Peter Boghossian didn’t stop making an ass of himself with the tweets I noted earlier this week. He’s still at it, and he’s gotten worse. After someone pointed him to my post, he tweeted at me.
— Peter Boghossian (@peterboghossian) September 24, 2014
He didn’t actually block me, so I responded to him.
Yes, once again, he was parodying a strawman. Still, I tried to think what he could possibly be referring to. The Block Bot picking up slyme pitters? It could be, though we’ve been over that before. Being a participant in a place that has no purpose except targeting a group of people for abuse goes far beyond “association”.
I thought about a few more options, none of which were close enough to what Boghossian said to settle on. (Yes, I do have a tendency to try to find some sense in nonsense.) Then I thought about when, ages ago, Melody Hensley said she was blocking people who followed accounts like @AngrySkepchick. It still didn’t match Boghossian’s tweet, but it was as close as I could get.
Still, I thought he couldn’t be referring to that. He wouldn’t have been holding onto that as some outrage for nearly two years. He wouldn’t mock the efforts of someone with (at that point) acute stress disorder to take some control of her environment. He wouldn’t be painting Melody’s efforts to avoid the stimuli that were causing her problems as a bad thing. Would he?
While I still don’t know whether he meant to reference Melody, the rest of my questions were answered in short order. He would. He did.
@SpokesGay Banned. Demeans the experience of veterans who actually suffer from PTSD.
— Peter Boghossian (@peterboghossian) September 25, 2014
Now, if you’ve forgotten what happened the last time someone stirred up the “fake PTSD” and “demeaning veterans” bullshit regarding Melody, go read this very small sample. No, the whole thing. Read it and understand that it’s only a small part of the torrent she received then. Understand too that several people have told me that Boghossian tweeting about them stirred up a great deal of harassment on Twitter. It’s not Thunderf00t levels, because, well, it’s just Boghossian, but it has been significant enough for multiple independent comments. Melody, needless to say, did not care for the idea of Boghossian–with whom she had not been interacting–stirring up more harassment for her, and she let that be known.
I decided to call his bluff. I did not then and do not currently believe he had any intention of resigning. What he did instead was put pressure on CFI over the situation.
Now here is where this goes off the rails. They helped him.
Individual employees are not authorized to call for a ban on speakers; any such decision must be made by CFI management. No further comment. — Center for Inquiry (@center4inquiry) September 25, 2014
Dearest Center for Inquiry, let me clue you in on one thing: Your employee absolutely has the authority to call for someone who is abusing her to be shut out of opportunities. She doesn’t have the authority to keep everyone in your organization from giving him those opportunities, but she has every right to ask and to ask publicly.
Not only that, but it’s really about time you stop treating her like some embarrassingly mouthy woman and give some serious thought to what she’s asking for as an employee. If you try to tell her that she has to sit down and take that from someone you do business with and promote, you should maybe talk to people who can explain to you in detail what a hostile environment is. Also a whistleblower. Also retaliation.
Then you should be really damned careful in both how you talk to her and how you talk about her. That is particularly true if this:
I will be taking a break from social media for awhile. I’ll see you when I get back. — Melody Hensley (@MelodyHensley) September 25, 2014
…has anything to do with action on your part, rather than a new uptick in harassment.
Even if the circumstances of your interactions with Boghossian or the indirectness of his behavior mean that maybe a court would let you get away with that, get your heads out of the sand. Sure, you think you’re all fine because you don’t want to invite Michael Shermer to anything since you feel he screwed you over* in starting the Skeptic Society, but stop for a minute.
Do you really want to be the group that is most visibly hanging one of its female employees out to dry right now over her being attacked by a male speaker?
That’s what you’re setting yourselves up for. Melody developed PTSD in your employ. She was targeted for harassment in large part because she started a very successful feminist conference for your organization. She received no small amount of the abuse that led to the PTSD at her office and on your social media accounts. Every wave of harassment has involved calls to fire her that you haven’t publicly called for an end to.
Now you want to tell her she can’t object to that publicly and say that isn’t an acceptable way to treat women who work for atheist organizations? You want to tell that to the world?
You have no idea how far down the rabbit hole you’ve gone that this didn’t immediately sound like a terrible idea. If you think you can just call harassment over a disability a condition of working in the movement, you need to stop and figure out what choices led you here. Sort out how it is that you decided feminist power needed to be so opposed that you came to say someone egging on harassment needed to be protected over your own employee.
The rest of us don’t care how it happened, but we’re sure as hell not going to take that lying down, for our own sakes as well as Melody’s.
*Update: There used to be a link here that went to a discussion of rumors that should have been put to rest ages ago but continue to circulate as recently as this year, when I heard them. If you’re really interested, you can still find them discussed here. The linked post was taken down because people wanted to argue with the person who put it up, as though that has anything at all to do with the point of this post. Congratulations on utter irrelevancy, whoever decided that the important thing to do was argue more about something that had already been settled in the comments I linked to.