoke-&-mirrors at # 71 here; I could have repeated it after his inane attempt at a reply at # 77, but decided that he illustrated my case for me so blatantly that no comment was necessary.

    So, you have my point exactly backwards: Gemmer can be “discounted” because of what he said, which does in fact reflect poorly on his fellow Slymers by their choice of associating with one (well, many) using such characteristically shoddy discourse.

  68. 84

    Pierce R. Butler @ 83.

    I have re-read @ 71 and fail to see how it is verbal smoke and mirrors. It seems to be to be seeking to clarify the common parlance and legal definitions of hearsay, and then applying the legal definition to Allison’s testimony and PZ’s blog post. I have not read your comment at Carrier’s blog, so cannot comment on whether @ 71 was merely restating your points which I parsed as a) and b).

  69. 85

    It seems to be to be seeking to clarify the common parlance and legal definitions of hearsay, and then applying the legal definition to Allison’s testimony and PZ’s blog post.

    And this conflation of legal niceties with proper blogging is done because, unbeknownst to us, Pharyngula is, in fact, a court of law with the power to incarcerate individuals anywhere the internet reaches?

    Or, perhaps, this conflation is done because, “Hey! Dishonesty is fun!”?

    Or maybe, just maybe, the legal niceties are smoke and mirrors in a context in which they cannot remotely be said to apply.

  70. 86

    Pierce R. Butler @ 83. Having now read funkyderek’s comment on Carrier’s blog I think that you were being uncharitable to describe it as sycophantic (@ 69).

    However, funkyderek was technically wrong when he made the statement publicly accusing a named person of rape on the basis of hearsay given that the naming of the person was based on direct testimony from a primary source. Score one to you. But, I would have to go back to Michael’s words at the time to see whether funkyderek misstated what Nugent said or they are a correct representation of his reason d’etre. I’m not prepared to hang anyone over what is written in the comment section of a blog.

  71. 87

    Crip Dyke (#85):

    And this conflation of legal niceties with proper blogging is done because, unbeknownst to us, Pharyngula is, in fact, a court of law with the power to incarcerate individuals anywhere the internet reaches?

    Or, perhaps, this conflation is done because, “Hey! Dishonesty is fun!”?

    Or, perhaps, it’s done, although “conflation” is a rather loaded word, because people recognize the tendency of people to engage in mob behaviour? And PZ gives some evidence of being a demagogue, and attempting to promote precisely that.

    You may recollect a case that Dawkins described in his The God Delusion in which “the house of a house of a hospital pediatrician was attacked by zealots unacquainted with the difference between a pediatrician and a pedophile” apparently as a result of a “name and shame campaign against pedophiles”. For a more recent case closer to the matter at hand, you don’t need to look any further than Irisvanderpluym’s suggestion (#25) to “Signal boost”, “Boycott”, and “Build”. The last may have some merit in principle, but one can’t help but get the impression that her ideas for the first two are rather inconsistent with the last one.

    While you might have a point about the “legal niceties”, I would have thought that you would have been the first to argue that if the law has any value at all then it should be in providing a guide for applying the best of it to less formal situations.

  72. 88

    KiwiInOz @ # 84 & 86 – Dunno how you can see Gemmer’s irrelevant maunderings about the meanings of a word which does not apply to the case at hand as anything other than obfuscation. (Of course, that implies a degree of intention – possibly his comment reflects the actual process of his thinking, in which case I suspect the most apt descriptor would be “confusion”.)

    Also dunno why you want me to give charity to a commenter you concede has it wrong.

    I would have to go back to Michael’s words at the time to see whether funkyderek misstated what Nugent said…

    Given Nugent’s verbosity (or prolixity, if you prefer), that ought to take you quite a while. Don’t forget to pack a lunch!

  73. 89

    @Steersman, #87:

    Nice that you truncated your quote before the caboose on that thought-train. Way to argue honestly.

    Also, you’re saying the legal niceties might be required

    because people recognize the tendency of people to engage in mob behavior?

    Which people here are attacking Shermer’s house?

    How many of those people are going to stop attacking Shermer’s house if and only if the assertion, “The Grenade post is hearsay,” is defended using precise legal definitions of hearsay? In your experience, do mobs generally stop their unwarranted attacks when you announce, “Actually, in tort law ‘probable consequences’ means something vastly different than ‘those consequences which are greater than 50% likely to occur as a result of your act or omission’!”?

    If the number of people attacking Shermer’s house that will be stopped by insistence upon legal niceties is less than 1, then all of your argument in #87, and particularly the bit about in-person attacks on homes, is just irrelevant bullshit.

    ==============
    as for:

    While you might have a point about the “legal niceties”, I would have thought that you would have been the first to argue that if the law has any value at all then it should be in providing a guide for applying the best of it to less formal situations.

    You kind of have to understand it to apply it.

    What is hearsay? We can simply go by any definition we like to find an answer. But “Why do we give a fuck?” is the much more relevant question.

    In a court of law, we give a fuck about hearsay because of a number of reasons, not least of which is this: the job of a court of law is not to find the truth, and procedurally, the law intentionally erects barriers to finding the truth.

    The purpose of a court of law is not to find the truth.

    If you don’t know that, (and you’ve given me no indication you do, much less that Edward Gemmer does) you don’t know anything about why the procedures are established as they are or what purpose they are, in fact, serving.

    How, then, should you convince me that you can be trusted or that Edward Gemmer can be trusted to apply legal concepts outside of legal environments in ways that amount to bringing the “best of [the law] to less formal situations”?

    Finally, let me just touch on:

    I [i.e. Steersman] would have thought that you [i.e. Crip Dyke] would have been the first to argue

    Where would you get that idea? If you want to argue something like, “The best of the law should be imported into less formal contexts,” then go ahead and argue it. (And then make your case that the legal definition of “hearsay” is part of the “best of the law”.) Don’t rope me into your argument: I’m not making it.

  74. 90

    @ Pierce Butler,

    Dunno how you can see Gemmer’s irrelevant maunderings about the meanings of a word which does not apply to the case at hand as anything other than obfuscation.

    Well, you were the one who asked whether it had a different meaning in Ireland, then got upset that someone attempted to answer your question. The legal definition of hearsay doesn’t seem very relevant, given we aren’t in court. The non-legal definition, and the spirit behind the legal hearsay rule, do seem relevant, given PZ’s original post had nothing that could be substantiated or unsubstantiated. Perhaps this is what the commenter meant about hearsay.

    @ Crip Dyke,

    The purpose of a court of law is not to find the truth.

    It’s worth noting that saying something is hearsay doesn’t make it untrue. The hearsay rule does provide some safeguards in sorting out lies and untruths by helping to ensure the person testifying is the same one making the claim and thus can be cross-examined. PZ’s original post had no particular facts in it that could help someone verify the claims within it. While it may have been true, there was no way for a third party to verify it was true, or even that the person making the claim existed.

    When you don’t have any facts that can be verified, you can quickly run into problems. For example, there was that kerfluffle with the librarian supposedly sexually harassing people, but there were no underlying facts, just supposed statements from other people who apparently never existed.

  75. 91

    Obviously I don’t consider it “open-minded” to let someone chunter on making willfully grossly insensitive remarks. If people want to read stupid shit about rape there are places on the net for that.

  76. 93

    Hoosier X @63 called it:

    Why do I get the feeling that when Nugent responds, he’ll focus on your open letter instead of on the original missive?

    Which is what happened:

    I’m not sure exactly when I will be able to respond, because we are in the middle of a very busy time in our work with Atheist Ireland, and because I am not yet sure what my response will include, and because I will have to articulate it in words that some people (not you) will pore through looking for things they can interpret in the worst possible light. But in the meantime, let me address some of the points that you make in your open letter to me.

    He took the time to write a tweet-worthy response (“I’ve seen your post and your open letter and am working on a response but am busy.”) in long form using limited time that could have been spent on his other pressing issues. Obviously that’s his choice, but he is rewarding the type of speech that he disagrees with. Why doesn’t he see that his actions are counterproductive to his priorities?

  77. 95

    Why assume that his priorities are something other than what his actions produce?

    Actually, yes, I agree with you. I should have said “stated priorities”. However, I’m not sure that Nugent recognizes yet that his stated priorities differ from his actual ones—cognitive dissonance and all that.

  78. 97

    @Edward Gemmer, #90:

    Me: The purpose of a court of law is not to find the truth.

    EG: It’s worth noting that saying something is hearsay doesn’t make it untrue. The hearsay rule does provide some safeguards in sorting out lies and untruths by helping to ensure the person testifying is the same one making the claim and thus can be cross-examined.

    It’s worth noting that your response entirely fails to address my statement, despite the placement of the quote that might make some readers believe you intend to address that statement. Moreover, you still have given no indication that you have any idea what might be the actual purpose of a court of law and its work.

    Finally, there’s no indication that you have any clue about the difference between hearsay and eyewitness testimony. PZ called Allison to the stand, but Allison spoke for herself – those were her words detailing Shermer’s behavior, not PZ’s. Of course a witness could lie, thus a single account does not provide “proof”, but there’s no denying the fact that Allison would constitute an eyewitness in court.

    So feel free to say that Allison’s testimony doesn’t constitute “proof”. But going off on how this is rumor or hearsay (legally or otherwise) is simply a dishonest attempt to disprove Allison’s testimony without any evidence against.

    You have evidence against? Provide it. You have evidence corroborating? That’s welcome as well. You want to declare the testimony to be less valuable than it actually is because in some fantasy-land unconnected to reality someone who doesn’t understand English might label this “hearsay”? Well, if you want to do that, you aren’t interested in truth at all, are you?

  79. 98

    OnionHead (#76):

    Steersman @74, As to what coercion means in this context, you might be interested to note that the very same questions were asked and answered over on this other thread [of Ashley’s; background …].
    Here’s [some of] what sff9 had to say, cross-posted from this other thread ….

    Thanks. I was commenting over there but probably didn’t read all of that conversation. But while I might agree with those (?) who’ve suggested that that was just a “poor choice of words” on Alison’s part, I kind of get the impression that the phrasing is a little forced if not the result of some coaching or post hoc rationalization.

  80. 99

    @ Crip Dyke,

    So feel free to say that Allison’s testimony doesn’t constitute “proof”. But going off on how this is rumor or hearsay (legally or otherwise) is simply a dishonest attempt to disprove Allison’s testimony without any evidence against.

    You have evidence against? Provide it. You have evidence corroborating? That’s welcome as well. You want to declare the testimony to be less valuable than it actually is because in some fantasy-land unconnected to reality someone who doesn’t understand English might label this “hearsay”? Well, if you want to do that, you aren’t interested in truth at all, are you?

    That’s not what I was saying. PZ’s original post had no details and could not be corroborated. It wasn’t possible. There wasn’t any meaningful difference between it and a rumor, and therefore, a lot of what you thought about the original post was based on what you thought of PZ, and opinions vary there. This fits within the spirit of calling something hearsay.

    Now, we have details. Things can be substantiated or unsubstantiated. Her statement is clearly not hearsay and I’ve not seen anyone argue it is.

  81. 100

    That’s not what I was saying. PZ’s original post had no details and could not be corroborated. It wasn’t possible. There wasn’t any meaningful difference between it and a rumor, and therefore, a lot of what you thought about the original post was based on what you thought of PZ, and opinions vary there. This fits within the spirit of calling something hearsay.

    It was actually identical to the testimony of the first witness at a trial, where that first witness is an eyewitness that describes a crime. How we interpret that testimony is shaded by the opening argument of the prosecutor and our views of the state and its prosecutorial apparatus (and possibly, but not necessarily, any defense counsel opening statement and our views about legal defense), but we do not AS YET have any evidence to use in its verification.

    The mere fact that you don’t currently have access to evidence that would tend to corroborate or undermine certain testimony HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH WHETHER THAT TESTIMONY IS HEARSAY.

    Moreover, and I’ve avoided doing this because why bother, but you keep acting as if “hearsay” is synonymous with “non-probitive” or “excluded from evidence”.

    That’s bullshit. Hearsay is generally allowed in US courts. The distinction between hearsay and non-hearsay evidence in US courts is that hearsay’s inclusion in the evidentiary record must be explicitly justified while direct testimony does not.

    You appear to know nothing at all about US courts or hearsay. The definition of hearsay does not support your point at all, even if it applied to Allison’s statement. But in addition, the definition does not, in fact, apply to Allison’s statement.

    The level of ignorance on display is astounding, given the confident tone of your comments.

  82. 101

    The mere fact that you don’t currently have access to evidence that would tend to corroborate or undermine certain testimony HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH WHETHER THAT TESTIMONY IS HEARSAY.

    True. However, when we are talking about non-lawyers an non-court cases, I assume we can be a little more lenient with the definition.

    Hearsay is generally allowed in US courts.

    No it isn’t.

  83. 102

    @Edward Gemmer:

    Hearsay is generally allowed in US courts.

    No it isn’t.

    Bwahahahahahahaha. I notice that you didn’t quote the rest – that hearsay needs a specific reason to be permitted into the evidentiary record, which is different from first person testimony. Yes there are differences. But you’re just flat wrong here.

    Don’t embarrass yourself further. Citing your sources so someone can show you exactly where you’ve gone wrong would be the bare minimum you’d need to reacquire any believability on this issue.

  84. 104

    Don’t embarrass yourself further. Citing your sources so someone can show you exactly where you’ve gone wrong would be the bare minimum you’d need to reacquire any believability on this issue.

    How about the Federal Rules of Evidence? Rule 802 prohibits hearsay. Rules 803 and 804 provide exceptions to the hearsay rule, while 807 provides a residual exception. Further, in a criminal trial, testimony must also pass the confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment, which provides that a defendant has a right to confront his or her witnesses. It is much more accurate to say hearsay is not admissible with some exceptions, rather than to say it is admissible as long as you have a reason.

  85. 105

    Saurs (#64):

    It’s disingenuous to compare people’s bodies to possessions, which can be replaced, can be left behind, can be safely stowed away, can be repaired. ….

    How so? Seems you need to show your work there – in step two. Seems like an ipse dixit, a papal encyclical to me. For one thing, there are obviously many ways in which one can compare bodies and possessions to find any number of quite credible similarities and differences – e.g., they both, rather regrettably, tend to wear-out. And you don’t think that we possess our own bodies? But maybe you’re unclear on the connotations and denotations of the word:

    compare [kuh m-pair]
    verb (used with object), compared, comparing.
    1. to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences

    One can compare things, even people and things, that have many similarities or identical features in common without that in the least justifying an inference that the differences are being discounted or ignored.

    It’s equally disingenuous to pretend that rape is difficult to prove because people have sex all the time ….

    If you had actually read what I had written with any attention to detail or honesty then you would have seen that that wasn’t my point or argument in the slightest. It was that rape is difficult to prove because of the circumstances in which it takes place, and because there tends thereby to be much less evidence of the crime in the first place.

    You are not the first person to analogize women to property, to whinge that Rape is Hard.

    And you’re not the first person to have absolutely no clue about how analogies (1) work. Although you seem to be in amongst a rather large cohort, particularly among FreeFromThoughtBloggers & commentators. But should you wish to correct that rather sad state of affairs, you might note the following from the linked article:

    From there analogy was understood as identity of relation between any two ordered pairs, whether of mathematical nature or not. …. For example, “Hand is to palm as foot is to sole”. …. This analogy 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 focuses on their similarity in having an inner surface.

    Saying that women – or men for that matter – are analogous to property is hardly asserting that they are property.

    Amateur hour, Steersman, echo chambers. You specialize in the one, you belong in the other.

    That’s a bit of a laugh. If any blog deserves the epithet “echo chamber” it is several in the FTB network, notably Pharyngula, Almost Diamonds, Brute Reason, and Butterflies & Wheels: if you’re not ready to sing in the choir then you’re toast, frequently banned “with extreme prejudice” (dickhead [2]). Very few people wind up being banned in the SlymePit which actually has a rather serious and commendable commitment to the concept of free speech. Although I’ll readily concede that at least a few in the FTB network seem to have a similar one.

    —-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy#Identity_of_relation”;
    2) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20150129013104/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/comment-page-1/#comment-518836”;

  86. 106

    @Edward Gemmer:

    How about the Federal Rules of Evidence? Rule 802 prohibits hearsay. Rules 803 and 804 provide exceptions to the hearsay rule, while 807 provides a residual exception.

    This is the best I thought you could produce, so, yay for that.

    However, persons with a brain will note that this does not, in fact, tell us anything about how often the exceptions listed apply. Your argument is not that the law is worded in such a way as to exclude hearsay generally, then save certain categories of hearsay after that determination. We would be in agreement there. Your argument is that

    It is much more accurate to say hearsay is not admissible with some exceptions, rather than to say it is admissible as long as you have a reason.

    This is an argument about **how much of hearsay is admissible**, rather than procedurally whether it is first presumed inadmissible or admissible.

    Since you don’t even attempt to make an argument about the proportion of hearsay that is admissible or the ease or rate of success with which hearsay is admitted/excluded, the best a person can say about your response is that it’s completely unsupportive of your assertion. A fair person might call it a red herring and presume that you are aware that you have offered no argument as to proportions or ease or success which might be at all relevant…and thus conclude that fish stinks of deception, not error. Persons that have noted you still have not managed to come up with a statement on the purpose of a court of law, leaving untouched your implicit [and deeply, deeply wrong] characterizations of courts as truth finding bodies, might begin to suspect you of arguing in bad faith from beginning to end.

    So, do you have an argument to support your assertion? Any argument at all?

    What percentage of challenged hearsay statements are excluded from the evidentiary record? Do you have any clue at all?

    As I understand the matter from at least 2 professors of US evidence law, there are no good statistics taken as such on hearsay motions and their outcomes…so your inability to provide numbers that would actually evidence your argument is excusable. But the same professors maintain that it is quite easy to get hearsay admitted if a lawyer recognizes in advance that hearsay testimony will be evoked and plans an argument for that purpose.

    In some cases, this is through statutory (typical) or common law (unusual, as the common law of evidence has generally been replaced with positive statute) exceptions. In other cases, it is through re-characterizing the evidence in question as, e.g., “character evidence”. Though a piece of testimony would otherwise be hearsay, if introduced as character evidence its admissibility is judged as character evidence, not hearsay. If professors of evidence in the US openly state that it is easier to get hearsay included than excluded so long as you prepare an argument – and at least some do, including both the professors I’ve heard pronounce upon it – and being unaware of any professors of US evidence law that assert it is harder to get hearsay admitted than excluded, I feel perfectly comfortable saying that hearsay evidence is generally admissible but must be formally justified in its admissibility [assuming opposing counsel objects at all – it is admitted by default if not challenged as hearsay].

    At some point, you really might want to start providing evidence of your actual assertions, not shit that isn’t in contention, such as the wording of the law of evidence.

    As someone defending a “wait for the evidence” approach, it comes across as quite suspiciously strange that you, like Michael Nugent, sure deliver to your readers a great deal less emphasis on the “evidence” and a great deal more emphasis on the “wait”.

  87. Rob
    107

    Hearsay
    – People say that Shermer raped a woman.
    – It’s well known that Shermer gives women people drink until they don’t know what they are doing.
    – Generally it is thought that Shermer is an arsehole.
    – It appears that some other person is an Irish wanker.
    Not Hearsay
    PZ Myers: This is a copy of an email I received…
    “…the event at which I was raped…”
    “Shermer chatted with me at great length while refilling my wine glass repeatedly. I lost count of how many drinks I had. ” and “… Michael Shermer helped get me drunker than I normally get…”
    Me:
    Given the first person testimony from named and unnamed women I have read, who have told believable, coherent and similar stories, it is my view that Shermer is an arsehole (at the very least).
    Having read just a small proportion of the recent writings of the supposed ‘Irish Wanker’, I am inclined to consider that he gives wankers a bad name. After all, wanking is generally a private affair that hurts no-one and pleases the person involved.

  88. Rob
    108

    PS, I read MN’s response to this OP and the comments. By the time I had read the comments my only thought was, Wow, last time I saw a love bombing like that it was an evangelical group trying to recruit a lonely, lost damaged soul.

  89. 109

    Steersman:

    I’m not sure what were the precursors to your conversation, but I think you’re misunderstanding his point. Which seems to be related to the meaning of the word “coerced”. Presumably Pitchguest is asking how it is that Shermer had presumably “coerced” Alison into that position. Did he hold her down and pour a bottle of scotch down her throat? Spike her drink? Presumably she knew what she was doing – drinking – so it seems her “coerced me into a position” really doesn’t hold all that much if any water.

    Which is exactly why so many rapists use this method. They can rely on people like you to conveniently forget that drunk crime victims are still crime victims so long as it’s a rape.

    From that link I posted:

    Here’s what we need to do. We need to spot the rapists, and we need to shut down the social structures that give them a license to operate. They are in the population, among us. They have an average of six victims, women that they know, and therefore likely some women you know. They use force sometimes, but mostly they use intoxicants. They don’t accidentally end up in a room with a woman too drunk or high to consent or resist; they plan on getting there and that’s where they end up.

    Listen. The women you know will tell you when the men they thought they could trust assaulted them; if and only if they know you won’t stonewall, deny, blame or judge. Let them tell you that they got drunk, and woke up with your buddy on top of them. Listen. Don’t defend that guy. That guy is more likely than not a recidivist. He has probably done it before. He will probably do it again.

    Change the culture. To rape again and again, these men need silence. They need to know that the right combination of factors — alcohol and sex shame, mostly — will keep their victims quiet. Otherwise, they would be identified earlier and have a harder time finding victims.

    ***

    And you may wish to reflect on this portion of an Wikipedia article on the topic “Intoxication defense”:

    And you may wish to reflect on the fact that drunk crime victims are still drunk crime victims. Even if you happen to think they deserved it.

    Later you said:

    I would have thought that you would have been the first to argue that if the law has any value at all then it should be in providing a guide for applying the best of it to less formal situations.

    I don’t know about Cryp, but I’ve found the principles of informed consent to be very helpful in many informal ways.

  90. 110

    Leni (#109):

    Which is exactly why so many rapists use this method. They can rely on people like you to conveniently forget that drunk crime victims are still crime victims so long as it’s a rape.

    Christ in a sidecar. Pray tell, where have I said anything remotely like that? What explicit statement have I made that makes you think I have done so?

    And you may wish to reflect on the fact that drunk crime victims are still drunk crime victims. Even if you happen to think they deserved it.

    How in the hell do you reach that conclusion? Where have I said anything that would justify that accusation? The closest thing to it that I’ve said is, in effect, that all “drunk crime victims” should take some personal responsibility for what does or doesn’t happen to them. Hardly an unreasonable expectation – at least of anybody over the age of about 6.

  91. 111

    Hey Steersman you piece of shit

    What does “taking some personal responsibility” entail? Shutting the fuck up about anything that anyone does to you while you’re drunk? Men just can’t help themselves around drunk women, amirite?

  92. 112

    “… all “drunk crime victims” should take some personal responsibility for what does or doesn’t happen to them” — Steersman.

    If you get drunk, you’re responsible for what OTHER PEOPLE DO TO YOU?! What the fuck? How about we hold THE PEOPLE COMMITTING THE CRIMES responsible for the crimes they commit?

  93. 113

    @ CripDyke,

    In other cases, it is through re-characterizing the evidence in question as, e.g., “character evidence”. Though a piece of testimony would otherwise be hearsay, if introduced as character evidence its admissibility is judged as character evidence, not hearsay.

    I don’t think that is accurate. Character evidence of a witness is governed by Rule 608, and it is typically quite limited. However, not all out of court statements constitute hearsay. For example, in a hypothetical prosecution against Shermer, PZ couldn’t be called as witness to testify against Shermer only on the basis of Smith’s statement to him. That statement would be hearsay, if it were offered for the purpose of showing Shermer raped her, and it doesn’t fit in any exception. That said, it may be offered for other purposes. For example, if the issue was how PZ responded to the letter, or the credibility of Smith was attacked, it may be offered under that premise. Since it isn’t offered for the truth of the statement, and instead for another purpose, it wouldn’t be hearsay.

    As someone defending a “wait for the evidence” approach, it comes across as quite suspiciously strange that you, like Michael Nugent, sure deliver to your readers a great deal less emphasis on the “evidence” and a great deal more emphasis on the “wait”.

    My point is that the original “grenade” post contained almost no facts. As such, Nugent and others with a low opinion of PZ generally could reasonably see the post as yet another smear in a neverending series of smears against people. I didn’t view it that way, but I see how someone could. Subsequently, another article appeared that did contain facts. It isn’t a “smear” but something based in facts. I don’t have a “wait” attitude now, as now I have access to enough facts to at least make an somewhat informed decision about the matter. I do wish for further information, but as this is a years old case that was apparently never investigated by anybody, I probably won’t get it.

  94. 114

    I don’t think that is accurate. Character evidence of a witness is governed by Rule 608, and it is typically quite limited. However, not all out of court statements constitute hearsay.

    My point! There you are! What are you doing coming out of Edward Gemmer’s keyboard as if I had not already made you?

    And yet, EG couldn’t really express you with the same finesse and accuracy, could he? All out of court statements not made by the person giving testimony are hearsay, but **not all are treated as hearsay for the purpose of evidence law, including admissibility**.

    in shorthand, of course, it’s fine to say such things, “aren’t hearsay”…but when the context is Edward Gemmer’s flimflamming on the topic of definitions without ever making clear when the legal definition is used or when he uses hearsay as a synonym for “something someone else said” or when he uses it as a synonym for “unverifiable rumor”.

    In such a context, it’s positively bizarre to say such things “aren’t hearsay” but Allison’s statement…is.

    Edward Gemmer, your arguments here are truly a piece of work.

  95. 115

    The closest thing to it that I’ve said is, in effect, that all “drunk crime victims” should take some personal responsibility for what does or doesn’t happen to them. Hardly an unreasonable expectation – at least of anybody over the age of about 6.

    Yes, actually, it is unreasonable. First of all, it’s a meaningless platitude. No one ever says what they mean by “take responsibility” and neither have you. If this were a court of law, which it isn’t, it would be even more meaningless.

    Second, it’s irrelevant. It simply has no bearing on whether or not they are crime victims.

    Third, it’s none of your business. Do you think every crime victim owes you an explanation? Of course not, so why expect it now?

    Fourth, it presumes you know what victims are thinking or how the crime affected their lives when you have no reasonable way of knowing that.

    Fifth, it is trivially true. There are not many crimes in which ” victims should take personal responsibility” can not be trotted out.

    If you were gay and existing in public, you should have hid it better. If you were black, you should have pulled your pants up and been nicer to that cop. If you gave money to Bernie madoff, you deserved to get ripped off. If you weren’t homeless those kids wouldn’t have set you on fire for fun. If you were raped, you should not have been drinking. If you weren’t drinking, you shouldn’t have been where you were. If you were at home, you should have locked the doors. If you locked the doors you should have had a gun. Ad infinitum.

    There are few crimes for which it isn’t true, yet the crimes for which it’s trotted out are as predictable as you are.

    Aside from all that, “take responsibility” is a just world fallacy that is at best a meaningless moral platitude and at worst a concerted effort to make some crime victims feel like they don’t deserve justice, or worse. So 6 year olds? Sounds like.

  96. 116

    I forgot to respond to the first part of your post, Steersman, which was:

    Christ in a sidecar. Pray tell, where have I said anything remotely like that? What explicit statement have I made that makes you think I have done so?

    You mean like this week? In this thread? No problem, here you go:

    Which seems to be related to the meaning of the word “coerced”. Presumably Pitchguest is asking how it is that Shermer had presumably “coerced” Alison into that position. Did he hold her down and pour a bottle of scotch down her throat? Spike her drink? Presumably she knew what she was doing – drinking – so it seems her “coerced me into a position” really doesn’t hold all that much if any water.

    And you may wish to reflect on this portion of an Wikipedia article on the topic “Intoxication defense”

    The closest thing to it that I’ve said is, in effect, that all “drunk crime victims” should take some personal responsibility for what does or doesn’t happen to them.

  97. 117

    Marius (#111):

    Hey Steersman you piece of shit

    Hey Marius – up yours dickhead.

    What does “taking some personal responsibility” entail? Shutting the fuck up about anything that anyone does to you while you’re drunk? Men just can’t help themselves around drunk women, amirite

    Where in the hell do you get the idea that I’m arguing for “shutting the fuck up about anything that anyone does to you while you’re drunk”? Reading comprehension doesn’t seem to be your strong suit either. You might consider that those who make accusations without any evidence and reasoning in support of them only make themselves look like idiots – which you have succeeded admirably at.

  98. 118

    Sawells (#112):

    “… all “drunk crime victims” should take some personal responsibility for what does or doesn’t happen to them” — Steersman.

    If you get drunk, you’re responsible for what OTHER PEOPLE DO TO YOU?! What the fuck? How about we hold THE PEOPLE COMMITTING THE CRIMES responsible for the crimes they commit?

    Pray tell, where have I said anything that would justify your conclusion – that you’ve apparently pulled out of your arse – that I think people who commit crimes shouldn’t be held responsible for them? You might try wrapping your head around the idea that “responsibility” isn’t an all-or-nothing sort of affair, that frequently there are extenuating circumstances, or a sharing of responsibilities – as in joint responsibility (1), or in responsibilities of different types (2):

    In philosophy, moral responsibility is the status of morally deserving praise, blame, reward, or punishment for an act or omission, in accordance with one’s moral obligations. …. Moral responsibility does not necessarily equate to legal responsibility. A person is legally responsible for an event when a legal system is liable to penalise that person for that event. ….

    Consequently, one might say that while a criminal has to bear the legal responsibility for a crime – jail or fines – the victim has some moral responsibility to minimize the likelihood of being victimized in the first place. As in expecting people to lock their homes and cars.

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_and_several_liability”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_responsibility”;

  99. 119

    Steersman @118,

    As in expecting people to lock their homes and cars.

    As a public service and to save people the trouble of typing it out themselves, I offer the following exchange as a pre-emptive reply:

    Response: Steersman you insensitive jerk, stop comparing women to physical property like homes and cars.
    Steersman: See my previous comment @105.

  100. 121

    The victim has some moral responsibility to minimize the likelihood of being victimized in the first place. As in expecting people to lock their homes and cars.

    Instead of using half-assed analogies about cars and houses that presume people can be “locked up”, why don’t you just explain exactly what you are trying to say?

    What is the responsibility, how should it be taken, and who should take it. Be specific.

    How exactly should we be “lock” ourselves up and what exactly should we do to “take responsibility” if our efforts fail or if we make a mistake?

  101. 122

    OnionHead (#119): Thanks. I expect many responses might be along the line you’ve suggested so the reference might reduce the number I have to deal with. Or at least provide me with a succinct response in turn, or the bulk of one. 🙂

    Damion (#120): I’m working on it; if I had more time the comments might be shorter …. 🙂

  102. 123

    Leni (#115):

    [I see you’ve posted another comment to me, but I’ll post this response to an earlier one of yours before responding to it.]

    Steersman: The closest thing to it that I’ve said is, in effect, that all “drunk crime victims” should take some personal responsibility for what does or doesn’t happen to them. ….

    Leni: Yes, actually, it is unreasonable. First of all, it’s a meaningless platitude. ….

    You too may wish to reflect on the concept of personal responsibility – a synonym for moral responsibility – which has a rather venerable provenance, and a relevance that has exercised the minds of many; hardly a “meaningless platitude”.

    And you too may wish to also reflect on the many other ramifications and implications of the broader concept of responsibility (1) in general.

    Second, it’s irrelevant. It simply has no bearing on whether or not they are crime victims.

    Probably. Though my point has been, more or less from square one, that it has some bearing on whether they become victims in the first place. You know, although apparently you don’t as you seem to have stuck your head in the sand when this lesson was being taught, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

    Fifth, it is trivially true. There are not many crimes in which “victims should take personal responsibility” can not be trotted out.

    “By George (2), I think she’s got it!” 😉

    At least to some extent. It isn’t a question of “deserving” to be raped, or ripped off, or being subjected to a home invasion or gay-bashing; it’s a question of having some degree of moral responsibility to minimize the likelihood of being victimized in the first place. And I might point out that, in notable contradistinction to the case of rape, there aren’t that many victims of robbery and property theft, that I’ve seen in any case, who are noisily insisting, “guys, don’t rob and steal”. Or that the principle of due process should be abrogated. The fact of the matter is that there seems to be a not insigniificant fraction of people who are sociopaths or psychopaths for whom such admonitions are going to be like water off a duck’s back. Although I’ll concede that economic privation may be another factor. In any case, in the face of those facts one might argue that some increased degree of moral responsibility might go some distance in reducing the prevalence of rape – which I might note is one quarter of that for robbery, and one twenty-fifth of that for burglarly (#39)

    —–
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsibility”;
    2) “_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVmU3iANbgk”;

  103. 124

    The fact of the matter is that there seems to be a not insigniificant fraction of people who are sociopaths or psychopaths for whom such admonitions are going to be like water off a duck’s back.

    The fact of that matter is that those people don’t need your help.

  104. 125

    Leni (#124):

    Steersman: The fact of the matter is that there seems to be a not insignificant fraction of people who are sociopaths or psychopaths for whom such admonitions are going to be like water off a duck’s back.

    Leni: The fact of that matter is that those people don’t need your help.

    I really do wonder where in the fuck you get the idea that that is the intent or effect of what I’m trying to do. It really doesn’t give much confidence that you’re even sane, much less that you’re an honest interlocutor. The best that might be said is that your spleen has gotten the better of your brain.

  105. 127

    @Steersman, #123:

    personal responsibility – a synonym for moral responsibility – which has a rather venerable provenance, and a relevance that has exercised the minds of many; hardly a “meaningless platitude”.

    First, it’s not a synonym for moral responsibility. If you ignore how the meaning has shifted and corroded in public discourse and look at how it’s used in conversation, “moral responsibility” is frequently used to make the point that one isn’t personally responsible, but that one bears a moral onus anyway. Situations like the landlord that rented a unit to someone who sexually assaults others in the building are frequently described as imposing a “moral responsibility” on the landlord despite the non-existence of “personal responsibility”.

    Thus they are rather closer to antonyms in the specific context where “personal responsibility” hasn’t yet become a joke.

    But it has become a joke to many in truly public discourse. In public conversations, it’s meaning has been politicized, it has become partisan, and it has become laughable.

    Despite what you may wish to think, in the USA “personal responsibility” has been a buzz-phrase of the rightwing for decades now. George W Bush used it frequently, even in response to questions about the drug war.

    Did Bush ever turn himself in for possessing or doing drugs? Did Bush ever once say that the country would have been better off if he had gone to jail for his cocaine use? No. Of course not.

    What about Diaper-David Vitter? Did he volunteer to go to jail for his employment of prostitutes while a senator? No? And yet he is still in the senate, still harping on about personal responsibility.

    The truth is that the Christian right is a huge user of the phrase in US public life…but when caught blatantly violating the law, they go one about how their god has forgiven them, and gosh, they’re sorry if you are so gauche as to be offended by all this, but really, we’re all sinners and god’s forgiven us all, so let’s not go crazy and kick anyone out of office or a job or anything, eh?

    When you hear the advocates of “personal responsibility” like Mark Sanford when they are caught in obvious corruption, they don’t want any responsibility at all.

    In the US public discourse, then, despite what you may think of the idea you intend to communicate with the phrase “personal responsibility,” the phrase itself has come to be platitudinous and even mockable for how little the loudest advocates of “personal responsibility” take responsibility for their own person.

    If you’re disappointed that the phrase “personal responsibility” has been robbed of some deep and important meaning, don’t complain to Leni – complain to Senator Wide-Stance Craig.

  106. 128

    @Steersman, #123

    First, you need to respond to Leni’s 121.

    Now on to another bit of wrong:

    And I might point out that, in notable contradistinction to the case of rape, there aren’t that many victims of robbery and property theft, that I’ve seen in any case, who are noisily insisting, “guys, don’t rob and steal”. Or that the principle of due process should be abrogated.

    Who the fuck is “noisily insisting” that the principle of due process be abrogated for rapists but not for robbers and burglars?

    Can you name one person?

    And if you can, is it anyone involved in this conversation, or are you just trying to tar all your rhetorical opponents with something that one random human out of 7 billion once drunk-tweeted?

    Because, gosh, that latter possibility seems like it would be a bit rhetorically dishonest!

  107. 129

    Crip Dyke (#127, #128):

    First, it’s not a synonym for moral responsibility.

    Wikipedia claimed it was. Maybe I should have quoted the phrase?

    Despite what you may wish to think, in the USA “personal responsibility” has been a buzz-phrase of the rightwing for decades now.

    Didn’t know that. Shall I add a subscript, maybe stipulating “non-Bush connotation”?

    First, you need to respond to Leni’s 121.

    Working on it; almost ready to go to press.

    Who the fuck is “noisily insisting” that the principle of due process be abrogated for rapists but not for robbers and burglars?

    Maybe that is a bit of hyperbole, a bit of overstating the case. But consider:

    The College Rape Overcorrection (1)
    Sexual assault on campus is a serious problem. But efforts to protect women from a putative epidemic of violence have led to misguided policies that infringe on the civil rights of men. …. Later, Sterrett would consult a lawyer and file a lawsuit against the university alleging he’d been deprived of his constitutional right to due process.

    Database: Lawsuits Against Colleges and Universities Alleging Due Process and Other Violations in Adjudicating Sexual Assault: (2)

    On April 4, 2011 the Department of Education issued its disastrous “Dear Colleague” letter to colleges and universities across the United States, requiring administrators who had neither the investigative nor prosecutorial prowess of the criminal justice system to determine the guilt and innocence of students accused of felony sexual assault, and to reach their conclusions independent of whatever the police and courts decide.

    Worse – the Department of Education demanded these schools determine guilt via a radically low standard of evidence for sex-assault cases: the “preponderance of evidence” standard. Under this model if an administrator feels that there might be a 50.01% chance that the alleged crime occurred, he/she must find the student guilty (“responsible”) for sexual assault. This is further complicated by the lack of numerous other procedural safeguards and methods of evidentiary examination.

    And that seems only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. You can search further in the other 88,600 links obtained from using the search terms “campus rape Title ix challenge”.

    ——
    1) “_http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/12/college_rape_campus_sexual_assault_is_a_serious_problem_but_the_efforts.html”;
    2) “_http://www.avoiceformalestudents.com/list-of-lawsuits-against-colleges-and-universities-alleging-due-process-violations-in-adjudicating-sexual-assault/”;

  108. 130

    Leni (#126):

    Yes, I see that and I was in the midst of replying. At least until you went off the deep end in #124.

    In any case, to continue, you said (#121):

    Steersman: The victim has some moral responsibility to minimize the likelihood of being victimized in the first place. As in expecting people to lock their homes and cars.

    Leni: Instead of using half-assed analogies about cars and houses that presume people can be “locked up”, why don’t you just explain exactly what you are trying to say?

    That presumption is on your part, and frankly wrong, although I can see how you might reach that conclusion, particularly if you’re not careful in your thinking. It isn’t a case of being locked up – although some cultures like Muslim ones do pretty much exactly that; it’s a case of taking steps to minimize the likelihood of being victimized. The analogy resides in that principle, not in the exact same procedure in each case.

    What is the responsibility, how should it be taken, and who should take it. Be specific.

    How exactly should we … “lock” ourselves up and what exactly should we do to “take responsibility” if our efforts fail or if we make a mistake?

    Last things first: again, it isn’t a case of “locking yourselves up”. And the responsibility is largely or primarily before the fact, not after it, except maybe to the extent of acknowledging, after the horse has bolted from the barn because you forgot to latch the gate, that you made a mistake, either through carelessness, or as a result of a bad judgement call. Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement.

    As for specifics, I have already provided some of those in one of Ashley’s other threads (More on Shermer; #493 [1]) which linked to an AtheismPlus post of mine (2) which in turn linked to this rather eminently sensible delineation (3) of one woman’s acceptance of some personal responsibility following her own rape:

    When did “personal responsibility” become “victim blaming?”?

    Last year, I was raped. I met a man, I invited him home for sex, and when we were in my room he quickly overpowered me and…well, let’s just say he was into a few things I wasn’t, and apparently me saying “stop” didn’t mean I wanted to stop, just that I didn’t realize I was enjoying it. It was rape, and it was treated as rape, and I received therapy for rape.

    Now, I recognize that he was the one who chose to commit a violent sexual act, but I also recognize that, hey, if you invite strange men into your bedroom you risk sexual violence against yourself. I was a very easy target, and I got hurt. I don’t blame myself for it; I made a mistake, it happens. But I don’t think it’s healthy for me to blame him exclusively; I put myself at risk, and I have to take responsibility for that.

    And while I think that is quite commendable, I expect that it had more value to her as an object lesson to teach her to minimize her risks in the future. As it should to anyone else willing to listen to her “lived experience”. Although the how of that is the crux of the matter, and, even assuming that the basic life-style situation she described is at all typical and desireable, the possible solutions aren’t easy to define or implement. But if the movie Looking for Mr. Goodbar (4) is any type of a reasonable guide then it seems that a not inconsiderable number of women, like many men, are into casual sex of one form or another, and for one reason or another. Not that I’m throwing stones at that since my own activities exhibited many similarities with that style of life as well, although there were also some significant differences too.

    And if it is true that there is a large number of people in that or similar situations then it seems possible to develop some sort of technological solution that might mininze the risk involved. And which would thereby reduce the number of rapes. For instance, there was this article in Reason (5) some 9 months ago that has this interesting title, along with a brief exposition of some problematic aspects of Universities, in effect, abrogating due process (Crip Dyke, please note):

    Can Someone Just Invent an ‘I Consent to Sex’ iPhone App Already?
    Consensual sex? There’s an app for that. One day soon. Hopefully.
    Robby Soave

    Setting that aside, maybe it’s a good idea for the California legislature to broaden the parameters of sexual assault. ….

    But why on earth should that involve universities? Rape is a crime, not an academic offense. I’m open to the argument that the criminal justice system should navigate sexual assault cases differently, but I don’t accept that there should be some extralegal method of punishing accused rapists where the burden of proof is lower, due process is nonexistent, and he said/she said is often an automatic loss for the accused. The punishments are not as severe as they are under the normal justice system, sure, but expulsion is still a harsh sentence (synonymous with the loss of thousands of dollars toward a now unobtainable degree), given the conviction process is handled by people totally unequipped to fairly judge such matters.

    And while the suggested solution does reasonably address the issue of “crystal clear consent” – as well as the somewhat thorny problem of recording at least its granting, it does suffer from a number of notable deficiences, at least if the system is to be reasonably reliable and effective. And one of the primary deficiencies is related to the problems of recording the rescinding of consent, and of saving that information offsite in a form that can be accessed by “the authorities” – but if and only if a crime has been committed. Which, mirabile dictu, the system I’ve suggested (2), may go some distance in solving.

    However, no system is perfect: seatbelts are better than nothing in reducing the murder and mayhem on our nations’ highways, and seatbelts and airbags are better than just seatbelts. But there are still going to be accidents in which nothing is really going to save our asses. So then the question becomes whether the cost of implementing those systems actually outweighs the benefits of them. Which, in the case of that iPhone App, and its variations, aren’t easy to quantify, but it could maybe qualify as a starting point.

    So something like that would seem to qualify as “taking personal responsibility” – before the fact – for reducing the prevalence of rape. As I say, the suggested idea is unlikely to qualify as anything approaching the perfect solution. And, arguably , that California Senate Bill 967 which “would force state universities to strictly define consensual sex between students” (5) is probably even less effective, although one can commend them for at least trying. But unless “you” – the plural and generic group “you” – make some efforts to both define those possible solutions, and actually try to implement them, then I can’t see that there’s much hope of actually reducing the number of rapes, or of increasing the conviction rate. And failing to do so actually looks rather irresponsible – at least in a moral sense.

    ——
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2015/04/12/more-on-shermer-pz-and-michael-nugent/#comment-485174”;
    2) “_http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5336”;
    3) “_https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130613080657AAur5O3”;
    4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Looking_for_Mr._Goodbar_(film)”;
    5) “_http://reason.com/blog/2014/06/18/can-someone-just-invent-an-i-consent-to”;

  109. 131

    What I want from the “personal responsibility brigade” is:
    1. A very concrete list of things women should do to prevent being raped. Skirt length, time and place they’re allowed to be out, criteria who is alowed into their homes etc.
    2. Evidence that those meassures actually prevent rape. You claim to be skeptics and go where the evidence leads you, so gve us some.
    3. Some moral justification why women should have to take all those precautions and losses to their personal lives while men generally don’t have to.
    4. Some justification why you sound like a member of the Saudi clergy.

  110. 132

    I disagree with Steersman that there exists a moral responsibility to minimize one’s own likelihood of being victimized.

    My wife once had a choice whether to help treat people at an upscale pediatric clinic in the suburbs or at the free clinic east of downtown. She chose the latter, which meant significantly more schizophrenic men and other potentially obsessive and/or violent patients. Yet it was a moral choice, because she brought about much more good than harm, despite increasing her own personal risks.

    There is no general moral duty to always tread the safer path. If you leave your doors unlocked and let your neighbors borrow anything at any time, you aren’t doing anything wrong—unless you have a duty to protect other people living under your roof. If you seek out homeless men and help them off the streets, you aren’t doing anything wrong. If you volunteer your services as a bodyguard to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, you aren’t doing anything wrong. If you march peacefully in Ferguson, you aren’t doing anything wrong. If you get wasted at TAM and flirt with a famous skeptic, you aren’t doing anything wrong.

  111. 133

    @Steersman, #130 and #129:

    NOTE: there will be a second, stand alone comment on this same topic, to separate and emphasize certain points.

    a brief exposition of some problematic aspects of Universities, in effect, abrogating due process (Crip Dyke, please note)

    in effect abrogating due process?

    Are you fucking kidding me? You list a bunch of in process lawsuits, unsuccessful lawsuits, and lawsuits decided on grounds other than the 14th amendment to prove that “Universities” are “in effect abrogating due process”?

    First, even if you can support your claim that doesn’t prove that anyone is insisting on due process violations. As an example, even if you found a specific lawsuit that found that due process rights were violated by a university when that university followed its normal disciplinary procedures, and even if you then found in the record that some particular person had “noisily insisted” on those procedures, it would not necessarily constitute advocating the violation of due process rights. A person might honestly advocate for a form of disciplinary proceeding and later have it found to violate the 14th’s due process grounds, without ever advocating for the violation of due process rights.

    Secondly, let’s quote from a law review article:

    Universities, unlike other state actors, possess remarkable discretion to decide what process is due at their disciplinary hearings. The protections of the Fourteenth Amendment in past university disciplinary proceedings were often non-existent due to their inapplicability in this setting and, even today, are often minimal at best.

    Sylverster v Texas Southern provides a practical illustration of exactly how far this often goes. From the decision of the district court:

    Sylvester was entitled to a review of her final that complied with school rules about grade disputes. She did not receive that review.

    to the extent that the constitution was implicated, it merely required,

    the Constitution does not define the benefits that a state must furnish nor the process it may use other than to require that similarly situated people be treated similarly. Because in the exercise of its state authority TSU has afforded a meaningful review to other students who protested their grades, TSU must provide that benefit to Sylvester. Governmental actions cannot be arbitrary.

    It cites authority for this proposition in a texas court of appeals case, but that case is decided consistently with SCOTUS on the subject and to minimize links, let’s use that authority:

    See J.J. Martinez v. Texas State Bd. of Medical Examiners, 476 S.W.2d 400, 405 (Tex.Civ.App. — San Antonio 1972, writ ref’d n.r.e.), appeal dismissed 409 U.S. 1020, 93 S.Ct. 463, 34 L.Ed.2d 312 (1972) (due process is not judicial process; an administrative hearing with rudiments of fair play at law is adequate)

    “An administrative hearing with rudiments of fair play” is the constitutional requirement here. Do any of those universities fail to provide a hearing with rudiments of fair play? Only if yes do you remotely have a case.

    Since this is the due process right at stake, do you have any statement, by anyone, anywhere, that seriously advocates that there should be no disciplinary hearings in universities? Or that disciplinary hearings should have zero “rudiments of fair play”?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    So your statement that people are “insisting” on due process violations is complete bullshit.

    But just for fun, let’s pile things on:

    On April 4, 2011 the Department of Education issued its disastrous “Dear Colleague” letter to colleges and universities across the United States, requiring administrators who had neither the investigative nor prosecutorial prowess of the criminal justice system to determine the guilt and innocence of students accused of felony sexual assault, and to reach their conclusions independent of whatever the police and courts decide.

    That is complete bullshit, and you should be smart enough to know that. Just because a link exists on the internet doesn’t make the contents true. AT NO TIME, EVER, does a college determine legal guilt or innocence on any particular crime – felony sexual assault or any other. OF COURSE they reach their conclusions independent of whatever the police and courts decide – not only because the police don’t fucking decide anything, despite the stupidity of your source’s author, but because the courts are determining criminal culpability under a specific law and the university is deciding something entirely different: whether or not the student in question is believed to have committed conduct code, honor code, safety code, or residence hall rule violations.

    The fact that getting kicked out of school sucks doesn’t make something a due process violation. Nor does the fact that the same underlying conduct violates both school rules and criminal statutes make the disciplinary hearing into a court with competent jurisdiction over matters of criminal law. If a state wanted to, it could send a person to court twice, once to traffic court on a matter of speeding and once to criminal court on the matter of killing someone in a crash while doing over 100mph completely drunk. It could do this even if much of the same evidence (skid marks that prove speed, blood tests that prove alcohol consumption) end up being used in both trials. That would not mean that the traffic court’s decision on the speeding offense would automatically determine the outcome of the death-related charge. The traffic court simply isn’t deciding that question.

    And lastly, though I’m sure you were citing that link to the men students’ lawsuits more for the (horribly wrong) summary at the top of the page than the list itself, you do suggest I should pay attention to the “wealth” of challenges…

    …instead of finding one actual federal appeals court decision that actually upholds such a challenge. Don’t you think that’s a bit wrong headed? You’re asserting that rights are being violated…and appealing to evidence that people **think** their rights are being violated. All well and good, and if none of these cases had had a chance to work their way through the courts, we could take this on as evidence and make a provisional determination while we wait for the people who actually are entrusted to determine the limits of 14th amendment due process rights to make rulings.

    But they’ve had that time. And moreover, the evidence of people who think their rights are being violated is padded out by many who aren’t actually alleging due process violations at all.

    We can dismiss instantly lawsuits like Amanda Hartley v Agnes Scott College, Inc. and John Doe v Wesleyan University without knowing anything more about them… because the college and university in these two examples are private entities, not state actors at all, and the 14th amendment does not apply in any way, shape, or form. Many other private colleges/universities are on that list. But does anyone, no matter how outraged about the process, actually even get their counsel to allege 14th amendment violations against a private school?

    One would expect that even those lawyers graduating at the bottom of their respective classes would know better.

    And, ta da!, if you actually go read the complaint against Wesleyan, the jerk wad makes much of an

    overall failure to provide plaintiff with an expected standard of due process

    in the introduction. In fact, the opening paragraphs are full of phrases like, “‘guilty before proven innocent'” [quotes in the original], and “disturbing lack of due process and a frenzied rush to judgement”.

    But, wow! and I’m totes shocked here, constitutional due process claims vanish when it comes time to allege a specific legal claim. Instead Doe seeks relief under

    Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and state law.

    Moreover, in the case of Ahlum v Tulane University, 1992, the “database” you cite describes the “outcome” of Ahlum like so:

    District court ordered new campus administrative hearing.

    yeah. They did. Except that district court decision was appealed to the Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit.

    What was their decision?

    Rehearing Denied May 12, 1993.

    So the “outcome” wasn’t that the student got a new hearing. The “outcome” was that the student got an order from an uninformed judge that was quickly reversed on appeal, while schooling the judge on the legal meaning of “arbitrary and capricious” and “private vs public institutions,” including the fact that

    Tulane is a private actor not subject to the requirements of the due process clause

    thus making it not merely perfectly legal, but entirely unchallengeable for Tulane to, among other actions, exclude lawyers from student disciplinary proceedings.

    Why, goodness gracious, the “outcome” isn’t at all what the men students group says was the outcome. In fact, the outcome was the opposite: Tulane prevailed entirely; Ahlum was SOL.

    If I didn’t defer to your deep knowledge of this issue and fabulous research skills, Steersman, at this point I would start to suspect your source asserting colleges are universities are ordered to “determine the guilt and innocence of students accused of felony sexual assault” and that lawsuits against private actors have something to do with “due process” claims and that a Tulane victory ending a student’s right of appeal and leaving his discipline intact constitutes an outcome which “ordered [a] new campus administrative hearing”…

    …was just a tad unreliable.

  112. 134

    In some ways, talk about “due process” is misplaced. Due process is required in court proceedings. Some forms of due process, but not all of the elements required for criminal court proceedings, are applicable in administrative/disciplinary settings. But people make decisions and judgments and have conversations about things in their ordinary lives all the time, unburdened by any due process requirements. I don’t owe anyone due process before I can talk about something that happened to me. I don’t owe anyone due process before I read accounts about things and make up my mind whether (1) I think they are true, or (2) I like or dislike whatever/whoever. I don’t owe anyone due process before I act, or decline to act, on information I receive.

  113. 135

    @maddog1129:

    Exactly so.

    However, when Steersman decides to poison the well by claiming his rhetorical opponents are “loudly insisting” upon denying rights of due process to those accused of rape or sexual assault that they would permit/defend to those accused of robbery or burglary…

    …then the conversation isn’t about due process per se. It’s about whether or not Steersman will admit to having intentionally and openly strawdyked his rhetorical opponents in the most disgusting way.

  114. 136

    Giliell (#131):

    Some reasonable questions; some possible answers (In reverse order):

    What I want from the “personal responsibility brigade” is:
    4. Some justification why you sound like a member of the Saudi clergy.

    LoL. False flag operation? Birds of a feather? 😉

    Or maybe just as a result of the fact that many people can come to the same conclusion about the nature of the problem but still wind up with very diametrically opposite solutions. Depending on the nature of the different assumptions & axioms being used. Kind of like the differences between Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry: the former undergirds Newtonian mechanics, the latter – relativity. Or like David Hume’s, “It is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.”

    Reason generally provides a causal connection from step to step. But the values, the axioms, on which it operates or starts from tend to be derived from a more inductive process, a gestalt, whose roots and sources aren’t easy to define or delineate. Much less prove are valid.

    3. Some moral justification why women should have to take all those precautions and losses to their personal lives while men generally don’t have to.

    Apart from questioning your “list of things women should do to prevent being raped” – which I’ll address in more detail shortly, one might offer an analogy: if you own a Ferrari then you probably should take more precautions to prevent it from being stolen than if you own a clunker that is on its last legs.

    2. Evidence that those measures actually prevent rape. You claim to be skeptics and go where the evidence leads you, so give us some.

    That might be a little difficult since it is moot whether anyone has actually implemented any of those measures in any serious and controlled way that would be sufficient to generate the required statistics – care to do some “field tests” yourself? However, if you had been paying attention then you would have noticed that I’ve provided some detailed statistics that give some basis for inferring that some measures – generally excluding the ones you’ve suggested – might actually go some distance in “actually preventing rape”. More specifically and in the first place, the statistics rather clearly show that the conviction rate for rape is about 2% whereas the conviction rate for robbery is on the order of 50 to 60 %. Which, one might reasonably argue, is going to have some bearing on the prevalence of the crimes in the second place: people in jail for a crime tend to be unlikely to repeat them, at least while in jail.

    Now, most rationalists are going to ask about the reason for that rather significant difference. And it seems rather clear that a further salient and crucial difference is that evidence is much harder to come by in the case rape in comparison to the case of robbery: someone has a piece of property that they don’t have a bill-of-sale for but that someone else has, the latter of whom is claiming that it has been stolen? Case closed: go directly to jail; do not pass go; do not collect $200. But claiming that someone else has had sex with “you” without your consent? And that’s all “you” have for evidence? ’Rots of ’ruck.

    And in that latter case of rape, it would seem the most effective way of changing the conviction rape would be to ensure that if it happens then there is at least some additional and tangible evidence that consent was not granted, or that it had been rescinded. And one might argue that many potential rapists might think twice about continuing in the latter case if they knew that the evidence for it is a matter of public record. All of which something like that iPhone App would seem to be capable of providing.

    1. A very concrete list of things women should do to prevent being raped. Skirt length, time and place they’re allowed to be out, criteria who is allowed into their homes etc.

    I really rather doubt any of those would have very much impact on the prevalence of rape, or the conviction rate for the crime. And I can readily see that many women might be reasonably peeved at anybody seriously suggesting that as a “solution”. Sure – maybe in some circumstances: frequenting sleazey bars late at night might be somewhat unwise – regardless of one’s sex, or of what one was wearing. And things like watching your drink hardly seems particularly odious or onerous – or particularly relevant to most cases.

    However, when it comes to actually being effective, it seems that, as far as reducing the prevalence of rape goes, the difference between your suggestions and the iPhone App I’ve suggested is like the difference, in the analogous case of preventing theft, between putting lace curtains in your windows and putting steel bars into them. If you go out walking in the woods, it’s of maybe some significant benefit and value to leave a trail of where you’ve been and what you’ve done – or what has been done to you.

  115. 137

    So, the only specific thing that you can suggest for targets of rapists is to possess an iPhone and use a particular iPhone app? That’s the only thing you can recommend for targets to “take personal responsibility ” to not be raped?

    How does it work? Is it effective? How do you know? Is it a failure of “personal responsibility ” to not have an iPhone or to not have the app? What should be the consequence of the failure of ” personal responsibility”?

  116. 138

    maddog1129 (#137):

    So, the only specific thing that you can suggest for targets of rapists is to possess an iPhone and use a particular iPhone app? That’s the only thing you can recommend for targets to “take personal responsibility” to not be raped?

    You have anything else on tap, in the pipeline, that might actually be better than that? You have any evidence to suggest that that might be the case? Do tell – I’m all ears.

    Seems to me that “you” might want to give some consideration to the aphorism, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” And to the apparent fact that there aren’t any other “candles” on the table.

    How does it work? Is it effective? How do you know?

    I’ve already explained in some detail how it might work. Don’t really know for sure how effective it might be until “we” – as a society – actually try it out – or something like it.

    But maybe you’re not familiar with the product development process which starts with the “Fuzzy front-end (FFE) [which] is the set of activities employed before the formal and well defined requirements specification is completed”. You may wish to give some thought to that, and to the subsequent steps: Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Is it a failure of “personal responsibility” to not have an iPhone or to not have the app?

    Is it a failure of “personal responsibility” to not wear your seatbelt and wind up suffering serious injuries in an accident which could have been greatly minimized if you had been wearing the seatbelt? And to then demand financial and medical compensation from society-at-large because of your own errors in judgement?

    What should be the consequence of the failure of “personal responsibility”?

    I don’t know what should be the consequence of that failure. But I expect that an actual consequence is a greater likelihood of being raped. If people prefer that then I guess that’s their call.

  117. 139

    Crip Dyke (#135):

    It’s about whether or not Steersman will admit to having intentionally and openly strawdyked his rhetorical opponents in the most disgusting way.

    LoL 🙂 The horror!! “That’s despicable!

    Though I look forward to further additions to the Urban Dictionary along the same lines as “strawdyked”: strawfaggoted? Straw-Xired? StrawPlethoraed?

    Crip Dyke (#133):

    NOTE: there will be a second, stand alone comment on this same topic, to separate and emphasize certain points.

    Out of curiousity, is that still forthcoming or did you mash whatever it was that you were going to say into your #133?

    in effect abrogating due process?

    Are you fucking kidding me? You list a bunch of in process lawsuits, unsuccessful lawsuits, and lawsuits decided on grounds other than the 14th amendment to prove that “Universities” are “in effect abrogating due process”?

    But look: I’ll readily and cheerfully concede – yea, I know: big of me – that you’re the pro-from-Dover in the legal department, and that you can quote the legal canon chapter-and-verse. Though much of what you say or quote seems irrelevant if not constituting a boat-load of red-herrings. But I kind of get the impression that you’re more interested in and focused on the letter of the law – maybe understandably and commendably – than on the spirit of it.

    And, more specifically, while you probably have some justification for arguing that the many cases I cited or referenced don’t hold much if any water, my point was less to argue any one than to suggest that where there’s smoke there might well be some fire: if so many, of some credentialed knowledge, are questioning the issue then I don’t see how you can fault me for quoting them, that I’m “strawdyking my rhetorical opponents”. But, for instance, there’s this from The Harvard Crimson (1) in October of last year:

    Law School Profs Condemn New Sexual Harassment Policy

    Twenty-eight Law School professors called for Harvard to withdraw its newly installed sexual harassment policy in a pointed open letter published on Tuesday night.

    The letter represents the most extensive public criticism of the new sexual harassment policy since it was announced this summer. ….

    The letter, which was addressed to the Boston Globe and posted on its website Tuesday evening, outlined the professors’ grievances regarding the policy, which centers on what they characterized as a lack of “the most basic elements of fairness and due process.

    I geddit that there certainly seems to be no shortage of cases of sexual assault if not rape on campus, some of which might well justify calls to have the alleged perpetrators strung up by their nuts. And I geddit that technically at least you apparently have the law on your side when it comes to due process. But it seems to me that you should know, and as the Dredd Scott Decision (2) more or less seems to prove, that what the law says is legal, and what is morally right are frequently two entirely different kettles of fish – if not critters of entirely different species.

    —-
    1) “_http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2014/10/15/law-profs-criticize-new-policy/”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dred_Scott_v._Sandford”;

  118. 140

    Is it a failure of “personal responsibility” to not wear your seatbelt and wind up suffering serious injuries in an accident which could have been greatly minimized if you had been wearing the seatbelt? And to then demand financial and medical compensation from society-at-large because of your own errors in judgement?

    Why don’t you just say what you mean? Exactly? Your analogies and mixed metaphors are not making your point clearer.

    From your 130:

    That presumption is on your part, and frankly wrong, although I can see how you might reach that conclusion, particularly if you’re not careful in your thinking. It isn’t a case of being locked up – although some cultures like Muslim ones do pretty much exactly that; it’s a case of taking steps to minimize the likelihood of being victimized. The analogy resides in that principle, not in the exact same procedure in each case.

    I put scare quotes around “locked up” for that very reason.

    Look, you can either clarify what you meant and stop using muddled analogies or live with the implications of the analogy you chose. The paragraph above does neither.

    But if the movie Looking for Mr. Goodbar (4) is any type of a reasonable guide…

    It’s not. We aren’t talking about movies. We aren’t in a courtroom either, by the way.

    …then it seems that a not inconsiderable number of women, like many men, are into casual sex of one form or another, and for one reason or another. Not that I’m throwing stones at that since my own activities exhibited many similarities with that style of life as well, although there were also some significant differences too.

    Ok.

    And if it is true that there is a large number of people in that or similar situations then it seems possible to develop some sort of technological solution that might mininze the risk involved. And which would thereby reduce the number of rapes. For instance, there was this article in Reason (5) some 9 months ago that has this interesting title, along with a brief exposition of some problematic aspects of Universities.

    You want an app to “document” that consent was given at some point? This is your solution? And the “locked up” metaphor you chose was purely incidental, but shockingly looks exactly like your proposed solution.

    Well, here’s an analogy for you since they seem to be the only thing you get: virtual burkas.

    Not foolproof of course, but certainly something any responsible person would do. If they didn’t? Too bad, so sad I guess.

  119. 141

    There is no general moral duty to always tread the safer path. If you leave your doors unlocked and let your neighbors borrow anything at any time, you aren’t doing anything wrong—unless you have a duty to protect other people living under your roof. If you seek out homeless men and help them off the streets, you aren’t doing anything wrong. If you volunteer your services as a bodyguard to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, you aren’t doing anything wrong. If you march peacefully in Ferguson, you aren’t doing anything wrong. If you get wasted at TAM and flirt with a famous skeptic, you aren’t doing anything wrong.

    Normally I think you are kind of an asshat, but I can almost wholeheartedly agree with this.

    Though I would disagree that getting drunk at TAM = being Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s body guard, unless you know something I don’t.

  120. 142

    @ Steersman #138

    maddog1129 (#137):
    So, the only specific thing that you can suggest for targets of rapists is to possess an iPhone and use a particular iPhone app? That’s the only thing you can recommend for targets to “take personal responsibility” to not be raped?

    Steersman #138:
    You have anything else on tap, in the pipeline, that might actually be better than that? You have any evidence to suggest that that might be the case? Do tell – I’m all ears.

    I am not the one saying that targets of rapists have a “personal” or “moral responsibility” to avoid getting raped. That would be you. You were asked to make a list of specific things that would constitute a target taking “personal responsibility” for his/her rape. Your detailed list has only one item on it. Is that all? That’s a “yes” or “no” question: Yes or no?

    Steersman #138: Seems to me that “you” might want to give some consideration to the aphorism, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” And to the apparent fact that there aren’t any other “candles” on the table.

    1) Your statement — no other “candles” — is an admission that all the things suggested for the last 10,000 years of human existence, for women to do to prevent rape, are not effective. What you do/don’t wear isn’t a candle that will prevent darkness. What you do/don’t drink isn’t a candle that will prevent darkness. Where you do/don’t go isn’t a candle that will prevent darkness. Whom you do/don’t trust isn’t a candle that can prevent darkness. And so on, and so on.

    2) “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness” = “personal responsibility” = it is the target’s fault for getting raped. S/he didn’t “light a candle,” (have/use the iPhone anti-rape app) so any darkness is on them.

    maddog #137
    How does it (iPhone app) work? Is it effective? How do you know?

    Steersman #138: I’ve already explained in some detail how it might work.

    I’m sorry. I didn’t see where you gave a detailed description of the app. Can you please point me to the post?

    Steersman #138: Don’t really know for sure how effective it might be until “we” – as a society – actually try it out – or something like it.

    So the one thing you put on your detailed list of how a target can take “personal responsibility” for his/her rape — you don’t know how effective it is, because it hasn’t been tried yet.

    Steersman #138: But maybe you’re not familiar with the product development process which starts with the “Fuzzy front-end (FFE) [which] is the set of activities employed before the formal and well defined requirements specification is completed”. You may wish to give some thought to that, and to the subsequent steps: Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Right, it wasn’t.

    So what you are saying is that there’s nothing of proven effectiveness yet on the market in terms of iPhone apps, is that right? And you have not identified anything else, as I understand you, by which a target can effectively take “personal responsibility” to avoid his/her rape.

    maddog #137: Is it a failure of “personal responsibility” to not have an iPhone or to not have the app?

    Steersman #138: Is it a failure of “personal responsibility” to not wear your seatbelt and wind up suffering serious injuries in an accident which could have been greatly minimized if you had been wearing the seatbelt? And to then demand financial and medical compensation from society-at-large because of your own errors in judgement?

    1) seatbelts are proven effective in reducing the incidence of injury in car accidents. So far, you have not named anything that has been proven effective in reducing the incidence of rape.

    2) car accidents can happen even if all parties were being reasonable and careful (negligence standard). By contrast, rapes don’t happen by accident.

    3) This was another “yes” or “no” question that you did not yet answer: According to you, is it a failure of personal responsibility for a target to fail to do the one single thing that you have identified as constituting “personal responsibility” on the part of a person who has been raped, i.e., is it a failure of “personal responsibility” to fail to have an iPhone or to have the app? Yes or no?

    maddog #137: What should be the consequence of the failure of “personal responsibility”?

    Steersman #138: I don’t know what should be the consequence of that failure. But I expect that an actual consequence is a greater likelihood of being raped. If people prefer that then I guess that’s their call.

    1) How do you know what makes a rape more likely or less likely?
    2) What are the specific things that you think makes a rape more likely or less likely?
    3) So, the “failure” of the target to take “personal responsibility” = “greater likelihood of being raped.” AFAICT, what you are calling “personal responsibility” is exactly the same as “blaming the victim” … i.e., that they are at fault (personally responsible) for their own rape because their own actions/inactions made it “more likely” that it would happen. As if “people prefer” to be raped. I don’t know anyone who “prefers” to be raped than not raped.

  121. 143

    Maddog1129 (#142):

    I am not the one saying that targets of rapists have a “personal” or “moral responsibility” to avoid getting raped. That would be you. You were asked to make a list of specific things that would constitute a target taking “personal responsibility” for his/her rape. Your detailed list has only one item on it. Is that all? That’s a “yes” or “no” question: Yes or no?

    It is impossible to answer the question the way you’ve phrased it. Which suggests you completely misunderstand or misinterpret my whole argument about the differences between personal responsibility and legal responsibility. You might check the linked article, but this is a salient point:

    Moral responsibility does not necessarily equate to legal responsibility. A person is legally responsible for an event when a legal system is liable to penalise that person for that event.

    And the legal system isn’t normally going penalize the victim. But briefly, the criminal has a legal responsibility for the crime, after the fact; the potential victim has a some moral responsibility to prevent the crime, before the fact, particularly when the consequences affect other members of society. Two entirely different kettles of fish – that you should make some effort to see the differences between.

    2) “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness” = “personal responsibility” = it is the target’s fault for getting raped. S/he didn’t “light a candle,” (have/use the iPhone anti-rape app) so any darkness is on them.

    I think “we” are talking two entirely different languages. Since Leni seems to have some difficulty with analogies, let me try this one with you: do you agree that you have a “personal responsibility” to minimize the likelihood of having your stuff stolen? As in locking your car and home?

    That’s a yes-or-no question. But that’s the type of personal responsibility I’m talking about in the case of rape. People who might break into your home or car are still legally responsible for having committed the crime. But I’m arguing that individuals still have a personal responsibility to minimize the likelihood of being victimized – particularly when it is other members of society who wind up paying the freight – as in insurance to replace stolen goods and vehicles.

    I’m sorry. I didn’t see where you gave a detailed description of the app. Can you please point me to the post?

    You can’t search through my posts yourself? Speaking of personal responsibility. But since you seem to have some difficulty with that, it was this following passage – and links – from post #130 above:

    As for specifics, I have already provided some of those in one of Ashley’s other threads (More on Shermer; #493 [1]) which linked to an AtheismPlus post of mine (2) which in turn linked to this rather eminently sensible delineation (3) of one woman’s acceptance of some personal responsibility following her own rape ….

    Or maybe you’re not aware that if you want to follow the links you have to copy the links (below) into your browser and then strip out the “_” prefix, and the trailing quote suffix to actually follow the links. There’s a limit on the number of “hot” HTML links that one can put into posts before the post goes into automatic moderation – hence the necessity of providing the links in that format.

    1) How do you know what makes a rape more likely or less likely?
    2) What are the specific things that you think makes a rape more likely or less likely?

    It’s partly conjecture buttressed by some solid statistics. Which I’ve already explained in painful and repeated detail. You may wish to read a little more closely what I’ve said.

    3) So, the “failure” of the target to take “personal responsibility” = “greater likelihood of being raped.”

    So, the failure of a homeowner to lock his home = “greater likelihood of being subject to a break-and-enter” means that they are “personally responsible” for that break-and-enter? Because their own inactions made it more likely that that would happen? You think your insurance agent is going to be “blaming the victim” if that happens to you? You are again conflating moral and legal responsibility, glossing over or ignoring the differences between them.

    ——
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2015/04/12/more-on-shermer-pz-and-michael-nugent/#comment-485174”;
    2) “_http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5336”;
    3) “_https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130613080657AAur5O3”;

  122. 144

    Damion Reinhardt (#132):

    I disagree with Steersman that there exists a moral responsibility to minimize one’s own likelihood of being victimized. ….

    There is no general moral duty to always tread the safer path. If you leave your doors unlocked and let your neighbors borrow anything at any time, you aren’t doing anything wrong ….

    Since Leni has agreed with you (#141), and in more or less fulsome terms, I should probably add a qualifiation and comment or two. 😉 And as a point of reference, connsider the following from the article on “moral responsibility”:

    In philosophy, moral responsibility is the status of morally deserving praise, blame, reward, or punishment for an act or omission, in accordance with one’s moral obligations.

    Seems to me that while it is probably true that one doesn’t have a “general moral duty to always tread the safer path”, it seems reasonable to argue that if one wishes to tread the less safe path then one has an obligation, a duty, to consider how that might affect other members of society. And if the costs of one’s own choices, one’s own actions, entail consequences and costs to other members of society that greatly outweigh the benefits to them then one might argue that those choices, those actions, are intrinsically irresponsible, at least in a moral sense.

    And in the case of rape, and the analogous one of having one’s car stolen, then one might reasonably argue that if one wishes to bear the entire cost of those crimes oneself then there is nothing wrong in that, and that there is no corresponding “failure of personal responsibility”. However, if one expects the police and justice system to catch and penalize the perpetrator – all of which entail significant costs to other members of the society – then failing to take steps necessary to minimize the possibility of those crimes would constitute a “failure of personal responsibility”. Which is, of course, rather different from a legal responsibility.

  123. 145

    The thing about blame and punishment for an act or omission is that we as a society have to decide when to assign the former or execute the latter. It sounds to me like you are trying to persuade people to assign blame to someone who has been victimized on account of their omissions. I think it would be a far better social heuristic to assign all the moral blame (and social sanctions) to the perpetrators who victimize other people, rather than expending any of our collective efforts blaming the victim. Speeding up the slowest gazelle isn’t going to deny the cheetah a meal, it just changes who ends up on the menu.

  124. 146

    @ Steersman #143

    maddog #142
    I am not the one saying that targets of rapists have a “personal” or “moral responsibility” to avoid getting raped. That would be you. You were asked to make a list of specific things that would constitute a target taking “personal responsibility” for his/her rape. Your detailed list has only one item on it. Is that all? That’s a “yes” or “no” question: Yes or no?

    Steersman #143:
    It is impossible to answer the question the way you’ve phrased it.

    No, it’s not. It’s really quite simple.

    You were asked to make a detailed list of all the specific things you think count as “taking personal responsibility” for one’s own rape. You pointed to one, and only one, possibility — an iPhone app. You also stated that there were “no other candles on the table” that would alleviate the “darkness.” That implies that the iPhone app is the only thing you think is a specific thing that someone could do to take “personal responsibility” for his/her rape. So that’s the question: Is that the only item of “personal responsibility” that you think people could/should take? That’s a yes or no question. Yes, there’s only one, or no, there are more ways of taking “personal responsibility.” If the answer is “no,” what are the other specific items, that you have already been asked multiple times to list?

    Steersman #143: Which suggests you completely misunderstand or misinterpret my whole argument about the differences between personal responsibility and legal responsibility. You might check the linked article, but this is a salient point:

    Moral responsibility does not necessarily equate to legal responsibility. A person is legally responsible for an event when a legal system is liable to penalise that person for that event.

    And the legal system isn’t normally going penalize the victim. But briefly, the criminal has a legal responsibility for the crime, after the fact; the potential victim has a some moral responsibility to prevent the crime, before the fact, particularly when the consequences affect other members of society. Two entirely different kettles of fish – that you should make some effort to see the differences between.

    1) Okay. What, in fact, will “prevent” rape, before the fact? That’s the question you were asked. What is the list of specific things someone can do to actually, factually “prevent” a rape before the fact?

    2) Why talk about the distinction between legal responsibility (after the fact) and personal/moral responsibility (before the fact) as if only legal responsibility belongs to the perpetrator, and the target is the only one with personal/moral responsibility? Don’t both moral responsibility and legal responsibility apply to the perpetrator?

    3) If I have “responsibility” for something, what does that really mean? Does it necessarily entail a consequence of some kind? If not, then what does the word “responsibility” signify? If so, then what is the proper consequence due to a person who bears that “responsibility”? Why is that consequence properly assigned to him/her?

    4) Why does the target of a crime have a responsibility to prevent the crime?

    maddog #142:
    2) “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness” = “personal responsibility” = it is the target’s fault for getting raped. S/he didn’t “light a candle,” (have/use the iPhone anti-rape app) so any darkness is on them.

    Steersman #143:

    I think “we” are talking two entirely different languages.

    Possibly. That’s what I’m seeking to clarify. I’m trying to understand what the terms you use actually mean.

    Steersman #143:
    Since Leni seems to have some difficulty with analogies, let me try this one with you: do you agree that you have a “personal responsibility” to minimize the likelihood of having your stuff stolen? As in locking your car and home?
    That’s a yes-or-no question.

    I’ll go ahead and answer, in good faith, in the expectation that you will answer my yes or no questions in the same spirit.
    Here goes:
    1) General answer: yes, with qualifications and explanations
    2) Do I lock my car and my home? Mostly yes, though I have occasionally forgotten to do so.
    3) Do I do that to lessen the likelihood of having my home burgled or my car burgled or stolen? Yes, but that is because locking/not locking a door, window, or car has an actual practical first-line deterrent effect on the likelihood of having things be easily stolen.
    4) Do I feel “responsible” if I stupidly forget to lock my car or house and someone breaks in or steals the car? Yes, to some extent.
    5) For an analogy to work, it has to be A is to B, as C is to D. Here it’s A (locking cars and homes) is to B (actually preventing theft) as C (????) is to D (actually preventing rape). I’m looking for “C” here. What’s an effective rape preventative? That’s what we have been asking you to articulate.

    Steersman #143:
    But that’s the type of personal responsibility I’m talking about in the case of rape. People who might break into your home or car are still legally responsible for having committed the crime. But I’m arguing that individuals still have a personal responsibility to minimize the likelihood of being victimized …

    Accepting for the sake of the argument that individuals do have a personal responsibility to mitigate activities that harm others (crime or tort), that responsibility belongs not merely to a potential target, but also to the perpetrator. When it comes to protection of property, there are a number of possible measures that could be taken, that can be demonstrated to decrease the risk of theft. Using locks is one tool, that may stop some thieves at the threshold, as it were. It’s easier to gain entry and complete a theft if a house or car is unlocked. But there are different kinds of locks, some of which are more effective than others. And there are security alarm systems. And there is insurance coverage. It’s possible to hire private guards. Where along the continuum do you say, well, you should have done X, and Y, but we don’t generally require people to do Z? “Personal responsibility” doesn’t encompass every conceivable measure, or even every conceivable effective measure. Nor should it encompass ineffective measures.

    Steersman #143:
    But I’m arguing that individuals still have a personal responsibility to minimize the likelihood of being victimized – particularly when it is other members of society who wind up paying the freight – as in insurance to replace stolen goods and vehicles.

    Insurance does essentially spread risks, but policyholders do “pay the freight” for their coverage. In terms of theft, the uninsured don’t get money to replace stolen goods or vehicles. Who “pays the freight” for an uninsured’s loss? The uninsured individual bears the direct burden of the loss of their property.

    maddog #142:
    I’m sorry. I didn’t see where you gave a detailed description of the app. Can you please point me to the post?

    Steersman #143:

    You can’t search through my posts yourself? Speaking of personal responsibility. But since you seem to have some difficulty with that,

    gibes noted.

    Steersman #143:

    it was this following passage – and links – from post #130 above:

    As for specifics, I have already provided some of those in one of Ashley’s other threads (More on Shermer; #493 [1]) which linked to an AtheismPlus post of mine (2) which in turn linked to this rather eminently sensible delineation (3) of one woman’s acceptance of some personal responsibility following her own rape ….

    Thank you for the reference.
    Looking at your post #493 on the other thread here, and following that to Atheism+, I found your post about a *proposed* iPhone anti-rape app.

    Steersman said on Atheism+:
    I was wondering whether there might be a technological solution or method that might at least reduce that number. While it is somewhat moot whether there is a market and use for such a product, it seems to me … that there might well be such a market. Which is entirely dependent, of course, on whether such a product is technically feasible.

    Very tentative. No definite market, no definite technological feasibility, no actual app, no tested efficacy.

    Steersman #143:
    more specifically, that product is conjectured to be some sort of iPhone App that would record intimate encounters, encrypt them, and then upload them to a secure server. Which could then be decrypted as evidence should there be any accusations of rape or even false ones thereof. Now obviously most people aren’t going to be particularly keen about recording their sexual activities if there’s any possibility that they could be made available for general viewing. But that seems easily dealt with simply by encrypting them such that it takes two of three subkeys to unlock them – 2 held by the participants, a unique one per individual encounter held by the justice system that could be released only on court order.

    So far, this is only conjecture, possibility, and not a real thing. And “obviously,” most people will NOT be keen on having their private, intimate moments video recorded.

    paraphrasing Steersman on Atheism+:
    Then you point out “several technical questions,” or problems, such as creating a “good schema by which two of three keys could be used to unlock an encrypted file,” “the amount of storage space required to record,” and “where [the video] would reside.” You suggested the problems might be solved by “secret sharing” w/r/t the distribution of encryption keys, and compression of files, reduction in the number of frames recorded, and/or use of iCloud to address storage problems.

    Still looks wholly theoretical to me.

    Steersman on Atheism+:

    And, finally, it appears others have conceived of or implemented similar technological solutions, such as this (6) “Me Against Rape” Android App for example, although it suffers from some notable limitations, or these (7) surveillance Apps similar to “Nanny-Cams”, although they may use separate cameras.

    The “Me Against Rape” app is essentially an alarm button that sends out an SOS message to a couple of other numbers, and notifies of map location and turns on audio/video recording. No tests of its efficacy in actually preventing or reducing rapes or improving apprehension, investigation, charging, and convictions for rape. A nanny-cam app would have to have the camera in the right location, as well as not violate any secret recording laws. IOW, there’s no actual evidence that these apps really are “solutions” to the problem of rape and rape prevention.

    Steersman on Atheism+:

    So, given that it appears that such a product is technically feasible, and well within the budget of many – although that depends somewhat on the availability, cost, and technical capabilities of either iPhones or their clones – do you think that there is a market for such a product, that many people would use it?

    Nothing said establishes that an anti-rape app of the record-encrypt-store (with copy to the courts “just in case”) is really technically feasible; that’s not a “given.” Your description said nothing about costs, so it’s definitely not a “given” that the app (and the device required to run it) are “well within the budget of many.” It sounds like speculation from beginning to end, to me, and not a detailed description about how any actual app really works. And there’s nothing whatever to show that such an app, even if it were available (and you appear to indicate that it’s not), would have any actual efficacy in preventing rape, reducing rape, or improving the determination of cases of alleged rape.

    maddog #142:
    1) How do you know what makes a rape more likely or less likely?
    2) What are the specific things that you think makes a rape more likely or less likely?

    It’s partly conjecture buttressed by some solid statistics. Which I’ve already explained in painful and repeated detail. You may wish to read a little more closely what I’ve said.

    Conjecture? Speculation about what makes something more or less likely is not the same thing as demonstrating what actually makes something more likely or less likely.

    Statistics?

    Steersman #47:
    And her statement linked to some statistics for rape that showed a 32% reporting rate along with a 2% conviction rate. But it is about 10 to 20 times higher for most other crimes such as burglarly, robbery, and assault. Maybe the fact that what is “taken”, at least in the first two of those three cases, is more tangible than what is “taken” in a case of rape might have something to do with that difference?

    Or maybe not. Burglary and robbery don’t always have the stolen property (tangible item) turn up. Assault does not involve “taking” anything “tangible,” yet the discrepancy holds, so tangible/intangible may not be the determinative, or even a significant, factor. OTOH, assault and rape may both bear tangible indicia of having occurred, so it’s not true that intangibility is necessarily a feature of rape. However, people who report burglary, robbery, and assault are not generally disbelieved by the police; people who report rape are. The police interrogate the targets of rapists in a way that they don’t interrogate anyone else. Rape victims are humiliated by investigation, by interrogation, by trial proceedings, in ways that don’t apply to victims of other crimes. Victims of burglary, robbery, and assault are not discouraged from reporting, or discouraged from pressing prosecution on, the offenses they suffered; people who have been raped are. Rape is often committed by someone who has an existing and significant relationship with the target. The target is not safe even in her/his own home, with people they had good reason to believe they could trust. It’s no wonder there is less reporting of rapes, that has nothing to do with whether anything “tangible” was “taken.”

    Steersman #39:
    You maybe think that saying, “hey guys, don’t commit robbery or burglarly or aggravated assault” has had any noticeable effect on those crimes? The actual statistics suggest that – surprise, surprise, surprise – it has had precisely diddly-squat in the way effect in reducing them (figures for 2013/2014 (reported per 100,000)). Although maybe they just haven’t gotten the message yet, and all you really need to do is to invite them over for cookies and tea and show them the errors of their ways. In any case, the numbers:

    Forcible rape: —————— 27.0 / 26.9
    Robbery: ———————— 113.9 / 112.9
    Aggravated assault: ——— 241.5 / 242.3
    Total Violent crime: ——— 387.1 / 386.9
    Burglary: —————- 701.3 / 670.2
    Larceny-theft:———1,974.1 / 1,959.3
    Motor vehicle theft: — 230.0 / 229.7

    I’m not at all sure what these statistics are supposed to show. You have two years in a row with similar rates of reporting (within each category of crime) in each of the years. So? What have historical crime reporting rates been like? Has there been a specific campaign identifying particular behaviors and urging people to “hey, don’t do that,” w/r/t robbery, assault, burglary, car theft, etc., to see if there is a “before” and “after” set of statistics? You haven’t presented any. I haven’t seen you present any “solid statistics” that show, specifically what makes rape more likely or less likely. THAT’s what we’ve been asking for, and have yet to see.

    maddog #142:

    .
    3) So, the “failure” of the target to take “personal responsibility” = “greater likelihood of being raped.”

    Steersman #143:
    So, the failure of a homeowner to lock his home = “greater likelihood of being subject to a break-and-enter” means that they are “personally responsible” for that break-and-enter? Because their own inactions made it more likely that that would happen?

    You are changing the subject again. You don’t know of anything that is actually going to increase or decrease the likelihood that someone will be raped. So, in that case, what precisely does “taking personal responsibility” consist of w/r/t rape?

    Steersman #143:

    You think your insurance agent is going to be “blaming the victim” if that happens to you? You are again conflating moral and legal responsibility, glossing over or ignoring the differences between them.

    What does an insurance agent have to do with it? The analogy is W is to X as Y is to Z. Here, W is a victim of the crime of rape, and X is the police, the criminal court, the defense and the general public all holding the victim “responsible” for his/her rape, because there was something s/he should have done that affected the likelihood of being raped, even though nobody has yet identified what this mysterious thing is that will actually affect the likelihood of being raped. Y is the victim of the crime of burglary, and Z is the police, the criminal court, the defense, and the general public all holding the victim responsible for the burglary, because s/he failed to lock the house/car, which could have affected the likelihood of the burglary being accomplished. Except, the police, the criminal court, and the general public DON’T usually say “Y is responsible for being the victim of the crime, because s/he did not lock the house/car.” An insurance agent is not pertinent to the analogy. In the civil context, it depends entirely on the nature of the insurance contract, assuming there is one. Some insurance contracts may specify that a loss for theft is not covered if doors are left unlocked. OTOH, plenty of insurance contracts reimburse the loss regardless of whether the house/car was locked or not. There’s no comparable contractual relationship with another party in the rape context.

  125. 147

    The point of this, like the previous posts, is not that Michael Nugent is a bad guy. It’s that he keeps doing things online that make him look like a bad guy and he’s either unaware of them, in which case hopefully writing them out calmly in a blog post and explaining why they look how they look will help him understand why people see them the way they do

    .
    A most worthy and noble aim Ashley. However, I can’t help but infer from this comment that you regard Nugent and AI (and I suppose now Hemant Mehta) as somewhat marginalised on this issue with the vast majority of people looking on from the sidelines aligning with Myers. The impression I get is that for as much as Nugent may benefit from such illumination you good folks may require it tenfold, perhaps disabusing some of your commentariat of the crazy notion that everyone having issues with your approaches do so because they are irredeemable bigots.

  126. 148

    Damion Reinhardt (#145):

    The thing about blame and punishment for an act or omission is that we as a society have to decide when to assign the former or execute the latter. It sounds to me like you are trying to persuade people to assign blame to someone who has been victimized on account of their omissions. I think it would be a far better social heuristic to assign all the moral blame (and social sanctions) to the perpetrators who victimize other people, rather than expending any of our collective efforts blaming the victim.

    I’ll concede that I am, in effect at least, trying to put some “blame” onto the victim, although I think using the term “blame” in that context largely qualifies as obfuscation at best if not some egregious demagoguery. I wonder if you read that story by a woman who had been raped that I quoted from (#130) and linked to (1) earlier:

    When did “personal responsibility” become “victim blaming?”?

    Last year, I was raped. I met a man, I invited him home for sex, and when we were in my room he quickly overpowered me and…well, …. I don’t blame myself for it; I made a mistake, it happens. But I don’t think it’s healthy for me to blame him exclusively; I put myself at risk, and I have to take responsibility for that.

    While “taking responsibility” and “accepting blame” – as a victim – might seem somewhat synonymous, the latter seems to have a few more negative connotations that look a little problematic. Since we all make mistakes – present company excepted, of course – trying to paint that in terms of the more pejorative “blame” frequently looks like a way of trying to evade responsibility.

    But, in general, I don’t see that it is particularly unreasonable to “assign moral blame and social sanctions” to people whose actions have an onerous or unreasonable impact on other members of society – largely regardless of whether they are victims or not. And it seems to me that obliging the justice system to expend non-trivial amounts of time, money, and effort trying to track down and penalize rapists would certainly seem to qualify as that, particularly in cases where a bit of care and forethought might well have prevented the crime in the first place.

    And, for a somewhat analogous case, I’m reminded of a recent tweet (2) that you favorited or retweeted:

    Mike Rothschild ‏@rothschildmd
    If anti-vaxers want to not vaccinate, that’s fine. They just need to do it in their own schools, located on their own islands.

    Indeed. Seems that qualifies as a rather clear case of someone’s behaviour that has “an onerous or unreasonable impact on other members of society” that justifies some degree of “moral sanctions” “on account of their omissions”.

    But even more generally, one might argue that that “name name blame game” – so to speak – has been a rather large part of the atheist/skeptic “movement” over the last couple of years – starting from “guys, don’t do that” (aren’t they victims of the patriarchy too?), to kicking out the chuds, to doxing (rather “shitty behaviour” in general), to “providing havens” for rapists and other ne’er-do-wells, to various forms of satire and ridicule, justified or not (3). Seems unreasonable to think that victims of rapists should somehow be totally or necessarily immune to those sanctions – depending on circumstances of course.

    ——–
    1) “_https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130613080657AAur5O3”;
    2) “_https://twitter.com/rothschildmd/status/590936892838793216”;
    3) “_https://storify.com/Jadehawk/secular-woman-atheist-ireland-the-actual-fucking-e?utm_campaign=website&utm_source=email&utm_medium=email”;

  127. 149

    4) Do I feel “responsible” if I stupidly forget to lock my car or house and someone breaks in or steals the car?

    More importantly, who cares?

  128. 150

    @Steersman #148

    But, in general, I don’t see that it is particularly unreasonable to “assign moral blame and social sanctions” to people whose actions have an onerous or unreasonable impact on other members of society – largely regardless of whether they are victims or not. And it seems to me that obliging the justice system to expend non-trivial amounts of time, money, and effort trying to track down and penalize rapists would certainly seem to qualify as that, particularly in cases where a bit of care and forethought might well have prevented the crime in the first place.

    Which cases would those be? Please set forth specific items of “care and forethought ” that would “prevent rape in the first place. “

  129. 151

    Sorry for that fail quote 🙂

    Steersman:

    Seems to me that while it is probably true that one doesn’t have a “general moral duty to always tread the safer path”, it seems reasonable to argue that if one wishes to tread the less safe path then one has an obligation, a duty, to consider how that might affect other members of society.

    In this case, “treading the less safe path” means going to a party with a famous skeptic with people you have no reason to distrust.

    There is no unlocked car. There is a human being attending what should be a safe event with people she knows.

    People she had good reasons to trust. Now that the rest of us know what the risk is and who the threat is, we can at least mitigate in an informed way. *

    And if the costs of one’s own choices, one’s own actions, entail consequences and costs to other members of society that greatly outweigh the benefits to them then one might argue that those choices, those actions, are intrinsically irresponsible, at least in a moral sense.

    Even if you accept that without qualification, which I don’t, it does not follow that warning others is also immoral. In fact, that would be the moral, responsible thing to to. Barring legal remedies, it is pretty much the only thing one could do.

    Aside from that, the fact that you think the moral weight of crime lies with victims is grotesque and absurd. It is also profoundly weird and disturbing that you put so much effort into making sure a specific crime victim feels bad about a crime she didn’t commit while claiming to have the moral high ground.

    If I knew who you were, I would do the “responsible thing”* and warn everyone about your behavior.

    And in the case of rape, and the analogous one of having one’s car stolen,

    Analogized, not analogous.

    …then one might reasonably argue that if one wishes to bear the entire cost of those crimes oneself then there is nothing wrong in that, and that there is no corresponding “failure of personal responsibility”. However, if one expects the police and justice system to catch and penalize the perpetrator – all of which entail significant costs to other members of the society – then failing to take steps necessary to minimize the possibility of those crimes would constitute a “failure of personal responsibility”. Which is, of course, rather different from a legal responsibility.

    If one wishes to be silent, you mean. And not warn others of the danger. Thus ultimately incurring more victims, more police time and more resources.

    And fewer moral dilemmas for you, apparently.

    * Working with Steersman’s framework here. I do not think crime victims are morally obligated to consider my safety above their own. When they do, I feel grateful and humbled. Thank you.

  130. 152

    The thing about blame and punishment for an act or omission is that we as a society have to decide when to assign the former or execute the latter. It sounds to me like you are trying to persuade people to assign blame to someone who has been victimized on account of their omissions. I think it would be a far better social heuristic to assign all the moral blame (and social sanctions) to the perpetrators who victimize other people, rather than expending any of our collective efforts blaming the victim. Speeding up the slowest gazelle isn’t going to deny the cheetah a meal, it just changes who ends up on the menu.

    But it’s a rapist asshole cheetah, not a starving underdog cheetah who overcomes adversity and always catches a gazelle.

    Also there is no gazelle in this story. There are other cheetahs that this particular cheetah is an asshole to. Who, according to some cheetahs, should blame themselves for the asshole cheetah’s asshole behavior.

  131. 154

    Maddog1129 (#146):

    You’ve asked a bunch of reasonable questions, although I think some of them are repeats or are parts of other ones so I won’t address them all individually. However, I might suggest that you re-read some of my other comments as I think I’ve adequately addressed some of your questions before. In any case:

    Steersman #143: It is impossible to answer the question the way you’ve phrased it.

    Maddog1129: No, it’s not. It’s really quite simple.

    You were asked to make a detailed list of all the specific things you think count as “taking personal responsibility” for one’s own rape. …. So that’s the question: Is that the only item of “personal responsibility” that you think people could/should take?

    I’ll say yes, at least for the sake of argument. But I’ll qualify it by saying that while there may be other ways of doing so, I think that something like that iPhone App is likely to be the most effective, although it may have some limited range of applicability. And I’ll further qualify it by arguing that the “taking personal responsibility” is relative to preventing the rape in the first place, not after or during it.

    1) Okay. What, in fact, will “prevent” rape, before the fact? That’s the question you were asked. What is the list of specific things someone can do to actually, factually “prevent” a rape before the fact?

    I’ve already more or less answered that in my response to Giliell in #136, but it is essentially based on the fact that what prevents any crime is apparently the fear of consequences, and some awareness of the probability of being caught. And the fact of the matter is that the probability of being caught in the case of rape is something like 2% whereas it is something like 50-60% for robbery and burglarly. Consequently, increasing that probability is likely to reduce the frequency of the crime (1):

    Some research has shown that increasing the severity of a punishment does not have much effect on crime, while increasing the certainty of punishment does have a deterrent effect.

    And it seems that one of the more effective ways of increasing the conviction rate – and therefore the certainty of punishment – is to ensure that there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed in the first place. Which is essentially what that iPhone App is intended to do.

    3) If I have “responsibility” for something, what does that really mean? ….

    Good questions. However, I might suggest you might take a real close look at the Wikipedia article on “moral responsibility” (2) and “obligations” (3). All of which might be subsumed under the heading of the “social contract” (4).

    4) Why does the target of a crime have a responsibility to prevent the crime?

    Arguably because the deleterious consequences extend to other individuals – which the putative or potential victim has an obligation, defined by the “social contract”, to minimize. Do take another look at my previous comment to Damion (#148), and in particular the tweet about anti-vaxxers. Or maybe you don’t think it is irreponsible for people to not vaccinate their kids?

    I’ll go ahead and answer, in good faith, in the expectation that you will answer my yes or no questions in the same spirit.

    Thanks. I’ll try to do likewise.

    5) For an analogy to work, it has to be A is to B, as C is to D. Here it’s A (locking cars and homes) is to B (actually preventing theft) as C (????) is to D (actually preventing rape). I’m looking for “C” here. What’s an effective rape preventative? That’s what we have been asking you to articulate.

    Again, I think I’ve more or less answered that in my response to Leni in #130, and to Giliell in #136 (as above), although maybe not in a sufficiently clear manner. But essentially, locking cars and homes is a deterrent – as is the threat, the probability of being punished, of going to jail for a significant length of time. And to emphasize, if not belabour, the point, what increases the probability of that is the presence of tangible, largely objective evidence – which then qualifies as your “C”. But that is opposed or in contradistinction to the “he said – she said” level of “evidence” that seems to characterize most charges of rape that I’ve read about – and that’s more than a few.

    Thank you for the reference.
    Looking at your post #493 on the other thread here, and following that to Atheism+, I found your post about a *proposed* iPhone anti-rape app. ….

    Very tentative. No definite market, no definite technological feasibility, no actual app, no tested efficacy.

    De nada.

    Of course it’s tentative; it’s thrown out as a proposal, something “run up the flag pole to see if anyone will salute”, whether other people think it might work and are willing to invest some time, money, and effort to implement it. With many problems like that, one doesn’t really know the effectiveness until it is actually tried in different markets and under different conditions. Unless you have a better idea. And I expect the world of product development will beat a path to your door if you have one.

    And I might also point out that that California Senate Bill 967 and the Title IX stipulations about sexual assault and “crystal clear constent” are also somewhat tentative proposals. And the evidence suggests that there are more than a few rather problematic “flies” in their implementations, in those particular “ointments”. Therefore maybe a “Plan C” might be worth considering?

    Conjecture? Speculation about what makes something more or less likely ….

    GMAFB. You say po-ta-toe, I say po-tat-oe: we’re referring to the same critter. And you might note (5) that “speculate” is shown as a synonym for “conjecture”. Being hyper-skeptical or overly picky hardly redounds to your credit.

    I’m not at all sure what these statistics are supposed to show. You have two years in a row with similar rates of reporting (within each category of crime) in each of the years. So? What have historical crime reporting rates been like? Has there been a specific campaign identifying particular behaviors and urging people to “hey, don’t do that,” w/r/t robbery, assault, burglary, car theft, etc., to see if there is a “before” and “after” set of statistics?

    Maybe I wasn’t particularly clear, but the two years were just what the quoted source listed – no relevance of a historical nature beyond that. My point was that the laws on the books, and all of the social strictures and mechanisms in place to penalize people for those crimes really have a limited deterrence effect, that saying, “guys (or gals), don’t do that” is of a very limited utility. Willfully ignoring that fact looks rather like going down to the ocean and commanding the tides to not come in.

    So, in that case, what precisely does “taking personal responsibility” consist of w/r/t rape?

    As I’ve mentioned, suggested, or argued – many times – it consists in availing oneself of whatever is currently or potentially available to ensure that if one is raped then there is tangible evidence of the crime. Which will likely have a deterrent effect and decrease the probability of being raped in the first place. Although there are, I expect, other methods of a similar or different nature that might be more effective in situations other than the ones I’ve suggested or described in some detail.

    ——-
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deterrence_%28legal%29”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_responsibility”;
    3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obligation”;
    4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract”;
    5) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/conjecture”;

  132. 155

    RE the iRape app:

    With many problems like that, one doesn’t really know the effectiveness until it is actually tried in different markets and under different conditions. Unless you have a better idea

    I have a “better” idea. Just enable web cams. Always. For everyone.

    You could approve or deny each instance on a case by case basis and the problem would eventually solve itself.

    / sarcasm

  133. 156

    Leni (#155):

    RE the iRape app: …. I have a “better” idea. Just enable web cams. Always. For everyone.

    You could approve or deny each instance on a case by case basis and the problem would eventually solve itself. /sarcasm

    🙂 You may think that a jest, but it might be more accurate and workable than you think. The biggest problems that I see with it though are that the data needs to be stored, as it is created, in a location where the potential rapist is unable to access it after the potential crime. And that the information needs to be encrypted so that it is not available unless one of the parties insists that it be provided to the authorities in the event of an actual rape, or the false accusation of one. Can’t see that many people would be prepared to see that information readily available to all and sundry.

    BTW, working on a response to your #151.

  134. 157

    Leni (#151):

    Sorry for that fail quote 🙂

    Well, I should hope so, although I’m pleased to see you taking some “personal resposibility” for some grevious moral failings … 😉

    Steersman: … if one wishes to tread the less safe path then one has an obligation, a duty, to consider how that might affect other members of society.

    Leni: In this case, “treading the less safe path” means going to a party with a famous skeptic with people you have no reason to distrust.

    Maybe. Although one might suggest that the “less safe path” she followed was getting more or less plastered, and getting all hot and bothered about a man she hardly knew, and winding up in a “compromising position” with him. That obviously doesn’t absolve Shermer if he actually raped her, but one might throw a stone or two – of a figurative nature – at her for not exhibiting “sufficient” personal responsibility before the act. And while it might be somewhat academic at the moment, if she had decided to press charges at the time, one way or another, then that would have entailed significant costs for the justice system. Which we all pay for. I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly enjoy seeing my tax dollars wasted to deal with the effects of other people’s irresponsible behaviour.

    Even if you accept that without qualification, which I don’t, it does not follow that warning others is also immoral.

    Yes, I would agree with that. And have said so several times and in several places. Although I think it still somewhat problematic what are the effects and impacts of various libel laws.

    Aside from that, the fact that you think the moral weight of crime lies with victims is grotesque and absurd.

    Not quite sure where you got the idea that I think that “the moral weight of the crime lies with victims”, although I’ll concede that I didn’t actually spell out that point. But it seems that the “moral weight of the crime” is a somewhat nebulous concept, although one might say that it pertains to events before, during, and after the crime. And that before the crime the moral weight is more or less shared by both potential victim and potential rapist who is unlikely to be much swayed by that obligation – “he” wouldn’t become a criminal otherwise. But during and afterwards? I would say that all of the legal weight, and most if not all of the “moral weight of the crime” falls on the criminal. I think you really need to differentiate between those cases.

    It is also profoundly weird and disturbing that you put so much effort into making sure a specific crime victim feels bad about a crime she didn’t commit while claiming to have the moral high ground.

    Hadn’t realized she was lurking about, that she was following this conversation. Besides which, my point isn’t to address what one putative victim feels after one supposed crime, but to address the question of how to minimize the number of potential victims in the future. And while her efforts might reduce that number in a few cases, that is unlikely to be the entire population of them.

    If one wishes to be silent, you mean. And not warn others of the danger. Thus ultimately incurring more victims, more police time and more resources.

    I think we are, again, talking about two different stages in the “evolution” of the crime – in general: I’m talking about proactive steps prior to the crime in many potential cases, while you’re talking of steps of maybe a similar nature but after the supposed crime in one or several cases. While that is commendable, that does seem to depend somewhat on how reliable her memory is of the events in question, of just where and when consent was given, and where and when it might have been rescinded. As the illustrious Godfrey Elfwick has rather cogently noted (1), “… respect women’s boundaries and remember that consent can be revoked at any time. Even after sex.” ….

    —–
    1) “_https://twitter.com/GodfreyElfwick/status/588605873125097472”;

  135. 158

    Maddog1129 (#146):

    Steersman: It’s partly conjecture buttressed by some solid statistics. ….

    Maddog1129: Conjecture? Speculation about what makes something more or less likely is not the same thing as demonstrating what actually makes something more likely or less likely.

    Statistics?

    On review of that comment of yours, it seems that I’ve misinterpreted you – to some extent at least – in my #154: mea culpa.

    But to answer your point, yes, it is true that speculation is not the same as demonstrating. But demonstrating “what makes a rape more likely or less likely” isn’t easy to do because of the nature of the beast: the hypothesis is that the deterrent of a high conviction rate is what makes rape less likely. Which is apparently dependent on the availability of more evidence in rape crimes. So the only way, that I can see, of demonstrating that is to then implement systems that ensure that is the case.

    But since the available statistics on the conviction rate for rape shows it to be substantially lower than the rate for crimes such as burglarly and robbery, and since the evidence (from the Wikipedia article on deterrence presented earlier) is that the probability of conviction increases the deterrence, it seems reasonable to infer a similar effect will hold in the case of rape.

    So maybe a conjecture, but one that is apparently supported by enough (?) empirical evidence to at least potentially justify investing enough resources to implement the systems that would test the hypothesis – to provide the demonstration that you’re apparently expecting. While it is maybe a long-shot, I don’t see anything else on the table, apart maybe from the California & Title IX initiatives, that is likely to be more effective.

  136. 159

    And the prize for least charitable interpretation goes to leni @153

    Damion also it’s nice to know that you think of rape victims as prey animals from other species who “omit”… things.

    Actually what I was trying to convey is that rapists act as sexual predators, and that we should be focusing our moral condemnation upon them rather than their victims, whom they see as prey. The analogy wasn’t perfect (none are) but it’s hard to understand how you got it exactly backwards.

  137. 160

    @ Steersman #158

    But to answer your point, yes, it is true that speculation is not the same as demonstrating. But demonstrating “what makes a rape more likely or less likely” isn’t easy to do because of the nature of the beast: the hypothesis is that the deterrent of a high conviction rate is what makes rape less likely. Which is apparently dependent on the availability of more evidence in rape crimes. So the only way, that I can see, of demonstrating that is to then implement systems that ensure that is the case.
    But since the available statistics on the conviction rate for rape shows it to be substantially lower than the rate for crimes such as burglarly and robbery, and since the evidence (from the Wikipedia article on deterrence presented earlier) is that the probability of conviction increases the deterrence, it seems reasonable to infer a similar effect will hold in the case of rape.
    So maybe a conjecture, but one that is apparently supported by enough (?) empirical evidence to at least potentially justify investing enough resources to implement the systems that would test the hypothesis – to provide the demonstration that you’re apparently expecting. While it is maybe a long-shot, I don’t see anything else on the table, apart maybe from the California & Title IX initiatives, that is likely to be more effective.

    So, the only specific thing that you can think of or propose as a measure of taking “personal responsibility” to prevent being victimized is a potential, hypothetical, undeveloped, untried, untested long-shot. I think that means that there is nothing on your list of behaviors for which a rape victim can take “personal responsibility.”

    Assuming for the sake of discussion that certainty of consequences is a more effective deterrent than is increasing the severity of the penalty, I can see many pathways to improving the certainty of consequences that are readily available. For one thing, there’s that business of “believe the victim.” Now, you took that idea to task above, but I think you might have misunderstood what is being proposed. It’s not “believe the victim,” full stop, and shift the burden of disproving something to the accused. No, it’s a description of how to BEGIN when someone reports being raped. In the cases of other reports of crime, the police don’t automatically disbelieve the victim and grill them about what they did to cause themselves to be a victim of crime. No, they believe the victim and INVESTIGATE. “Believe the victim” is the initial hypothesis, a provisional or tentative principle, for how to approach the investigation. Do the investigation, vigorously, and then see where the evidence leads. That’s not what happens in accusations of rape. The police often DON’T believe the witness from the get-go, and they humiliate, interrogate, browbeat, discourage, disparage and flat-out blame the victim instead. That stops the investigative step that would gather the evidence at the first hurdle.

    Jon Krakauer was on the radio yesterday being interviewed about his new book, “Missoula,” which is about the incidence of rape at the U of Montana, and how the college town treated accuseds and victims. Krakauer mentioned some municipality, I don’t remember if it was Missoula or a different town, where the prosecutors simply refused to bring any charges or try any case in which the victim had drunk any alcohol or used drugs. When the prosecutor won’t prosecute, the police don’t want to waste their time on an investigation. One of the things that happened in Missoula, and there are instances of this everywhere, the school football star is protected, and the victim is villified. Football is more important than serious crime to most folks. And the people of Missoula are VERY unhappy with Krakauer about the title of his book. They are more upset and angry at what he wrote that makes the city “look bad,” than they are about the crimes that were perpetrated on the victims. That’s messed up, and that’s one of the things that needs to change.

    So, if it’s deterrence and certainty of consequences that might actually reduce rape rates, then
    1) train the police to actually, at least provisionally, “believe the victim” so that they approach the investigation with integrity. There’s a lot that can be done to educate police officers about the myths of rape, so they aren’t immediately derailed by false tropes.
    2) find and use better investigative methods and tools. There’s at least one kind of evidence — DNA — that was not available in earlier times, but which is available now. And yet thousands of rape kits sit untested because no one is actively investigating those alleged crimes.
    3) train prosecutors to treat the victims of rape just as they would the victims of any other crime. Don’t punt just because “s/he had something to drink.”
    4) educate the general public about what constitutes rape. As studies have shown, many people are willing to say, “I would do X” (e.g., have sex with someone who was passed out drunk) as long as it’s not labeled as rape. They don’t think of that particular behavior as rape behavior, and that allows them to think of themselves as someone who doesn’t rape. And that’s where your disparagement of “guys, don’t do that” falls down. It’s not just a generic, “guys, don’t steal,” or “guys, don’t murder,” or “guys, don’t rape.” The placeholder for such a generic statement is the statutes themselves, which are generic societal pronouncements, “don’t kill,” “don’t steal,” and “don’t rape.” So the rates of commission of crimes, and whether they have increased or decreased, have nothing to do with a global suggestion of “guys, don’t do that.” No, “guys, don’t do that” was a very specific something that could educate people about how to treat other people in a particular setting. It wasn’t, “guys, don’t rape,” it was, “guys, if you care about how others feel, don’t accost them in enclosed spaces with no escape at 4 a.m., and proposition someone with a common euphemism for an invitation to sex.” There could be lots of people who weren’t aware that that very specific thing could be perceived that way and make people uncomfortable.

    So, if you want certainty of consequences (1) educate the general public about what counts as rape behavior. Lots of people don’t appear to recognize what is or isn’t rape, and have lots of misconceptions about rape and what rape victims are like. (2) Treat the report seriously. Don’t attack the victim, support the victim and investigate the allegations. (3) Prosecute the cases. Don’t leave victims high and dry just because they had something to drink, for example.

    I think these measures might have a greater effect on deterring rape than speculating about a nonexistent smartphone app that invades a lot of privacy.

  138. 161

    @ Steersman #154

    You were asked to make a detailed list of all the specific things you think count as “taking personal responsibility” for one’s own rape. …. So that’s the question: Is that [i.e., phone app] the only item of “personal responsibility” that you think people could/should take?

    I’ll say yes, at least for the sake of argument. But I’ll qualify it by saying that while there may be other ways of doing so, I think that something like that iPhone App is likely to be the most effective, although it may have some limited range of applicability. And I’ll further qualify it by arguing that the “taking personal responsibility” is relative to preventing the rape in the first place, not after or during it.

    This part is confusing to me. You were asked, in terms of a potential target’s “personal responsibility,” what specific things are available for them to do (they should do to fulfill their responsibility) to PREVENT the rape from happening in the first place. You listed one, and only one thing, and you agree that you haven’t got anything else to suggest. But the smartphone app you describe (and you do so more fully later in comment #154):

    It [i.e., a target “taking personal responsibility” for being raped] consists in availing oneself of whatever is currently or potentially available to ensure that if one is raped then there is tangible evidence of the crime.

    addresses only things that can happen (collection of “evidence” if and when you are raped) “after the rape or during it.”

    The “social contract” notion is generally covered, I believe, in precepts underlying liability (civil or criminal) for injuries to others. People have a duty (“personal responsibility”) to behave like a reasonable person under all the circumstances. There is nothing unreasonable about going to a party and drinking some alcohol. There is nothing unreasonable about walking down the street. There is nothing unreasonable about trusting your significant other not to assault you.

    Got to go now, more later.
    Interesting discussion, btw.

  139. 162

    Maddog1129 (#161):

    This part is confusing to me. You were asked, in terms of a potential target’s “personal responsibility,” what specific things are available for them to do (they should do to fulfill their responsibility) to PREVENT the rape from happening in the first place. You listed one, and only one thing, and you agree that you haven’t got anything else to suggest. But the smartphone app you describe … addresses only things that can happen (collection of “evidence” if and when you are raped) “after the rape or during it.”

    But that is the nature of deterrence. If you know that you are probably going to get your ass in a sling because you do X then that will generally prevent you, deter you, from doing X. At least that seems the case for most more-or-less law-abiding people.

    But I think part of what confuses the issue is the question of temporal sequences, and which individuals are affected, and when and how. Which I think you’re kind of conflating or mashing together. But consider one of several different cases or scenarios: if individuals A, B, & C use the smartphone app and are raped, and the information is used to convict perpetrators X, Y, & Z then potential perpetrators P, Q, & R, knowing the increased conviction rate, will think twice and actually be deterred from raping potential victims E, F, & G. Ergo, the App has prevented some rapes, although maybe not all.

    Or consider another scenario: potential victims A, B, & C use the App, and potential perpetrators X, Y, & Z know that evidence capable of convicting them is available if they decide to engage in anything that might be construed as rape. So they will be deterred from that. Ergo, the App has prevented those rapes.

    But maybe you’re also unclear on the nature of the evidence that would be collected. Seems to me that the salient difference between cases of rape and “normal” sex is that there’s some indication that consent has been withheld or rescinded in the former case. And it is the evidence of that absence – so to speak – that would convict potential rapists. And knowing that fact will deter at least most potential rapists. A rape doesn’t have to happen for there to be a deterrent, only knowledge that evidence will be available if, in the event, there is one.

    Interesting discussion, btw.

    Indeed. 🙂

  140. 163

    Maddog1129 (#160):

    So, the only specific thing that you can think of or propose as a measure of taking “personal responsibility” to prevent being victimized is a potential, hypothetical, undeveloped, untried, untested long-shot. I think that means that there is nothing on your list of behaviors for which a rape victim can take “personal responsibility.”

    They can take responsibility, before the fact, by actually using that App, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Or by promoting its future development and use. And, how do you know it’s a “long-shot”? “Untested”, it might be. But the evidence on deterrence suggests otherwise.

    Assuming for the sake of discussion that certainty of consequences is a more effective deterrent than is increasing the severity of the penalty, I can see many pathways to improving the certainty of consequences that are readily available. …. Jon Krakauer was on the radio yesterday being interviewed about his new book, “Missoula,” which is about the incidence of rape at the U of Montana, and how the college town treated accuseds and victims. ….

    Sure, those are other possibilities. And I agree that there really are some rather shitty attitudes all over the place to sexual assault in general. But it sure looks like you’re promoting motherhood-and-apple-pie-in-the-sky solutions; sure, it would be nice if we could simply wave a magic wand and do away with the high incidence of robbery and theft, for examples, by entirely changing the economic structure of society so no one would have any incentive to engage in such crimes in the first place. But unless you have one of those wands, I think most people are going to be a little proactive, take the bull by the horns themselves, and make some effort to minimize the likelihood that their stuff isn’t going to be stolen. Likewise with rape: expecting society to do it all looks rather irresponsible at best.

    I think these measures might have a greater effect on deterring rape than speculating about a nonexistent smartphone app that invades a lot of privacy.

    Rather more than just speculation. And you might actually take a look at the links in that AtheismPlus article, and note that there are several, quite workable methods of “secret sharing” to encrypt the data to ensure privacy.

  141. 164

    ….. I’d like to take on the idea that the authorities don’t take seriously and don’t investigate and don’t prosecute rape, and don’t support rape victims because there’s “no evidence” in a “s/he said – s/he said” situation. That’s just not true. Oral testimony is perfectly valid evidence. Courts and juries handle the problem of conflicting testimony all the time.

    …..Take an oral contract, for example: A and B have made an agreement about something, but then a dispute arises about what the contract actually meant, and whether one party or the other has not fulfilled its obligations. A says the agreement was one thing; B says the agreement was something else. The trier of fact is fully able to assess the relative credibility of the witnesses or parties, and come to a decision. In the contract case, the standard of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence, and the party bringing the suit bears that burden of proof. If the evidence is wholly equally balanced, then the verdict must be for the defendant, as the plaintiff failed to carry their burden of proof.

    …..Now, in a criminal case, the burden of proof is different, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but there is nothing to preclude the trier of fact from assessing the credibility of the witnesses so as to meet that standard. That there isn’t iPhone app video and audio or other tangible evidence is not really a good justification for failing of refusing to investigate or prosecute rape cases.

  142. 165

    @ Steersman #163

    They can take responsibility, before the fact, by actually using that App, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Or by promoting its future development and use. And, how do you know it’s a “long-shot”?

    That’s what you said at #158

  143. 166

    Maddog1129 (#164):

    ….. I’d like to take on the idea that the authorities don’t take seriously and don’t investigate and don’t prosecute rape, and don’t support rape victims because there’s “no evidence” in a “s/he said – s/he said” situation. That’s just not true. Oral testimony is perfectly valid evidence. ….

    That there isn’t iPhone app video and audio or other tangible evidence is not really a good justification for failing [or] refusing to investigate or prosecute rape cases. ….

    While it’s probably true that “oral testimony is perfectly valid evidence”, I kind of expect that that is highly dependent on the context, on the nature of the crime, and the relationships between the parties to it. But given that the arresting and conviction rates in rape cases – 7 out of 32, and 2 out of 32, respectively – one might ask why that might be the case, and what evidence you would have to support your alternative hypothesis. In addition, that source argues that for every 32 cases which are reported there are another 68 that aren’t. While I expect there are many reasons for that, it seems plausible that one of them might be that the victim realizes the evidence is rather thin on the ground.

  144. 167

    Maddog1129 (#165):

    Steersman: And, how do you know it’s a “long-shot”?

    Maddog1129: That’s what you said at #158

    You’re right; I stand corrected. However, as maybe a bit of a quibble or as a retcon, while I didn’t really provide much in the way of context there, I think my assessment was from a different perspective than I expect was probably the case for you: mine was, I think, based on some questions about the size of the market, how comfortable people would be in using it, and the details of a possible implementation – among others. Whereas yours seems based on a fundamental but questionable assumption that the evidence actually or potentially obtained wouldn’t actually lead to a reduction in the incidence of the crime.

  145. 168

    @ Steersman #163

    Sure, those are other possibilities. And I agree that there really are some rather shitty attitudes all over the place to sexual assault in general. But it sure looks like you’re promoting motherhood-and-apple-pie-in-the-sky solutions; sure, it would be nice if we could simply wave a magic wand and do away with the high incidence of robbery and theft, for examples, by entirely changing the economic structure of society so no one would have any incentive to engage in such crimes in the first place. But unless you have one of those wands, I think most people are going to be a little proactive, take the bull by the horns themselves, and make some effort to minimize the likelihood that their stuff isn’t going to be stolen. Likewise with rape: expecting society to do it all looks rather irresponsible at best.

    …..I don’t think it is quite as airy-fairy as all that.

    …..Look at the atheist movement in general. Individuals and groups have attempted to educate the public about the reality of what atheism is, and some progress has been made. The numbers of people identifying as religious “nones” have increased dramatically.

    ….. And, although recent police incidents w/r/t African Americans has brought the issue of racism in USA policing to the fore — as in MUCH more work to be done — it looks like maybe we are beginning to have that conversation now, to change the society and culture. In the last 50 years of saying “guys, don’t do that,” it has become shameful, instead of common, to call African Americans “n****rs.”

    …..We didn’t have to wave a magic wand to reduce the incidence of serious (violent/personal crime or property crime) crime over the last 30 years, since the 1990’s.

    …..So I don’t think it’s pie in the sky at all to advocate for programs to educate police and prosecutors, to instill a greater will to investigate and prosecute, to dedicate the technicians, time and funds to process evidence that we actually DO have, or to figure out ways more supportive of the victims, instead of the victim-blaming that happens so often now.

  146. 169

    Damion:

    Actually what I was trying to convey is that rapists act as sexual predators, and that we should be focusing our moral condemnation upon them rather than their victims, whom they see as prey. The analogy wasn’t perfect (none are) but it’s hard to understand how you got it exactly backwards.

    I knew what you meant. And I was being charitable by mostly agreeing with you even if I thought your choice of analogies was creepy. What that means is that I got your intent.

    In short, all analogies are imperfect, but not all of them are creepy.
    |

  147. 170

    Steersman:

    You may think that a jest, but it might be more accurate and workable than you think. The biggest problems that I see with it though are that the data needs to be stored, as it is created, in a location where the potential rapist is unable to access it after the potential crime.

    Data storage is the biggest problem you can see with that?

    But it seems that the “moral weight of the crime” is a somewhat nebulous concept…

    By George I think he gets it.

    …although one might say that it pertains to events before, during, and after the crime. And that before the crime the moral weight is more or less shared by both potential victim and potential rapist who is unlikely to be much swayed by that obligation – “he” wouldn’t become a criminal otherwise…

    Bullshit.

    The evidence shows that rapists know exactly what they are doing and that they intentionally target vulnerable people. And they use alcohol deliberately. It is a small percentage of men engaging in predatory behavior and deliberately obscuring consent lines with alcohol as a means to end: not getting caught. Stop helping them.

    I posted a link to very clear evidence for this earlier in this thread and yet here you are. Repeating the same lie that that the small percent of people who rape like to use: that they would have been innocent but for the victim’s actions and that it is a better use of our time to focus on that.

    But during and afterwards? I would say that all of the legal weight, and most if not all of the “moral weight of the crime” falls on the criminal. I think you really need to differentiate between those cases.

    So I can use my perfect hindsight to shit on crime victims after the fact? No thanks.

    Hadn’t realized she was lurking about, that she was following this conversation.

    Yes, I’m sure it’s a total accident that you’re posting here.

    Besides which, my point isn’t to address what one putative victim feels after one supposed crime, but to address the question of how to minimize the number of potential victims in the future. And while her efforts might reduce that number in a few cases, that is unlikely to be the entire population of them.

    Nothing is likely to reduce the entire population of “them”.

    Especially the tried and true tactic of “victims never doing anything wrong”.

    Insisting that it does isn’t just wrong, it’s actively preventing people from coming forward.

    I think we are, again, talking about two different stages in the “evolution” of the crime – in general: I’m talking about proactive steps prior to the crime in many potential cases, while you’re talking of steps of maybe a similar nature but after the supposed crime in one or several cases. While that is commendable, that does seem to depend somewhat on how reliable her memory is of the events in question, of just where and when consent was given, and where and when it might have been rescinded. As the illustrious Godfrey Elfwick has rather cogently noted (1), “… respect women’s boundaries and remember that consent can be revoked at any time. Even after sex.” ….

    Good luck with your web cam.

  148. 171

    One sec- on review I see I misunderstood your point about ” “he” wouldn’t become a criminal otherwise…”.

    You meant the criminal would unlikely be swayed, sorry, I misread that.

    However the result remains the same. It doesn’t really matter if the perpetrator is “swayed” to good behavior. The point isn’t to sway the perpetrator, it’s to sway the people giving “him” cover by putting the responsibility on “his” victims.

    Either way, all you are doing now is second guessing. It’s helping no one but the criminals.

  149. 172

    Likewise with rape: expecting society to do it all looks rather irresponsible at best.

    “Do it all”?

    You mean like expecting “society” to know what a sexual assault is and to treat it as a crime instead of a problem that should be managed as silently as possible by the victims?

  150. 173

    It’s not about rape and Michael Shermer! Yet somehow every time the pitters try to have a conversation about why Nugent is right about PZ, that Nugent has really valid points and PZ’s rhetoric is harmful and dangerous in ways that have nothing to do with Shermer and rape, the conversation immediately settles into this tired old groove: What is rape? No, really, what is rape FOR REAL? Precisely how drunk can you get someone before sexing them would be considered assault. This much? No? How about this much? Okay, what about this much? Are there things that people who are targeted by rapists can do to increase the rapist will target someone else? Etc., etc. Stuff that you really don’t need to be asking unless you’re interested in getting away with rape.

    And then they turn around and throw a shit fit when people are like, “My, what a bunch of rapey assholes. I bet a rapist would feel right at home in this crowd.”

  151. 174

    It’s a bit weird to assume only “rapey assholes” would want to know where to draw the line, Sally. Given the prevalence of alcohol and hookups at atheist conventions, seems like these are fairly salient questions (except that last one) for anyone who does not intend to abstain.

    Suppose (counterfactually) that I enjoy women who love to boast of their sexual exploits, especially over wine or whiskey or equivalent. Wouldn’t it be important for me to know when to stop refilling their glasses, if the general atmosphere is tending towards the possibility of enthusiastic consent?

  152. 175

    Wouldn’t it be important for me to know when to stop refilling their glasses, if the general atmosphere is tending towards the possibility of enthusiastic consent?

    Or you could just not fill other people’s glasses. Or you could stop assuming that a “general atmosphere” of “possible enthusiastic consent” is consent.

    Maybe the point when you think you have enthusiastic consent is the best time to stop filling other people’s glasses with alcohol.

    PS Glad I could help.

  153. 176

    PPS That last comment presumes you know that “enthusiastic consent” does not include being unconscious or inebriated. Which is very generous of me, you’re welcome.

  154. 177

    PPPS Nothing rapey about you’re not getting that at all.

    By which I mean to say it’s totally rapey that you don’t get that.

  155. 178

    You badly misunderstood my meaning, Leni. I said that the possibility of sex was in the air, so to speak. To equate that with consent as a foregone conclusion is unthinkable. No idea why you’d go down that path.

    To be clear, is it okay to talk sex and flirt over wine or whiskey or equivalent, so long as no one is refilling anyone else’s glasses? If so, is it okay to allow the situation to progress into foreplay, so long as no one is as yet inebriated? If so, how can we tell when someone is too inebriated to proceed? Where and how should we draw the line, in your view?

    If you think these are easy questions, please forgive my ignorance. Call me “rapey” all you like (this is FtB after all, baseless smears are par for the course) but that won’t make it obvious to anyone that you actually have helpful answers to this recurring problem.

  156. 179

    Sally @173:

    Etc., etc. Stuff that you really don’t need to be asking unless you’re interested in getting away with rape.

    People at some point need to be taught what is right and wrong.
    For example; I heard a story about this 15 year old girl that was engaging in horseplay with her 12 year old brother. At some point she pinned him down and forcibly kissed him. Now an adult, she regrets the action and wishes she had been taught appropriate boundaries beforehand, claiming she wouldn’t have done it then.
    If you were her parent and she asked to explain to you when and how it was appropriate to kiss her brother would you just wave her off and tell she doesn’t need to be asking that unless she was interested in getting away with sexual assault?

  157. 180

    You badly misunderstood my meaning, Leni.

    Did I?

    I said that the possibility of sex was in the air, so to speak. To equate that with consent as a foregone conclusion is unthinkable. No idea why you’d go down that path.

    Because you went down that path when you said:

    Wouldn’t it be important for me to know when to stop refilling their glasses, if the general atmosphere is tending towards the possibility of enthusiastic consent?

    You didn’t have to go there, but for some reason you did. Shocking.

    To be clear, is it okay to talk sex and flirt over wine or whiskey or equivalent, so long as no one is refilling anyone else’s glasses?

    If you aren’t sure and you care about how your actions might affect others, just don’t. It’s really not that difficult.

    Or you can just keep fucking arguing about it and insisting that isn’t weird.

    If so, is it okay to allow the situation to progress into foreplay, so long as no one is as yet inebriated? If so, how can we tell when someone is too inebriated to proceed? Where and how should we draw the line, in your view?

    My advice would be to stop pouring and shut the fuck up, in that order. Mostly.

    If you think these are easy questions, please forgive my ignorance. Call me “rapey” all you like (this is FtB after all, baseless smears are par for the course) but that won’t make it obvious to anyone that you actually have helpful answers to this recurring problem.

    Says the asshole who can’t understand not over-pouring.

  158. 181

    “If you aren’t sure and you care about how your actions might affect others, just don’t.”

    I’m perfectly sure, and this has nothing to do with my personal sex life. You keep on personalizing it for some reason, but you may rest assured that my wife of two decades is quite moderate in her alcohol intake.

    The question was whether it is okay to talk sex and flirt over wine or whiskey or equivalent, so long as no one is refilling anyone else’s glasses. You did not actually answer the question.

  159. 182

    I’m perfectly sure, and this has nothing to do with my personal sex life.

    Yes lol, agreed.

    You keep on personalizing it for some reason, but you may rest assured that my wife of two decades is quite moderate in her alcohol intake.

    I didn’t ask about your wife’s existence, the time frame of your marriage, or her supposed alcohol “intake”.

    Yet you keep personalizing it for some reason, by responding as if I should care about any of those things in the context of this conversation.

    (I don’t.)

    The question was whether it is okay to talk sex and flirt over wine or whiskey or equivalent, so long as no one is refilling anyone else’s glasses.

    No, that really isn’t “the” question.

    But even if it was, if one of the parties is saying it was harmful, then what else is there to talk about?

    How much booze you’re allowed to pour to your wife of x years when your flirting with people in an general atmosphere of potential consent? Not really relevant and kind of tmi.

  160. 183

    The real question is how many glasses of wine can be microaggressively poured out in an Argentinian backlot before leni’s pet butterfly cries rape seed oil sullies my wings and offends me!

    Well, no, not really, of course. But it makes about as much sense as anything leni has to say, and is about as much on-topic and on-target. leni’s sort of like Lucy, over at Ally’s, or that wonder of modern-day Turing machines, Nerd, over at PZ’s: rage for rage’s sake.

  161. 184

    For whatever reason, there seems to be a cached lookup to questions about how to tell when someone is drinking too much, and it runs something like “If you have to ask, you are creepy and should not be having sex.” [1,2] Instead of saying how someone can tell, in practice, that their (potential) partner has been drinking too much, the general approach is to go on the offensive and attack the character of whomever dares to ask the question.

    If you think that shaming people for trying to discuss the issue is going to help eliminate ignorance and make the world a better place, then please do carry on with this bizarre form of abstinence-only education.

    ——

    1 – Comment #180 in this thread

    2 – http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2015/04/12/more-on-shermer-pz-and-michael-nugent/#comment-484777

  162. 185

    Damion, what kind of answer are you expecting? The only answer is to apply one’s judgment to the particulars of the situation at hand. There is no other answer than that. Even if you tried to establish some clear, objective standard using something like blood alcohol content, that still wouldn’t work. Different people respond to alcohol differently, so two people with the same BAC are not equally incapacitated.

    There is no other answer than that. Surely you must know this. It’s not a secret. It’s actually kind of obvious. That’s why incessantly asking the question comes across as creepy. It is creepy. Sometimes it’s obvious that someone is not too drunk to consent. Sometimes it’s obvious that someone is too drunk to consent. Sometimes you just can’t tell whether or not someone is too drunk to consent. The question you should be asking is “What should someone do if he can’t tell whether his potential partner is too drunk to consent?”

  163. 186

    “There is no other answer than that. Surely you must know this. It’s
    not a secret. It’s actually kind of obvious.”

    If it is so obvious, Drew, why are the answers which have been given
    so different? In a previous thread on
    this blog
    someone said that John Greg shouldn’t have sex with
    anyone if they have had even one drink. Laci Green says that is
    someone is too drunk to drive, they are too drunk to consent. The
    State of Nevada says that someone has to be so drunk that they cannot
    resist or cannot appreciate the nature of their actions. That covers
    pretty much the entire spectrum from near sobriety to utter inebriation.

    “That’s why incessantly asking the question comes across as creepy. It
    is creepy.”

    Back in my day, creepy used to really mean something, as in
    trenchcoats and binoculars and ill intent. Nowadays, people like
    yourself use it as a casual accusation to insinuate guilt and stifle
    debate, and somehow you still have the gall to call yourselves
    freethinkers.

    “The question you should be asking is ‘What should someone do if he can’t tell whether his potential partner is too drunk to consent?'”

    That question assumes “too drunk to consent” has already been clearly defined. Judging by the vast range of definitions we’ve seen so far, it isn’t.

    Call me creepy, if you like, but I think it should be. Can I call you cowardly for not even trying?

  164. 187

    Someone tells you that you need to paint a room green. If you paint the room yellow, you will go to prison.

    One approach is to make fucking sure you pick an obvious shade of green; another would be to try and figure out how close to yellow you can push the shade before being imprisoned. When does green become yellow on the color spectrum? No way to know. Some will give one point, some will give another. So, what reason could you have for trying to come up with the EXACT point?

    Now, analogies being what they are, perhaps there’s a color you find attractive and you want to know if it’s kosher. Consider what that situation implies within the alcohol and consent context: you want to have sex with someone and you need to know PRECISELY whether you’re engaging in consensual sex or raping them.

    Determining that precise point is alternatively creepy as fuck (for the person seeking to push that line) or some form of rape excusing (the post hoc defense). The latter is understandable to some degree given the reality of our legal system, but who has an interest in the former?

    The rest of your questions are similarly useless and weird. How do you know when it’s ok to refill someone’s glass? When they respond positively to your inquiry. Do you really go around filling up people’s glasses with alcohol without asking? That’s fucking weird and creepy.

    How do you know if they’re too drunk to consent? You ask them. If you have doubt, you don’t have sex. Could that result in a scenario where one person believes consent was given and the other does not believe they were able to consent? Sure. You know who decides who was right? A jury.

    Thus, paint that wall fucking green.

    Call me creepy, if you like, but I think it should be.

    It cannot be clearly defined just like the line at which green becomes yellow cannot be clearly defined. Recognizing this doubt exists in the real world, one should strive to avoid the grey areas. On a scale from completely sober (able to consent) to passed out (obviously not able to consent) that line will be crossed. The better you know someone, the better you will be able to figure that out.

    Who are the line pushers and why on Earth would we describe them as anything other than creepy?

  165. 188

    As a follow up point to the analogy, you could just pick a certain line in the color spectrum, a certain wave length, and declare that the border. It’s obviously arbitrary, but so is the legal BAC limit for driving.

    Similarly, you could just encode a specific BAC level and declare that the consent border. That really doesn’t alleviate the doubt Damion is so concerned by.

    For one, you cannot tell someone’s BAC by speaking with them. For two, unlike people who are pulled over in the act of driving and given a test, by the time an alleged rape is reported, it will generally be long after the questionable consent was given, and you will be right back at the point of using testimony to try and determine whether the consent was legitimate.

    This issue cannot be defined with any certainty. This is not a problem for anyone save those with an interest in pushing the line as far as possible or (more likely) those who just don’t care.

  166. 189

    Damion:
    “That question assumes ‘too drunk to consent’ has already been clearly defined.”

    You’re confusing definition with identification. Too drunk to consent is clearly defined as “being under the influence of alcohol to such an extent as to render one incapable of conscious, knowing consent.” That seems perfectly clear to me. What you’re asking about is how to identify when someone other than yourself meets this criterion. Sorry, but until we have direct access to other people’s subjective experiences, that’s going to be an element of uncertainty. That stuff you mentioned from Laci Green and elsewhere… those are practical rules of thumb for dealing with this unavoidable uncertainty.

  167. 190

    Sally Strange (#173):

    It’s not about rape and Michael Shermer! Yet somehow every time the pitters try to have a conversation about why Nugent is right about PZ, that Nugent has really valid points and PZ’s rhetoric is harmful and dangerous in ways that have nothing to do with Shermer and rape, the conversation immediately settles into this tired old groove: What is rape?

    One might wonder how you managed to reach that conclusion given that PZ’s accusation (1) that Michael Nugent was “providing a haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists” – with the referrent, as suggested by a post of PZ’s (2) that shows him at best as a weasel and a demagogue, for the latter apparently being Michael Shermer – is a central example in Nugent’s case that PZ’s “rhetoric is harmful and dangerous”.

    And since the question of “harmful and dangerous” hinges rather crucially on the definition of rape – particularly in the context of diminished responsibilities on the part of both parties attendant upon high levels of alcohol consumption – it certainly seems quite reasonable to discuss both concepts and their interrelations in some detail. Unless of course one is willing to rest satisfied with a kangaroo court, an ipse dixit, a papal encyclical of “Off with their (male) heads!”.

    But I’m curious Sally: what, pray tell, are you suggesting as a way of reducing the incidence of rape and the rather low conviction rate? And what have you done to advance that cause?

    —-
    1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/10/07/the-smears-get-increasingly-serious-as-pz-myers-crosses-a-new-line/”;
    2) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20150414191629/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/11/01/the-end-of-the-micknugent-saga/”;

  168. 191

    Leni (#172):

    Steersman: Likewise with rape: expecting society to do it all looks rather irresponsible at best.

    Leni: “Do it all”?

    You mean like expecting “society” to know what a sexual assault is and to treat it as a crime instead of a problem that should be managed as silently as possible by the victims?

    “Float like a bee, sting like a butterfly”. I think you’re completely missing the point. Obviously society thinks rape is a serious crime that leads to many people – mostly men, but that, of course, shouldn’t lead people to think there’s a genetic cause for disparities in behaviour – to do some very serious time. The problem is how to prove that a crime has been committed. Unless of course one is willing to rest satisfied with a kangaroo court, an ipse dixit, a papal encyclical of “Off with their (male) heads!”.

    But I might also ask you: do you think that potential rape victims have zero responsibility – moral at least – to reduce their likelihood of being raped? And, at the risk of being charged with tendering a “creepy” analogy, one might also ask you whether you think that home owners and car owners have zero responsibility – moral at least – to reduce their likelihood of having their homes broken into or their cars stolen?

  169. 192

    But I might also ask you: do you think that potential rape victims have zero responsibility – moral at least – to reduce their likelihood of being raped?

    What a strange thing to say. Of course a rape victim has no moral responsibility. “Moral” was the absolute worst qualifier you could have chosen. A societal responsibility to assist in keeping the courts from being overburdened ranks higher on the “list of things potential rape victims should consider.”

    And no, homeowners have zero “moral” responsibility to lock their doors. They may do so out of practicality and a realization that the world is dangerous, but in no way do they have a moral obligation to avoid future crimes perpetrated against them.

    What a bizarre and perverse concept.

  170. 193

    doubtthat (#192):

    Steersman: But I might also ask you: do you think that potential rape victims have zero responsibility – moral at least – to reduce their likelihood of being raped?

    DoubtThat: What a strange thing to say. Of course a rape victim has no moral responsibility. ….

    Do note that I said “potential rape victims”. That is, before the fact (the crime of rape), not after it.

    And no, homeowners have zero “moral” responsibility to lock their doors. They may do so out of practicality and a realization that the world is dangerous, but in no way do they have a moral obligation to avoid future crimes perpetrated against them.

    Bravely if naïvely or simplistically spoken. Consider (1):

    In philosophy, moral responsibility is the status of morally deserving praise, blame, reward, or punishment for an act or omission, in accordance with one’s moral obligations.

    And “obligations” (2) in turn asserts that:

    Obligations are generally granted in return for an increase in an individual’s rights or power. For example, obligations for health and safety in a workplace from employer to employee maybe to ensure the fire exit is not blocked or ensure that the plugs are put in firmly.

    If people wish to call upon the power of the state to track down and punish the perpetrators of crimes against themselves then it hardly seems unreasonable to expect that they should be obligated to minimize the likelihood of the crime in the first place (before the crime), and to maximize the probability of successful conviction in the second place (after it). Particularly as that power is underwritten by the not inconsiderable contributions by all other members of the society.

    What a bizarre and perverse concept.

    As suggested, it seems any number of sources (1, 2, 3, 4) would argue otherwise.

    ——
    1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_responsibility”;
    2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obligation”;
    3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_responsibility”;
    4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_Human_Duties_and_Responsibilities#DHDR_Chapter_2:_The_right_to_life_and_human_security”;

  171. 194

    Do note that I said “potential rape victims”. That is, before the fact (the crime of rape), not after it.

    Which changes nothing.

    If people wish to call upon the power of the state to track down and punish the perpetrators of crimes against themselves then it hardly seems unreasonable to expect that they should be obligated to minimize the likelihood of the crime in the first place (before the crime),

    Haha, I love your traditional tedious garble. First, that in now way follows from the definition you provided for morality.

    Second, you’ve offered a circular definition: “moral responsibility is the status of morally deserving praise…” You’ve presupposed this is a situation involving moral obligation without any justification. I would say that a “potential” rape victim – i.e., everyone at any moment, some with greater risk than others, deserves neither praise nor blame for simply living their lives. Should they be victimized, the moral judgment lies entirely with the perpetrator, whether it be sexual assault, robbery, or identity theft – any crime you want to name.

    Obligations are generally granted in return for an increase in an individual’s rights or power.

    Perhaps that’s “generally” true. That is not, however, an accurate description of the social contract behind the judicial system. The person that murdered Jeffrey Dahmer received punishment for that act even though the person killed was an incredible moral villain. The status of the victim is irrelevant to the decision of the state to capture and punish the offender.

    … obligations for health and safety in a workplace from employer to employee maybe to ensure the fire exit is not blocked or ensure that the plugs are put in firmly.

    Notice what is not said here: that the EMPLOYEES must agree to avoid looking at Facebook during work hours lest they be responsible for burning to death because the fire exit is blocked. The employee has no obligation in this scenario to “earn” the safety of the workplace. Now, that employee may have an obligation to not block the fire exit, themselves, but that is obviously a case of a moral obligation TO someone/something: to consider the safety of their fellow employees, towards the property interest of the employer…etc. They do not, however, have an obligation to behave a certain way in order to deserve or earn a safe workplace.

    This is why, for example, we punish people who perpetrate victimless crimes. Someone starting a forrest fire that burns down zero owned property will still be punished. Unless you think the forrest had a moral obligation to be less flammable, it’s incoherent to explain the purpose and charge of the judicial system through a bizarre contract between the victim and the state. Criminals are pursued and punished because they commit crimes, not because the victims have bought that effort through some behavior.

    As suggested, it seems any number of sources (1, 2, 3, 4) would argue otherwise.

    Those sources say nothing of the sort. It’s your bizarre understanding of, I suppose, “morality” (though your confusion seems much broader in scope) that argues otherwise. And “argue” is a bit generous as you’ve just engaged in a comical bit of circular reasoning backed by an inapplicable wikipedia page.

  172. 195

    Drew,

    Let’s go ahead and go with your perfectly clear working defintion, “being under the influence of alcohol to such an extent as to render one incapable of conscious, knowing consent.” If someone is conscious enough to say, blurrily, “Lesh have sex!” does that mean they are really good to go? Laci Green says no. What say you?

  173. 196

    “Someone tells you that you need to paint a room green. If you paint the room yellow, you will go to prison.”

    If green is fully sober and yellow is fully inebriated, it should be enough to break the analogy to note that many human beings report enjoying sex more when they are closer to drunk than sober. Turns out many people aren’t contracting for a perfectly green room, after all.

    It might surprise some to learn that drinking and sex very often go together, even in social justice circles. At Skepticon 6, for example, someone joked onstage that she “went up to the bar and ordered one of everything” before taking her (sober) date back to her flat for sex. Call that rape culture if you like, but it went over quite well with the audience at the time.

  174. 197

    it should be enough to break the analogy to note that many human beings report enjoying sex more when they are closer to drunk than sober. Turns out many people aren’t contracting for a perfectly green room, after all.

    That in no way “breaks” the analogy. In fact, I explicitly discuss the role preference would play.

    It might surprise some to learn that drinking and sex very often go together, even in social justice circles.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all. I greatly enjoy drunk sex. That’s not the issue, though, the issue is how you know when someone is too drunk to consent.

    The analogy, which either through intentional contortion or a sort of vapid misunderstanding flew past, was about knowing where to draw the line between two clear points. There is something close to 100% of people will agree is green; there is something close to 100% of people will consider yellow. Between those two points, consensus breaks down. The only way to know for certain is to remain in those zones of almost unanimous agreement.

    You’re asking where to draw a clear line. I am not arguing that no one should have drunk sex, I’m telling you that there is no possible way to draw that line. You are asking for an impossibility, and then using that lack of clarity to…I don’t know. What’s your point? We can’t draw a clear line ergo no one is ever too drunk to consent?

    As a second matter, you seem to be curious why people call your line-drawing fetish “creepy.” That has been explained: the only people who want to know exactly where that line is are folks that want to push right up to it (creepy) or those who don’t care (rapists).

    If someone is conscious enough to say, blurrily, “Lesh have sex!” does that mean they are really good to go?

    Did you even read Drew’s post? He already answered that question. Why do you have so much trouble with this? I’m guessing it’s a willful attempt to cloud the situation.

    Does that mean they are good to go? Maybe. Not necessarily. Who decides? A jury, worst case scenario. Laci Green is giving you practical advise, not setting a clear standad.

    If you have respect for the other party, you should probably abstain in that setting. If you’re with a partner you know well, maybe it’s ok.

    You will never have a clear answer. Why do you think a clear boundary is necessary? Are you incapable of figuring out whether or not your sexual partners are able to consent without a BAC test?

  175. 198

    Let me also add that the ability to consent is not unique to sexual assault. You can go read thousands of cases throughout every jurisdiction in the country that deals with ability to contract or competency to execute a will or proper state of mind to consent to medical procedures…

    In every situation there is no clear line. Yet somehow we move forward. Miraculous, that.

  176. 199

    You’re asking where to draw a clear line. I am not arguing that no one should have drunk sex, I’m telling you that there is no possible way to draw that line. You are asking for an impossibility, and then using that lack of clarity to…I don’t know. What’s your point? We can’t draw a clear line ergo no one is ever too drunk to consent?

    In most jurisdictions in America you are looking at lengthy prison sentences and lifetime registration as a sex offender. Yes, it’s a big fucking problem.

  177. 200

    You can suffer serious consequences if you force someone to sign a will who cannot consent. Doctors can lose their license and face prison time if they operate on someone without consent.

    These are only “big fucking problems” if you cross the line. The fact that there is no clear line is not, itself, a problem. It’s a factual reality that we confront all the time. It’s only a “big fucking problem” if you’re trying to push that line as far as you can or you just don’t give a shit.

    If you have that much trouble determining if you partner has the ability to consent, you should probably err on the side of caution.

  178. 201

    You can suffer serious consequences if you force someone to sign a will who cannot consent. Doctors can lose their license and face prison time if they operate on someone without consent.

    These are only “big fucking problems” if you cross the line. The fact that there is no clear line is not, itself, a problem. It’s a factual reality that we confront all the time. It’s only a “big fucking problem” if you’re trying to push that line as far as you can or you just don’t give a shit.

    Yeah? You can also suffer serious consequences if you make out with a rapist. You can suffer serious consequences if you walk through the wrong neighborhood. You can also suffer serious consequences if you turn on the wrong dude. So be careful out there, I guess.

  179. 202

    Was there a point, Gemmer? Or is this more of you patented “Aimless Babble”? (Many try to imitate, but your discursive ramblings are like the secret formula for coke).

    Your “hurling crap at the wall in case some of it sticks” response does nothing to change the fact that our legal system contains endless examples of rules based on elements for which there is no single, clear, determining factor. Yet somehow you and your crew of goofballs act like this is a singular and astonishing problem.

    When does a noise become a nuisance? When is emotional harm to a bystander foreseeable? What’s the point at which an action becomes premeditated? When does someone cease to be able to consent?

    Only the last one brings you folks buzzing around.

  180. 203

    Was there a point, Gemmer? Or is this more of you patented “Aimless Babble”? (Many try to imitate, but your discursive ramblings are like the secret formula for coke).

    Yes. I get these constant lectures about consent and thinly veiled jokes about “well, if you don’t understand better just not do it hahaha” and then I bring up prison. Prison, where someone is literally locked in a cage for years of their life. Do you think this is a consensual situation? It amazes me that the same people who feel strongly that nearly any invasion of privacy without consent is a huge problem that we should definitely deal with posthaste often treat prison as if it some sort day at the beach, because, clearly, everyone who is in prison like definitely deserves to be there.

    The reason your ramblings are so offensive is because they aren’t serious. You take something like rape and treat it with all the seriousness you do people in prison, which is not at all. How can we determine whether something is rape? Fuck it, put ’em all in prison and let God or whatever sort them out. Not your problem, right?

  181. 204

    Damion, you really don’t know? I find that difficult to believe. Self-reporting by an intoxicated person is not always reliable, no. You know the old slogan “friends don’t let friends drive drunk”? Sometimes people are unaware of how incapacitated they are. Do you really not know this? Are you perhaps a teetotaler? Or maybe a teenager?

  182. 205

    @Gemmer

    Holy crap, dude. That may be your finest work, yet. What on Earth are you talking about?

    Could you try and articulate what, exactly, you think I’m arguing? In what way have I failed to take rape and/or prison seriously? Are you inhaling potent fumes?

    How can we determine whether something is rape? Fuck it, put ’em all in prison and let God or whatever sort them out. Not your problem, right?

    No, we know exactly how to determine if something is rape: in this context, having sex with someone too drunk to consent is rape. That is very clear. The standard could not be more obvious. Now, EXACTLY when someone moves from “capable of consenting” to “incapable of consenting” is based on an assessment of the situation. There is no clear way to define this.

    That is just a statement of fact. I’m sorry if the actual way the world operates frustrates you so intensely. It must be unsettling to live in a world that causes such confusion. This is true of every possible area of the legal system, yet you’re only gnashing your teeth over this particular subject.

  183. 206

    Now, EXACTLY when someone moves from “capable of consenting” to “incapable of consenting” is based on an assessment of the situation. There is no clear way to define this.

    That’s kind of huge deal. Why don’t cops like to charge those kinds of rapes? Why are they hard to prosecute? Why are they hard to defend? Why do people worry about false charges? You answer all these questions with your statement that one of the key elements is almost impossible to define, yet then go on to wonder why anyone thinks this is a big deal.

    This is true of every possible area of the legal system, yet you’re only gnashing your teeth over this particular subject.

    Yes, I usually ignore my clients on every case that isn’t a rape case. Imagine, a blog post where rape is a primary theme and people then talk about rape. The nerve.

  184. 207

    That’s kind of huge deal.

    No, it’s not. Again, when does a noise becomes a nuisance? At exactly what point does an elderly person become incompetent to draft a will? At exactly what point does an action become a criminal “attempt”?

    This is just reality. It is not a “huge” problem.

    Why don’t cops like to charge those kinds of rapes?

    A massive set of reasons including a dismissive attitude towards rape victims and a legitimate difficulty in obtaining evidence. So?

    Why are they hard to prosecute? Why are they hard to defend?

    I would say they’re immensely more difficult to prosecute than defend, given the criminal burden. But again, so? What does that have to do with anything I’ve written?

    Why do people worry about false charges?

    Paranoia, for the most part, but you’d have to ask them. I don’t actually know anyone who worries about false charges. I’ve met a lot of people (back in my baseball playing days) who probably engaged in sex with someone too drunk to consent and then pretended like they were worried about a “false” charge when they were really worried about a legitimate charge.

    You answer all these questions with your statement that one of the key elements is almost impossible to define…

    No, they’re very easy to define. The issue is that definition does not contain clear boundaries. When does a noise become a nuisance? Very easy to define nuisance:

    “that which causes offence, annoyance, trouble or injury.”

    Impossible to give, say, an exact decibel count. It depends on the neighbors, the area, echoes, the type of noise…etc. It has to be evaluated on a case by case basis, like fucking everything else in the law. As a fellow attorney, I am shocked at your level of discomfort with this reality.

    …yet then go on to wonder why anyone thinks this is a big deal.

    Yes, I wonder why people are demanding some set of specific criteria (BAC=X) in order to determine if someone is capable of consent. It is not at all difficult to avoid these grey situations, and if you’re intent on pressing up to the boundary, you should recognize that you leave yourself subject to a jury deciding you crossed the line.

    Yes, I usually ignore my clients on every case that isn’t a rape case. Imagine, a blog post where rape is a primary theme and people then talk about rape. The nerve.

    Right, but it’s this specific aspect of rape – somehow needing to know the EXACT point at which someone loses the ability to consent – that is strange, perverse, and creepy. I find it bizarre that folks – even those, like you, who claim some legal background – act like this is some insurmountable obstacle, or, worse, that somehow not knowing that specific crossover point somehow renders doubt on either end of the extremes.

    “It” – the lack of a specific criteria or moment at which consent becomes impossible – just is not that big of a deal. It does not render discussion or legislation or investigation impossible. Sure, it makes things difficult procedurally, but that benefits the sick fucks you folks are always so eager to defend.

  185. 208

    No, it’s not. Again, when does a noise becomes a nuisance? At exactly what point does an elderly person become incompetent to draft a will? At exactly what point does an action become a criminal “attempt”?

    Great questions, which is why huge, enormous piles of ink get spilled trying to answer them. Of course, hey if are wondering when noise becomes a nuisance don’t make noise, right? If you’re not sure when you are incompetent to draft a will, better to either not get old or not draft a will, right? When does action become a crime? Better be safe an just shoot yourself. All of this is wonderful advice that really addresses these questions, just like “better just have sex with sober people” is great advice when someone is trying to determine the standard for rape.

    Impossible to give, say, an exact decibel count. It depends on the neighbors, the area, echoes, the type of noise…etc. It has to be evaluated on a case by case basis, like fucking everything else in the law. As a fellow attorney, I am shocked at your level of discomfort with this reality.

    You’re shocked? Have you ever tried a case? WTF. No, it isn’t shocking that rape is a challenging subject, it isn’t shocking that people want to know how it is defined, and it definitely isn’t shocking that something that can land someone in prison and on the sex offender registry is something people would like to understand. You are comparing it to nuisance law, which should tell you right away just how difficult this subject is. Of course, nuisances usually aren’t put in prison for ten years.

    Right, but it’s this specific aspect of rape – somehow needing to know the EXACT point at which someone loses the ability to consent – that is strange, perverse, and creepy. I find it bizarre that folks – even those, like you, who claim some legal background – act like this is some insurmountable obstacle, or, worse, that somehow not knowing that specific crossover point somehow renders doubt on either end of the extremes.

    Oh, you find it creepy that people want the law to have standards and definitions and they can know what is legal and illegal? How awful. How dare all those people in prison demand things like “evidence.” I wonder what evidence rules even apply in this instance, since you claim that it is unknowable anyway. What evidence is relevant when the elements of the crime are unknowable? I have no idea, but I’m sure you’ll explain it using nuisance law and wills as a guide.

  186. 209

    hey if are wondering when noise becomes a nuisance don’t make noise, right?

    Can you phrase anything in a non-ridiculous manner?

    If you are wondering when a noise becomes a nuisance, either (1) Consult with your neighbors to gauge where they think the line is or (2) stay within the rather obvious safe zones for noise making. It’s pretty easy to do.

    If you’re not sure when you are incompetent to draft a will, better to either not get old or not draft a will, right?

    Haha. Surely no attorney has ever confronted this problem. IT CANNOT BE SOLVED. But again, how did you manage to phrase such a simple proposition to ham-fistedly. It’s a gift.

    There are pretty clear procedures to go through to test competence, but, for some bizarre reason, you’ve chosen to write this example from a first person perspective. If you, at any time, want to write a will, go ahead. Competency can be questioned during probate.

    The issue will be more pressing for people who convince their elderly relatives to redo a will (happens constantly) or the attorney drafting and participating in the process. They will need to have some reasonable assurance that the party is competent. Doctors are usually good people to ask, but even then, there’s no way to know with 100% certainty.

    Why are you harping these examples that directly contradict the silly argument you’re trying to make.

    When does action become a crime? Better be safe an just shoot yourself.

    That’s the only thing you can think of doing to avoid committing a crime? I mean, just when I thought this couldn’t get stupider…

    Of course, the issue is whether the law is able to proceed in a situation where there is no clear, black and white boundary. The point at which planning becomes “intent” cannot be set out with specificity. Yet we’ve managed to move forward. Bewildering, I know.

    All of this is wonderful advice

    No, it was all very stupid advice that you vomited up. It has no bearing on my argument because it is a string of incoherent gibberish that you constructed to avoid confronting the actual argument.

    just like “better just have sex with sober people” is great advice when someone is trying to determine the standard for rape.

    Not what I said. The standard for rape in this context is clear: engaging in sex with some too drunk to consent is rape. That is unambiguous.

    Feel free to engage in whatever sex you like, but understand if your interest is tip-toeing up to the very point at which consent can no longer be given, you may find yourself in prison.

    Why is this so difficult for you to understand? If you’re certain your partner has consented and can give consent, go ahead. If you have doubts, you probably shouldn’t. A jury will be the ultimate decider.

    Have you ever tried a case?

    Yes. Many, including cases involving sexual assault, not in a criminal capacity.

    No, it isn’t shocking that rape is a challenging subject, it isn’t shocking that people want to know how it is defined, and it definitely isn’t shocking that something that can land someone in prison and on the sex offender registry is something people would like to understand.

    Is it just reading comprehension problems? I described none of that as shocking. What I described as shocking was your seeming inability to understand how the law operates in situations where clear lines cannot be drawn.

    If you cannot respond to the points being made, you will continue to spin your wheels.

    You are comparing it to nuisance law, which should tell you right away just how difficult this subject is. Of course, nuisances usually aren’t put in prison for ten years.

    I also compared it to obtaining consent for medical procedures. That can land people in prison. I compared it to the point at which criminal intent is formed. That can land people in prison. You can compare it to the moment that a murder becomes premeditated as opposed to spur of the moment, that puts people on death row, what’s your point?

    Read through this thread. Goofballs above are demanding that people give a specific point at which someone becomes too drunk to consent. They seem to think the lack of an ability to do so is…I don’t know, I’m still not clear on what they or you think this means. Does it make it more difficult than determining if someone is driving over the speed limit? Of course, but it’s a reality that exists in every legal field.

    I get the feeling that you think no one should be held responsible for raping someone incapable of consenting due to intoxication if that clear boundary cannot be given. Is that accurate?

    Oh, you find it creepy that people want the law to have standards and definitions and they can know what is legal and illegal?

    Not always. In this context, yes.

    Why do you need to know that boundary? The only reason you would need to know is if you want to slink up as close as you can get without crossing. When we’re talking about the difference between consensual sex and rape, that’s fucking creepy.

    There is a pretty awesome gulf between drinking, being tipsy or even drunk, and being incapable of consent. Consider the sorts of evidence that is presented in these cases: the victim is falling down; the victim has blacked out; the victim doesn’t remember what happened; the victim threw up…etc. You can drink quite a bit before getting to that level. It’s really, really easy to not rape someone.

    How awful. How dare all those people in prison demand things like “evidence.”

    Are you writing this from prison after being convicted of sexual assault? Because if so, then you’re right, you would totally not be creepy and I can understand your interest in being able to draw a clear line.

    Are you in free society? If yes, then why are you so goddamned concerned about how much alcohol a partner can consume before they lose the ability to consent? Are you not generally aware of when your partners consent?

    I wonder what evidence rules even apply in this instance, since you claim that it is unknowable anyway.

    See, these are the things you say that baffle me. You claim to be an attorney, how can you not understand that the lack of a clear line between “can consent” and “cannot consent” does not mean you cannot provide evidence of one or the other? Testimonial evidence from the victim and charged, witness testimony, physical evidence…All of that is presented to a jury who decides whether or not the person was capable of consent. You know, how the law works.

    What evidence is relevant when the elements of the crime are unknowable?

    This is just fucking stupid. The elements of the crime are perfectly knowable. What isn’t knowable is, say, the exact BAC level at which a person loses the ability to consent. There is no “speed limit” equivalent for the ability to consent – below X you’re good; above X, bad times.

    Again, how can you be a person who works with the law and not know this?

    I have no idea

    Obviously.

    …but I’m sure you’ll explain it using nuisance law and wills as a guide.

    For someone who claims to work in the law, your discomfort with analogy is disturbing. These were perfectly apt comparisons with regard to the point at issue: being able to articulate a specific line that separates innocent behavior from an offense.

  187. 210

    maddog1129 (#168):

    The numbers of people identifying as religious “nones” have increased dramatically.

    Generally a good thing, I think. Though in light of Proverbs 29:18 (“Where there is no vision the people perish”), I’m not sure that the “Atheist Movement”, or even the “Secular Movement”, has much in the way of a better vision than, say, the best of Christianity.

    ….. And, although recent police incidents w/r/t African Americans has brought the issue of racism in USA policing to the fore — as in MUCH more work to be done — it looks like maybe we are beginning to have that conversation now, to change the society and culture. In the last 50 years of saying “guys, don’t do that,” it has become shameful, instead of common, to call African Americans “n****rs.”

    While I’ll readily concede that there seems to be no shortage of evidence to justify a charge of pervasive if not systemic racism in the US police force, I also think it unwise and generally unhelpful to turn a blind eye to some systemic problems in the black community as well that can’t really be laid at the doorstep of either the police force or society in general. You may wish to take a gander at Cathy Young’s view on the question in her Ferguson: Beyond Black and White (1). And while your use of “n****rs”, and the use of the related “n-word” by others, is maybe predicated on questions of automatic filtering, I don’t think it helps matters much to use such circumlocutions, particularly where it betrays some misplaced sensitivities. As the late comedian Lenny Bruce once put it (2), “it’s the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness”. While there is no doubt that such words – including “nigger”, “cunt”, and “faggot” – can be used with racist or sexist contotations, it seems rather clear that that isn’t necessarily always the case. For instance, you may wish to take a gander at a quite readable paper in linguistics by Adam Croom titled The semantics of slurs: A refutation of coreferentialism (3), and at several YouTube videos by Chris Rock (4, 5).

    …..We didn’t have to wave a magic wand to reduce the incidence of serious (violent/personal crime or property crime) crime over the last 30 years, since the 1990’s.

    …..So I don’t think it’s pie in the sky at all to advocate for programs to educate police and prosecutors, to instill a greater will to investigate and prosecute, to dedicate the technicians, time and funds to process evidence that we actually DO have, or to figure out ways more supportive of the victims, instead of the victim-blaming that happens so often now.

    I’ll readily agree that there’s probably a role for “programs to educate police and prosecutors”, and for similar ones of the “guys, don’t rape” and “crystal clear consent” variety. Although I might suggest that many seem to put more weight on “victim-blaming” concept than is entirely justified. However, I might point out that, according to FBI statistics (6), there were, apparently, still something like 80,000 forcible rapes in the US in 2012, 370,000 robberies, and 850,000 aggravated assaults. And considering that many people take some proactive steps, some personal (moral) responsibilities, to forestall being victimized in the latter two cases, I find it remarkably pigheaded, at best, that so many apparently refuse to do likewise in the analogous case of rape.

    ——
    1) “_http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/08/22/ferguson_beyond_black_and_white_123739.html”;
    2) “_http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Lenny_Bruce”;
    3) “_http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2215039015000041”;
    4) “_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3PJF0YE-x4”;
    5) “_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iau-e6HfOg0”;
    6) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violent_crime#United_States”;

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    There are pretty clear procedures to go through to test competence, but, for some bizarre reason, you’ve chosen to write this example from a first person perspective.

    Well, I’m terribly sorry about that. That would be like if someone asked me ‘what is the line where a woman can consent’ and I answered ‘it’s unknowable you are better off never testing that, champ, since you seem unable to tell the difference. When does a noise become a nuisance?” That’s definitely good advice and not incoherent gibberish.

    Are you in free society? If yes, then why are you so goddamned concerned about how much alcohol a partner can consume before they lose the ability to consent? Are you not generally aware of when your partners consent?

    Why would anyone be concerned about the laws of society? Obviously, we have no responsibility for putting people in prison unless we, ourselves, are in danger of being in prison. Like, we should never question the incarceration of anybody unless it is something we, ourselves, actually might do. The government talks about putting people in prison for treason. I don’t commit treason, so why should I care about that? The government talks about putting people in prison for using drugs. I don’t use drugs, so this obviously is something that doesn’t apply to me. The only reason I can think of to question our drug laws is because I, myself, am a rampant drug addict who likes to use drugs at all hours of the day. I couldn’t possibly be concerned with our laws and our society and how we should educate and litigate sex. Unless, of course, I’m a rapist.

    I hope you actually wrote that down on the bar exam.

    For someone who claims to work in the law, your discomfort with analogy is disturbing. These were perfectly apt comparisons with regard to the point at issue: being able to articulate a specific line that separates innocent behavior from an offense.

    I have no discomfort with analogy. I understand your point, which is that the law is the law and can’t be defined down into every single factual scenario. This isn’t an interesting or new point. My disgust is your idea that someone interested in defining consent is somehow only interested in such a thing because they themselves must love rape or be so inept that they shouldn’t be trusted around other people. This idea is so ludicrous, so stupid, so offensive, and so ridiculous that I can’t believe you keep repeating it, as if it is some sort of Great Idea. You don’t know what you are talking about. When you don’t know what you are talking about, it is fine to ask questions and learn. It is beyond dumb to hear you judge others for trying to understand the idea.

  189. 212

    hat would be like if someone asked me ‘what is the line where a woman can consent’ and I answered ‘it’s unknowable you are better off never testing that, champ, since you seem unable to tell the difference. When does a noise become a nuisance?”

    More muddled thinking.

    It is simply a true statement that there is no criteria that can be stated that will give you the precise line between able and incapable of consenting. You can piss and moan all you want, but this is a fact about the world.

    As a secondary point, I introduced nuisance law to express the point that almost every field of the law experiences a similar issue. It’s nothing unique.

    That you’re still sputtering and shitting yourself about those two very simple and very true points is amusing.

    Obviously, we have no responsibility for putting people in prison unless we, ourselves, are in danger of being in prison.

    What the fuck are you talking about? This entire discussion is a response to Damion trying to nail down the exact point at which consent is impossible. If you scroll up you will note that I do point out folks who have been accused and convicted have a different interest.

    And, by the way, those folks are still more than capable of contesting that charge, and they are far more likely to succeed. That is why the conviction rate for sexual assaults is so low. You are whining about a problem that doesn’t exist. The elements are clear, the evidence is already subject to being contested, there is no actual problem you’ve articulated.

    I couldn’t possibly be concerned with our laws and our society and how we should educate and litigate sex.

    You have missed the point entirely. When you babble with a frothy mouth about the exact point at which consent can no longer be given, you aren’t enquiring about the law. Anyone remotely familiar with the specific law on sexual assault and the way law functions, in general, would be well aware of how totally irrelevant that question is, along with the fact that it’s one that can never be answered.

    Do you disagree with the premise that having sex with someone incapable of consenting is rape? That’s the law. Evidence is then submitted to determine if that was, indeed, the case. What sort of evidence do you think should be considered that isn’t? What element of the law is incorrect?

    See, you’re not actually talking about the law, and that’s the problem. You and your weirdo friends are trying to imply that the lack of a sexual assault “speed limit” (clear boundary), somehow casts doubt on … what? Why don’t you tell me what it casts doubt on.

    There is no clear point at which a murder becomes premeditated, but we would all agree there is such a thing and that it’s a good idea to punish premeditated crimes more severely than crimes of passion.

    This is no different.

    This isn’t an interesting or new point.

    Yeah, that’s what I’ve said from the beginning. It’s as common as dirt. Yet you breathlessly huff in astonishment at the idea that nuisance law would function in an analogous manner to sexual assault law.

    My disgust is your idea that someone interested in defining consent is somehow only interested in such a thing because they themselves must love rape or be so inept that they shouldn’t be trusted around other people.

    But you aren’t defining consent. Consent is clearly defined, as is the ability to give it. What remains is how to tell if a person lacks capacity. Pay close attention here, this is where you keep shitting the bed: (1) it is 100% impossible to ever draw a clear line where ability to consent becomes inability; (2) this does not mean that we cannot determine whether or not consent could be given.

    If you are the sort of person that thinks a clear line must be marked in order to determine capacity, you’re either an ignorant dumbass who has just condemned the entirety of Western Jurisprudence or you’re someone trying to press that boundary.

    This idea is so ludicrous, so stupid, so offensive, and so ridiculous that I can’t believe you keep repeating it, as if it is some sort of Great Idea.

    You still can’t properly articulate the point at issue, so of course you find this ridiculous. You’ve latched on to an argument you believed I was making, and pissed all over yourself in the process.

    You don’t know what you are talking about.

    Wrong, as demonstrated by our exchange. Time and time again I have had to correct your trivial reading errors, poor reasoning, and general lack of knowledge about the subject at hand. Lashing out like you are, here, is just sad.

    It is beyond dumb to hear you judge others for trying to understand the idea.

    See, I’m not a naive idiot. I think Damion understands full well the notion that a person who is intoxicated can’t consent. I see this effort at pretending like a clear boundary needs to be drawn as an extended argument seeking to cast doubt on the entire enterprise: that it’s possible for a woman to be too drunk to consent and still conscious.

    The alternative, that you are incapable of understanding that rape = having sex with someone incapable of giving consent, is far less charitable. Then you act like it’s perfectly common knowledge that no clear line can be drawn.

    What’s you problem? That I called the effort to figure out exactly how far you can push someone before they lose the ability to consent “creepy”? Well, you have no actual substantive disagreement with my position, so it’s just down to that, and sorry, it is fucking creepy.

  190. 213

    I think Damion understands full well the notion that a person who is intoxicated can’t consent.
    I see this effort at pretending like a clear boundary needs to be drawn as an extended argument seeking to cast doubt on the entire enterprise: that it’s possible for a woman to be too drunk to consent and still conscious.
    The alternative, that you are incapable of understanding that rape = having sex with someone incapable of giving consent, is far less charitable. Then you act like it’s perfectly common knowledge that no clear line can be drawn.

    You give multiple definitions here. Is someone intoxicated unable to consent? Wait, is it “too drunk and still conscious?” Is it “uncapable of giving consent?” None of these things are the same. Yet you sputter them off as if they are, then find it creepy that someone might want to understand the issue.

    The FBI used to employ hair testing to bolster cases (or invent cases). They would employ great experts who would compare the hair structure at the scene of the crime with the hair structure of the accused. This was all perfectly legal, despite the fact that it was complete horseshit. No doubt, some smarmy judge told a defense attorney that they were questioning western jurisprudence by challenging it, because, hey, why question anything, right? Think of the victims.

    There has been zero argument that someone can get so drunk they can’t consent. How do we define this line? It’s “unknowable” may be true, but is certainly a terrible way to educate people and to punish offenders. If it is unknowable, it is difficult to judge people for not knowing it. That’s why people concerned about rape and educating people about rape and the law about rape employ efforts to understand it.

  191. 214

    You give multiple definitions here. Is someone intoxicated unable to consent? Wait, is it “too drunk and still conscious?”

    No I don’t, that’s just a stupid thing to say.

    Rape = having sex with someone too drunk to consent.

    Can a person be somewhat drunk and still able to consent? Maybe. Can a conscious person be too drunk to consent, certainly.

    You’re confusing the “definition” with “examples.” Another ridiculous, trivial error.

    It’s “unknowable” may be true, but is certainly a terrible way to educate people and to punish offenders.

    This is yet another moment when you seem to be completely ignorant about the law despite working as an attorney.

    The line is unknowable, cannot be generalized across the population, and is totally irrelevant. Are you honestly suggesting that the only way you can think of to teach people not to rape and to obtain consent is to be able to tell them, “Ok, you can give this person 4 beers and 3 shots and be ok. 5 beers or 4 shots and it’s rape.”

    No, it’s perfectly easy to educate them. You teach what consent means and how to make certain. You use the same evidence to educate people as you would use in a court of law: is the speech slurred, are they stumbling…

    That’s why people concerned about rape and educating people about rape and the law about rape employ efforts to understand it.

    Yeah, but again, I’m not a naive idiot. I can’t speak for you, personally, you’re traditionally so wide-eyed and vapid that I can legitimately believe that’s your intent, but if you read the stuff Damion was writing above, the interest is obviously not education. You don’t need a clear line to teach people how not to rape any more than you need a clear line to teach doctors to obtain consent before medical procedures. That you think it’s necessary either betrays a stunning ignorance or a willful intent to try and cloud the issue.

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    @SallyStrange #173

    It’s not about rape and Michael Shermer! Yet somehow every time the pitters try to have a conversation about why Nugent is right about PZ, that Nugent has really valid points and PZ’s rhetoric is harmful and dangerous in ways that have nothing to do with Shermer and rape, the conversation immediately settles into this tired old groove: What is rape? No, really, what is rape FOR REAL? Precisely how drunk can you get someone before sexing them would be considered assault. This much? No? How about this much? Okay, what about this much? Are there things that people who are targeted by rapists can do to increase the rapist will target someone else? Etc., etc. Stuff that you really don’t need to be asking unless you’re interested in getting away with rape.
    And then they turn around and throw a shit fit when people are like, “My, what a bunch of rapey assholes. I bet a rapist would feel right at home in this crowd.”

    Ashley is also clearly providing a haven for rapists then. What, she doesn’t agree with many of her commenters opinions? Just like Michael Nugent? Or indeed practically every other blog on the planet? Well intent is not magic. I think the only answer is to ban all discussion of rape anywhere that deviates from the Pharyngula crystal clear consent rules (which Nerd of Redhead so kindly linked to). Anybody who questions these rules is either a rapist or willing to rape, so anybody who allows similar discussion on their blog is de-facto providing a haven for rapists or willing-to-be-rapists, which is basically on the same moral level.
    However, I think we need to go further than that SallyStrange, don’t we? Let’s lump in elements of feminist theory with this too. How about anybody who questions the nature of “sexual objectification” as it is used on FTB?
    These are where the lines need to be drawn. These are the important distinctions between the misogynistic agents of the patriarchy and social justice advocates.
    Forget about whether Michael Nugent (or anybody) else campaigns for abortion rights, or for against religious control of hospitals and educations. Those concepts are so second-wave they could hardly be characterised as social justice issues any more, and hey, in many North American areas it’s not really an issue, so fuck it, let’s lump ‘em in all together. You‘re either with us or against us, amirite?

  193. 216

    Ashley is also clearly providing a haven for rapists then.

    Uh, no. Nugent’s place is a haven because no one is allowed to connect Shermer to rape by name. You can talk about Shermer, but only if you don’t mention rape, and you can talk about rape, but only if you don’t name Shermer. Even if Shermer himself is not a rapist, Nugent’s rule protects accused rapists, and you can’t protect accused rapists without protecting rapists. Nugent’s blog is a haven for rapists because the gag rule against any mention of the fact that a man who has been accused of rape has been accused of rape.

    There is no such rule on this blog.

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    @drewvogel

    Well that’s nice of you to try and put words into SallyStranges mouth, but I’m sure she’s quite capable of meaning what she says all on her own.

    Why don’t you go to comment is free in the guardian for example and try and accuse Michael Shermer of rape there? Or indeed virtually anyone else? In fact Adam Lees articles in the Guardian didn’t mention this either! In articles about sexism in the atheist movement! Holy cow rape apology is everywhere! Otherwise known as basic journalistic standards.

  195. 218

    Gunboat Diplomacy,

    It was your reasoning I was addressing, though I can see it’s unlikely to do any good. Nugent doesn’t merely ban accusations of rape. He bans mentions of accusations of rape. Perhaps you think I couldn’t accuse Shermer of rape at the Guardian or wherever, but that was not my point. I could say virtually everywhere on the internet that Shermer has been accused of rape. The only place I know of where I wouldn’t be allowed to say that is Nugent’s blog. Nugent protects accused rapists on his blog by requiring his commenters to behave as if no accusation had been made.

  196. 219

    @Drewvogel

    No, Michael Nugent’s blog is not the only place on the internet where you know you can’t accuse michael shermer of rape. Any platform that gives a damn about journalistic standards wouldn’t allow it, because its a serious accusation and should be treated as such. You should know, PZ and Ashley should definitely know – Adam Lee DOES know it. If you’re complaining about how Michael Nugent shouldn’t use the same standards as the Guardian, go right ahead. Personally I think he’s in good company.

  197. 220

    Gunboat Diplomat @215:

    Forget about whether Michael Nugent (or anybody) else campaigns for abortion rights, or for against religious control of hospitals and educations. Those concepts are so second-wave they could hardly be characterised as social justice issues any more, and hey, in many North American areas it’s not really an issue, so fuck it, let’s lump ‘em in all together. You‘re either with us or against us, amirite?

    If someone really puts a lot of effort into an important cause it does not give them a pass when they are wrong or do damage to another cause. Doesn’t diminish the good stuff, but doesn’t make the bad stuff any better. Doing something about the stuff that doesn’t work is what makes it better.
    Even doing something that makes rape culture just a little bit stronger sends a message to people who have been affected negatively by it that their pain does not matter to you enough to consider what effect your stance has in practice and change what you are doing. This is especially hideous if it is other people who have to take the cumulated consequences of your *opinion*, not you. Why not at least try to listen to what the people affected by it are saying?

  198. 221

    @LMinnick

    Yes, I think any reasonable person would agree that doing good stuff does excuse doing bad stuff. However the only bad stuff Michael Nugent is accused of is upholding the same journalistic standards on his blog as the Guardian.

    As for your opinion on the existence, nature and effects of the epistemological construct “rape culture,” I don’t think its a particularly useful construct to generalise about women’s oppression and misogyny in society outside of particular cases (e.g. Germany at the end of WWII). Plenty of feminists think similarly. I’m sorry if you think Michael Nugent’s upholding of journalistic standards contribute to this “rape culture,” but I don’t think most reasonable people would infer that.

  199. 223

    Gunboat Diplomat @222: All right then.
    Gunboat Diplomat @221:

    As for your opinion on the existence, nature and effects of the epistemological construct “rape culture,” I don’t think its a particularly useful construct to generalise about women’s oppression and misogyny in society outside of particular cases (e.g. Germany at the end of WWII).

    It can be helpful to identify specific problems within ‘ women’s oppression and misogyny’ in order to address them as effectively as possible.
    One such problem is widespread sexual violence. When someone tries to tackle this issue they learn that there exists a certain set of often repeated rationalizations, laws and practices in society that make it difficult. The combined effect of these ways of reasoning and policies is that the consequences for offenders is lessened and sexual violence is more widespread. There exists a whole system that has this effect; it’s helpful to give it a name, say ‘rape culture’, but if you want to call it something else-ok, just make sure we are talking about the same thing.

    However the only bad stuff Michael Nugent is accused of is upholding the same journalistic standards on his blog as the Guardian.

    Technically, that’s not the only issue people have had with Michael Nugent; I have noted that it’s also evading direct questions, reacting to PZs tone but not the actions of the pit, among other.

    I’m sorry if you think Michael Nugent’s upholding of journalistic standards contribute to this “rape culture,”

    It has repeatedly been pointed out that what Michael Nugent is doing is helpful to abusers at the cost of the persons targeted. That is adding just one more piece to the group of practices that aid abusers.
    Whether we have to fight to uphold the specific practice of not naming abusers can be up for debate. However, its consequence is the protection of abusive behavior. This journalistic standard has this effect when it comes to sexual abuse.

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    However the only bad stuff Michael Nugent is accused of is upholding the same journalistic standards on his blog as the Guardian.

    You’ve conveniently ignore the part about how he’s reaching out to other people with other blogs, demanding that they not discuss the issue, and then getting super dramatic when he is ignored.

    But, of course, your comparison with the Guardian is nonsense.

    First, you’re just factually wrong. Here’s an article about OJ Simpson where plenty of the people in the comments are accusing him of murder, even though, unlike Shermer, he was acquitted in a court of law:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/17/oj-simpson-trial-cameras-court-justice-culture#comments

    Here’s a Guardian article about Amanda Knox:

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/29/amanda-knox-supporters-seattle-verdict#comments

    Plenty of comments discussing whether or not she’s a murderer.

    And perhaps more to the point, how about Bill Cosby?

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/23/billy-cosby-three-more-women-accuse-sexual-assault#comments

    Plenty of comments stating that he’s a rapist.

    So, what’s your point? Those are the exact sort of comments that Nugent declares verboten. It simply cannot be that he is following the Guardian standard for comment moderation.

    Second, Michael Nugent has waded into the middle of this mess. He is not simply posting news articles, he is actively defending Shermer by demanding an end to all discussion of his behavior. The Guardian certainly has opinion pieces (which would allow discussion of those opinions in the comment), but it’s also a news organization. Nugent isn’t just reporting news, he’s taking a stance and demanding the other side remain silent. It’s total silliness.

  201. 225

    It has repeatedly been pointed out that what Michael Nugent is doing is helpful to abusers at the cost of the persons targeted.

    Incrementally helpful, at most, by partially preventing discussion in one small corner of the internet. Probably unhelpful, per Streisand.

    Nugent doesn’t merely ban accusations of rape. He bans mentions of accusations of rape.

    That’s not exactly true, Drew.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=%22rape+allegations+against+Voldemort%22

    Damion, you really don’t know?

    No, Drew, I don’t know whether it is okay to have sex with somone who seems eager but who is also slurring their speech a bit. (Thankfully, I’ve never been in that situation because I was a teetotaler as a teenager.) I’m guessing you don’t know, either, since you didn’t clearly answer my question. Unless what you mean to say by “[s]elf-reporting by an intoxicated person is not always reliable” is that we should not trust (noticably) drunk people to assess their own conscious intentions.

    In my admittedly limited experience, people tend to be more honest and forthright about their intentions when drunk. What is the old expression? Hay verdad en el tequila. Or maybe something in Latin. Anyhow, the ability to drive well (hand-eye coordination, reaction times, etc.) is not known to be linked to the ability to accurately assess and honestly express one’s own intentions. Once again, argument from analogy muddles more than it clarifies.

    This entire discussion is a response to Damion trying to nail down the exact point at which consent is impossible.

    To be honest, I’d be happy with just a few indicators that a skeevy womanizer like Shermer or a righteous polyamorist like Carrier can use to determine when their date has had too much wine, whiskey, or equivalent. That way, they can avoid traumatizing someone (worthy altruistic goal) not to mention avoid finding themselves on the bad end of a boycott hashtag like #StillNotUninvited some years later (fallback egoistic goal).

    It is worth noting at this point that this information will be of no use to me personally, except in the “friends don’t let friends” sense. It may be useful to the community as a whole, though. I will also note here that Laci Green’s standard is obviously ridiculous and the Crystal Clear Consent document from the Pharyngulites barely brushes up against the problem.

    …if you read the stuff Damion was writing above, the interest is obviously not education.

    Stop mind-reading, doubtthat, you’re just awful at it.

    Why don’t you tell me what it casts doubt on.

    Whether what happened in the Flamingo hotel on the night of June 19th, 2008 was indeed rape in the legal sense. Relatedly, whether it was libelous for people here at FtB to call it precisely that. Relatedly, whether it is wrong for Nugent to prevent this potentially libelous claim from being published on the web domain that bears his name. Which all goes back to whether Nugent “keeps doing things online that make him look like a bad guy” or whether he being reasonably cautious given the murky nature of the facts behind the accusation at hand.

    For what it’s worth, I think Nugent is being a bit overcautious, but then I’m not an Irish lawyer. I hear he has some readership in Northern Ireland, and I hear that place is at risk of becoming somewhat of a libel tourism hub. Google that, if you like.

    Why do you need to know that boundary? The only reason you would need to know is if you want to slink up as close as you can get without crossing.

    Either that, or else one might be legitimately concerned with helping people know how to stay on the right side, for all the usual reasons. But hey, why make charitable assumptions when you can flagrantly demonise someone instead? For great social justice!

  202. 226

    …’d be happy with just a few indicators that a skeevy womanizer like Shermer or a righteous polyamorist like Carrier can use to determine when their date has had too much wine, whiskey, or equivalent…

    But you have plenty. I’m sure you’re aware of these:

    -Slurred speech
    -Balance issues
    -Coordination problem
    -Vomiting
    -Passing out
    -Or just watching how much they’ve drunk

    Now, exactly zero of these things (save passing out) are sufficient. But that’s not a problem, legally speaking. It’s an evaluation all available elements, in addition to possible physical evidence, that will make the case. If you want to avoid pressing that line, you will pay attention to those and any other relevant factors (which may be available if you know the other person well).

    But you know this. It’s obvious. It’s not complicated. Are you playing stupid or pushing an agenda?

    Stop mind-reading, doubtthat, you’re just awful at it.

    Then you’re demanding that I interpret your statements as callow naiveté or willful stupidity.

    This is the internet in 2015. We’re all familiar with JAQing off.

    Whether what happened in the Flamingo hotel on the night of June 19th, 2008 was indeed rape in the legal sense.

    No question you’ve raised has any relevance to that question. Michael Shermer’s impression of the situation is irrelevant, and all of your JAQing off heavy beating from the perspective of the aggressor – how would they know if the other person was capable of consent.

    That may or may not be useful (it’s obvious, so not really worth belaboring) ex ante, but all of that is totally useless after the fact. Now witness testimony, the statement of the victim, available facts like the use of a wheelchair all become relevant. Shermer’s interpretation of this evidence prior, doesn’t matter.

    Relatedly, whether it was libelous for people here at FtB to call it precisely that.

    No more than anyone discussing the Cosby case. In a legal sense, that’s an obvious no.

    Relatedly, whether it is wrong for Nugent to prevent this potentially libelous claim from being published on the web domain that bears his name.

    Not at all. No one is forcing him to comment. When he chooses to engage, however, by attempting to silence others then by defending one side of the argument (if by no means other than simply muzzling any descent – though he’s done more), he invites criticism.

    And again, he’s free to do all of these things, but then it makes his position as moral scold risible.

    Which all goes back to whether Nugent “keeps doing things online that make him look like a bad guy” or whether he being reasonably cautious given the murky nature of the facts behind the accusation at hand.

    Yes, he is. Maybe not to you, but you still can’t figure out how to tell if someone may have consumed too much alcohol, so your assessment of events may not be the most informative.

    Again, if he was silent, that would be one thing, but he is very aggressively defending Shermer. Why don’t you list the people who have been sued, imprisoned, or otherwise stopped from commenting on the Cosby situation. This isn’t about avoiding a slander charge. That’s either an ignorant or lame excuse.

    Either that, or else one might be legitimately concerned with helping people know how to stay on the right side, for all the usual reasons.

    But that exact line – which objectively does not exist in any general sense (much less with a specific individual) – is not necessary in order to satisfy that desire. Do you agree that we’ve been teaching doctors about informed consent? Do you believe there are clear lines separating competency from unable to consent?

    As even Gemmer admitted, this lack of dispositive limits is a factor in just about every field of law.

    But hey, why make charitable assumptions when you can flagrantly demonise someone instead?

    Because it’s much too late to be asking these basic questions, and the other assumption is that you’re dumb. I don’t think you’re dumb; I think you’re trying really hard to JAQ your way to some confusion, when there really is none – at least as far as the questions you’ve raised are concerned.

    You have yet to ask a question the answer to which would enlighten any of the issues you’ve attempted to raise.

  203. 227

    drewvogel said:

    Nugent’s place is a haven because no one is allowed to connect Shermer to rape by name. You can talk about Shermer, but only if you don’t mention rape, and you can talk about rape, but only if you don’t name Shermer. Even if Shermer himself is not a rapist, Nugent’s rule protects accused rapists, and you can’t protect accused rapists without protecting rapists. Nugent’s blog is a haven for rapists because the gag rule against any mention of the fact that a man who has been accused of rape has been accused of rape.

    That is primarily due to the legal ramifications that are in play in Ireland, and most importantly to the basic fact that, in the instance of Shermer, Shermer has not been proven nor convicted of said crime. Are you really as stupid as your comments make you appear? Or do you really think that word-of-mouth accusations are a legitimate proof of crime?

  204. 228

    Damion Reinhardt @225

    It has repeatedly been pointed out that what Michael Nugent is doing is helpful to abusers at the cost of the persons targeted.

    Incrementally helpful, at most, by partially preventing discussion in one small corner of the internet. Probably unhelpful, per Streisand.

    I agree, he’s incrementally unhelpful. Most people’s influence is incremental. It’s the sum of all these influences that can be so powerful as to knock you over.

  205. 229

    johngreg:

    Or do you really think that word-of-mouth accusations are a legitimate proof of crime?

    Why do you think I’m talking about proving a crime? I’m not. I’m talking about referring to an accusation, as in “Michael Shermer was accused of rape.” I’m talking about opining about that accusation, as in “The accusation of rape against Michael Shermer is credible and believable.” I’m talking about expressing an opinion about Michael Shermer, as in “I think Michael Shermer is probably a rapist.” None of that has anything at all to do with proving a crime.

    How often does this point have to be made? There’s inside a courtroom, and there’s outside a courtroom. Crimes are proven inside a courtroom. This conversation, all of it, is outside a courtroom. Is that distinction really so murky?

  206. 230

    drewvogel (#229):

    Why do you think I’m talking about proving a crime? I’m not. I’m talking about referring to an accusation, as in “Michael Shermer was accused of rape.” ….

    How often does this point have to be made? There’s inside a courtroom, and there’s outside a courtroom. Crimes are proven inside a courtroom. This conversation, all of it, is outside a courtroom. Is that distinction really so murky?

    You a lawyer, particularly one well-versed in Irish libel law? You might consider these tweets (1, 2) from Nugent that suggest that he has some justification for being cautious.

    @SteersMann Yes, repeating a defamatory allegation can be defamatory. The defamation lies in publication, not origination. @Phrenologicus

    @ashleyfmiller While I was campaigning against the IRA, I could not legally name people as being IRA members. @SteersMann @Phrenologicus

    @ashleyfmiller It is frustrating. I’ve campaigned against the IRA not being able to say people were IRA members. @SteersMann @Phrenologicus

    —-
    1) “_https://twitter.com/micknugent/status/587784431773057024”;
    2) “_https://twitter.com/search?q=%40SteersMann%20%40micknugent%20IRA&src=typd”;

  207. 231

    @ Damion #225

    In my admittedly limited experience, people tend to be more honest and forthright about their intentions when drunk.

    …..Having dealt with alcoholics over long periods of time, I find that drunk people say lots of things that are not only not true, but that have little or no connection to reality. They are also repetitive. And forgetful. And hallucinatory.

    ….. The “old sayings,” such as “in vino veritas” or “en tequila es verdad,” are just old spouses’ tales, and not reliable rules.

  208. 232

    @230 Steersman

    But again, Nugent isn’t just avoiding talking about Shermer, he’s going out of his way to demand that other people in other countries with other blogs subject to other laws also avoid discussing the case, and providing a rather aggressive defense.

    Irish defamation law is really intense. I wouldn’t mess around with it, either, but I also wouldn’t, say, spend my days writing letters telling American citizens to cease all discussion of the allegations against Bill Cosby.

  209. 233

    doubtthat (#232):

    But again, Nugent isn’t just avoiding talking about Shermer, he’s going out of his way to demand that other people in other countries with other blogs subject to other laws also avoid discussing the case, and providing a rather aggressive defense.

    I’ll agree Nugent may have gone overboard in insisting originally that Myers shouldn’t have been making and/or publishing accusations of rape on his own blog. Although one might reasonably argue that Myers subsequently went overboard himself in insisting that Nugent was “defending & providing a haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists.” (1).

    However, as Nugent himself has, I think, quite reasonably argued, that issue is only one item on a rather lengthy bill-of-particulars in his case against Myers. For instance, that Myers accused Ayaan Hirsi Ali of “happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices” (2) gives the impression that he’s a loose cannon at best, if not a deluded and raving demagogue. Hardly the measured judgements of someone with some pretensions to being a “fifth horseman”. And hardly something that reflects well on the “atheist movement” in general which Nugent may have some justification for being concerned about.

    —–
    1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/10/07/the-smears-get-increasingly-serious-as-pz-myers-crosses-a-new-line/”;
    2) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2015/04/05/ayaan-hirsi-ali-pz-myers/”;

  210. 234

    Steersman (#233)

    However, as Nugent himself has, I think, quite reasonably argued, that issue is only one item on a rather lengthy bill-of-particulars in his case against Myers. For instance, that Myers accused Ayaan Hirsi Ali of “happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices” (2) gives the impression that he’s a loose cannon at best, if not a deluded and raving demagogue. Hardly the measured judgements of someone with some pretensions to being a “fifth horseman”. And hardly something that reflects well on the “atheist movement” in general which Nugent may have some justification for being concerned about.

    And as many others have pointed out, the problem is conflating two entirely different criticisms, and in fact pretty much using the one as a cover for the other, which happens to be precisely what you are doing here. If people don’t like PZ because he’s a loose cannon, or because his rhetoric tends to run away with itself, that’s fine. Don’t read him. Or read him just to criticize him. Or whatever you want. It’s only a problem when you try to throw in “naming an accused rapist as an accused rapist” as conduct belonging to the same category as calling someone mean names or using exaggerated rhetoric. Without making any reference to Irish law, Nugent is making a moral argument against naming accused rapists, by saying that it’s inappropriate in the same way as calling someone mean names is inappropriate, and he’s wrong.

  211. 235

    @doubtthat #224
    You can try and bring other cases to obfuscate the issue, but the fact of the matter is PZ et al.’s treatment of the Shermer case falls so short of ethical journalistic standards it wouldn’t be touched with a 10 foot pole by a paper such as the Guardian (which is hardly without its own failings).
    However, why don’t you try the daily mail?
    @drewvogel #234

    Nugent is making a moral argument against naming accused rapists

    Utter nonsense. Michael Nugents policy refers to one particular case. It might and likely would apply to others, based on what is clearly a different moral framework than is normally seen in FtB but you haven’t shown that. As Nerd of Redhead might say, “your unsupported opinion without evidence is unsupported.”
    @LMinnick #223

    It has repeatedly been pointed out that what Michael Nugent is doing is helpful to abusers at the cost of the persons targeted. That is adding just one more piece to the group of practices that aid abusers. Whether we have to fight to uphold the specific practice of not naming abusers can be up for debate. However, its consequence is the protection of abusive behavior. This journalistic standard has this effect when it comes to sexual abuse.

    It has repeatedly been pointed out that what Michael Nugent the principle of presumption of innocence is doing is helpful to abusers at the cost of the persons targeted. That is adding just one more piece to the group of practices that aid abusers. Whether we have to fight to uphold the specific practice of not naming abusers presuming innocence can be up for debate. However, its consequence is the protection of abusive behavior. This journalistic standard has this effect when it comes to sexual abuse.
    I’m rereading Michael Mansfield’s memoirs at the moment and one of the hardest facts to bear for me is that the guilty also deserve the protection of the presumption of innocence, because how we treat the wrongfully accused is a measure of the barbarism of our society. This principle stands in explicit opposition to the principle of “believing the victim.”
    For you and for PZ and many others on FtB, this is a small price to pay. For myself, Michael Nugent, Michael Mansfield and many others who have actually worked for social justice (not just blogged about it), it most certainly is not.
    Oh and if you think presumption of innocence only applies in a court room, I have a set of journalistic standards you might prefer – those of the daily mail.

  212. 236

    Damion (#225)

    No, Drew, I don’t know whether it is okay to have sex with somone who seems eager but who is also slurring their speech a bit. (Thankfully, I’ve never been in that situation because I was a teetotaler as a teenager.) I’m guessing you don’t know, either, since you didn’t clearly answer my question. Unless what you mean to say by “[s]elf-reporting by an intoxicated person is not always reliable” is that we should not trust (noticably) drunk people to assess their own conscious intentions.

    Again, you’re taking something complicated and pretending that it’s simple. I don’t know if you’re trying to lead up to some point, but if you are, please make it.

    Forget about sex and rape and alcohol and all of that. Just focus on trust. When is it okay to trust someone? The only answer is that it depends. It depends on millions of little indicators that individually count for nothing but collectively create an overall impression of trustworthiness. It depends on what’s at stake. You can trust anyone with anything if nothing’s on the line, but when it matters, trust suddenly becomes a hell of a lot more demanding. This is the sort of thing that literally every adult (and most children as well) should understand merely as a result of living in the world. And that’s what you’re asking. You’re asking us to tell you when to trust a hypothetical person in a hypothetical situation, and we’re all telling you that it depends on the circumstances not because we’re trying to annoy you, but because it really depends on the circumstances.

    It’s wrong to say either that we can or that we can’t trust drunk people to assess their own conscious intentions. It depends on the circumstances. How confident are you in the reliability of this particular drunk person’s assessment, and what are the consequences (for each of you) if you are mistaken? Are you prepared to risk those consequences or not?

  213. 237

    It depends on millions of little indicators that individually count for nothing but collectively create an overall impression of trustworthiness.

    A million variables doesn’t make for very efficient judging years removed from a situation.

    -Slurred speech
    -Balance issues
    -Coordination problem
    -Vomiting
    -Passing out
    -Or just watching how much they’ve drunk

    It’s interesting. Under this theory every single sexual event where at least one party had something to drink could be charged as rape.

  214. 238

    ou can try and bring other cases to obfuscate the issue, but the fact of the matter is PZ et al.’s treatment of the Shermer case falls so short of ethical journalistic standards it wouldn’t be touched with a 10 foot pole by a paper such as the Guardian (which is hardly without its own failings).

    I have completely lost the path of your argument. First, obviously, the sort of allegation and the quality of the evidence is exactly the same as the sort and quality of evidence against Cosby and Woody Allen and other dusty old perverts. The Guardian publishes articles about these folks, so I you’re just wrong.

    But whatever, it was my understanding that you were arguing something about the comment sections. Discussion of allegations occurs constantly, even in the scary land of the British Isles with their defamation laws, so that isn’t really cover for Nugent’s sanctimony.

    This is just an instance where you’re completely wrong, in a very obvious way, and yet here you go, still babbling away. You made a specific claim about a specific paper and were wrong, even without discussing whether or not the Guardian’s rules should bind PZ Myers.

  215. 239

    Under this theory every single sexual event where at least one party had something to drink could be charged as rape.

    No. Gemmer, dude, really? Are we going to go through this humiliating process for you again. Take a moment, think about the stuff you do as a lawyer, and try again.

    Take something like emotional distress:

    The term “emotional distress” means mental distress, mental suffering or mental anguish. It includes all highly unpleasant mental reactions, such as fright, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, mortification, shock, humiliation and indignity, as well as physical pain.

    Does that mean every time someone is scared they’ve suffered emotional distress under the law? Does that mean that every worried person can file a lawsuit against the person who mades them worry? Does that mean that every instance of humiliation requires court action? I hope the fuck not, otherwise you have ample grounds to sue me.

    These are elements. These are factors that will be evaluated in order to determine if the emotional distress suffered is significant enough to justify damages. You know this – or I hope you do – because you went to law school. You get through shit like this in the first month.

    The factors that will be analyzed to determine if someone is too drunk to consent include those that I listed. This is fucking obvious. This is not something that you knuckleheads should spend so much time trying to undermine. It’s so trivial and simple that it boggles my mind that anyone, especially someone with a legal background, could be this confused.

    Does slurred speech mean that a person can’t consent. Not necessarily, but it’s a decent indicator that if you respect your partner, you should be extra careful. If they fall down does that mean you can’t have sex? Nope. But if you want to be careful, ex ante, you should pay attention.

    It’s the analysis of all those factors along with the claimants/victim’s description of events that will make the case.

    Every instance of sex everywhere on Earth under any condition, drunk or sober, COULD be charged as rape. So?

  216. 240

    A million variables doesn’t make for very efficient judging years removed from a situation.

    I didn’t realize we were under a dramatic time crunch. Seems like there’s plenty of time to evaluate the multiple strands of evidence.

    I do enjoy how a half dozen became “a million” when filtered through the Gemmer “Confus-o-Matic.”

    You’re the argumentative equivalent of those folks in infomercials who pretend like answering their cell phone is some unimaginable ordeal to explain the need of their stupid product:

  217. 241

    @doubtthat #238

    First, obviously, the sort of allegation and the quality of the evidence is exactly the same as the sort and quality of evidence against Cosby and Woody Allen and other dusty old perverts. The Guardian publishes articles about these folks, so I you’re just wrong.

    My god, you’re right, I you are just wrong. There are literally no qualitative differences between any of the cases you mention and the Shermer case. If you follow the mantra of “believe the victim” that is. There’s been an accusation, therefore the accused is guilty. Otherwise you must be arguing “bitchez be lyin.” Y’all could always get a job with Rolling Stone, coz I don’t think a Guardian gig is gonna work out.

    I have completely lost the path of your argument.

    It’s hardly rocket science, but if you can’t follow a simple argument why are you babbling on?

  218. 242

    Gunboat said:

    There’s been an accusation, therefore the accused is guilty.

    Well, yes, except in the cases of the potential accusations against Myers and LousyCanuck, because there we never even heard from the putative victim, except that, wait, hold the presses, in those specific cases the victims were Myers and LousyCanuck, so, well, yes, let’s shut up and listen to the victim ’cause reasons and just ignore the putative victim of potential rape ’cause reasons.

    Oh, and let’s not ever forget about Oggie, the self-confessed raper of young children who, in his own words, was neither coerced nor forced to do that dirty deed and knew it was wrong but did it anyway and now finds deep support and succour on Pharyngula. It’s positivley Catholic: confession is good for the soul, the victim points, and the potential future employment as a babysitter of wee kiddies. Indeed.

    The hypocrisy and apologia for all three of those individuals is nothing short of staggering and mind blowing.

    Yadda wee, let’s have a dance party.

  219. 243

    There’s been an accusation, therefore the accused is guilty.

    Haha, what? Easy big guy, you’re starting to overheat.

    We’re debating whether or not his guilt can be discussed. I don’t really have a problem if folks think he’s innocent – I think they’re wrong, but whatever. The question, here, is whether or not people should be barred from even suggesting he’s guilty.

    It’s hardly rocket science, but if you can’t follow a simple argument why are you babbling on?

    I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt because I found it hard to believe you were saying something so vapid and silly. But there you go. Always a mistake to think there may be even the suggestion of thoughtfulness in you knuckleheads.

    There are literally no qualitative differences between any of the cases you mention and the Shermer case.

    Feel free to make an argument. The early allegations against Cosby were identical to what has been presented with Shermer. One significant difference is there are multiple third party witnesses support Shermer’s accusers, whereas a significant portion of the Cosby stories involve the alleged victim, alone.

  220. 244

    Gunboat Diplomat @235

    the guilty also deserve the protection of the presumption of innocence, because

    how we treat the wrongfully accused is a measure of the barbarism of our society.

    And how is Shermer? Is he treated so badly that it reflects just how barbaric our society is? What are these barbaric consequences – maybe some women are more cautious around him???
    What then does the way in which we treat raped people tell us about our society?

    This principle stands in explicit opposition to the principle of “believing the victim.”

    What “principle of believing the victim”? There’s not such thing. You can evaluate the evidence available to you. If you are unable to do that then you are just left with making a decision as to what to do with the information that has been given to you – taking into consideration all persons potentially harmed as well as the fact that statistically, it is more likely that the event did happen.

    For you and for PZ and many others on FtB, this is a small price to pay.

    When talking about *small prices,* I think you forgot to add: “I, on the other hand, think that it is a *small* price to pay to never warn anyone about a sexual offender if that person has not been convicted. If they can’t be convicted, nobody can discuss their actions, ever, and I’m ok with all the consequences that that has on all current and likely future victims.”

    You know, you are not obliged to believe or act upon information that is published if you think that there is not enough evidence to back it up. I mean, it is always a matter of probability; if you accept a courts ‘guilty’ verdict, you may still have been misled because the court, for some reason, made an erroneous judgment.

    For myself, Michael Nugent, Michael Mansfield and many others who have actually worked for social justice (not just blogged about it)

    We’ve already established that: (Gunboat Diplomat @222)

    doing good stuff does NOT excuse doing bad stuff

    …it does not make a person have *the super right answer to everything* either!

    Oh and if you think presumption of innocence only applies in a court room, I have a set of journalistic standards you might prefer – those of the daily mail.

    Oh come on, with all the “allegedly” this and “allegedly” that in the media…I mean, it’s not as if PZ wrote “Shermer did this and this, period;” and journalists don’t either, they relate the information available to them. PZ specifically wrote: “I have no personal, direct evidence that the event occurred as described.”

    How do *you* justify following this particular journalistic principle in this particular case and others like it? Do you think that there *could* be possibly be something wrong with applying this principle in exactly this way in this particular case?

  221. 245

    doubtthat said:

    We’re debating whether or not his guilt can be discussed.

    Certainly his putative guilt and/or innocence can be discussed. But there have been on FTB, and Skepchick, and other similar ‘net neighbourhoods far, far too much “I know he’s guilty” “he’s a proven rapist” and so on and so forth types of comments. That is not discussing putative guilt or innocence; that is making a declaration of fact (as yet unproven).

    The question, here, is whether or not people should be barred from even suggesting he’s guilty.

    There is nothing wrong, particularily, with saying that one thinks Shermer might be guilty, based on current knowledge of the case — which is nothing more at this point in time than hearsay, anecdote, and gossip. But as I note below, too many people take that extra wee step and go from saying they think he might be guilty, to stating he is known to be guilty.

    And as far as Nugent’s blog goes, you seem to be ignoring the simple fact that Irish slander laws are far, far more harsh and tricky than US laws. Also, Nugent generally errs, so to speak, on the overly respectful side of things, in particular when there are no proven facts, but only hearsay, anecdote, and gossip.

  222. 246

    No. Gemmer, dude, really? Are we going to go through this humiliating process for you again. Take a moment, think about the stuff you do as a lawyer, and try again.

    LOL. Well, it is humiliating. Anyway, yes, obviously, based on your line of thinking, where there are no bright line rules at all, and everything is an elaborate balancing test, this by definition opens up huge amounts of sex to charges of rape. After all, according to you, the answer is unknowable, and can only be ascertained by various bits of evidence. Did she drink? Were there any possible signs of intoxication? Then by your logic, this is a possible rape. I’m sorry your words lead to outcomes that you don’t like, which is perhaps why you should think about them more.

    In any event, these types of questions open up very important legal and moral issues. Is it’s the government job to police every act of sex, as doubtthat seems to think? Are there any places where there is a big bright line? I don’t know. It is very interesting to hear opinions about it, though. The “incapable of consent” is IMO the toughest part to parse. This, by definition, means someone can’t give consent, even if they would like to. Trying to determine where this point is can certainly be challenging.

  223. 247

    Also, in regard to Nugent’s blog, one of the endlessly repeated arguments presented by endless numbers of FTB commentors and bloggers when defending FTB-style comment moderation, and other editorial practices, is “It’s my/their blog, and I/they can moderate as I/they see fit because it’s the same thing as if you visit someone’s home where I/they are fully in the right to choose who can and who cannot visit/talk/participate in that place”. But this convenient rule is utterly ignored for Nugent, wherein both here at FTB, and actually on Nugent’s blog itself, the argument is now something along the lines of “No fair; Nugent is moderating his blog as he sees fit and that’s all sorts of wrongwrongwrong”.

    As we say at the Pit: “It’s OK when we do it” is a general MO of FTB — some exceptions might apply.

  224. 248

    “But you know this. It’s obvious. It’s not complicated.” -doubtthat

    “Again, you’re taking something complicated and pretending that it’s simple.” – Drew

    I’m going to need you guys to get together and figure out whether I should try to make this more or less complicated.

    Personally, I do think it is fairly complicated, at this great distance in time and space, to ascertain whether the alleged perpetrator knew or should have known that the alleged victim was mentally incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of her conduct, per NRS 200.366.

    The problem is more complicated than saying “Shermer’s interpretation of this evidence [at the time] doesn’t matter” which, while greatly simplifying, flies in the face of the statute. It is vastly more complicated than “listen and believe” which was the approach taken by the infamous grenade post and the Horde.

  225. 249

    Damion, you seem to have entirely changed the subject of the discussion. Nothing in post #248 relates in any way to the conversation we were having, which didn’t have anything whatsoever to do with criminal law or ascertaining Shermer’s state of mind at any point.

  226. 250

    johngreg, in post #247 you’ve overlooked the difference between criticizing someone’s choices and denying that those choices are his to make. It’s quite a blunder. No one denies that Nugent can have whatever moderating policy he wants. That doesn’t prevent us from criticizing the choices he made. Do you see the difference now?

  227. 251

    Damion Reinhardt @248

    I’m going to need you guys to get together and figure out whether I should try to make this more or less complicated.

    How about asking that particular person instead? Like asking them beforehand -how you should know if they are still capable of making a judgment or -what they want. If you meet a person who is already under the influence and you are not sure about their capacity to make judgments then proceeding with sex is risking that various things may go wrong.

    Personally, I do think it is fairly complicated, at this great distance in time and space, to ascertain whether the alleged perpetrator knew or should have known that the alleged victim was mentally incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of her conduct, per NRS 200.366.
    The problem is more complicated than saying “Shermer’s interpretation of this evidence [at the time] doesn’t matter” which, while greatly simplifying, flies in the face of the statute. It is vastly more complicated than “listen and believe” which was the approach taken by the infamous grenade post and the Horde.

    So based on the data that is available to you, you don’t know if Shermer knew or should have known that he abused some persons. What’s your point? No one is forcing you to either listen or believe. Does it bother you that at this time, at least, you are not certain as to who Shermer is?

  228. 252

    @Damion 248

    Personally, I do think it is fairly complicated, at this great distance in time and space, to ascertain whether the alleged perpetrator knew or should have known that the alleged victim was mentally incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of her conduct, per NRS 200.366.

    The ease and lack of shame with which you veer wildly from “can we tell if Shermer is guilty?” to “I’m just, honestly, seriously, genuinely, super-totally-truly wanting information to teach others” is hilarious.

    Notice that Shermer isn’t in prison, not will he ever be for this event, so that’s a moot point. Folks considering whether to spend money to hear him speak or buy his book, however, are not bound by Nevada State Statutes.

    You’re badly conflating the analysis of a set of factors to prove someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt with (1) the very simple, obvious identification of those factors and (2) the ex ante observations one would use to avoid causing harm.

  229. 253

    Gemmer:

    based on your line of thinking, where there are no bright line rules at all, and everything is an elaborate balancing test, this by definition opens up huge amounts of sex to charges of rape.

    This is more idiocy.

    (1) The definition of rape – sexual activity without consent – a clear, straightforward definition opens up every single instance of sexual activity on planet Earth to charges of rape because one person just needs to say, “I didn’t want to do it.” Nothing about my factually true statements of the way the law analyzing assault cases “opens” anything up.

    But I’m curious. Why don’t you give us some examples of a rule that would limit potential rapes. How about, “You can’t be raped if your married.” That was a law for a long time, at least in a de facto sense. Would you say that actually limited the amount of rape in the world, or did it just limit the amount of brutal assaults we punished?

    Give me some more examples.

    (2) There are no bright rules. I know this drives you nuts, but it’s true. This is true of almost every legal subject. This is the reality of living on planet Earth. Your childish whining has exactly the same amount of causal efficacy as the prayers of sky-mumblers. Try to deal with reality.

    After all, according to you, the answer is unknowable, and can only be ascertained by various bits of evidence.

    No, not according to me, according to reality.

    Did she drink? Were there any possible signs of intoxication? Then by your logic, this is a possible rape.

    It’s a possible rape without sings of intoxication, or if she was sober. It becomes a possible rape when one person states that the encounter occurred without consent.

    ’m sorry your words lead to outcomes that you don’t like, which is perhaps why you should think about them more.

    Haha, what? It is just amazing that a lawyer has such elementary difficulty in understanding how the law operates.

    I’m sorry the world functions in a way you seem completely incapable of handling. It must be tough.

    Is it’s the government job to police every act of sex, as doubtthat seems to think?

    Only those where one person says they did not or could not consent.

    And also, dummy, notice that if you arbitrarily impose some limiting rule, like, “prostitutes cannot be assaulted,” the government still polices that. It’s like your goal is to set aside a category of assaults that everyone can conveniently ignore. And you wonder why people call this type of concept “creepy.”

    Are there any places where there is a big bright line?

    Oh, there are. Like, “the person is unconscious.” That’s an easy one. There are generally easy cases on the extreme, but that’s not what we’ve been discussing, obviously.

    The “incapable of consent” is IMO the toughest part to parse. This, by definition, means someone can’t give consent, even if they would like to.

    Wow, brilliant analysis. This is a subtle and elegant argument. This may be the first time I’ve heard someone define “incapable of consent” as “can’t give consent.” This changes everything.

  230. 254

    @johngreg 245

    Certainly his putative guilt and/or innocence can be discussed.

    Not at the Nuge’s place. Only his innocence can be discussed.

    Which, as others have pointed out, is his right. It’s when he demands that other people follow his procedure – in the most sanctimonious way possible – that he invites criticism.

    And as far as Nugent’s blog goes, you seem to be ignoring the simple fact that Irish slander laws are far, far more harsh and tricky than US laws.

    No, I’ve discussed this about 5 times now. But whatever, I don’t expect everyone to read each comment when there are this many.

    Irish defamation law is fucked. I understand completely why Nugent would not want to discuss the matter. But trust me, exactly no one is upset at Nugent for not talking. It’s the endless, tedious screeds demanding that people in other countries who are not subject to Irish law must also cease and desist any discussion of Shermer that pisses people off.

    Nugent is defending Shermer on the substance as aggressively as possible. He is reaching out to people and demanding that they apologize for discussing Shermer. Irish law is not a defense.

  231. 255

    Drew – “Nothing in post #248 relates in any way to the conversation we were having…”

    This post was about taking Nugent to task for not allowing people to take Shermer to task for failing to recognize when someone was too drunk to consent (either legally or morally) on at least one specific occasion. When I asked you for specific indicators of what is too drunk to consent, I’m asking that because (1) I would like to know if those indicators were indeed present on one specific occasion, and (2) I would also like to know what lessons can be drawn from this controversy.

    doubtthat – “The ease and lack of shame with which you veer wildly from
    can we tell if Shermer is guilty?’ to ‘I’m just, honestly, seriously, genuinely, super-totally-truly wanting information to teach others’ is hilarious.”

    Whom are you quoting? I don’t remember writing anything quite that silly.

  232. 256

    “You’re badly conflating the analysis of a set of factors to prove someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt with (1) the very simple, obvious identification of those factors and (2) the ex ante observations one would use to avoid causing harm.”

    Who said anything about reasonable doubt? Not me. I’ve been focused on what Shermer should have known and how.

  233. 259

    @Damion

    Who said anything about reasonable doubt? Not me. I’ve been focused on what Shermer should have known and how.

    You linked the Nevada statute. Surely you’re aware that all elements of a criminal statute must be met beyond a reasonable doubt.

    But this is a perfect example of why your constant wavering between “how can someone know if a person is too drunk to consent ex ante” and “how do we know if a rape occurs” leads to such garbled, sloppy thinking.

    The elements may be similar in those two situations, but the relative burdens of proof are dramatically different. Do you believe, say, that it is ethical for someone to approach a situation thusly: “Well, Person A is staggering and slurring their speech, but I doubt they could prove that in a court of law, so onward I go…”?

    “How to avoid rape charges” is a related but different question from “how can I make sure my partner has given proper consent.”

    Of course, people haven given detailed answers to both of those, yet here you are, still baffled, evidently.

    And yet I cannot find a single instance of Nugent claiming Shermer did nothing wrong.

    Come on, man, you’re better than that. Demanding that all allegations cease to be discussed is defending the status quo. He included the allegations against Shermer among the crimes against humanity PZ is responsible for. Given the 194857234532453 words he’s dedicated to his anti-Myers campaign, aggressive defense is pretty accurate.

    Notice that the lack of discussion about Cosby for several decades was a pretty awesome defense of his behavior. He was allowed to continue with impunity.

  234. 260

    drewvogel said:

    johngreg, in post #247 you’ve overlooked the difference between criticizing someone’s choices and denying that those choices are his to make. It’s quite a blunder. No one denies that Nugent can have whatever moderating policy he wants. That doesn’t prevent us from criticizing the choices he made. Do you see the difference now?

    Actually, you seem to have missed my point. Perhaps you are not familiar with my and other Pit people’s comments regarding the more common forms of FTB editorial practices. My, and other Pit people’s point has always been:

    1. It is OK for a blog owner/operator to carry out whatever editorial practices they choose on their own blog.

    2. It is fair play for any visiting commentor to criticize editorial practices that they feel are foolish, mendacious, and/or hypocritical.

    3. It is hypocritical in the extreme for blog owner/operators and/or commentors who support such editorial practices to complain about and/or criticize the exact same editorial practices when carried out by someone on the “other” side.

    To wit, aside from this particular blog, which is an exception that proves a rule (so to speak), almost all of the FTB blog owner/operators have very long lists, non-specified, of taboo topics, some that are perhaps legitimate, most that are just silly and emblematic of a profound lack of intellectual integrity, general mendacity, pompous hypocrisy, and sometimes blatant idiocy.

    Now, that being said, it is indeed their right to carry out such editorial practies. But for anyone anywhere at anytime to suggest that such things should go uncriticized — and every Pit person who has ever criticized FTB editorial practices is familiar with the sting, so to speak, of moderation, editing, deleting, and banning at FTB — would be ludicrous; however, I cannot count the number of times I have been pilloried for criticizing, while accepting, such editorial practices.

    Do you understand that distinction? That I can criticize something while nonetheless accepting it?

  235. 261

    (2) There are no bright rules. I know this drives you nuts, but it’s true. This is true of almost every legal subject. This is the reality of living on planet Earth. Your childish whining has exactly the same amount of causal efficacy as the prayers of sky-mumblers. Try to deal with reality.

    It’s cool, man. I concede your argument that laws exist. Your follow up argument that discussing laws is “creepy” at first made me angry, but time heals all wounds.

  236. 262

    It’s a possible rape without sings of intoxication, or if she was sober. It becomes a possible rape when one person states that the encounter occurred without consent.

    How does one know when they are incapable of giving consent? I find this issue challenging. I’ve drank and been around people who have drank. I have a hard time thinking of when I was incapable of giving consent, beyond being passed out, and at that point it is effectively indistinguishable from force or absent any sign of consent. To be incapable of consent is to be unable to give it despite whatever you want to do. Many people have had wonderful drunken sex. I have seen many attempts to differentiate between that and the nefarious sort of rape we might look at in the Shermer case. I haven’t seen any that seem very consistent with what most laws say, which is why I am loathe to say one is incapable of consent (on a legal basis) without them being unconscious or very close to it. This also seems unsatisfying.

  237. 263

    I find it rather bizarre that so many SJWs seem so certain and able to determine and define an individual’s capability or incapability to give consent better than the actual individual in question. Odd, really. Note: I am not referring to Smith or Shermer; I am referring to the general tone that this discussion always seems to take when SJWs are involved: that of knowing better than anyone, in particular the parties directly involved, what is and what is not consent capability.

  238. 264

    I find it rather bizarre that so many SJWs seem so certain and able to determine and define an individual’s capability or incapability to give consent better than the actual individual in question.

    I can only speak for myself, but I have to insist that a rape took place absent a victim making the claim or describing circumstances that are clearly rape but the victim is unaware of the law – this happens periodically with women who believe they cannot be raped by their spouse or sex workers who are assaulted but sadly believe it’s a reality of their job.

  239. 265

    Edward Gemmer #262:

    I have a hard time thinking of when I was incapable of giving consent,

    Maybe you don’t react to alcohol that way; I for example have never had a hangover no matter how much I had had to drink, but a lot of people do. Clearly alcohol may have different effects on different people – it’s possible for those who prey on people to learn which effects it can have, how to identify them and how to take advantage of them.
    Nses:

    This would be a good time to recall all those studies that show sober men specifically target drunk-seeming women to be sexually agressive towards in bars. […] Their behavior is common and deliberate.

    LykeX:

    Finally, there’s the fact that the deliberate use of alcohol is a known tactic of predators. It’s not just a coincidence. Studies have shown that predators are quite intentional in their methods.

    It shouldn’t be difficult to find studies on how people’s reaction to alcohol differs.

  240. 267

    “Demanding that all allegations cease to be discussed is defending the status quo.”

    The status quo is that people all over the internet are arguing about whether Shermer is actually rapist or just a sleaze. The status quo is also that he cannot get a speaking gig unless he is sponsoring the show. What exactly is your problem with the status quo?

  241. 268

    DoubtThat (#264):

    I can only speak for myself, but I have to insist that a rape took place absent a victim making the claim or describing circumstances that are clearly rape but the victim is unaware of the law ….

    I assume you mean in the case of Alison & Shermer? As you’ve earlier referenced the use of the wheelchair (#226), can I assume you think that that weighs heavily in your description and characterization of “circumstances that are clearly rape”? While I’ll concede that that might be a plausible hypothesis, I don’t think it takes much effort to conceive of other scenarios that would have led to the same event but that would be inconsistent with a charge of rape. For instance, considering that Alison was apparently hot-to-trot at one point during the evening in question, maybe she had given enthusiastic consent during the sex but had felt jilted and “used” after it, and had continued to drink heavily afterwards to console herself, so much so that she had needed the wheelchair.

    Maybe that is a stretch, but I think it highlights what I, and apparently no few others, consider some rather problematic aspects of this case, i.e., the tendency of many to go on mere suppositions with very few actual corroborated facts in hand. If that case had actually gone to trial then I expect there would have been many questions of that nature – the wheelchair, who drank how much and when, and when consent was given and when it might have been retracted – that might have raised some serious doubts about the narrative provided. There is maybe some justification for arguing that Shermer was either inconsiderate, or obtuse, or a predator. But that seems some distance from justifying a charge of rape.

    But for a broader view that has some bearing on the “rush to judgement”, on the insistence to “believe the victim” – to which the Alison-Shermer incident seems a case-in-point – you may wish to take a gander at this recent paper (1) by a lawyer, David French, at the National Review titled Three Recent Lawsuits Challenge the Rape Crisis Storyline.

    —–
    1) “_http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418319/three-recent-lawsuits-challenge-rape-crisis-storyline-david-french”;

  242. 269

    “…almost all of the FTB blog owner/operators have very long lists, non-specified, of taboo topics…”

    Some of them even have lists of taboo people, who are permabanned even before they show up. Even from the “unmoderated” threads. And that’s cool. Far be it from me to tell someone else how to run their own patch of cyberspace.

    Unless they are ignoring their own rules, of course.

  243. 271

    Damion said:

    Unless they are ignoring their own rules, of course.

    Well fuck me sideways, but that really is the ongoing issue, isn’t it.

    I have been arguing since about the second month of FTB’s existence that the primary problem with these blogs is not that the blog hosts want to moderate for the sake of revising history and reality and creating a wholly false consensus — I mean fuck it, if that’s what they want to do, go for it; it’s their bloody blogs, and anyway by practicing such juvenile and draconian and Orwellian Newspeak editorial policies they usually get bit in their own ass anyway — the problem is that these fuckers rarely if ever follow their own rules. The prime miscreants (to be colourful) are, of course, LousyCanuck, Myers, Zvan, Benson, the incredible moron Physioproffee, the erstwhile red-headed McDee’s clown, and Carrier, none of whom ever publish actual rules of conduct that they themselves will follow anyway; it changes every day.

    Ashley is a surprising change; as I say, an exception that proves the rule.

  244. 272

    First, typo from me, my bad:

    “I can only speak for myself, but I have to insist that a rape…”

    Should be:

    “…but I haven’t insisted…”

    Absurd error. If I don’t click the apostrophe right, auto-correct turns “havet” into “have to.” I think the opposite of what I wrote.

    doubtthat, you’re a fucking Orwellian-stylee hearsay-based fascist lunatic.

    No, I just made a mistake. Sorry, man. I know that sentence was cathartic for you.

    The status quo is that people all over the internet are arguing about whether Shermer is actually rapist or just a sleaze…

    Because it was discussed. Had Nugent and his ilk been successful, it would be otherwise. The lack of success does not change the intent.

    I assume you mean in the case of Alison & Shermer?

    No, I meant completely generally, but between a combination of a weird auto-correct and just poor writing, the phrase came out completely garbled.

    Let me try again:

    Saving the cases where people describe assault but do not believe they were raped due to misunderstanding of the law, I have never, nor would I ever, assert that someone was assaulted absent their claim. Johngreg, angry goofball from the pit, asserted:

    <blockquoteSJWs seem so certain and able to determine and define an individual’s capability or incapability to give consent better than the actual individual in question.

    Speaking only for myself, these cases begin with the “individual in question” stating that they were too inebriated to consent. I’m not sure what JG is referring to, but the Shermer situation as well as every case I’ve ever worked on starts with a victim making a statement.

  245. 273

    @265 Damion

    Haha, I will concede that your effort to lead this discussion through some confused path in a dark woods has been artfully done.

    Because people here at http://freethoughtblogs.com/ have repeatedly accused him of committing the crime of rape in the State of Nevada.

    So, in a response where you quote me, you’re not actually answering me, or any point I’ve made, but responding generally to unnamed people and arguments. At a minimum this is a bizarre and sloppy way to progress.

    What is your question, at this point? Factors to examine ex ante in order to determine whether someone may be too drunk to consent have been described to you. Also, we have discussed the process a prosecutor would take to prove a sexual assault case. You badly (or intentionally) conflated these, but now it’s been explained. What is your remaining confusion?

    On internet forums?

    So, you want to have a discussion about Shermer’s hypothetical guilt without reference the applicable burden of proof?

  246. 274

    “What is your question, at this point?”

    Which of those ex ante factors were present that night and how can you be sure? How sure are you? How sure would you need to be to publish something like the grenade post?

    “…you want to have a discussion about Shermer’s hypothetical guilt without reference the applicable burden of proof?”

    Given that the statute of limitations has run out, it is disingenuous at best to bring up the criminal court burden of proof at this time. The only relevant burden now is that we impose upon ourselves as skeptics and humanists.

  247. 275

    Which of those ex ante factors were present that night and how can you be sure?

    1) You can read the testimony of the various people. Believe what you will. I have no interest in convincing you of one position or the other.

    2) You can’t be sure. Like everything else in life, you need to determine for yourself whether you think something wrong occurred, and then how you plan to respond.

    How sure are you?

    Personally, I find it more likely than not that Shermer contributed to and later took advantage of Allison’s inebriation. I am sure enough that I will not pay for any Shermer product not attend a lecture. I am not sure enough to think a lawsuit should have been filed, much less know “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    He’s in the Woody Allen category for me: no where close to prosecutable, but enough information is available for me to stay away.

    How sure would you need to be to publish something like the grenade post?

    Given the multiple third party confirmation of a decent amount of the story in addition to whatever Myers knows about Allison, I think the story was warranted. It is no different than the allegations against Cosby.

    Given that the statute of limitations has run out, it is disingenuous at best to bring up the criminal court burden of proof at this time.

    This is so bizarre. You introduced the Nevada statue. It was in the midst of your haze of ex ante, ex post haze of confusion. A statute with elements that must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt is not a good guide to ethical behavior, ex ante. That was the point I made. That burden is entirely relevant to the discussion. Why you are confused by this is beyond me.

    The only relevant burden now is that we impose upon ourselves as skeptics and humanists.

    Indeed. And neither are we bound by the Nevada criminal statute that you linked.

  248. 276

    “…neither are we bound by the Nevada criminal statute that you linked.”

    True enough, but when someone is accused of a crime and the accuser doesn’t stipulate otherwise, I tend to assume they are working of the legal definition of that crime rather than some non-standard meaning. What do you assume?

  249. 277

    “Given the multiple third party confirmation of a decent amount of the story…”

    My question was how sure would you need to be to publish something like the grenade post. So far as I can tell, those third parties came forward over a year after that post was published.

  250. 278

    …I tend to assume they are working of the legal definition of that crime rather than some non-standard meaning. What do you assume?

    I tend to assume that the burden of proof is also relevant, but you have assured me otherwise. It’s a radical new legal theory – “we want the statute, just not the standard!” Catchy.

    But, of course, this is more discursive nonsense. What you assumed with regard to people who are not me in response to a post of mine is not all that interesting. It’s mostly argle bargle.

  251. 279

    My question was how sure would you need to be to publish something like the grenade post.

    Yes, I know that’s your question. That’s why I answered it the first time.

    So far as I can tell, those third parties came forward over a year after that post was published.

    They went public a year later. That doesn’t mean their stories weren’t known.

  252. 280

    Let me see if I have this straight, doubtthat. It’s “discursive nonsense” to try to pin down what the commenters here at FtB mean when they accuse someone of the crime of rape, some years after the possibility of a criminal trial has been foregone. Okay, then, just tell us what definition you’re working with and how it differs from the one that ought to have applied.

    “That doesn’t mean their stories weren’t known.”

    What evidence, if any, do you have that those stories were known to the publisher at the time? Remember, Nugent’s original sin here was questioning the wisdom of that particular post.

  253. 281

    Let me see if I have this straight, doubtthat. It’s “discursive nonsense” to try to pin down what the commenters here at FtB mean when they accuse someone of the crime of rape, some years after the possibility of a criminal trial has been foregone.

    Shockingly, no, you don’t have it straight.

    That is but one step on the winding path of your discursive nonsense. Alone, it seems like a valid discussion. In response to me – again, you quoted my comment in that post – it’s an incoherent Gish Gallop.

    You go from “how can I tell if a person is too drunk to consent,” to “how do I know if Shermer was guilty,” to “here’s a statute (please don’t discuss the burden of proof), take that, other people on blogs who I won’t name or quote,” to “how can you tell if the article should be published…” And that’s a fairly generous restatement of your argumentative wandering.

    What evidence, if any, do you have that those stories were known to the publisher at the time?

    See, here we go again. Just more random JAQing it without any attention to the context of the discussion.

    You asked, “How sure would you need to be to publish something like the grenade post?”

    I said that the third party confirmation, in addition to other factors, made the publication warranted. It was justified.

    I have no idea how much PZ Myers knew at the time he published it, but it’s ridiculous to try and (1) set aside the fact that there are multiple parties supporting the account and (2) then, with no information to work from, decide whether Myers’ choice was a good one.

    So, why do I need any evidence that Myers knew any of that? He has been validated by people coming forward, which often happens in these situations (see: Cosby, Bill). I don’t know what he knew; you don’t know what he knew; Nugent doesn’t know what he knew; it turns out there was more than enough corroboration to justify its publication.

    I don’t know what possible answer you could want from me beyond that.
    I have no idea what he knew at the time. Unlike Rolling Stone, he published a factually consistent story – there was a conference at that place, at that time; the stated parties were there…etc. Myers states that he knows the author and obtained one confirming source. Clearly, they were correct in so far as validating the basic facts of the story.

  254. 283

    You think I’m Gish Galloping, doubtthat? Let me try to tie it all together for you.

    The first link in the OP goes back to Ashley’s “More on…” post, which was primarily about Nugent’s “complaints about PZ’s tone” and whether they were conflated with Nugent’s complaint about “PZ agreeing to post a firsthand account of rape…”

    If that post really is a firsthand account of rape, as Ashley asserts, then the details matter. It matters what definition of rape is being used, especially what it takes for voluntary intoxication to negate consent, even though it is easier to creep-shame anyone who dares to ask. It matters whether that definition accurately describes what actually happened in reality at a given time and place, even though it is simpler to just listen and believe. Most crucially, it matters whether the post Nugent was complaining about was justified at the time of publication, in light of the evidence available at that time and the relevant journalistic ethics applicable to such a situation.

    Now go ahead and call me a creepy JAQoff and wave this all away. It will be far easier than trying to engage in a reasoned discussion.

  255. 284

    It matters what definition of rape is being used, especially what it takes for voluntary intoxication to negate consent, even though it is easier to creep-shame anyone who dares to ask.

    More buckshot.

    I entered the conversation when you were demanding a clear, black line between “able to consent” and “cannot consent.” This is impossible. The “definition” of rape, by which I assume you refer to the Nevada statute, was not posted until much later, after you’d conflated the ex ante and ex post issues a few times.

    And again, the clear line issue is wholly irrelevant to the definition of rape, the process by which you attempt to determine if someone can consent, and how a legal case is pursued, ex post.

    …even though it is easier to creep-shame anyone who dares to ask.

    The multiple times that you demanded someone give you the exact point at which a person loses the ability to consent is alternatively daft and creepy. The question, “how can I make sure my partner is able to consent?” is not the same as “at what point do I become a criminal.” It’s one thing to venture into this field, but after it was explained multiple times, your continued demands that people tell you exactly when someone loses the ability to consent is very strange.

    It matters whether that definition accurately describes what actually happened in reality at a given time and place, even though it is simpler to just listen and believe.

    The “definition accurately describes”? I’m guessing that’s poor phrasing. The “definition” – legal statute in this context – lays out the elements of the crime. What matters, in a criminal capacity, is if the facts indicate that each element was met beyond a reasonable doubt.

    That standard, again, is not necessarily what people will use to evaluate the situation. It certainly isn’t the standard by which you judge a situation, ex ante, but that appears to not matter any more, even though you were quite interested in it early – gallop away.

    Most crucially, it matters whether the post Nugent was complaining about was justified at the time of publication in light of the evidence available at that time and the relevant journalistic ethics applicable to such a situation.

    First, in just reading the post, it was a justifiable publication. PZ knew the victim, knew the facts were broadly correct, and knew a party that confirmed elements of the story. Immediately another witness came forward.

    Second, that is entirely without playing this imaginary game where we wipe away any subsequent information and then make our assessment from Myers’ perspective, even though we have no idea what he knew. It’s a foolish game.

    Whether by coincidence or because he knew that multiple people confirmed the story, Myers published a factually true statement – broadly speaking. Obviously, the main allegation is not confirmed by any third parties, but it cannot be. It’s a publication that has more confirmation than the early Cosby stories.

    So, I’ve followed your narrative around in circles, even though you’ve conveniently omitted a healthy section of random digressions and non-answers that lead you to raise separate issues. We started out discussing how to tell if someone is too drunk to consent and here you are trying to figure out if PZ was right to publish that article. That was a meandering path, and even it was your intent to argue such all along, each step that lead you here was weird and not responsive to the previous posts under discussion.

    Now go ahead and call me a creepy JAQoff and wave this all away.

    Despite it being an obnoxious way to progress, I have waved away nothing. I have followed all of your meanderings.

    If you can’t understand why insistence on knowing the exact moment at which someone loses the ability to consent is creepy, I can’t help you. Again, that is 100% irrelevant to either the goal of helping people determine their partner’s ability to consent and the ex post legal process. It’s also totally impossible in a very obvious way, which I think you know. That’s why I question your motives.

    It will be far easier than trying to engage in a reasoned discussion.

    Yeah, I’m not exactly encountering much difficulty from you. Just a constant leap from one topic you’re saying silly things about to the next.

  256. 285

    Damion [email protected]:
    It seems to me that you are not familiar enough with the topic of sexual assault to be able to asses this case thoroughly and no one can really provide *all* the relevant answers in a few comments, especially that you seem not to trust the veracity of most of the available information.

    I honestly don’t think that you are going to be able to get *proof* given that what one can do in these situations is far from perfect; I wish there were better options to deal with situations like these and maybe someday there can be. Now, many people just do the best they can under the circumstances.

    If you follow similar cases – how they were handled, what the consequences of taking one action over another were, then that might give you some background information which may help when judging if this particular case was handled ok and if the outcome is ok, considering the limitations present.

  257. 286

    @ L Minnik,

    Maybe you don’t react to alcohol that way; I for example have never had a hangover no matter how much I had had to drink, but a lot of people do. Clearly alcohol may have different effects on different people – it’s possible for those who prey on people to learn which effects it can have, how to identify them and how to take advantage of them.

    No doubt. Two points:

    1) There is a growing phenomenon of young people being on antidepressants and other drugs to treat mental illnesses. When combined with alcohol, effects may vary greatly. Young people aren’t known for their wisdom when it comes to alcohol, nor the effects of drugs and alcohol. Which leads to (2)

    (2) People get quite angsty about rape, and with good reasons. It’s a horrific crime with horrific consequences. There are two somewhat competing premises – there is evidence to believe that rape culture contributes to the prevalence of rape and better education systems would reduce it, and there is evidence to believe rape is mostly perpetuated by a small group of people who don’t care about consent at all. Either way, if better detection of “drunk” is where predators and culture meet, some clarification on what we are expecting is worthwhile.

  258. 287

    “We started out discussing how to tell if someone is too drunk to consent and here you are trying to figure out if PZ was right to publish that article.”

    The article in which he damns Shermer for failing to notice (or care) that his partner was too drunk to consent. What a “meandering path” to go from allegations of sex without consent, on account of intoxication, to the question of how to know when intoxication negates consent. It’s almost too mazelike to follow!

  259. 288

    “PZ knew the victim, knew the facts were broadly correct, and knew a party that confirmed elements of the story.”

    What party? Which elements?

    The only other eyewitness I’m aware of is Jeff Wagg, and he didn’t come forward until the Oppenheimer piece, over a year later.

  260. 289

    “…you seem not to trust the veracity of most of the available information.”

    You are simply mistaken about that. Most of the basic facts here are uncontested. The party, the drinking, the sex.

    In point of fact, the only real sticking points are (1) How drunk is too drunk? and (2) How drunk was she?

    I choose to use the law as a guide on (1) but some will tell you (wrongly) that doing so somehow commits me to a high evidential bar, just as if I’ve been impaneled and sworn to serve as a juror in a criminal trial.

  261. 290

    DoubtThat (#272):

    Steersman: I assume you mean in the case of Alison & Shermer?

    DoubtThat: No, I meant completely generally, but between a combination of a weird auto-correct and just poor writing, the phrase came out completely garbled.

    Well, thanks for the clarification, although I’m not sure your position has changed much thereby.

    Let me try again: Saving the cases where people describe assault but do not believe they were raped due to misunderstanding of the law, I have never, nor would I ever, assert that someone was assaulted absent their claim. ….

    Speaking only for myself, these cases begin with the “individual in question” stating that they were too inebriated to consent. I’m not sure what JG is referring to, but the Shermer situation as well as every case I’ve ever worked on starts with a victim making a statement.

    Sure, the supposed victim has made a statement. But the point is that you, and no few others, are apparently in the position of actually accepting their claim as more or less true without much in the way of tangible evidence to support it. Apart from, as with the wheelchair, some rather tenuous facts which could quite easily support alternative hypotheses. Which can be, and frequently is, rather problematic – as I suggested with the recent paper (1) by a lawyer, David French, at the National Review titled Three Recent Lawsuits Challenge the Rape Crisis Storyline.

    —–
    1) “_http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418319/three-recent-lawsuits-challenge-rape-crisis-storyline-david-french”;

  262. 291

    What a “meandering path” to go from allegations of sex without consent, on account of intoxication, to the question of how to know when intoxication negates consent.

    If that were your only leap, you would perhaps be justified in your bafflement.

    Just because topic are related, that does not mean that shifting from one to other when you’ve run out of trivial, niggling complaints is a coherent manner of arguing.

    What ever happened with your “we need a clear line. How do you know, HOW DO YOU KNOW, exactly when someone loses the ability to consent?” You were beating at that tree for quite a while, then…another subject. Do you understand why that was such a silly approach? Is your complete abandonment of the argument evidence that you were convinced? Or are you just waiting until your argumentative wandering leads you right back?

    All one needs to consider to reject that self-serving and amnesiac summation of our conversation is ask why we just went back and forth a couple times about PZ’s knowledge when he published the post. It has nothing to do with what you mentioned above, yet step by step, you abandoned prior conversation in order to dance to another topic.

    The only other eyewitness I’m aware of is Jeff Wagg, and he didn’t come forward until the Oppenheimer piece, over a year later.

    Read the grenade post:

    all I can say is that the author is known to me, and she has also been vouched for by one other person I trust.

    Further corroboration: a witness has come forward. This person has asked to remain anonymous too, but I will say they’re someone who doesn’t particularly like me — so no accusations of fannishness, OK?

    Confirmation of sources does not require that they go public. Your assessment involves what Myers knew. He had more than one person vouching for the story in addition to the general factual correctness (ass opposed to Rolling Stone who never confirmed that the infamous party ever existed, ignored contradictory information….).

  263. 292

    But the point is that you, and no few others, are apparently in the position of actually accepting their claim as more or less true without much in the way of tangible evidence to support it.

    This is too general to be useful. It has to be done on a case by case basis. I do not accept the veracity of anyone’s statements just because they were made, victim or otherwise.

    See, I’ve actually been in court. I’ve dealt with, quite literally, hundreds of accusations of abuse. Some of them are very obviously false, some of them are very obviously true, and the vast majority are borderline impossible to determine. But that occurs in a setting where punishment of various sorts are involved, thus the burden of proof and evidentiary rules must be more severe.

    Apart from, as with the wheelchair, some rather tenuous facts which could quite easily support alternative hypotheses.

    Sure, they could. There are almost always other stories one could tell. There was never a criminal investigation or civil court, so the evidence available was submitted by voluntary parties. Subpoena power was never used, which could cut both ways.

    But we aren’t discussing whether or not Shermer should be jailed. We aren’t discussing whether or not he should pay damages to Allison. We’re discussing, based on the information available, how we, as individuals, choose to interact with Shermer. If you and your conscious arrive at a different decision than I do, I don’t really care. If you arrive at a different decision and decide to harass people or throw tantrums or demand that everyone agree with your position and cease all discussion of the topic, then we have a disagreement (not accusing you of these things – “you” in the general sense.).

  264. 293

    Damion Reinhardt #289

    “…you seem not to trust the veracity of most of the available information.”
    You are simply mistaken about that. Most of the basic facts here are uncontested. The party, the drinking, the sex.

    If you don’t contest them, then why do you write (for example, in #288):

    “PZ knew the victim, knew the facts were broadly correct, and knew a party that confirmed elements of the story.”
    What party? Which elements?

    Do you thing that PZ had absolutely no knowledge of the basic elements before posting the story? Why would you think that and why is it even important, given that PZ made the right decision in this regard? It’s not like there turned out not to have been any party or something.

    In point of fact, the only real sticking points are (1) How drunk is too drunk? and (2) How drunk was she?
    I choose to use the law as a guide on (1) but some will tell you (wrongly) that doing so somehow commits me to a high evidential bar, just as if I’ve been impaneled and sworn to serve as a juror in a criminal trial.

    She was *too* drunk. What exactly do you want to know? If it is possible to be too drunk or high to not be able to give consent that makes any sense? How to spot if someone is that intoxicated?
    Btw, I don’t agree with you that “Shermer […] failing to notice (or care) that his partner was too drunk to consent.” Is any real issue. That is highly unlikely given the information to date; it is much more likely that he, like so many other already experienced abusers, knew what he was doing: using alcohol to -facilitate his actions and -as a defense in case he had problems and that he had no consent and was aware of it.

  265. 294

    doubtthat,

    Since you seem particularly annoyed or bemused by my addressing different (but obviously related) issues here in this thread, which already hosts discussions on at least a dozen various topics, I will henceforth confine myself to only one topic when speaking with you. The core topic, if I’m reading Miller correctly. Remember that Nugent’s original sin here was his 9/17/2014 post criticizing PZ for lobbing an accusatory grenade. If PZ was beyond reproach, then it must have been ethically defensible for him to publish the rape allegations as he did: anonymously and without substantial prior fact-checking.

    If you think it is acceptable to publicly accuse someone of rape by publishing a standalone account from an unnamed victim, prior to fact checking, just say so. Do not pretend that Carrie Poppy vouching for Alison Smith carries any evidential weight, since she wasn’t there. Also, don’t pretend that it is relevant that “a witness has come forward” to corroborate anything that happened that night, unless that witness was Jeff Wagg or someone else present at the time.

    “He had more than one person vouching for the story…”

    At the time of publication, no, he did not. The only people who witnessed Smith’s mental state during the relevant time frame were Shermer and Wagg and a few employees of the conference hotel. Unless PZ spoke with any of them prior to publication, he had only one eyewitness source.

    I understand that having only one source and taking a “listen and believe” approach is perfectly acceptable in some circles (including Rolling Stone, in the none-too-distant past). If that’s your understanding of how ethics in journalism should work, again, just say so. If not, tell us exactly where Nugent went wrong in his 9/17/2014 post.

  266. 295

    Edward Gemmer @286:

    Either way, if better detection of “drunk” is where predators and culture meet, some clarification on what we are expecting is worthwhile.

    Since people react differently to intoxication and your ability to make an accurate judgment may vary: it’s smart to be on the safe side and not do things if you’re not completely sure. Someone may also, for example, be engaging in self-destructive behavior -then it’s not right to take advantage of them either. Pay attention to things that don’t seem ok and err on the side of caution.

  267. 296

    “She was *too* drunk.”

    How exactly do you know this? Which factors are you using, and who bore witness to them at the time?

    “What exactly do you want to know?”

    How you can be so cocksure about what happened when an investigation didn’t take place and we’re working with sparse and contradictory testimony from only three eyewitnesses, none of which was written down until around five years later.

  268. 298

    Since you seem particularly annoyed or bemused by my addressing different (but obviously related) issues here in this thread…

    “Related” – haha.

    The ability to trace a sufficiently general common line through a discursive series of non-answers is hardly impressive. Operation Barbarosa is “related” to the founding of the Ottoman Empire through some path that involves WWI, but that there exists “some” path is not a justification for any particular path.

    I will henceforth confine myself to only one topic when speaking with you.

    I don’t mind when new topics are raised, that’s how conversations work. You, however, are engaging in a Gish Gallop where you leap to another topic the moment you run out of glib answers for the previous point at issue.

    Move along as you see fit. If you change anything, I would suggest actually dealing with people’s responses.

    If PZ was beyond reproach, then it must have been ethically defensible for him to publish the rape allegations as he did: anonymously and without substantial prior fact-checking.

    We’ve already discussed this. It’s fine if you have more to say, but you’re just reiterating the question as though we haven’t mentioned it all.

    Anonymous, yes. So was Deep Throat. Without prior fact checking? That’s your claim. Myers mentions corroborating the story, and, again, the basic facts (time, place…etc.) were correct. They were then immediately corroborated by another witness.

    That no one has contradicted the main story, save Shermer’s several accounts, seems to indicate that Myers got it broadly correct.

    f you think it is acceptable to publicly accuse someone of rape by publishing a standalone account from an unnamed victim, prior to fact checking, just say so.

    But that’s not what happened. This BS process of typing nonsense without reading the post you’re replying too is another symptom of the same foundational issue you have that leads to your rambling responses.

    If you disagree with the statements I made, feel free to prove them wrong. It’s another thing altogether to just type aways as though I haven’t addressed the very point you wish to raise.

    Do not pretend that Carrie Poppy vouching for Alison Smith carries any evidential weight, since she wasn’t there.

    That’s not how sources operate. People with knowledge of a topic can vouch for the facts whether there or not. You may have a general problem with anonymous sources, but there is nothing remotely unusual about a source confirming a story based on their own knowledge which need not involve direct experience.

    And again, these sources were all validated after the fact.

    Also, don’t pretend that it is relevant that “a witness has come forward” to corroborate anything that happened that night, unless that witness was Jeff Wagg or someone else present at the time.

    The fuck does that even mean? Of course that’s relevant. Maybe the source was lying (feel free to prove it), but that’s exactly the sort of thing that a journalist uses.

    You also have no idea what Myers did to confirm these people’s identities and the facts of their stories. Anonymous to you does not mean anonymous to the writer.

    At the time of publication, no, he did not.

    I’ll take the blame for that one. Unclear writing.

    By more than one, I meant that the principle gave the account, and it was validated by another source. That source may have had access to multiple other parties (I think it’s likely the source did, but whatever), but you are correct, at the time of publication there was the first hand account + a confirming source + confirmation of the basic facts.

    I think that’s enough to justify publication, especially if you know the party. Myers trusted Allison, which is why he moved forward. That is risky, but also perfectly acceptable journalism.

    Unless PZ spoke with any of them prior to publication, he had only one eyewitness source.

    Very clever (or sloppy, who can tell) move from “source” to “eyewitness source.” That is a non-trivial shift. Eyewitness source is not necessary.

    f that’s your understanding of how ethics in journalism should work, again, just say so. If not, tell us exactly where Nugent went wrong in his 9/17/2014 post.

    Again, Rolling Stone (1) failed to establish the truth of the basic facts and (2) ignored contradictory information.

    Myers (1) confirmed and/or was correct about the basic facts and (2) no contradictory information has arisen, before or after publication, save Shermer’s own multiple stories.

    As for Nugent’s mistakes in that post:

    …”[Myers] has publicly accused …Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes…”

    Same thing is true of Cosby allegations. This is not something that falls in the same category as poppy-language. “Unreported” is a stupid criteria. It’s using the burdensome legal process as a shield to protect shitty behavior.

    That was the only reference to this issue I saw in that post.

  269. 299

    I choose to use the law as a guide on (1) but some will tell you (wrongly) that doing so somehow commits me to a high evidential bar, just as if I’ve been impaneled and sworn to serve as a juror in a criminal trial.

    You can’t stop, can you. You still, after multiple back and forths, miss entirely the point of our prior discussion.

    Let’s see if I can chew this subject up further and feed it to you baby-bird style, as big thought chunks seem to give you trouble.

    You asked two related but substantially different questions:

    (1) How does a person know that another is too drunk to consent prior to any sexual activity?

    (2) What do we need to know, factually and legally, to prosecute someone for rape/sexual assault after the event giving rise to a charge?

    In answer to (1), I pointed out that a criminal statute with elements that must be met beyond a reasonable doubt is a terrible way to approach the situation.

    With regard to (2), obviously the criminal (or civil) statute is the relevant bit of information. It’s also important, though, in that context to realize that the choices that govern prosecution of a crime are made with knowledge of the burden of proof in mind. When we discuss this event and the various decisions we make about the parties moving forward, we are not bound by the severity of that burden of proof, even if the elements of the statute may be relevant.

    Further, do you believe it’s possible, without committing a crime, to behave unethically and so disturbingly that a person would be justified in separating themselves from the perpetrator? If so, then there are factors beyond that statute that must be considered.

    Finally, that criminal statute carries with it the power to investigate the crime, should the legal system decide to move forward. There was no investigation, here. That potentially cuts both ways, but the fundamental point is that we have limited evidence. Note that Shermer could have initiated a court case based on libel and defamation, but chose not to. Cost is certainly a concern, but his legal fund was doing fairly well. I will leave it to you to decide if the combination of subpoena power and the prospect of testifying under oath cooled his heels.

  270. 300

    Damion Reinhardt :

    How you can be so cocksure about what happened when an investigation didn’t take place

    I’m not. I’m convinced that the events happened as presented based on the information given, the context, the lack of inconsistencies, statistics, my background knowledge, etc. If you want *proof*, you’re not going to find much of it for real-life situations. You have evidence, and if at this time there is not enough of it for you to reach any conclusion, then you just can’t. I don’t see how discussing Smiths alcohol level at a specific time helps-you are just arguing that there is no way to verify this in order to argue that it might have been easy to ‘misinterpret’ what she wanted, right? And if there had been no alcohol involved then you would just argue that there is no way to know if a rape happened because the ‘sex’ was behind closed doors, and it’s possible to be confused by ‘mixed signals’ or something, right? Then *you* don’t have to be uncomfortable because no one lied, no abuse happened, and nothing needs to be done; it was just a big ‘misunderstanding’ and everyone can just make up and be happy together, right? The reality is, unfortunately, that most of the accounts you will come across are true.
    .
    Re: journalistic principle: Do I wish that things could change? Sure, I wish a person could just contact the police who would then conduct a thorough investigation, etc. and much of the things that need to be done to ensure public safety would be done by the justice system. Right now it doesn’t work that way so we’re unfortunately left much with fewer and more difficult choices as to what to do.

  271. 301

    Let’s see the same hue and cry about Josh Duggar, named as a serial sexual abuser, with calls to cancel the Duggars’ TV show. The S/L has expired, no prosecution is in the offing. Irresponsible journalism?

  272. 302

    “That source may have had access to multiple other parties (I think it’s likely the source did, but whatever), but you are correct, at the time of publication there was the first hand account + a confirming source + confirmation of the basic facts.”

    The “confirming source” was not present. Anything they might have to say goes back to some other source.

    No one is arguing about the basic facts. There was a party dedicated to heavy drinking, there was heavy drinking at that party, there was sex after the party. The important question is whether there was consent, and that question hinges on level of intoxication.

    Several people are a position to recall whether Alison was too drunk to consent that night. Most of those people were at the room party in Caesar’s Palace, one was nearby in the conference venue. Journalist Mark Oppenheimer spoke with at least three eyewitnesses and presented two competing narratives, allowing the readers to determine who sounded more credible. Blogger PZ Myers, by contrast, spoke with one eyewitness (so far as anyone can tell), passed on her narrative verbatim (after stripping it of details which would allow the accused to respond) and then heavily moderated those who dared to ask for the other side of the story.

    “I think that’s enough to justify publication, especially if you know the party.”

    You are welcome to think that. I still think that a responsible journalist would research at least a bit before acting as a signal booster for accusations of serial rape. There is no evidence that any research took place prior to republishing the accusations.

  273. 305

    Ah, Damion, you know, and I know, they are going to remain mute on that one. Far, far too many skeletons of hypocrisy, ideological rage-bias, and identity politics-fail in that dusty ol’ closet.

  274. 308

    Oy yay, oy yay, trute be haerd, mon … tons ‘o’ crickets, mon, ton’s ‘o’ quiett crickets, mon.

    Damion, as I say, you know, and I know that as soon as any simple truth appears that casts even the smallest slightest vaguest doubt on the endless perfect mantra of FTB be sacred mon, well, we, you an’ I an’ I, be smokin’ ganja toopoo ha’d, and hidin’ teh I an’ I inda poofery.

    Ya mon!

    S’truth

    ….

    After months and months and months of these FTB folk saying, nay, praying, and wailing to the walls and singing to the stars Oh, Radford, he be bad he be bad he be bad, and we know it’ so, ’cause KS say so, ya! BroSis; he abuse; he malign, he badbad, an’ I an’ I know this true ’cause SisSis be truer ‘ cause Wombyn ne’er do wrong etc., …

    And now that SlowzSnow has declined, reversed, and opted to the simple basic fact that she lied about Radford, and tried to destory a person’s life out of nothing more than simple spite, and Radford be not be bad; he na abuse; he na malign … well, you know, they, being FTB and SJW’s writ large, just play the three monkeys.

    See no; hear no; speak no, et al., et al., et al.

  275. 309

    Ah, so, now LousyC, Myers, and Zvan have commented. And all maintain that even if Radford did not do what KS claimed he did, he is still a bad guy anyway, and she is still the victim even if she’s not, ’cause reasons.

    It’s all so rational.

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