Sympathy for the devil

Trigger warning for frank discussion of bullying and PTSD.

When I was young, I was bullied. A lot. Maybe not more than other kids who’ve been bullied, but I was definitely the target of my grade for many years running in my tiny grade school and middle school. It started to let up a bit in high school after I attacked one of my bullies physically. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but I had been at my wits’ end that there were exactly zero consequences for harassing me for years on end.

I was wrong to attack that person. And yet, I was able to breathe easier afterward.

My father, as fathers do, attempted to coach me on how to deal with the bullies and put a stop to the harassment — coaching that ranged from “don’t react in any way” to “react as strongly and as violently as possible” to “stop doing the things that make them harass you”. None of it really worked, and violence was always my last resort because I was scrawny and not very capable of it. The harassment started because I was a bit of a klutz, because I was a little too smart, because I was the tallest fifth grader, because I stood out a little too much in a few too many ways. Somehow I made myself a target, because at that age, societal pressures trend toward conformity. If you’re too different, you’re wrong and must be brought into line. The fact that some of these aspects of myself were endemic to my nature and could not be baffled or muted meant that I stayed a target for a very long time. I was very, very miserable. I completely understand the battle fatigue that comes with long-term harassment, and I empathize when the bullying escalates to the point of suicide or psychological damage. I am not unconvinced that there is no psychological damage in my own makeup as a result.

I’m seeing many of the same dynamics at play in the blogosphere, twenty years later. Agitators and people who advocate too strongly for change or too strongly against peoples’ saints and heroes get shouted down. They get targeted for being different, for standing out. They especially get targeted for pointing out the moral failings of others — targeted until they themselves break.

Let’s ground you in a comic reference, to keep up my geek cred. Think of what The Joker did to Commissioner Gordon in The Killing Joke, trying to push him over the edge of insanity by making sure he had the absolute worst day imaginable. Stretch that out over years, with microaggressions instead of single gigantic aggressions, and you get what some people experience for standing out a little too much. You get a decade of bad days. That has a psychological effect. That causes stress, fatigue. That causes anger and resentment, deep rifts, reactionary behaviours.

But I will not blame the victim under any circumstances.

This brings me around to Greg Laden, whom people seem to think is some sort of devil that should be made a pariah in the movement. (And this from a culture that thinks criticizing, say, DJ Grothe or Richard Dawkins is an attempt to make THEM pariahs, no less. Who’re the shunners?)

I haven’t talked much about the incidents surrounding his departure from FtB, mostly because I saw a perfect storm of harassment and victims and reactionary behaviour all out of proportion to what was actually happening. I saw all the setup for everything that was to come. I first saw Greg harassed to the point where he decided to shut down his FtB blog for a month and just blog at Scienceblogs, as a way to gain some temporary reprieve from Team Douchebag and their constant swarming attacks. I saw Justin Griffith step up to tell everyone that the members of Team Douchebag were just misunderstood, and that they were using 4Chan humour to get lolz — never mind that said lolz were at someone else’s expense, we saw that, we understood the culture and the jokes and the lolz, and that’s what we objected to. If we’re talking about stopping bullies, the focus shouldn’t be on what VICTIMS can do better (including ignoring the “for the lolz” crowd that makes up the majority of these bullies).

And yes, I then saw Greg react very strongly to what he (absolutely correctly) saw as someone haplessly defending the very people who’d attacked him, his dear friends, and everything they believed in, for years on end — pretending like we just didn’t understand their culture. Greg issued to Justin what Greg describes as a “Patton Slap”, a letter he worded so forcefully because he intended to smarten Justin up and realize that the people who’d targeted him, me, Stephanie, Jen McCreight, Ophelia Benson, PZ Myers, and countless others in the blogosphere would use Justin’s status as a veteran against him. That they would use the fact that he had to engage in activities at the army’s behest that would break most of us. And Greg’s “Patton Slap” went over the line in a lot of ways — warning that these people would try to trigger Justin’s PTSD was, in a way, just another trigger, even if Greg didn’t intend it that way, since intention isn’t magic. It’s the same reason you scream “trigger warning” before a post containing these potential triggers — you don’t want to accidentally hurt someone you’re not intending to.

I don’t think I’d have sent that letter. I might have thought about it, I might even have DONE it, but I do try not to say things in anger as much as possible because that anger tends to undercut what you’re trying to do. It was, to my mind, unreasonably lashing out come the end, with the “if you approach me I’ll kick your fucking ass (unless you apologize)”. Frankly, a “threat” of that nature doesn’t carry a lot of force from Greg, where as he points out he’s not a musclebound gun-toting doberman owner who’s famed for kicking ass. But such a non-threat was a threat nonetheless — it was a very bad reaction to the harassment he received. Yet I also think getting kicked off the network was a steep price for someone whose intents were pretty plain in the letters that Justin made public. I don’t necessarily disagree with him leaving this network, but I don’t like it being piled on top of the shit he was already getting.

It’s for that reason that I didn’t get involved — Greg was a victim reacting too harshly; and Justin was the victim reacting too harshly as well, who preferred to escalate by making the fight public at Greg’s exclusive expense, rather than trying to put time between the events or to let cooler heads prevail. There are lots of ways the situation could have de-escalated — neither Justin nor Greg reacted to one another appropriately. I won’t talk about the proportions of offense because that in itself is offensive, though people seem to be unduly focused on who did what when and in what order; on “who’s right” and “who scored the most points.”

I like Greg Laden a good deal. He is personable, witty, and knowledgeable. I still owe him a beer; I’m hoping to see him this New Year’s so he might collect. I suspect I’d like Justin a lot in person too. He seems funny, and I bet he’s got a lot of things to say about atheism in the military that I’m not personally exposed to in general. I know Justin’s mad at me for not hating Greg, but I hope that’ll pass and he’ll be less mad at me in time. (Or maybe it’s just that I pointed out when Justin was sympathizing with the harassers too much for my tastes, and that’s why he’s actually mad at me — that’s how it all started, after all. In which case, he’ll probably continue being mad at me when I point out his future transgressions.)

Just because I held my tongue when it all happened because of all the harassment and victimization and how tangled it all was, though, doesn’t mean I won’t point out these incautious and damaging actions when they’re not done as poor reactions to victimization. Stephanie posted her wish not to be used as a poster-child for how to be a victim properly, and far be it from me to criticize angry reactions to years of targeted harassment. I don’t think there IS a good way to be a victim — and having been a victim, I have a lot of sympathy for when people react badly. I, like Stephanie, have more sympathy for the bullied than for the bullies.

And all of us here would prefer to be left alone by the harassers, rather than targeted for stepping out of ideological line (this is FREEthought!!!1). So while I’d disagree with Justin that we are just not understanding the “for the lolz” crowd, and I’d disagree with Justin’s evident sympathy for harassers just because they’re targeting someone who threatened him (even if you don’t take Greg’s good intentions at face value because of the language), and I’d disagree with Greg’s letter, and I’d disagree with how Greg reacted to this latest spate of harassment by one of the pro-harassment crowd — by “dox’ing” a serial harasser who’d issued many threats on par with what Justin got from Greg over a month — while ALL of this is true, I still see all of this as a distraction from the harassment that caused it all. Disagreement doesn’t mean judgment, though. I don’t KNOW how I’d react. I don’t know how YOU’D react. I can’t express much judgment for how anyone reacted to anything here, except perhaps for the harassment that led up to it all.

After all, I won breathing room when I physically attacked one of my bullies. Even if I know that was wrong.

I don’t think that Greg’s won anything in this case but more targeting, though. They’ve seen him react badly. The bullies already smell blood in the water. They’re going to keep harassing until he leaves the internet, keep escalating until he breaks and does something that hurts his career, keep making him miserable until he’s ruined utterly, silenced ultimately because he’s a vocal feminist.

I only wish his latest misstep as a victim didn’t make him even more of a target for the harassers, the real devils here; and now also for the people who sympathize with the harassers, because Greg’s obviously a “nasty piece of work” — judging only by how he reacts to years of abuse.

How do YOU react to years of abuse? Can you judge?

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Sympathy for the devil

85 thoughts on “Sympathy for the devil

  1. 51

    No, Nick, you left out the same details SC did, about how Greg learned from what happened three years ago, which makes bringing it up again pointlessly nasty.

    Third, I stated explicitly that nothingLaden had done justified the harassment to which he had been subjected.

    Hmm, yeah. Addressed that in the next comment, so where’s that lie again?

  2. 52

    Perhaps it will work better if I transpose this onto a different behavior, one we’re used to thinking about.

    “There is never any excuse for rape ever, but ugh, have you seen how she dresses? Let’s talk about that instead. There was this one outfit, years ago….” – Stephanie Zvan

    That is a bizarre and astoundingly offensive (to victims of rape) analogy. There is nothing wrong in a woman dressing however she pleases. There is most certainly something wrong in issuing threats, publicising what you (wrongly) believe to be someone’s address without their permission, and to a lesser degree, altering comments without attribution.

  3. 53

    Jasom @36. You say “old address” as if Greg knew it was his old address, he didn’t. He attempted to release the person’s current address, he simply failed. Then he continued to threaten to do the same to somebody else. And since he has done this on two previous occasions this is clearly the actions of a serial harasser and bully.

  4. 54

    No, Nick, you left out the same details SC did, about how Greg learned from what happened three years ago, which makes bringing it up again pointlessly nasty. – Stephanie Zvan

    I see I misunderstood what you were accusing me of. I “left out” those details because I have never, since that unpleasant episode, read anything written by Laden, so I did not know he had made that claim: I responded to Jason’s [email protected], because it called SC’s account into question, and I know SC’s account to have been accurate. But in any case, Laden’s more recent behaviour indicates that he hasn’t learned from the episode at all, which makes it part of a pattern of unpleasant and foolish behaviour over several years.

  5. 55

    There is most certainly something wrong in issuing threats, publicising what you (wrongly) believe to be someone’s address without their permission, and to a lesser degree, altering comments without attribution.

    Something that makes piling on when someone is being harassed and threatened okay? Because that’s the point of the analogy, whether you want to deal with it or not.

  6. 56

    Also, let’s cut this “publicizing” crap out. Greg asked Mykeru whether it was his address directly on Twitter, something that will only be noticed by people following both of them. You can imagine how big that overlap is.

  7. 57

    Actually, Nick, you went back to be nasty at Greg about it, at which point he clarified, but I guess that was just a hit-and-run smear?

    Laden’s more recent behaviour indicates that he hasn’t learned from the episode at all

    “Greg didn’t learn to do everything on the internet the way I want him to, so I’m going to keep beating on him when he’s being attacked by slimepitters.” Yeah, go on, good guy. Keep showing us how important it is to beat on Greg.

  8. 58

    Chasstewart @43, the people doing the harassing could stop doing it; just a thought. I mean, it wouldn’t stop the Mabuses of the world, but if Mykeru and the other slymers could find a more productive use of their time a big part of this continuing dust-up would simply disappear. I mean, photoshopping peoples’ heads into pictures? Fake Twitter accounts? Seriously? In the event that Mykeru and his cohort really can’t think of anything better to do with themselves, I suppose it’s up to the people around them who want the harassment to stop to encourage them to, y’know, stop. That’s assuming, of course, that the people around them do want them to stop. I suppose another step would be for onlookers to correctly characterize the behavior as harassment instead of couching it in the language of “disagreement” and “argument.” Again, just a thought.

  9. 59

    Also, let’s cut this “publicizing” crap out. Greg asked Mykeru whether it was his address directly on Twitter, something that will only be noticed by people following both of them. You can imagine how big that overlap is.

    What an absolute nonsense excuse. The tweet is still there for anyone who decides to simply look at Greg’s twitter feed, ergo it is still in the public domain for anyone to see.

    And does releasing somebody’s address all of sudden become ok when it is released to only a certain few who “notice” it. No!

    Don’t forget he also threatened to release the home address of somebody else. So to say Greg has learned from his experience is bullshit. He is still doing it.

  10. 61

    To publicise, to put out into the public domain which is what posting something on twitter does, just because it is only fed into a certain number of people’s twitter feeds does not make it any less public as anybody can see it if they so wish. So stop playing silly semantic games and trying to defend Greg’s actions because only a certain number of people actually might see it.

    And how “fucking hard” is it for you to admit Greg has not learned from the past? The evidence is there, he’s still doing it. And I’m not talking about Maria Maltseva. It was a threat he made this week.

  11. 62

    Something that makes piling on when someone is being harassed and threatened okay?

    Something that makes questioning a one-sided account of a sequence of events or attribution of blame legitimate, certainly.

    Because that’s the point of the analogy, whether you want to deal with it or not.

    I know that’s the point you intended; it doesn’t make the analogy any less bizarre and offensive.

    Also, let’s cut this “publicizing” crap out. Greg asked Mykeru whether it was his address directly on Twitter, something that will only be noticed by people following both of them. You can imagine how big that overlap is.

    More dishonest bullshit: once you do something like that, others can easily spread it, can’t they? What was the point of that question, which necessarily involved posting the address?

    Actually, Nick, you went back to be nasty at Greg about it, at which point he clarified, but I guess that was just a hit-and-run smear?

    It’s true I’d forgotten that. IIRC, Laden’s post was being discussed on Pharyngula, and I dropped in on his blog for that single comment as a result. It’s not a “smear” to describe correctly what someone has done; and I don’t see any reason to credit Laden’s “clarification”: people caught out in misbehaviour typically come up with an excuse.

    “Greg didn’t learn to do everything on the internet the way I want him to, so I’m going to keep beating on him when he’s being attacked by slimepitters.” Yeah, go on, good guy. Keep showing us how important it is to beat on Greg.

    You present objections to posting threats and someone’s (believed) address as matters of taste: they are not. As has been said repeatedly, if we’re not willing to call out misbehaviour among atheist feminists, we give credence to the slimepitters’ charges, which is exactly what you, and to a lesser extent Jason, are doing.

  12. 63

    Stephanie:

    Also, let’s cut this “publicizing” crap out. Greg asked Mykeru whether it was his address directly on Twitter, something that will only be noticed by people following both of them. You can imagine how big that overlap is.

    I don’t understand why you’re bothering to defend this. Greg fucked up, and tends to fuck up in similar ways over and over. If you can look past it and still be friends with him, bully for you. It is clear that Greg’s been followed around and harassed for a long time, and I can understand the feelings behind his behavior even if I don’t agree with the specific behavior. That being said, he still fucked up. So did Justin, so did Mykeru, and we can weigh the relative harm that each is responsible for, but there’s no reason to try to justify any of it.

    I mean, if I say something wrong and terrible about you on my blog does it magically become less terrible or wrong of me because my blog only gets a few dozen hits a week? What about Twitter, because I only have 106 followers, and so I can go ahead and give out your home address? The fact that your defense is so very bad, and bad in a way that is out of character for you, should tell you something.

  13. 64

    No, that’s not what “publicize” means, Peter. Perhaps you should look that up. Also, what threat are you vaguely waving around without providing back up?

    Nick, now you’re back to claiming Jason isn’t criticizing Greg. Has it not gotten through your head yet that if you can’t describe this accurately while you’re talking about it, maybe you’re too overwhelmed by emotion to be part of any rational conversation?

    Joe, I have been a pedantic ass over plenty of transgressions that people wanted to blow out of proportion when it was absolutely not required for their point. That includes both friends of mine and people I really don’t care for. I don’t see why I should stop now. It isn’t saying there is no transgression. It is calling for accuracy. Are accused people not entitled to that now? Or is it just Greg?

  14. 65

    Maybe you should look it up Stephanie. Publicise does mean to make something public, which Greg did. The word publicise is not limited by the potential audience. Look through Greg’s twitter feed, he threatens to dox Renee Hendricks.

    You say you are calling for accuracy. That is what I am doing, and I repeat my point because you seem to be avoiding it and continuing to get hung up on the word “publicise”: You stated he has learned his lesson, I’m claiming he has not and cited two very recent incidences showing how he hasn’t. So how about you either admit he hasn’t learnt his lesson or continue to assert he has despite the evidence.

  15. 67

    Disagreement doesn’t mean judgment, though. I don’t KNOW how I’d react. I don’t know how YOU’D react. I can’t express much judgment for how anyone reacted to anything here, except perhaps for the harassment that led up to it all.

    This is so incredibly well-said, Jason. People are only human and those who overreact to threats and harassment deserve compassion even as we’re criticizing them. But those who disagree with someone’s ideology and choose to bully them for it are different. There’s no equivalence here.

  16. 70

    Yes I know there was a LMGTFY there, I didn’t even mention it and no Stephanie I did not say anywhere that that was doxing someone, your inability to read is baffling at times.

    The tweet was immediately after releasing Mykeru’s details so the threat is still there.

    I’m sick of having the semantic argument with you Staphanie because it is giving you a reason to avoid my point. Anyways, even if it was just “posted”, it is still not ok and it still shows he hasn’t learned his lesson. Unless the lesson was to narrow the amount of people he has released the information to.

  17. 71

    The tweet was immediately after releasing Mykeru’s details so the threat is still there.

    Or he’s mocking Renee, which plenty of other people do without becoming someone we pile on when they’re being harassed and threatened.

    Unless the lesson was to narrow the amount of people he has released the information to.

    In this case, the owner of the information, a Twitter chum of his, and Rebecca Watson, who had almost certainly already been sent a bundle of info on Michael Cortese when he targeted her. I received a bunch from several sources, and I’m much less high-profile than Rebecca. I already had that address, for example, plus a list of places from which Cortese had been kicked out for antisocial behavior.

    It does somehow sound a bit different than maliciously sharing the info with 3,000 followers, doesn’t it? It doesn’t make it right but, gosh, it gets so much less juicy when it’s said accurately. It allows room for humanity and sympathy.

    That would be why the accuracy is important.

  18. 72

    Or he’s mocking Renee, which plenty of other people do without becoming someone we pile on when they’re being harassed and threatened.

    Come on now! That is a threat clear as day, especially given the context. To mock somebody you have actual mock something about them, there is nothing like that there. Simply because he didn’t say it in an aggressive manner does not mean the threat was not there.

    In this case, the owner of the information, a Twitter chum of his, and Rebecca Watson

    It is not confined to those people, anybody who has access to the internet can view it. And like I said, was the lesson to reduce numbers or not to release people’s personal info? Because if it is the first then yes he has learned his lesson, but if it is the second, which we know it is, then he clearly hasn’t. And how many times do I have to try and bring the conversation back to this point which you seem to be avoiding. You admit what he has done wasn’t right, and coupled with the threat, how can you claim he has learnt his lesson?

  19. 75

    As Stakkalee suggested, how about talking about how big a douchebag is a serial harasser like Mykeru, indeed. Funny thing is, I recently received his unwelcome attention (and some of his pals’ too) on Twitter for posting a link to one Stephanie Zvan’s articles and for defending Rebecca Watson against unfair criticism. And I’m not even a name in the atheist/skeptic movement! No, it’s just that apparently for them, anyone who says anything positive about certain people are fair game. I was not surprised much, after what happened before on that topic.

    What did hurt, though, was seeing a few people I knew, and even for some admire, joking along with the bullies, and then get in a huff when I posted out to them that they were having fun with the kind of creeps who create websites and Twitter accounts for the sole purpose of hounding someone off the internet. They didn’t seem to realize why I was dismayed by that!

    And this is where I think you, Justin, want to get some time to rethink your actions a bit. Yes, you were hurt that time by that email from Greg Laden, and now you are hurt again because Jason points out that you’re not the only victim here: so is Greg Laden.

    For the record, I’ll say here that I don’t agree with posting online someone’s address, as a general rule. And I don’t defend everything Greg says or does. But I like a lot of what he writes, especially the perspective he brings from his field of anthropology.

    I also understand painfully what it feels like to be the designated witch. I was that for most of my childhood and adolescence. I stood out as a child and a teen (being fat, wearing glasses from an early age, being shy and bookish, and not liking what other girls liked…) I saw so-called friends who didn’t actively engage in bullying, but who, when I was hurt, didn’t seem to notice but stayed around the playground bullies, having fun with them and laughing at *me* for being too thin-skinned or not getting the joke. I realize today that they were probably very insecure themselves, and didn’t dare stand out too for fear of becoming a target.

    At times, I think I tried everything against my tormentors: trying to ignore them (a non-starter, despite what my mom said); reporting to teachers (they didn’t care); getting violent myself and punching some of the agressors (my dad briefly supported me there, but the teachers just snapped into action *then* and punished me!); and even getting sneaky and writing an anonymous letter to one particular bully in the hope to frighten him (didn’t work either). I’m not proud of the last one, but I can’t bring my present self to condemn my childish desperation then. I was more or less alone against a crowd.

    But that’s neither here nor there. Right now, there are people who don’t just want Greg Laden to be more considerate or even to apologize to those he wronged, they want him to shut up and not be on the internet, by whatever means they can find. And that’s wrong.

    Justin, you may not realize it, but just a few posts up thread, you took Jason to task for defending Greg as a personal friend. And you may not realize that to people who’ve been the target of Mykeru and his like, seeing you make jokes with them about Greg makes you look… well, at best like someone who doesn’t care about others’ feelings, at worst like a pal of the harassers. I’m going to speculate wildly, but to me it looks like the so-called friends of my teen years, who needed reassurance so much that they’d even hang around creeps if that’s were the numbers and protective coloring are.

    I’m not even condemning you, if so. But it’s just that every one of your posts on that topic is sad and painful to read, and not only because of the memories they bring.

  20. 77

    Wow. I just read this post by Justin Griffith: http://freethoughtblogs.com/rockbeyondbelief/2012/12/26/no-really-that-was-utterly-shameful-writing/

    Stephanie, you were right, and I was wrong.

    My thinking was this: Justin has PTSD, too, and Justin has suffered as a result of the Slime Wars, too. I commented on Lousy Canuck (the Sympathy for the Devil post,) that “Criticizing Greg’s behavior is not victim-blaming anymore than criticizing Justin’s is.”

    Oh, I’m sure that Justin has been through hell, and that this infighting is hard on him too. I don’t lack compassion for him. But his continued coziness with ‘pitters and his odd rejection of Jason’s post (which I found fair and reasonable to both sides) has got me doubting his good faith.

    And I understand what you and Jason have been saying about what Greg’s been through. That does NOT mean that he is above criticism, but piling on with criticism when he’s a target for idiots just muddies the waters.

    (Cross-posted on Almost Diamonds.)

  21. ~G~
    78

    I want to make sure I am clear on one point. Regarding any incidents that are being bought up here, has anyone shown that they have reflected on a particular behavior that was not their proudest moment, have learned from it and had the maturity to truly apologize and then not commit the same behavior again? I’m not being rhetorical. I want to know.

    To apologize for a specific incident is not the same as saying you are wrong about everything and it can be very difficult to do when you feel you are on the defensive. You don’t need to kiss ass or anything. I remember Justin Vacula saying that he did sort of say he was sorry for what he did, but he never issued a public apology directly to Surly Amy that I know of (would be happy to be corrected). Amy, however, did reflect on the situation and thought about how to change her point of view on something without retracting any of her condemnation of specific bullying against her. And she didn’t even do anything wrong, IMO. http://skepchick.org/2012/10/free-the-art/ I understand each situation is different, of course.

    I’m not going to say that everyone is equally wrong here, or that there isn’t greater context (clearly the pitters are the most wrong) but I will say that if Justin or Greg have clearly shown any signs of personal growth and introspection through their public words and long term changes in behavior amongst these conflicts I’d give a hats off to them and would like to know about it. If this post is about giving readers greater clarity and perspective, that is what would help me the most.

  22. 79

    My two cents on how Greg’s behavior has changed since the campaign of harassment against him:

    I’m an infrequent commenter, mainly because by the time I think things through and compose my comment the train has left the station. However, in the years that I’ve commented on scienceblogs and here I’ve always used the same ‘nym which seems unique to me, and e-mail address which identifies me by name. This past August I made a comment on one of Greg’s posts (don’t remember the topic, just know that I was in disagreement, don’t think I was inflammatory mainly because that’s not my style) and without addressing me or my comment in the thread Greg e-mailed me asking me who I was and then later e-mailed me again saying never mind, I’ve found out. Creeped me the hell out. I still read his stuff, but you betcha I’m never going to comment there again.

  23. 81

    Are we saying that Justin has abused this guy for years or what? I seriously doubt he would have lasted that long here. Or are we talking about any abuse Greg suffered in his life in general? Because associating everyone with everyone else only hurts YOU and it’s YOUR bad. Sort of like people who start that “it’s always something else” mentality and start counting just about anything negative in their day as another thing that’s happened. Every person who comes your way and causes you stress isn’t as guilty as the others or should be tied with everyone else.

    I need to know what this ‘abuse’ is, because I’ve seen criticism and memes (and I mean of things that really deserved it) be called abuse, even by parties that do it themselves, so I’m distrustful of that stuff until I know the details.

  24. 82

    …when it’s something that happened years ago and which Greg himself noted he learned something about internet mores from.

    …No, Nick, you left out the same details SC did, about how Greg learned from what happened three years ago, which makes bringing it up again pointlessly nasty.

    First, it was not about internet mores. It was about basic decency. Second, if he learned anything significant from it I haven’t seen evidence of it. I haven’t seen a public apology to me (from you, either) or to Chas. Nor has he apologized to me (or, to the best of my knowledge, to Josh or Chas) privately. But I have to wonder if you actually read the thread you linked to to show Nick that he’d gone back once to “be nasty” to poor Greg. From Greg on that thread:

    “The comments on a blog are the bloggers property. They are the blogger’s slaves. The blogger can do whatever the blogger wants.

    …There are no bloggy rules about what a blogger does to comments. None.”

    He acts like a menacing thug online, and when people object he tends to become more belligerent. I don’t bring this history up very often, and I’d bring it up even less frequently if people like you and Jason would acknowledge it, and say something like, “Yes, Greg has a pattern of behaving very badly in the past,* irresponsibly flinging around false insinuations and changing a commenter’s ‘nym to his real-name email address in a fit of pique.* But that doesn’t mean he deserves to be harassed, or even to face the same treatment he dishes out. Nor does it mean he should be presumed guilty of everything he’s accused of [he wasn’t guilty of what blu accused him of] or that his behavior in any given situation is unjustified.”**

    Instead, you and Jason seem to want to ignore his entire pattern of behavior and make apologies for him. It shouldn’t surprise you that people don’t want to be associated with him and don’t think he should have a major blogging platform for reasons having nothing to do with the more recent issues, and you should respect that and encourage him to make amends. (You might want to look back at the Henry Gee argument – which, incidentally, followed from Gee’s showing up out of the blue to attack, of all people, Richard Dawkins, for…appearing on Dr. Who. You did the same sort of uncritical defending there.)

    *This would be difficult for you, since you collaborated in some of it.

    **Even better if you could show some evidence of regret and a desire to change on his part.

  25. 83

    Thanks, SC, for showing that Laden isn’t only a bully now but engaged in bullying behavior in the past. Whenever he feels threatened (ildi in #77 shows that mere disagreement with him is a threat) he reacts in inappropriate ways. He does not appear to have “learned his lesson”, instead he persists in being a bully.

  26. 84

    Nick, now you’re back to claiming Jason isn’t criticizing Greg. – Stephanie Zvan

    No, I’m not, and never made such a claim – indeed I pointed out in my #48 that he does discuss Laden’s behaviour, so that’s yet more dishonesty from you. If you dispute this, quote me making that claim. I do think Jason is minimising Laden’s misbehaviour – but it’s you who appears to think Laden should not be criticised (by anyone who is not a personal friend, such as you and Jason) because he has himself been the victim of harassment (harassment which I condemned in my first comment). That is why I distinguished between you and Jason @60.

  27. 85

    I was wrong to attack that person. And yet, I was able to breathe easier afterward.

    I really, really, REALLY wish people would stop denigrating their own self-defense actions like this. If you were provoked by repeated actions of another person, and you had reason to believe you had no other recourse, then the attack you speak of WAS NOT WRONG. It may not have been fun or desirable, and it may not have been what you would have preferred to do, and maybe a fully-grown-up person would have had better options than you saw at the time; but it was not wrong, not for you in your situation at that time. Self-defense is not wrong. Ever. And constantly saying it is wrong, in the same breath as your admission that it helped you, is a form of self-denigration you don’t need.

    If there’s any wrong here, it was wrong for the bullies to put you in a situation where you felt forced to do what you did.

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