Once upon a time, that time being March of this year, Rebecca Watson participated in a panel discussion of Reddit at SXSW with Gawker’s Adrian Chen and Slate’s Farhad Manjoo. The panel is best known for Imgur founder Alan Schaaf’s apparent inability to understand that Q&A time is for questions, but it also garnered a certain amount of the standard Rebecca/woman-ha-opinion-a hatred. This time, it involved Wikipedia vandalism in addition to the standard Twitter mob.
Rebecca tweeted about the Wiki vandalism: “I point out bigotry on Reddit at SXSW. Redditors vandalize my wiki page, send me insults, and attack other women w a similar name. They mad”. Many responses called Rebecca a liar, denying that making a small (incorrect) change to a quote, like a small graffiti tag, constituted vandalism.
One person went a different route. Someone who goes by the Twitter handle @SUICIDEBOMBS, who claims to be Australian, tweeted instead to Sara Mayhew. The original tweet is gone, and Mayhew’s Twitter account has been suspended for several days, because “bullies” reported her for something unspecified, because The Block Bot has somehow automated the mass reporting of tweets for something unspecified, or because she bought 25,000 followers, depending on who is talking when. (Whatever it was for, she had apparently been warned.) However, her retweet was captured earlier.
Are you kidding? RT
@SUICIDEBOMBS: “Pfft, she IS a Jew though.” – Rebecca Watson overheard at Pineapple Bar, Austin, TX. Talking about you?
@SUICIDEBOMBS srsly, this is a joke and not something actually overheard, right?
The picture was a reference to someone having vandalized Mayhew’s Wikipedia page in order to call her “an ugly Jew”. That vandalism happened a month before Rebecca’s page was vandalized.
At the time I looked in March, there was no answer to Mayhew’s question. There was, however, plenty to indicate that Mayhew knew Rebecca had said the allegations were false. (Update: Rebecca noted on Facebook that the bar in which she was alleged to have said this doesn’t even exist.)
If you look at the @SUICIDEBOMBS account now, most of it has been deleted, but this is part of what remains.
@TheRealRoseanne: I’m so over atheist ignorance of Judaism. It can b proved scientifically” wildly ignorant Jew cunt.
So, what we have is an allegation that Rebecca said that someone was a Jew. This allegation comes from someone who was blogging long posts on their Tumblr during SXSW, who lives in Australia, who has a hate on for a particular faction within organized atheism, and who uses Jew as an insult. We have Mayhew’s disbelief at the time she was told and Rebecca’s denial when she saw the allegation.
Flash forward to a few days ago, when Mayhew’s account was suspended.
Want to know why the
#FTBullies don’t like Sara Mayhew and Michael Shermer? Well, from cultural background do they both hail from?
That tweet, from the person who made up a walkout at SkepchickCon and cited the infamous email to Justin Griffiths to support calling Greg Laden a “woman abuser”, was apparently enough to make it all true–or true enough for Mayhew to repeat. From the account she used to promote her short-lived video series, which she revived to protest her suspension:
Richard Dawkins is SO clueless w/
#honeygate. Such privilege checking needed. Worse then when Rebecca Watson called Sara Mayhew “ugly Jew”.
Um, Rebecca Watson, you can’t call Sara Mayhew an “ugly Jew”, you’re not Jewish! You only have ugly privilege, duh.
Why did she get suspended again? From a friends-only post on Facebook (link will show, “Content not currently available”, if you’re not friends with her):
Sara Mayhew: Skepchicks are so quick to twist people’s comments into HORRIBLE bigotry. But what about when Rebecca Watson called me an “ugly Jew”?
Don’t need to twist that, ya stupid jerk face!
Derek Soulliere: Oh man, do you have a screenshot?
I’m told she did not provide a screenshot, not even the pic of the Wikipedia page she used back when she was questioning whether Rebecca had said anything that had been overhead in an Austin bar. Instead of just repeating a tweet made in the middle of a Twitter firestorm and asking whether it was connected to a northern California IP calling her “an ugly Jew”, Mayhew is now conflating the two events and repeating them as fact.
Nor is this going unnoticed. The usual suspects on the #FtBullies hashtag are running with the idea and citing Mayhew when asked to provide proof.
If Mayhew was flirting with libel before, now she’s diving in (as seems to be a trend). I don’t know what her game is here, what she thinks she has to gain, but it’s an ugly one. And she can only lose.
Update: See Sara Mayhew’s response.