A couple of days ago, I posted a piece thinking through what it means to provide a haven for rapists. Someone left this comment on the post. Pitters have poured massive amounts of time and energy into spreading this idea that it’s worth looking at in detail.
Of course, the burning issue is whether the support and protection of Ogvorbis, a confessed child rapist, here at FreeThoughtBlogs, makes some bloggers such as PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson, and you, “a haven for rapists”. This depends on what the likes of PZ means by “a haven for rapists”.
We know for sure that FTB most certainly is a “haven” for at least ONE rapist, and a couple of others who have been accused of rape. I don’t know of any rapists at Mick’s blog. I’ve checked over there quite extensively, and no one appears to be a rapist. As a result, the claim from PZ Myers seems rather odd, in fact, it seems like a big fat lie.
Only one site can be accused of being “a haven for rapists”, and that is FreeThoughtBlogs. Stephanie’s article does not seem to provide much clarity on the matter, and seems to be obfuscating to hide the facts.
So, Stephanie, can you clarify whether you believe FreeThoughtBlogs, or at least, Pharyngula, is “a haven for rapists”. Because only Pharyngula, Butterflies and Wheels, and a couple of other sites supportive and defensive of Ogvorbis (who confessed one of his rapes was under his OWN volition) fit the criteria. I need to see whether you are operating from an honest position.
You’ll notice that there’s no actual “criteria” given that we fit, just the statement that we fit it. There’s no indication what we’re supposed to be protecting Ogvorbis from, what kind of safety we offer. We’re told that this “depends” on a definition of “haven for rapists”, but there’s no resolution or even examination of that dependency. We just “know for sure” that it’s true. My post from yesterday is unclear and obfuscatory in some way that is never specified.
And that’s before we even get to the idea that everyone at FtB is the same person taking the same action. To clarify my role in this: Ogvorbis has left all of one short comment on my blog, thanking me for working to make consent clear. At one point on the backchannel, one of the other bloggers asked why pitter Pitchguest was leaving comments about Ogvorbis on his blog. I did a cursory check on the matter and answered.
Ogvorbis is a Pharyngula commenter who was severely sexually abused as a child, including being made to abuse other children. Pitchguest is a whiny little metal-head from Sweden who joins the rest of the slime pit in thinking the fact that Ogvorbis has received emotional support on Pharyngula means all of FtB is somehow corrupt on the topic of sexual assault.
Having since done a bit more research, I have slightly deeper understanding of the situation, which I’ll share shortly in detail. I’ve expressed sympathy to one of the people who left the Pharyngula commentariat after events that began with Ogvorbis talking about having raped a child while he was being abused. I chewed out Damion Reinhardt for trying to drop Ogvorbis’s first name on my blog without the courage to put it on his own and removed that information, as well as the name of someone from the pit he tried to leave at the same time, because he doesn’t get to use my blog to play his games.
I’ve also made some comments privately to people that the people trying to turn Ogvorbis into a political football disgusted me. I may even have done so publicly, though I can’t recall when or where. The people who watch my every move haven’t tried to throw it in my face, so chances are good that I haven’t. Now I’ve received this comment and am writing this. That’s the extent of my involvement in these matters.
The closest any of that comes to protecting a rapist from consequences is my failure to uncover the full story about Ogvorbis before commenting to another blogger privately and removing the information from Damion’s comment. Under the discussion I provided yesterday, the first would be misrepresenting the situation, albeit unknowingly, and the second could be protecting the reputation of a rapist if a first name would tell us who Ogvorbis is. It doesn’t.
So here’s what I know about Ogvorbis as a rapist. Here is the first comment I know of in which Ogvorbis discusses having recovered a memory of having raped other children:
I keep remembering more and more and more. Details. Nothing earth shattering.
Many of you know of my history. Some don’t.
I was raped, repeatedly, by my cub scout leader for a period of about two or two-and-a-half years. I was forced to rape others (including a toddler girl (and I still feel like shit for doing that (yes, I know it wasn’t my fault . . . ))). I was used for child porn. I told once and was informed that I was a liar and then sent to my rapist to apologize and he raped me again to punish me.
The new memories include being forced to ask, forced to beg, for rape. I remember being forced beg to be allowed to hurt others. I remember the scout leader that I told, the one who told me I was lying, walking through a room to pick up something from a desk and seeing me, and another boy, doing things to the rapist. And ignoring what was going on — no comment, just a glance and a smile.
And I just realized that the time that I tried to kill myself was the same time that Boy, my son, was in Cub Scouts. Shit. Even then I knew. I was successfully lying to myself, denying what I did, but, in some way, I knew. Shit.
There are elaborations in that comment thread, where Ogvorbis answers questions. They don’t change the situation significantly.
Here is the second comment in which Ogvorbis discusses a later rape he participated in, also as a child, but after his abuse ended.
One day, he asked if I could watch a third girl who was 6 years old. I said, sure. There was extra money involved. She was dropped off on Friday morning and would be staying with the family until Sunday night.
When she got there, all three disappeared into the girl’s bedroom for about an hour. I knocked and asked if they were okay. They said they were.
Fuck. I started this, I need to finish it. Deep breaths. Shit.
After anhour, I knocked again and heard the third girl say to come in. I went in.
I was invited to jointhe sex play. TThe third girl had the 3 year old tied up. The tow older ones were taking turns doing things to her and I joined in. THey didn’t invite me but or maybe they did but that doesn’t matter. I joined in. And we sent the day, except for when their dad was home for lunch, doing everything. The things I already knew what to do. And all I could thnk was that this was normal.
This was the only day it happendd. And I remember thinking that I had become a man. THese were girls and I had done what I was supposed to do and told myself I would never do that again that I was a man now and didnt have to do it again and I remember deciding this didn’t happen. None of it happend.
This was lurking in the back of my mind until I read commnt 143 and realized that this
It’s what happened later that devastated me. I touched the underwear of a child I was babysitting – about 4 years later, the child was about the same age I was when my sister raped me. I only touched the outside of the underwear, but I knew it was wrong when I did it.
was me doint things to three little girls and that I really am a rapist.
I am so sorry. I feel like i’ve let down everyone who thilngs I am a nice person. I;m not. Im sorry.
Four little girls. One little boy. Plus the ones who were scouts with me. I;m so sorry.
Again, there are elaborations in the comment thread in response to questions.
That’s it. That’s what I know. Again, I’m relatively sure that’s all there is because no one’s been hounding me or leaving comments at Mick Nugent’s blog about anything else. We have two recovered memories, recovered under circumstances I haven’t looked into, so I can’t say whether the memories are likely to be true (not all recovered memories are false, but some “therapeutic” practices are much more likely to lead to false memories).
Now, you’ll notice that those comments are on Pharyngula for anyone to see. They haven’t been deleted. No one denies that they exist. No one is saying they weren’t rapes.
Frankly, I can’t find anyone here at FtB providing haven. We don’t have the power to prosecute, even if someone could prosecute an adult for actions taken decades ago at age 12. He’s not a danger to anyone commenting, so there’s no reason to apply the one administrative remedy we have as bloggers. And the threat to his reputation is right there, unhidden. There’s nothing I can see that Ogvorbis is being protected from.
What has happened and continues to happen at FtB is that Ogvorbis receives compassion from commenters at Pharyngula. Several of them regularly express sympathy for him as a survivor of sexual abuse and confidence in his ability to successfully cope with his “demons”.
As far as I can tell, that’s the root of the complaints aimed at FtB around Ogvorbis. People here express compassion for him instead of punishing him, and this is somehow hypocritical given how we’ve treated Michael Shermer. That they’re now expressing it in the same words PZ used for Mick Nugent’s behavior is simply a function of their “Nuh-uh. You!” level of argumentation. They can’t engage with even a basic definition of the terms.
But is it a fair charge? Is it hypocritical to treat someone who admittedly raped as a 12-year-old who had been groomed to the task more compassionately than a 50-something-year-old who was credibly accused of raping while in full control of his faculties? Is it hypocritical to decline to punish one by banishment while not even being in a position to ban the other?
It isn’t in my book, but it’s possible that someone could make a case for why those situations are equivalent. It’s possible that a pitter could make an argument that doesn’t rely on hiding the differences between the situations and still convince people that the Pharyngula commentariat is in the wrong.
That isn’t what they’re doing, however. None of them are saying that people are treating a sexual abuse victim with compassion despite rapes he committed as a child groomed to the task. Of course they’re not. They never will. It doesn’t make us sound evil.
Saying, “Mick Nugent provides a haven for rapists”, isn’t a significantly different statement from “Mick Nugent won’t allow people accused of rape to be named on his blog in order to protect their reputations. He will, however, allow people to grossly mischaracterize the circumstances of the accusations in his comments in order to suggest the accused person is innocent.” Saying, “FtB provides a haven for child rapists”, is a significantly different statement from “Commenters at Pharyngula provide emotional support to one of their own who admits to having raped other children after having been sexually abused himself.”
It differs in the behavior described. It differs in the breadth of behavior. It differs in the disclosure of mitigating circumstances. It’s simply different from start to finish.
In other words, this story slime pitters have poured to much time and energy into is a lie. It’s also yet one more lie that Mick Nugent continues to allow in his comments.