Fuck Your Civility

Well, here it is a day later, and still no one had told Steve Snyder that it his comment at JT’s was unacceptably sexist. So I did.

Well, Steve Snyder/SocraticGadfly, since no one else can be assed to step up and say this, no matter how much me being harassed “pisses them off”, no matter how much they’ll stand up for JT, fuck off, you putrid, obsessive, pointless, sexist smear of slime. It is not anything but vilely anti-social to spend two and half years after a woman tells you that rape allegations need to be taken seriously popping up any time she and the man on whose blog you were schooled are mentioned together to say that this woman is controlling this man’s behavior by having sex with him.

It only gets you two things. The first is a reputation as someone who isn’t capable of making a socially acceptable argument about why treating rape seriously is bad but can’t let the issue go, and the second is secular and skeptical movements that are distinctly hostile to women.

So fuck right the hell off.

And the same goes for anyone incapable of telling Steve here the same thing.

If none of the people preaching for civility are going to stop this behavior, if none of the people telling me how to behave are going to do anything to see that I’m treated well in return, they get to deal with how I deal with it. And they get to deal with how I deal with it after a day of my mistreatment being ignored in a forum where putting the smack down on bad behavior is supposedly the order of the day.

And if they really want to know how their version of “civility” fits into this, they can ask me. Very nicely. I doubt they’ll like any answer they get today, though.

Fuck Your Civility
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77 thoughts on “Fuck Your Civility

  1. 5

    Well, that was fast (noting the replies to your comment). Almost as if there are people who are watching your every move, ready to move in with more harassment.

    To be fair, the first reply to Socratic Gadfly I read as calling out the sexism (made by an anonymous Guest):

    Seriously? You’re going there on a blog post about sexism. Curious what JT’s thoughts are on this.

    Also, I agree with SallyStrange. The comment Greg Laden made that JT was responding to was stupid, and JT’s continued calls for more “charity” reflect his lack of understanding.

  2. 6

    To be fair, “Guest” is someone to whom I had mentioned how much it sucked to see no one challenge that.

    Also, you made your comments on the subject of JT’s post on JT’s post.

  3. 7


    Sorry, just to be clear – are you saying that you don’t want me to mention Greg Laden’s comment here?

    If so, I apologize for being off-topic.

  4. 9

    It appears to me that guest called out the sexism a few minutes after the comment was posted and JT concurred. Several other commenters piled on. It was also extensively downvoted. They didn’t use the words “this is unacceptably sexist,” but the sentiment was there. I don’t think it’s fair to say that the sexism was given a pass until your comment.

  5. 10

    I made the mistake of clicking on Socratic Gadfly’s profile. Mind bleach, please!

    I am so, so sorry that you have to deal with an asshole like him. And you’re absolutely right, if JT wants to argue for a certain kind of civility and generosity, he needs to make damned sure he deals with comments like SG’s in a timely manner. His not having done so was at best a huge fuck-up. It’s also the kind of action that, if repeated, makes people start to view a person’s motivations uncharitably.

  6. 11

    No, Ace of Sevens. That isn’t what happened, and kindly don’t make shit up to feel better. Steve Snyder made his comment. It sat for two hours with me and one other person having down-voted it. I mentioned privately to someone that it felt like crap to watch it sit there unchallenged. That person made the comment as “Guest”. I then blogged about it. Then it got down-voted.

  7. 13

    Are you angry with me for not doing more than downvoting Socratic Gadfly’s comments, even though I participated in the thread? I’m not familiar with that person, nor did I know about any previous history they might have had with you, but I got the distinct impression they were a nasty piece of work. I didn’t feel like I had the spoons to engage with them at the time, so I didn’t.

  8. 15

    Damn, I tried to post #10 above on JT’s blog, along with a couple extra comments for him, but it’s not showing up. Perhaps I’m just stuck in moderation somewhere…

    The thing that gets me as I think about this more is that JT was holding Greta to rather high standards of civility. As I said on his blog, Ron Lindsay was at a very minimum dismissive of those of us at WiS2, and there’s a fine line between dismissive and contemptuous. If he wants to chide Greta for crossing that line, he needs to be damned sure he’s not letting anyone from the other side harass you or any other outspoken feminist on his own blog!

  9. 16

    Well of course, the important people here are the potential allies (women who are harassed come later). If JT had responded properly, he might have alienated all those potential allies! For our goal (he doesn’t specify what that goal is)! We need to think about all those people we can sway into thinking that women are as valuable as men in the movement. Maybe we can bake them cookies and nod and smile, and they’ll think ‘feminism is good, after all’.

    I’m done with these so-called allies.

    As far as I understand, JT thinks he’s being fair/doing something good. He thinks that’s the way to go and that he’s being an ally to women with this legitimization of harassers. He can be the voice of reason in the great “are women inferior to men” debate.

    Fuck them. The amount of ‘allies’ who think they have the full vision of power dynamics because they occupy the high ground is getting ridiculous (and of course the solution is ‘hug your harasser’). Nugent, Lindsay, now JT.

    Spectra said is better than me: http://www.spectraspeaks.com/2013/05/afrofeminism-labels-politically-correct-straight-allies-white-antiracissts-male-feminists/

  10. 17

    Now, now Stephanie. I’m a huge fan of civility.

    I’m also a huge fan of peace. Like civility, unilateral peace isn’t worth shit.

    I used to play a lot of D&D, and learned that nobody likes a rules lawyer. I transferred that attitude to “manners lawyers.”

  11. 19

    I tried commenting over there and have discovered that the commenting system over at Patheos is practically as bad as YouTube. It’s impossible to keep track of new comments unless they’re direct responses to one’s own, and stuff just vanishes and then reappears with no explanation that I can see. How the hell does anybody keep track of a discussion of any length or complexity over there? The unchecked slimepit presence sure doesn’t help matters either. Gack. Makes me feel like engaging over there is a total waste of time.

  12. 20

    I listened to JT on the latest Thinking Atheist podcast and that sure was a letdown. Had they never approached the topic of Ron Lindsay and feminists, I would have really enjoyed the episode. JT’s smart, articulate, and can hold his own on a variety of topics.

    But then they ventured into the WIS conference and both he and Seth were clearly out of their depths. JT stands with what Lindsay said at the conference, he said, that feminists would be a-okay by him if they just learned how to comport themselves better. That’s right. Comport. As in comportment. JT conveniently ignored the fact that Lindsay’s entire talk was built around strawfeminists and unwelcome mansplaining. Instead, JT says feminists are pretty much to blame for how they reacted to Lindsay’s reasonable talk because they don’t comport themselves well. It was sickening to listen to.

    JT is smart in a lot of ways, but he needs to take several steps back and not offer up opinions on these matters until he has a much better handle on things. He’s doing nobody any favors … well, unless someone out there considers it a favor to be advised by a man about you should comport yourself when people belittle you.

    Seth should just STFU, too, until he has a better handle. At a minimum — since he admits to trying to stay away from such controversies — he should have waited until he had someone on who was a bit more awares instead of asking JT — who sits on the sidelines and clearly has nothing to add to the discussion — to asplain it to him. It was an embarrassment.

    I know I’m on the sidelines, too, but after reading those comments on JTs blog and after hearing him on the podcast, I’m with Stephanie on the civility issue. Fuck it.

  13. 24

    Fuck civility
    I said it before and I said it again: Some positions are inherently uncivil, no matter how nice the language is. To insist that the other side remains “civil” is nothing more than handing the abusers a mallet to beat the abused over the head with.
    If remaining civil is your thing, by all means stay “civil”. But don’t fucking insist that I have to follow your lead.

    As for JT, he’s trying to do the biggest act of fence-sitting and can’t we all be friends? bullshit possible. Al Stefanelli a really good guy who wants suffering to end? Yeah, if you have a dick. He especially wants the suffering of being told that your dick isn’t the centre of the universe to end.

    In his original post JT actually demonstrates privilege in action: He’s not a victim of their abuse, harassment or their constant attacks on our rights, so he can keep on thinking what nice people they are. And he then goes on to lecture the victims about civility while completely ignoring the hate on his own forum, probably because Greg Laden has been mentioned who must have become the ultimate person everybody is allowed to pick on.
    And since we had this discussion before: No, I don’t think he’s a Saint, I had my issues with him, too and I have no interest wahtsoever to read or participate on his blogs.
    But that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore the shit flung at him, the harassment and abuse he’s suffered and especially not the splash damage on other people just because Greg Laden has a tendency to say stupid things and is a horrible blog-host.

  14. 25

    D. C. Sessions:

    …manners lawyers…

    The phrase “manners lawyers” is a good one. The “civility” that many of these people promote isn’t really civility, but a rules-lawyered version of civility, where they get to pick the rules. They’re allowed to say the nastiest things, so long as they conform to various rules about “tone”, but if anyone hits back, their comment is inevitably condemned as “uncivil”.

  15. 26

    I’m confused.

    I read that comment as well, but didn’t reply because I seriously had *no idea* what he was talking about or what it meant, so I just ignored it.

    I really don’t see how JT can be blamed for not catching it, because he himself said he had no idea what it meant, either. I think it’s quite unfair to accuse him of providing a forum for harassment. How was he supposed to know?

    And personally? I don’t think telling people to “fuck off” is going to do much good, as it will only give them another weapon to use against you. “Oh, look, she tells people to fuck off all the time, and then criticizes others when they say it…what a hypocrite.”

  16. 27

    Are you making it a point to hold up how much me being harassed pisses you off as part of your feminist credentials? If not, you may be fine. If you are, and someone is using your space to say something hostile about me, you might, oh, I don’t know, want to spend a moment figuring out what’s going on.

    On the other hand, now that you do know, what are you doing about the situation aside from telling me it’s unfair for me to complain?

    Anyone who can find me criticizing someone for saying, “fuck off”, is welcome to call me a hypocrite. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t try until you’d actually seen me do that, though.

  17. 28


    I’m confused.

    That’s noticable

    I read that comment as well, but didn’t reply because I seriously had *no idea* what he was talking about or what it meant, so I just ignored it.

    I really don’t see how JT can be blamed for not catching it, because he himself said he had no idea what it meant, either. I think it’s quite unfair to accuse him of providing a forum for harassment. How was he supposed to know?

    A) The meme that Greg is sexually dependent on Stephanie has been around for a while. I don’t say you should have been aware of it, but if JT doesn’t know as much about the harassment his friends endure he should probably just not open his mouth about it.
    B) Even if he didn’t know, that comment is one big fat amount of misogyny. Those tropes about women sexually dominating men and shit. Really, you don’t even have to know the people mentioned to recognize that
    C) It would still be misogynist bullshit if Greg and Stephanie were fucking, see above
    D) This comment was made on a post where JT complains about Greg doing something in that general direction to him. I’m saying general direction because those things are not equal, but if JT were actually opposed to accusing people of just doing it for the fucking then he should have said something. But apparently he is only opposed to being told so himself. If the target is “deserving” then people can make all the bullshit claims they want, who cares if that means Stephanie, whom he claims to be his friend, gets thrown under the bus, too?

  18. 29

    And personally? I don’t think telling people to “fuck off” is going to do much good, as it will only give them another weapon to use against you. “Oh, look, she tells people to fuck off all the time, and then criticizes others when they say it…what a hypocrite.

    Oh really?

    “Fuck off”.

    Are you going to use that as a weapon against me? Then you’re a horrible person not worth bothering with. Thanks for failing the “civility” test. Better luck next time!

  19. 30

    I don’t think telling people to “fuck off” is going to do much good, as it will only give them another weapon to use against you. “Oh, look, she tells people to fuck off all the time, and then criticizes others when they say it…what a hypocrite.”

    What the fuck are you talking about? Having read Stephanie for years, she has no problem with others saying “fuck off”.

  20. 31


    I don’t know if you saw my comment, but I had no idea what Gadfly was even on about. I suspected it was a dig at you and said that if it was that it was pretty weak. But I didn’t know.

    I honestly haven’t looked at comments on that post since there were 30ish. If you’d like, you can send me an email about what he’s talking about. If he’s being a harasser, I’ll gladly denounce him. Happily, in a blog post.

    The only reason I didn’t say anything other than that I was unimpressed with the commenter and his comment is because I didn’t know what he was saying. :

  21. 33

    And what’s more, if an asshole leaves a comment on my blog, I don’t think it’s fair to take that as my endorsement of what the asshole said. I don’t respond to most comments, mostly because it takes enough of my time reading the news and blogging as it is. And on this occasion, I’m at my childhood home trying to squeeze as much time in with my brother as possible.

    Stephanie has been very good to me in my life and I admire her greatly. Anybody who thinks I have anything but disdain for people who harass her (and they do) is simply wrong.

  22. 34

    I’ll look it up and see, Steph.


    “Nor did JT fucking concur. JT’s statement was, “What? Uh, I dunno. Not worth my attention.””

    That wasn’t what I said at all. I said I didn’t know what he was talking about but that if it was a dig at you that it was pretty weak.

    Another comment here bugged me:

    “As far as I understand, JT thinks he’s being fair/doing something good. He thinks that’s the way to go and that he’s being an ally to women with this legitimization of harassers.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever done this. I have always denounced the harassers and will do so again in this comment. Vacula and his ilk are slime. I’ve never, ever said otherwise. I don’t think anybody should befriend them and I think dividing our movement to exclude the pitters is absolutely the right thing to do.

    This is what worried me most about even writing the posts I did, and why so many disclaimers and clarifications were included, to make my words as difficult to misconstrue as possible. I tried to be perfectly clear that I despise the people who have harassed Stephanie. I’m honestly not sure how much more clear I could’ve been. :

  23. 35

    JT — this is a really common theme. Learn to be aware of it.

    I am constantly informed that the only reason I support women is because I want sex from them. I have been sent pornographic sagas about me having sex with Rebecca Watson, a woman young enough to be my daughter. This recent noise from Adelaide featured Mark Senior claiming I had groupies and that I was ogling them lasciviously…all stuff in the mind of that author.

    It is one of the first and most common accusations these assholes — and I definitely include Steve Snyder among the assholes, even if his ego is so colossal that he refuses to side with the slyme, despite sharing the same attitudes — that they attempt to discredit every effort at equality by imputing their motives to others.

  24. 36

    I don’t want a blog post. I don’t want more words. I want the comment section in which I am now being abused by several people from the slime pit because I objected to the abuse of one person being allowed to stand to be dealt with. I’m done with words. I’m done with disclaimers. I want action.

  25. 37

    I think it’s quite unfair to accuse him of providing a forum for harassment. How was he supposed to know?

    Not knowing indicates a lack of information. Every forum that addresses this issue becomes a forum for harassment. If the forum is pro-feminist, they harass the blogger. If the forum is anti-feminist (or perceived to be), they cheer the blogger and harass the feminists. JT simply didn’t see what was right in front of his face.

  26. 38

    So- I listed to The Thinking Atheist as well the other night, and was pretty much astounded by the whole dialogue surrounding the WIS topic. For those who missed it, it was something like: (heavily paraphrased)
    Seth: I try to stay out of controversy. Whats the scoop on this controversy?
    JT: Well, some feminists got mad. And that scares people away.
    Seth: Why were they mad?
    JT: There are some sexist people, so feminists get really mad when they think someone is being sexist. And that scares people away.
    Seth: I’ve been to lots of conferences, I’ve never seen any sexism. Have you?
    JT: Nope, not really. There isn’t much, and when there is, it is bad, let me repeat, bad, but yeah, they get really angry, and that scares people away.
    Seth: Okay, case closed. Thanks JT!

  27. 42


    …I don’t think it’s fair to take that as my endorsement of what the asshole said.

    That’s not what was said.

    The point is that on a blog post where you brought up your anger towards Svan’s harrassers, you failed to show any anger or disdain at all towards one of them. The worst you said was that it was weak. Your response was weak. A weak response to prevalent harrassment and abuse just after expressing anger at said abuse is really fucking annoying, to say the least.

  28. 45

    I’m the Chimako the jackass mentioned. And I didn’t respond because it was so obviously stupid beyond belief. Somebody like that person who obviously has serious reading comprehension skills is not going to even fucking read anything I put there. As far as everybody else, you know what, I gave up the “educate the masses” bullshit a while back. I think I downvoted the comment and moved on because I already had another argument on another post with a bullshit comment that I was dealing with.

  29. 46

    So let me see if I’ve got this right. Failure to moderate the comments section of your blog (to your satisfaction) makes you a sexist enabler. Got it. Consistently speaking in support of feminist causes and goals. That doesn’t matter. Apologizing for not understanding a certain comment. That doesn’t matter. Seeking guidance on how best to address the perceived wrong? That doesn’t matter.

    This is ridiculous.

    I’m sending CFI and JT a donation now.

  30. 47

    Stephanie, you don’t know me, but I just wanted you to know that I think Expecting More is a place alot of us end up. (Not your words, but that describes how your sentiment felt to me). And that is okay. Why shouldn’t you expect better from JT? Why should you have to read ridiculously (are all of his commenters that long winded? sheesh) long comments on his blog about how wrong you are for blah blah, and couldn’t you be more charitable, and don’t you know you are the reason these dudes don’t comment on feminist issues 24/7? You shouldn’t. I wish JT would get the point and stop feeding into atheists dudes fear of feminism. So, yeah, I hope it gets better.

  31. 48

    I’m going to cross-post this:

    Stephanie, I see what the problem is: you’re a piss-poor ‘feminist ally’ ally. Don’t you understand that sometimes you need to put aside your personal needs and the needs of women in general, so that you can better advance the goals of ‘feminist ally’-ism? You need to accept that the priorities of feminist allies aren’t often going to be your priorities or the priorities of feminism… and which one is really more important? Stop trying to hijack feminist ally-ism with your feminism nonsense!

  32. 51

    I’ve been reading FTB, Skepchick, and Patheos blogs for the last couple of years, and have kept up with what is going on. I know the major players, but I don’t have time to read all the comments on every blog I read. I read too many of them for that.

    IMHO, it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to know the minute details of each individual harasser and recognize their names and the themes they use. That particular comment was very vague, and to someone not in the know, it was just a word salad. My personal take when I saw it was that it was a some sort of reference to Greg and Stephanie being a team, or one of a kind. It didn’t occur to me that it had a sexual context, much less that it had something to do with Stephanie being sexually dominant.

    I think then, that the contention that JT should have somehow known and reacted differently is unfair. He has given a perfectly plausible explanation for why he failed to respond or delete it. Go on and criticize his latest blog posts on Ron Lindsey, but accusing him of providing a forum for harassers as if he supports them is unreasonable. He’s not perfect, but he IS an ally. It would be a mistake to attack him for this.

    As for civility, it’s frustrating and it’s unfair that we can’t give back to them the same they give us without being called hypocritical, but it’s also pointless because you can’t hurt them with words. It may relive your stress momentarily, but the name-calling and cursing at people is only giving them more to screech about.

  33. 52

    @50: I think you’re missing the entirely reasonable point that JT knows and knew exactly what the issues were, and why the post was offensive to Stephanie (and Greg, FWIW).

    Your lack of knowledge does not mean that everyone lacks knowledge. Just because it is unknown by you, does not also mean it is unknowable.

    You’re using an “atheists of the gap” argument.

  34. 53

    Or, you know, since this issue pisses him off so much, he could have asked.

    blondeintokyo, if I go over to that thread at JT’s, am I going to see you expressing any kind of disapproval of Steve Snyder, or am I the person you think really needs to get with the program? Actually, I already know the answer to that. By the way, he’s still providing a forum for the pitters who showed up as soon as they got word that I was objecting to abuse somewhere on the internet. Still commenting merrily away.

  35. 54

    Ramen, Stephanie.
    I’m sorry you had to make that comment, but I’m glad that you made it…and wrote this post.

    Shame on you, JT Eberhard of Camels With Hammers WWJDT. [Edited at commenter request.] You’re allowing YET ANOTHER demonstration of why civility ALONE is not only completely inadequate, but perpetuates abuse.

  36. 55

    Camels with Hammers is Dan Fincke. I have no idea whether he saw Steve’s comment. I do know he’s offered me advice on how to not get harassed. I also know he’s Facebook friends with Steve. Steve commented on Dan’s Greg-shaming post there.

  37. 56

    Oh, Sh*t, you’re right, Stephanie! Delete or edit my comment as necessary, (and as it is your right as blog owner to do!)

    I meant JT of “WWJTD” (as opposed to the JT of “Lousy Canuck”).

    I’m such a BAD ally-ally, I can’t even keep my allies straight!

    I screwed up. I’m sorry.

  38. 57

    Oops. Chimako, I missed your comment. Thank you for the down-vote. That would be the only one other than mine before “Guest” left their comment. It made the whole thing slightly less lonely.

  39. 58


    I didn’t reply to that comment because I didn’t know what he was talking about. When I am reasonably informed and know how to respond, I go at ‘em like a motherfvcker. This time though, I had no clue what it was about or how to respond. When I saw JT’s answer, I thought, “Well, I have no idea either.” so I moved on to read other comments to see if I could add anything further on.

    I don’t think JT can be blamed for not asking. There are hundreds of comments, other things had his attention, and he can’t be blamed for not knowing that particular comment was from someone you’d had problems with in the past, or for not realizing it was much worse than it seemed to be on the surface. To the casual eye, it’s just a word salad and a vague reference to you and Greg being a team. As I said before, no one can be expected to keep up with all the different player or know all their memes. The major ones are well-known, but there are so many bit players it’s impossible to keep up with them all.

    JT makes mistakes, but he’s an overall good guy and deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt, and doesn’t deserve the barbs some of the commenters here are throwing at him. They are unfounded, and they are unfair.

    To be clear, I’m not calling for civility. I know it’s useless because the harassers don’t have the ability to be civil. What I am saying however, is that calling the harassers names and cursing at them is futile. It only amuses them and gives them justification to claim that you are no better than they are. And oh, how they love that meme! It’s one of their favourites to trot out to justify their own name calling.

    I lose my temper like anyone else does, but after doing so a few times I realized that being coldly rational works in my favour.

  40. 59

    To be clear, I’m not calling for civility.

    Except you are. Or at least, you seem to be calling for being “coldly rational”

    I lose my temper like anyone else does, but after doing so a few times I realized that being coldly rational works in my favour.

    Alright, I will take this anecdote under consideration. I find that, at times, being angry and acerbic, in addition to being justified, also works in my favor. Are you calling for everyone to attempt to comment like emotionless vulcans?

  41. 61

    And that’s pretty much all the unfairness I can find here, unless sarcasm is somehow inherently unfair. I see some things JT didn’t understand and didn’t ask about, but nothing unfair.

  42. 64

    OK, thanks, Jason of the Hockey, Beer and Bacon Deficits. I’ll remember that.
    (I can keep you and JT straight, it was just that I’d confused one civility-without-context-pusher with another.)

  43. TCC

    As someone who has read your writing with interest for a while, I am genuinely bemused by this whole deal. I am confused first by why you decided to take this public rather than to contact JT directly and say, “Listen, this guy with a two-and-a-half-year history of harassing me made a horribly sexist statement about me on your blog, and since I don’t know if you’ve seen it yet, I thought I would point your attention to it since I’m tired of this guy getting a platform to spew his hateful speech about me.” It sounds to me like you assumed that JT wasn’t being a good ally and thus didn’t treat him as you would someone who you esteemed to be such. (At least, I hope you deal with problems like this privately when you’re on good terms with someone. If not, that’s very troubling – but I have no reason to think otherwise outside of this one case.) I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt based on the history (which I know little of other than what you mentioned on JT’s blog), so I don’t fault you for reacting strongly. But for some reason, you insist on maintaining this as an open, public, internecine fight, and frankly, were I in JT’s shoes, I wouldn’t be running to comply with your demands, which come across as petulant and unreasonable (to the point where you explicitly said that you wouldn’t respond to an E-mail, a medium much better suited to personal resolution, until certain demands are met). The initial request – stand up to the misogynists who comment on your blog – certainly isn’t, but at this point, JT has made several concessions with virtually nothing from your end. For all of your statements about JT’s moderation policy being “ineffectual,” this approach strikes me as being equally so.

    I don’t consider myself on the fence in these wars between FTB and the slymepit, feminists vs. anti-feminists, etc. I am opposed to the slymepit, the #FTBullies crowd on Twitter, and so forth; I frequently read and agree with FTB and Skepchick bloggers on matters of feminism and harassment. But I’m not blind, and I end up seeing what those people say about how a certain segment (which generally includes you and Ophelia; it bears repeating that I both read and respect each of your writing) will vilify anyone who strays from “ideological purity” or shows the slightest hints of deviating from a set “dogma” of feminism. I think all of that is bullshit in general, but this mess with JT plays right into those hands, honestly. I don’t know what you mean to accomplish at this point – maybe shaming JT for not responding in a certain way is enough – but I can’t see anything good coming out of this in the least. You’re not in a position to genuinely educate JT about things he missed (although it appears that others have done so more effectively, like PZ), and so there can’t be any growth, only more division. I don’t know about anyone else, but I tire of avoidable divisions. You don’t have to stop being outraged and angry at people like Steve Snyder spewing their hate, but you do have to think of more productive ways to help make more safe spaces free from harassment. As it stands, this method doesn’t seem to have worked well.

    (And if you prefer, I would welcome an E-mail with more of your side. I genuinely would prefer a peaceful resolution rather than further escalation. Please don’t just write me off as a bad ally. I wouldn’t even claim to be one – but I am also not the enemy. That distinction is worth noting.)

  44. 66

    David Shores

    So let me see if I’ve got this right. Failure to moderate the comments section of your blog (to your satisfaction) makes you a sexist enabler.

    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Very. easy.
    If you provide sexists and harassers a space you enable their sexism and harassment. You can thank Captain Obvious for that.
    If you had to follow a logical conclusion out of a paper bag you’d probably be lost…

  45. 67

    TCC, thank you for at least doing something in that thread.

    JT doesn’t have to “comply with my demands”. He has other options. What he does need to do is walk the talk or stop talking. He needs to either find an effective way to keep harassment from happening in the comment threads that are under his control or tell the world he isn’t going to bother. He needs to say, “Well, yes, I care, but not enough to change anything.”

    You know what he’s doing now instead? He’s letting the slime pit use those comment threads and refusing to clean it up because someone said something about him he doesn’t like. He’s turned how I feel after years of being told I shouldn’t stand up for myself except in the most polite ways because it’s “divisive” into a referendum on whether it’s the worst thing in the world that his feelings were hurt by my reaction to watching harassment go unchallenged. He’s allowing the harassers free run of his site. He’s not stopping them. He’s not challenging them. He’s not arguing with them. He’s just letting them run free.

    You know what JT could have done? He could have said, “Wow. That’s what he was saying? Fuck, I missed that. Nice comment.” That isn’t what he did.

    I’m angry at watching these movements accomplish a whole lot of nothing while telling me I can’t fix things my way. I said so. He doesn’t like that I expressed my anger. He’s actively accommodating the harassers he said just a couple of days ago were horrible people.

    That’s not walking the talk.

  46. 68

    Stephanie, I’m completly in agreement…I’ve tried to show up and be another voice letting JT know he’s messing up by giving them free reign in the comments, but so far can’t tell if he’s listening anymore.

    Basically he’s missing the point that you’re not telling him what to do…you’re telling him to stop saying he’s an ally if he can’t be bothered to show it in his actions…not just words. And I like that you’ve clarified here you’re not calling for him to ban…just to do SOMETHING besides write separate posts. Ignoring the past comment threads that are still active and abusive IS NOT HELPING 🙂

  47. 70

    but you do have to think of more productive ways to help make more safe spaces free from harassment.

    It’s JT’s blog. Why is it Stephanie’s job to make JT’s blog free of harassment? He should clean up his own space.

  48. TCC

    Stephanie: I’m not able to make an extended response at the moment (on my phone at the moment), but in the meantime, thank you for your generally civil reply and acknowledgment of my role in condemning Snyder on JT’s blog. I’ll get back with some further remarks later, but your response does get me closer to agreement on a few things, which is what I was hoping for. I still am sincerely curious as to what purpose you mean to accomplish, though, since that would change my response to your actions thus far. I hope to engage JT in a similar way (not because I’m attempting to mediate but because I like and respect both of you).

  49. TCC

    Okay. First, I want to reiterate my question about why this wasn’t taken care of privately. Any blame that comes after that is solely on the head of the person who faulted (so, for instance, if JT’s response was also at fault, you don’t deserve blame because you failed to take it private first, even if it might have prevented JT’s reaction). This is not a “gotcha” question – I am struggling to understand why you thought that calling JT out publicly would be better than letting him know privately that you were upset (and I think even JT agrees that this was an understandable reaction). Maybe you don’t think it was the best move but that it was the move that you made, for better or worse. I’m not asking in order to condemn; I’m asking to understand. I think that a good lesson that could come out of this is how our movement could benefit from backchannel, private, one-on-one engagement rather than these public flame wars (and yes, that’s essentially what we have here now). Again, maybe you disagree, but it’s an issue worth noting here, in my opinion.

    Let me get back around to my point about the efficacy of your actions (and this might answer Pteryxx’s inquiry about your responsibility in this matter). My background is in education, and one of the things I find the most exasperating about teaching is the issue of motivation. I think I’m a pretty competent teacher in terms of understanding good instruction and the knowledge base of my content area, but none of that matters if I can’t get my students to buy into what I’m teaching (especially when grades don’t always do it for a lot of my students). Is it my fault that some of my students may not care about the material I teach or indeed about education at all? No, I don’t think so, but on the other hand, if I have a goal to teach those students, motivation does become part of my responsibility – not just because it’s what I’m paid to do but because it’s part of my ethical obligations as an educator. (That doesn’t make it any less frustrating, of course).

    So when I ask you if you think this approach is helpful, I’m not saying that you have a responsibility to clean up JT’s blog – not even close. That would be entirely unrealistic. But insofar as your interactions do play a part in the actions of the person most capable of cleaning up JT’s blog – JT, naturally – you do need to have some consideration of how you could best act to facilitate that. If I want a student to trust me enough to know that I have their best interests at heart in teaching them the proper use of the passive voice (for instance), then demeaning them will obviously be counterproductive. Calling JT here (I can’t tell exactly if you did so first on JT’s post or here, but I am presuming that it happened here; please correct me if I’ve assumed wrongly) is exactly the kind of move that will put him on the defensive and make him less likely to respond promptly. (I should note that, as of this comment, JT has closed comments on the offending post. Whether you think that’s too little, too late is of course another matter.) At the very least, it would be perhaps prudent to consider how you approach the issue, which is why I’ve been harping on the issue of handling matters like these privately first (again, unless there’s some prior reason to think that JT has a grudge against you that would prohibit useful private discussion – but even so, you could initiate that, and if nothing happens, then you take it public).

    JT has had his own failings here, of course, and he’s admitted some of them. He didn’t understand the “guys who are feminists just do so to get laid” trope (and I confess that I knew about it but didn’t connect it to Snyder’s comment), and PZ clued him in on that. That new understanding makes what was before a weird, nonsensical comment – which is what I saw it as, initially – into a demonstrably sexist comment against you. That’s a really big point that I think has been somewhat underplayed here and which does change the calculus somewhat as to what JT’s motivations are (and let’s be honest, a lot of aspersions have been cast simply by the accusations of “bad ally”). He certainly let that thread go on too long, but the thread suffered somewhat from a backlash against your condemnation of JT’s moderation tactics (at the very, very least) and it spiraled out of control. It’s over now, essentially, although I wouldn’t be surprised if those same despicable characters like Pitchguest and Richard Sanderson creep back around to make the most of this. (That is at least one unintended effect here, unfortunately.)

    Possibly, JT does need to change tactics, or maybe this is a one-off thing that resulted because of the conflagration of mentioning Greg Laden and sex in the title and the fact that it was in the context of the Ron Lindsay debacle. I don’t know. What I really care about is putting this whole mess behind us without either you or JT writing the other one off for it. Maybe that’s not a danger (were that I could be so lucky, save for all of the pixels I’ve wasted if so), but I’m not confident in that. Many of your commenters seem very eager to write off JT, for instance, and I see similar threads among JT’s commenters (FTR, I’m not a regular commenter there, either). Neither outcome seems like a good one from this often-ridiculous incident.

    Sorry about inundating you with a long comment, but I just hope to understand and maybe help give a different perspective here. As I’ve said, you have every right to be angry about and stand up against people who harass you, but it’s better if the people you stand up against aren’t people who would be willing to do the same if they knew.

  50. 73

    I admit it, I’m a total hypocrite. This morning I got mad at someone on Facebook for saying gay people should be embarrassed to be gay. He said the reason I protested his comment was because -get this- I’ve been “brainwashed” by Marxism, which of course doesn’t even make sense since I was born gay and didn’t need a philosopher to brainwash me to know there is nothing to be ashamed of. But by then I had had it, so I just lost it and said, “fuck you, you bigoted homophobic asshole.” And man, did it feel goooooood. 🙂

    But I DO do my best to keep in mind that seeing me lose it is exactly what the trolls, harassers, and general assholes WANT to see. I actually feel like I’m getting something over them when I DON’T lose my temper, and defeating them purely with logic is a much sweeter victory than simply cursing at them.

    Should we all try to be emotionless like Mr. Spock? Actually, yes i think so. I think answering in a purely logical fashion without emotion does a lot more for our cause than does vitriol and insults. But being as we aren’t Vulcan, we will all fail in our ability to do this some of the time, and I rather think that is okay too.

    I don’t blame Stephanie for her reaction at all. I don’t think she should have to be civil to people who are not civil to her. But I do think it is to our advantage to show them that we can rise above them, and prove them wrong without resorting to personal insults and name calling.

  51. 75


    Possibly, JT does need to change tactics, or maybe this is a one-off thing that resulted because of the conflagration of mentioning Greg Laden and sex in the title and the fact that it was in the context of the Ron Lindsay debacle. I don’t know. […] Many of your commenters seem very eager to write off JT, for instance, and I see similar threads among JT’s commenters (FTR, I’m not a regular commenter there, either). Neither outcome seems like a good one from this often-ridiculous incident.

    The possibility exists that the commenters, and even the host of this blog, have more background knowledge than you do. Hint: It’s not a one-off. This might be helpful:


  52. 76

    How one reacts to negative comments on line is entirely subjective and
    depends on both the nature of the comment and the state of mind that
    one is in at the time = I myself have no truck with anger and absolutely
    refuse to give in to it no matter what is being said about me = Or to me
    And in three years it has held = I hope it carries on doing so too = And
    I refuse to accept responsibility for the words of anyone else = And no
    matter what they may be = Nor shall I condemn anyone for saying any
    thing = Though in total contrast accept full and absolute responsibility
    for everything I have said since old enough and I am more than happy
    to be taken to pieces where necessary = And I occasionally apologise
    if I deem it necessary though only ever attack ideas not individuals = I
    am sorry for what has happened to Stephanie and so hope that it can
    be resolved amicably = Though it should not have been said however

  53. 77


    First, I want to reiterate my question about why this wasn’t taken care of privately.

    Hmm. So I’m supposed to respond privately to a segment of the secular and skeptical movements that tries to police my behavior? Is there an email list? And then I’m supposed to give an accounting of my behavior to any random person who asks so they can act as an arbiter of fault?

    Look, this is a public, political situation. I am one of several people who have been harassed in these movements for years on end. I am one of many more who have been told–quite publicly–that while sexist abuse isn’t going to be shut out of the conversational spaces of these movements, responses to it have to be measured so as not to upset the powers that be. Nothing that’s happening here is private and personal.

    Also, don’t show up to this two years in and expect “Talk to them privately” to be either a new perspective or untried. I don’t get any different responses when I approach the men in this movement on this topic privately than I do publicly. As I said, this has been going on for years. They know what’s going on. We all know what’s going on. They make their choices–and feel they should have some degree of control over my reactions–in as much knowledge of the situation as they’re going to accept.

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