What Happened On The Back Channel When Ophelia Benson Left Freethought Blogs

Greta has a post from last week on social media and the risks of reading-in — how it’s possible to conclude too much from who someone else adds or blocks, or what they like or share; why guessing their motives is a bad idea.

I mostly agree with the thrust of it. On being unfriended, I’ve learnt not to assume the worst — I also have closeted friends whose parents monitor their feeds, and I’ve had my online presence dissected creepily. I doubt I’d go as far as Greta does — I check my mutual friends with strangers who add me, gauge who people on Twitter are by who else they follow, delete contacts who share posts from Breitbart uncritically. (There are things there’s no good reason to Like.) Reading the Facebook leaves is like reading body language — not bunk, but only reliable if you know someone, or when there isn’t room for doubt.

At Butterflies and Wheels, Ophelia Benson complains people made assumptions about her motives on Facebook before she left this site. (‘Greta herself blocked me’, she writes, followed by the words ‘presumably’ and ‘because’.) To quote one preoccupied-sounding commenter,

Alex Gabriel spent an entire blog post of several hundred words to say, basically, ‘I can’t point to anything wrong that Ophelia has said or done, but I really think she’s up to something . . . the entire thing was composed of exactly what [Greta] is now lamenting.

That post — the one post, hitherto, in which I ever criticised Ophelia — seems to provoke similar thoughts in her. It was, she wrote in late August, ‘not a matter of disagreeing with me, [but] of sniffing out my heresy and denouncing it.’

I pointed, it turns out, to a long list of things she did that readers were interpreting — not, I thought, irrationally — as trans-antagonistic. Namely:

  • Treating requests she acknowledge Julie Bindel’s public, well documented, continuing anti-trans history as demands for cultish, unquestioning belief.
  • Writing ‘I’m not all that interested in the exact quantity of transphobia contained in Julie Bindel’ when commenters brought it up.
  • Uncritically citing anti-trans activists ‘quite a lot’.
  • Uncritically sharing an anti-trans author’s attack on the word ‘TERF’.
  • Displaying more hostility to trans commenters than transphobic ones.
  • Displaying no regret on misgendering a trans commenter.
  • Responding to Vanity Fair’s ‘Call me Cait’ story solely by objecting to Caitlyn Jenner being told ‘You look great’ by staff at Jezebel.

Anyway.

Between the post and her comment section Ophelia says this (dashes added for readability):

Greta was vocally and explicitly happy to see the way our colleagues were trashing me on their blogs, partly on the basis of that creepy intrusive secret-police-like trawling through my Facebook. On the back channel — I think I blogged about it shortly before I left the network — Lilandra had the bright idea of starting a thread with my name in the subject line suggesting we all discuss me, so several people jumped at the opportunity to rip me to shreds. Ed said let’s not do this this is a really bad idea, but they ignored him. I said using our blogs to shred each other wasn’t a fabulous idea and I’d assumed we all knew not to do that. That’s when Greta made her brave stand for the importance of using our blogs to shred each other.

I have a few things to say about this. To begin with, I left this comment in the thread at B&W just now. (When last I checked, it was still awaiting moderation.)

Ophelia: While I couldn’t care less what you or your commenters think of me, that isn’t remotely what happened on the backchannel. If you remember, and the most charitable conclusion is that you don’t, I was the first person to reply on that thread, and the first to suggest we not argue on-list — I said ‘Let’s not do this, this is a really bad idea’ before Ed did. (Thirty-seven minutes before, to be precise.) This was six weeks after my first and last post about you, and the one time it ever came up on the back channel. The point was not controversial: no one, let alone ‘several people’, jumped at the chance to attack, either in that thread or the following one, perhaps because using the mailing list for infighting is against the site rules.

Speaking of the site rules, and things it seems you’ve forgotten, perhaps these two sentences — from the bottom of every email at FtB — ring a bell?

All emails sent to this list are confidential and private. Revealing information contained in any email sent to the list to anyone not on the list without permission of the author is strictly prohibited.

Considering you were on the site for four years, during which time numerous violations occurred, I have to assume you noticed those words. What did you imagine they meant? Did you think, for instance, that ‘confidential and private’ was a polite request? Did you spend four years thinking ‘Revealing information contained in any email sent to the list to anyone not on the list without permission of the author is strictly prohibited’ applied to everyone but you? Or did you have a recent change of heart, and decide to mark your departure the same way Thunderf00t did?

You are publicising details — erroneous, mostly, but details nonetheless — of conversations on a private mailing list. You’re doing something that’s been done for years to intimidate FtB members and make them fear for their safety. If you were still on the network (and judging by your comment above, you did this prior to leaving), this alone would be solid grounds for expulsion. When Thunderf00t did it, it led people to leave and stop writing who knew their information was at risk. Assuming there are still people here and there at FtB who you don’t want to go through that, or just that you’re a minimally decent human being: knock it off, now.

It’s one thing to leak private information from the list, another to leak misinformation. For those of us who take the rules and our own privacy seriously, this isn’t just one security breach — it’s a set of claims we can’t counter without publishing what we did say, and eroding our privacy further. I’d tell Ophelia to stay classy and get on with my life, but I believe she’s had too long to monopolise the story of what went on here, so that’s what I’m going to do. (Please note: because I actually care about this, everything reprinted from the back channel here is quoted with its author’s express agreement.)

As I mentioned, mine was the first reply when someone mentioned Ophelia having been described as transphobic. Here it is — take a breath, fetch sweet tea and a shock blanket.

Since I know there are a range of views about this on the network, I don’t know how comfortable I feel having a back channel discussion where the rest of us discuss whether one member is transphobic in-the-third-person-while-they’re-in-the-room. If Ophelia wants to talk about that on-list, I’m happy to do that (and if a thread like that is unavoidable, which, I don’t know, maybe it is by now, I hope it can be collegial), but since this argument is already all over people’s blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds . . . I think you can probably find out what people think about this by checking what they’ve said online.

Since she’s already published the details of what Ed said, Ophelia isn’t lying about him saying the same; she is wrong about him saying so alone and being ignored. After he said the same as me, the following replies came in:

Just chiming in to agree with Ed and Alex.
—Miri

Agree, I don’t see this going anywhere productive in this venue.
—Zinnia

Agreed. If individuals want to discuss this in private email rather than in public, go ahead. That might be a good idea, actually. But I think it’s a bad, bad idea for this conversation to happen on the FtB backchannel. It drags everyone into it, including people who may not want to be dragged.
—Greta

Yup. This is not the place.
—Aoife

When someone started a thread with her name in the title, Ophelia claims, ‘several people jumped at the opportunity to rip me to shreds’. This is the exchange she is describing.

For the record, there were a couple of replies I haven’t reproduced, since I don’t have the authors’ permission, but neither of them differed in substance. The only one that did came from Lux Pickel, who writes at Zinnia Jones’s blog:

I’m actually interested in hearing what Ophelia has to say about it without worrying about the public audience. Would you please explain what your actual opinions are on the subject and what led you to writing, for example, the post asking why ‘trans’ as a modifier is needed if trans women are just women?

Brutal, I know.

This is what happened when Ophelia’s name came up, the only time it did come up: almost everyone, and most of us who’d criticised her, agreed it wasn’t wise to argue on the mailing list, and after some digression, the thread died. There were no weeks of turmoil on the mailing list, no one jumped at the chance to lay into her there, and both Greta and I said people should refrain from doing so.

After it was settled that that specific argument wouldn’t be rehearsed on the list, Greta did say the following about the idea of a rule against members criticising each other on their blogs, something Ophelia has since posted about having favoured.

Just as with the larger atheist community, we need to be able to criticize each other. If we have a rule that says we can’t speak out when one of us says something we think is deeply not okay, we will, in fact, have become the echo chamber we’re so often accused of being. And as with the larger atheist community, it’s much too easy for accusations of squabbling, infighting, or divisiveness to be leveled at marginalised people speaking up for themselves, or at allies speaking up for them.

That was Greta’s ‘brave stand for the importance of using our blogs to shred each other’, in which Ophelia accuses her of having been ‘vocally and explicitly happy to see the way’ people were ‘trashing’ her. Greta said nothing, explicit or not, about the criticisms I and others made, except that the back channel wasn’t the right place to hash them out — she just argued in principle, in a thread where the idea was being discussed in principle, that public squabbles shouldn’t be banned.

She wasn’t alone in saying so. The first response, immediately before Greta’s, came from Miri, and was as follows:

I’m hesitant to have rules about public ‘fighting’ because I know that no matter how clearly those rules would be written, someone would try to use them to dismiss civil public disagreement as ‘fighting’. The result would be that we would be even more afraid to criticize each other than we already are. At the same time, I also agree that some forms of public criticism are inappropriate and detract from our ability to maintain a network where everyone feels welcome (which is not the same as always feeling comfortable, by the way). So I’m not really sure what to do. I wish it were enough for us to just agree to treat each other civilly.

I added:

I tend to agree with Greta and Miri. One thing I want to mention in particular, though: personally, I tend to find public disagreements/interventions less stressful and difficult than private ones (including on this list) — because there’s more of an incentive for people not to lose their shit and shout at each other when writing public blog posts; because there’s more distance and more time to consider what to say; because having a general audience makes it more difficult for one person to be ganged up on and intimidated. (This is, I suspect, one reason marginalised groups online tend to stage arguments publicly.) Probably other reasons too. So, just on that front, I don’t think we should treat public callouts and fallouts as de facto worse than private ones — they can often be cleaner and more cathartic.

There’s a reason, in other words, why we don’t have a rule already against personal disputes on blogs, but do have one against them on the back channel.

Does this sound like several people jumping at the opportunity to trash Ophelia and rip her to shreds? Does it sound like Greta, or anyone, being vocally and explicitly happy about it? Does it sound like us ignoring a lone voice of reason saying not to do so? Three of us said it was a bad idea to ban bloggers here from squabbling publicly: all three of us had said already that the list wasn’t the place to do so.

The only person who wanted to start a fight was Ophelia. Below is an email from me, written in reply to something she said, which many of her statements since have resembled: because I don’t have her permission, I’m not going to reprint it here, but she is of course free to disclose her remarks. (I hope that if she does, she prints them verbatim as I have mine.)

Ophelia, that was not what I wrote. This was what I wrote. I stand by it: I think my post was civil and entirely fair — actually, quite charitable in hindsight — and I’m happy for it to speak for itself. In particular: my claim was not that you misgendered someone who’d told you their pronouns. It was that you’d misgendered them (accidentally, I don’t doubt) and shown no sign of apology or remorse — and that it wasn’t unreasonable for commenters to interpret that, in a wide and now wider field of other things, as trans-antagonistic. I stand by that as well. I have no desire to rehash this for the sake of it, particularly with you now leaving, but I won’t have what I said misrepresented.

For the record, one other person responded to what Ophelia said. Because I don’t have their permission and it was quite long, I’m not including that here either — again, they’ll publish it if they want to — but the tone was considerably less blunt than mine. After that, the fracas such as it was got broken up.

That’s it — that’s the entirety of the ‘shredding’ on the back channel Ophelia got, in the whole eight and a half weeks between first being criticised and leaving the network. All the above took place within twenty-four hours. I’m sure she’ll deem this post an outrageous, malicious lie, fond as she is of doing so when inconvenient things are pointed out, but I look forward to reading exactly which aspects she disputes, and how this summary is less honest than hers. (Subject to authors’ permission, I’ll happily amend this post with any quotations she thinks I need to add — meanwhile, I trust she’ll stop publishing details of private emails without it.)

Come at me, O.

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What Happened On The Back Channel When Ophelia Benson Left Freethought Blogs

157 thoughts on “What Happened On The Back Channel When Ophelia Benson Left Freethought Blogs

  1. 1

    I saw the headline and thought “No, Alex, you’re not doing this. Tell me you’re NOT going to disclose confidential information. Please, don’t”
    I’m glad I was for once not disappointed in somebody.

    BTW, the little I read on Ophelia’s blog after her totally “productive” comment on Greta’s post was her disingeniously conflating “retweeting and liking” with “saying”. While Greta makes good points about why people may like or retweet something and that it may not be the best option to simply guess people’s motivation instead of asking for clarification, the same cannot be said about things you say.

    Greta says:

    I don’t mean “things people say on social media”: I mean their behavior. Who are they friends with? Who are they not friends with? Who did they un-friend or un-follow or block? What posts did they like or share or re-Tweet? What posts did they not like or share or re-Tweet?

    Ophelia spins this into:

    Like, for instance, the way they did that about me, just three short months ago – the way they went trawling through a large busy Facebook group to record the few comments I had made there, and even what I had Liked there

    Emphasis mine.

    BTW, I still find that complaint pretty dishonest from somebody who shared private FB updates or Tweets somebody who’s pretty much a nobody on her blog.

  2. 2

    Oh dear, is this still going on, bit weird really as we’ve been trying to ignore her. I’ve not clicked on a link to B&W, until now … Although some funny shit in the comments over there!

    Couldn’t possibly be that there are a group of people who for various reasons were appalled by the behavior of the FtB clique. Or who felt they couldn’t constrain themselves to the one true but vaguely delineated and unpredictably shifting FtB line on trans issues.

    This struck me as unintentionally hilarious, first sentence would be right at place in the pit if only Mr Clarke changed it to “fFTB clique”. Second is a brilliant /s attempt at explaining how OB just accidentally fell foul of the shifting sands of SJ “right think”. How was she supposed to know that FTB now thought trans women are women, just last tuesday the party line was totally different don’cha’kno! Seriously dude, just let it go, that way lies the slymepit and years obsessing over that “FtB clique”!

  3. 5

    @PZ
    Why not? Once one person has already already made claims about things said in the backchannel (without relevant permissions), what’s the problem with another person posting messages to correct the facts (with relevant permissions)?

    If Alex had disputed Ophelia’s claims without actually posting specific messages, would that have been okay?

    If so, what exactly is the difference between making claims about what people have said and quoting what people have said, given that no outsiders can ever check whether the quotes are accurate?

    If not, what do you think would be the proper response to a claim made about backchannel communications, given that Ophelia there’s no way to punish such misbehavior once a person has left the network?

  4. 6

    From the rules, PZ:

    All emails sent or received on the list are considered to be private. Disclosure of the contents of discussions on the mailing list to others outside the Network is grounds for revocation of mailing list privileges; continued or egregious violations of privacy will be grounds for removal from the Network.

    I don’t see that any of that prohibits statements from the list being published by the author or with their agreement—unless ‘Disclosure of the contents of discussions . . . to others outside the Network’ means any disclosure, even of something you said yourself or something you’ve been asked to publish.

    I don’t think that’s how the rules have been interpreted in the past, and the fact the embargo in the emails includes the words ‘without permission of the author’ strongly suggests to me it’s permitted to share things with their permission—if I’m wrong about that, and the site rules do in fact forbid any disclosure under any circumstances, then they’re in conflict with what the embargo says, and I think my interpretation is a reasonable response. (You’d then have to define ‘disclosure’ separately from ‘violation of privacy’, of course, and it would be a generally bad rule.)

    If what you’re saying is that this post is not technically forbidden, but walks a dangerous line you don’t think is advisable, I accept that. I think it’s a line we were going to have to walk with details of discussions being leaked without permission, and I’m satisfied that I kept the splash damage to a minimum, but no, this isn’t the sort of post I’d publish typically.

  5. 8

    I find it odd, PZ, that you claim your concern is that Alex’s post here will scare off potential bloggers because he reproduced specific back-channel communications with permission. What I find scarier is the idea of blogging for a network where such private communications have been maliciously leaked twice now and the “big dog” of the network did nothing substantive to combat them.

  6. 9

    Thank you for this. I have a special kind of loathing for the act of distorting a reasonable piece of advice into support for something toxic – mostly because I have such a hard time responding to it – so I’m glad to see you and Giliell here pointing out the falsity of Ophelia Benson’s pose here.

  7. 10

    The problem is that you’ve quoted a subset of the discussion that went on there; now what’s to stop Ophelia from posting other bits from the same? You can say she misrepresented the discussion and are justified in posting it; she can then reply that she is also justified in quoting more to support her claims, and then we sink further into a downward spiral.

    You can and should say that she misrepresented what was going on; you can say that Miri, Zinnia, Aoife, and Greta will back you up on that (I also will back you up on that statement), but when you start directly quoting backchannel stuff, you’re setting a very bad precedent.

    Don’t do it, period. And don’t start rules-lawyering to try and excuse it. The whole idea is to have protected communications so that we can discuss concerns without them getting dragged out into public, and here you go, dragging them out into public.

  8. 11

    I’m also dismayed that you can quote the rules that say, without qualification, “All emails sent or received on the list are considered to be private. Disclosure of the contents of discussions on the mailing list to others outside the Network is grounds for revocation of mailing list privileges”, and then proceed to argue that it doesn’t say anything about whether you can publish your own comments.

    It does. It says you can’t.

    I recall that one of the serious concerns about Ophelia was that she was posting screencaps from private facebook discussions in the clear. This is the same sort of thing. You’re supposed to understand that someone else doing something wrong does not justify you doing something wrong.

  9. 12

    I think if we’re going to have rules, and we should, they are at some point going to be cited in a dispute, and if you think they prohibit something I don’t, the wording matters. There’d be no point having them otherwise.

    If you’re interpreting ‘Disclosure of the contents of discussions’ to include comments the discloser made, or which the author asks them to disclose, two things:
    1) I think that contradicts what the embargo on the mailing list strongly implies (that permission makes a difference), so there’s room for doubt.
    2) That interpretation has not been followed consistently in the past, as Stephanie has noted elsewhere.

    Now what’s to stop Ophelia from posting other bits from the same [conversation]?

    There’s the fact she wouldn’t have people’s permission—and no, there’s nothing to stop her ignoring that fact (short of moral appeal or legal action) but there would never have been anyway. If you’re suggesting my posting what people said with their permission (which I and everyone else here consider within the rules) will lead Ophelia to disclose more without it, I have no idea whether it will, but I’m not responsible for what she chooses to do. Considering she’s been doing this for a long time as it is—have you intervened in that?—and would presumably have continued, I certainly don’t think publishing this will make that any more of a problem.

  10. 13

    More rules-lawyering. When the rule in our rulebook says flatly “no disclosure”, and the line appended by the backchannel software leaves open this idea of getting permission from the author, err on the side of privacy. You know the intent. You know how we’ve objected to previous leaks. You yourself are objecting to possible leaks from Ophelia here. And you think that excuses you blatantly posting quotes direct from the backchannel?

    And yes, it does cause more of a problem. Other people commented on that thread, including me. I am not giving you permission to quote me, which means some people are going to assume that I took Ophelia’s side, and others will assume that I opposed her. And now I’m going to get pressured to reveal my position, preferably with quotes.

    We had a simple rule. Now you’re trying to squirm around it. STOP.

  11. 14

    I don’t think my drawing attention to what the rules say is less legitimate than yours, PZ, and it’s obvious our ideas of the intent behind them weren’t the same.

    And I did ‘err on the side of privacy’: publishing something says with their consent after seeking it isn’t a violation of privacy. It’s not a ‘leak’, or analogous to what Thunderf00t or Ophelia did, and it wasn’t blatant either.

    I know you aren’t giving me permission to quote you. I know you haven’t—so I didn’t. If you don’t want to disclose what you said, I have no problem with that: I’m also not reponsible (and nor are) for what people think you should do, or what they might assume.

    Since we’re currently communicating on more than one channel, I strongly recommend this discussion be moved elsewhere.

  12. 15

    Alex, how dare you get permission to share peoples emails from a private back channel, then share their words with their express consent. Clearly this is such an egregious breach of protocol we now have to ignore that someone was discussing said back channel emails with no permission at all!

    Unbelievable that this is the “same sort of thing” as sharing private Facebook posts without the persons permission. No it isn’t, it isn’t even in the same galaxy as that “sort of thing” ffs.

    … some people are going to assume that I took Ophelia’s side, and others will assume that I opposed her

    Well, maybe, if you hadn’t shut down the Drum thread with a little stamp of your foot and a declaration by fiat that there *wasn’t* anything that was in any way transphobic. Completely ignoring the people, trans and cis, on the thread detailing what the issue was. Maybe in that alternative universe people may have wondered what side you fell down on. Pretty sure the air of mystery that you seem want to maintain doesn’t exist.

  13. AMM
    16

    PZ:

    You’re not exactly covering yourself in glory.

    The last time I heard the line of argument you’re using, it was from Roman Catholic authorities in Bavaria, complaining that it was a “violation of the sanctity of the confessional” that news media were reporting on Catholic priests telling parishioners — in the confessional booth — that it was their religious duty to vote CSU (right-wing Bavarian party.)

    The idea that the “sanctity of the back-channel” is violated by people permitting their own words to be published seems, if anything, even more ludicrous.

    As for whether you (PZ Myers) took OB’s side, I don’t think there is anyone who was reading FtB at the time of OB’s flounce who has any question whatsoever as to which side you are on. We don’t need any quotes from the back channel, it’s all out in public view in the thread oolon is talking about.

  14. 17

    Professor Myers,

    The problem is that you’ve quoted a subset of the discussion that went on there; now what’s to stop Ophelia from posting other bits from the same?

    What’s to stop Ophelia? Presumably scruples or ethics. Alex had express consent from the authors to post what he posted whereas Ophelia does not. Wouldn’t you agree that consent makes all the difference here? Or at least that it should?

    The whole idea is to have protected communications so that we can discuss concerns without them getting dragged out into public, and here you go, dragging them out into public.

    Aren’t some things more important than rules? Combatting the misinformation Ophelia Benson is spreading and setting the record straight would seem to be a worthy cause.

    In the end the rules should be subservient to the truth and to justice.

    I am not giving you permission to quote me, which means some people are going to assume that I took Ophelia’s side, and others will assume that I opposed her. And now I’m going to get pressured to reveal my position, preferably with quotes.

    First on issues of social justice how can you justify not taking a position?

    Second the way you handled the Ophelia Benson discussion before shutting down the thread made very clear where you stood. FFS you were comparing Ophelia’s questioners and critics to Michael Nugent and the Slime Pit. As oolon stated @15 and AMM @16 there really is no mystery as to who you backed. Moreover it doesn’t really matter what you wrote in private backchannel messages if you don’t have the courage of your convictions to make it public.

  15. 18

    Commenters, your attention please.

    Comment policy, specific to this thread: while I’m more than happy to hear responses to the exchange between me and PZ above, please don’t make it about how he behaved when Ophelia was being criticised this summer. Please stick to the arguments at hand. (I appreciate the two might feel too inextricable—if you can’t separate them, please just don’t comment at all.) Thanks.

  16. 19

    There are 28 comments by 13 authors in the thread that Alex selectively quoted. None of you have any idea what was said by the others, but Alex’s violation of confidentiality has clearly sparked lots of speculation and outright assertion about what the others who did not give permission said.

    I think my point is made.

    This was a catastrophically bad idea.

  17. 21

    The only reason anyone knows how many posts or authors there were in that thread, PZ, is that you just told them. I’m sure people were speculating anyway, and, again: I am not responsible for other people speculating when they shouldn’t.

    That being said: I don’t currently have the spoons to argue with you on multiple forums simultaneously, and don’t have the energy to write the reply I need to write elsewhere, so I’m going to ask that you step out here, and I’ll resume participation in the other thread after I’ve slept.

  18. 22

    PZ [email protected]:

    but Alex’s violation of confidentiality has clearly sparked lots of speculation and outright assertion about what the others who did not give permission said.

    It has?

    The closest I see to speculation or assertion is people deciding to believe Alex Gabriel’s account of a discussion that had no energy and petered out quickly over Ophelia Benson’s account of secret defamation by a hateful cabal – presumably led by Greta Christina and Alex Gabriel, among others. The numbers you just cited – 28 comments by 13 authors – make Alex’s description seem even more believable.

    If, hypothetically, the quotations from the back channel here are both false and endorsed as true by those quoted – that is to say, if Alex Gabriel has in collusion with Greta Christina, Zinnia Jones, and the rest, fabricated a bill of goods (presumably with the intention of libeling Ophelia Benson) – I might be interested in being informed thus and seeing the actual text posted by these parties and these parties only. If other people involved in the thread requested that their posts be made public on the grounds that their posts contradict Alex Gabriel’s account, I might be interested.

    Barring those eventualities, though, I don’t need to see anything else and I don’t want to see anything else.

  19. 23

    Alex @18,
    Understood and sorry for the derail.

    Professor Myers @19,

    None of you have any idea what was said by the others, but Alex’s violation of confidentiality has clearly sparked lots of speculation and outright assertion about what the others who did not give permission said.

    Whose confidentiality was violated?

    Also are you saying such speculation and outright assertions are happening here? Might have missed it but we’re not seeing anything like that in this thread. Would you mind providing a citation please?

  20. 24

    Commenters: apologies for micromanaging, but please note I’ve now asked PZ to refrain from commenting until (my) morning. Since he won’t be here to respond, I’d prefer it if you could avoid speaking directly to him. Sticking to general statements might the best idea, or simply letting things cool down for a while.

  21. 26

    In particular: my claim was not that you misgendered someone who’d told you their pronouns. It was that you’d misgendered them (accidentally, I don’t doubt) and shown no sign of apology or remorse — and that it wasn’t unreasonable for commenters to interpret that, in a wide and now wider field of other things, as trans-antagonistic.

    Not this shit again. Ophelia misgendered a trans person “without regret”!

    What actually happened was some confusion over whether the commenter was mocking Ophelia or was serious. Here’s the relevant parts of the exchange:

    You could try to gender me properly, I mean, you know full well I’m not a woman.

    HappiestSadist June 6, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    HappiestSadist also seems to think I know everything about… I don’t know what pronoun to use. I have literally no clue if “you know full well I’m not a woman” is sarcasm or literal or… some third thing that I can’t even imagine. I know nothing about HappiestSadist apart from the revolting comments.

    Ophelia Benson June 6, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Yeah, it’s not like I’ve told you I’m trans before, or my FB indicates my gender. Or we were FB friends for quite some times. OOPSIE!
    [… ]
    Like, you’re not even a good liar?

    HappiestSadist June 7, 2015 at 6:56 am

    I’m not lying. I still have no idea what your preferred pronouns are.

    Ophelia Benson June 7, 2015 at 7:13 am

    We STILL don’t know what pronoun HappiestSadist prefers.

    MrFancyPants June 7, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Really, is it so hard to just tell us which pronoun you prefer, HappiestSadist?

    MrFancyPants June 7, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    (all comments from this thread)

    Two months later, the commenter revealed their preferred pronouns, after Ophelia had indeed “expressed regret”:

    I want to clear that up. I did not deliberately misgender you. It was accidental. And I did not know what your preferred pronouns were; I didn’t know anything about you. A lot of people comment here; I know something about some of them, and nothing about others. I still don’t know anything about you. Facebook friendship does not equal detailed knowledge of someone.

    I apologize for accidentally using the wrong pronoun for you.

    Ophelia Benson August 4, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Okay. If you could see me on facebook, you had access to my pronouns. That we were facebook friends, you’d have also seen them (I am not conflating being facebook friends with being actual friends). You’d been told, and had access to that information, and didn’t adjust anything. It’s not “detailed knowledge”, it’s “things you can see if you ever got notified that I made a comment on a post of yours”, or “looked at my info”.

    I do appreciate the apology, and I do accept it.

    HappiestSadist August 4, 2015 at 11:50 am

    No, really, it doesn’t mean that at all. I don’t know people’s pronouns on Facebook — I just assume them from names, and don’t know in the case of neutral names. I was assuming yours from your name, that’s all. I still don’t know directly from you. A friend of yours told me you prefer they / their.

    Ophelia Benson August 4, 2015 at 11:56 am

    My pronouns are they/their, yes.

    HappiestSadist August 4, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    (all comments from this thread)

    And this exchange is apparently such damning evidence of transphobia that is merits a bullet point in the OP?

  22. 27

    @ 15 oolon

    Well, maybe, if you hadn’t shut down the Drum thread with a little stamp of your foot and a declaration by fiat that there *wasn’t* anything that was in any way transphobic.

    Yeah, PZ! You stand accused of knowing Ophelia better than random Internet commenters, of having an opinion, and of deciding for yourself what threads you want on your own blog! What have you to say for yourself? Explain yourself to oolon at once, you scoundrel!

    (/sarcasm)

  23. 29

    I find it amusing that Silentbob wants one bullet point of the lead up taken more charitably while explicitly disregarding Alex’s wishes and contributing to a derail.

    I guess they have nothing to actually say about the malicious disclosure and dishonesty Ophelia is engaging in now.

  24. 31

    @ 29 Nate Carr

    Nah. I just mentioned one of the bullet points because it’s so obviously bogus to anyone who was actually there at the time.

    I’ve actually already thoroughly debunked all Alex’s other “evidence” in a previous comment.

    As for “malicious disclosure and dishonesty” (lol) I refer you to PZ’s comment @19. You might want to avoid drawing conclusions based on selective quoting by defensive interested parties.

    (And as for contributing to a derail, I wasn’t sure if my mockery of oolon’s fatuousness violated the thread-specific comment policy, but figured Alex can always delete it.)

  25. 32

    I find it amusing that Silentbob wants one bullet point of the lead up taken more charitably while explicitly disregarding Alex’s wishes and contributing to a derail.

    I’ve noticed this when Greta had to put another commenter in moderation for the same thing on almost the same topic.

    Guys, here’s a hint: If you’re ignoring the boundaries of the blog host, you don’t look all that great. Don’t we have enough of that from the MRA/sexist/racist/etc/so ons who show up to drive by who do the same thing? Don’t we all hate that?

  26. 35

    Silentbob: Please respect the boundaries I set in my comment section. Placing you on moderation now.

    This statement implies that this thread / blog was not under blanket moderation as I thought, but rather only individual posters are. Is that the case? And if so, may I ask why I am under moderation here, when as far as I can recall I have not posted here previously?

  27. 37

    Holmes: I am ‘moderating the thread’, in the sense that I make the rules. Silentbib is ‘under moderation’ in the sense all their posts will now need me to let the through. (Currently, yours don’t. It’s normal for the first comment someone leaves to require approval, but after that, you can post freely unless I revert you.)

  28. 38

    @ 34 Alex Gabriel

    My sincere apologies! Like I said upthread I wasn’t sure if responding to oolon was “inbounds” or “out of bounds”. I would never knowingly violate your comment policy. Best regards.

  29. 39

    How is claiming what people allegedly said on the back channel any less a violation than quoting them with permission? I seriously have problems understanding that difference without resorting to rules lawyering. Quoting directly, with or without permission is forbidden, but claiming X said Y while paraphrasing is not?

    I also don’t see how Alex’ post left the door open for speculation what others said there. It was a very specific response to a very specific claim that does not even touch the “meat” of said thread. OPhelia Benson claimed that everybody except Ed leapt to the occasion to tear into her, Alex provided evidence that this claim is completely false.

    Again, what is the substantive difference between saying “that’s not true, I opposed that as well and so did X, Y and Z” and saying “that’s not true, here’s what I said verbatim”?

    I also don’t buy the “if you do this in way X, what’s going to stop people from doing it in a way Z?” argument. People who want to behave unethically and violate people’s consent are not stopped by other people being nice to them.

  30. 40

    Clearly the intent with the back channel is for conversations to be private.

    Equally clearly the terms and conditions allow for specific emails to be made public – with permission. Ie the authors retain ownership of their own content.

    You cannot handwave this endlessly repeated and reinforced footer away – and clearly Miri, Greta et al took it on face value. As should be expected.

    It appears PZ is concerned in this case with locking down informed discussion for his own tactical reasons. But the user rights appear to be stated in black and white.

    Alex, you did nothing wrong. And by providing primary source evidence, you took down damaging accusations that risked damaging the reputation of this Network.

    Well done.

  31. 41

    For the hope of something to productive to come from this, I think this should focus on this question: Once one person has already made claims about what was said in the confidential forum, how are other people to respond, especially if those claims are erroneous?

    Would it have been proper is Alex had quoted only himself? If so, we still run into the problem PZ mentioned regarding implied opinions. If people are allowed to quote themselves, questions might be raised about why someone isn’t doing so.
    Person A: I said X
    Person B: I said X, too
    Person C: …
    I don’t see this as at all different from simply allowing quotes with permission.

    Maybe the proper way is for the network as a whole to use the backchannel to form a unified response, which can then be publicly stated. This response can then contain excerpts from the conversation, if all members agree to such, or simply contain a more general description of events without quotes or names. Would this be a workable method?

    I know this is essentially an internal issue, so there’s no need to have this discussion here, necessarily. However, I would urge you to consider what to do. This is not going to be the last time this comes up and you need to have some kind of plan or the confidentiality of the backchannel is a joke.

  32. 42

    Just wanted to point something out in Silent Bob’s weak tea attempt at apologetics @26.

    (emphasis added)

    Two months later, the commenter revealed their preferred pronouns, after Ophelia had indeed “expressed regret”:

    The migendering occured in eary June. No apology or expression of regret at the time.

    So when did Ophelia finally muster the courage or the goodwill to apologize? Was it some two months later? Why did it take so long? Why was Ophelia’s apology seemingly dependent or contingent upon being told the proper pronouns? Why does Silent Bob think this exonerates Ophelia as opposed to demonstrating that she was recalcitrant and had expressed no regrets at the time it happened?

    Sure a late apology is better than no apology but the delay is certainly not somerthing anyone should be proud of.

  33. 43

    Adding on to #41 briefly:

    – Both SilentBob and Ophelia Benson referred to “misgendering without regret” as a lie on June 14th, well before the cited apology.

    – The misgendered person in question informed OB that their pronouns were on their Facebook page, which OB had access to, on June 6th … and OB responded with, “I still have no idea what your preferred pronouns are.”

    Weaksauce defense is weaksauce.

  34. 44

    Two thoughts:
    1) “You know the intent” – it would seem that if this was the intent, then Alex wasn’t the only one unaware of it. Presumably, every person from whom Alex sought permission to quote was also unaware of it. If the intent was broadly understood to convey P.Z.’s take on it, Alex’s requests should have struck everyone as akin to “Do you give me legal permission to drive your car 10 mph over the speed limit?”. In which case, the general response to Alex’s requests would have been, “Well, not that I’d be bothered, but no – quoting any part of the back channel is against the rules of the back channel”.

    Seems to me that nobody responded in that fashion.

    2) OTOH, regardless of what the letter of the law was, what the intent was, and what levels of disagreement there were; I think it’s amazing that a post such as this was not preceded by a back-channel discussion, started by Alex, titled, “OB is misrepresenting some of what was stated on the back-channel; I’d like to rebut her claims with this post. Any objections?”

    To me, perhaps not in strict terms of violating official policy, but certainly in terms of failing to meet basic standards of community decorum (especially given the personal and high-stakes nature of the subject), Alex completely dropped the ball here.

  35. 45

    And
    3) Alex, if you feel OB misrepresented some part of what was stated on the back-channel, this post itself was still an unnecessary level of public divulgement. Rather, you could have taken a 2-pronged tack:
    * Send OB the content of this post in personal communication.
    * Rather than publicly making this post, just re-quote exactly (and only) what OB had published, claim it was a misrepresentation, claim that the email with evidence of such had been sent to OB, and leave as an open request that she correct the record on the matter [Upon a refusal of her to do so; or rebut this evidence and defend her claim, then a backchannel discussion of how to publicly rebut her claims w/out putting anyone else’s personal/private info at risk could be had].

  36. 46

    On a roll here 🙂 seriously, last one:

    4) When I say “high-stakes” in #2, let me solidify that. There are FTB contributors who have open death threats against them, who are literally being hunted by death cults who’ve already brutally slaughtered many of their peers. Consider, just for a moment, how the title of your post title “I’m going to reveal information from the back-channel” might’ve struck them. All the more reason that I’m astounded that this wasnt preceded by a back-channel discussion itself; giving everyone in the FTB community full knowledge of what would be contained in this post prior to it being published. As PZ has noted, you can’t possibly know what private information might be inferred from selective quotes of a private conversation about others participating in that conversation; it’d have been far safer to vet the post with all participants of the back-channel (not just those who were quoted) before posting it publicly.

  37. 47

    There are FTB contributors who have open death threats against them, who are literally being hunted by death cults who’ve already brutally slaughtered many of their peers.

    The people issuing death threats to Ophelia aren’t going to redouble their efforts because she a clueless cis-sexist. That she’s causing more grief for the trans folk on FtB means exactly nothing to the fuckers issuing death threats to FtBloggers. None of the information revealed here is a mailing address, a physical point of reference, or an email account used for personal business and not FtB business. There is exactly zero information here that said assholes could use against Ophelia–I sincerely doubt they’re going to start invoking the rights of trans folk in their next campaign of harassment.

    And Silentbob: If I start trolling you, it’s because Cis Bloke #900 telling trans people what is or isn’t transphobia is so passe. The Good Faith Argument boat has set sail months ago. Anyone still disputing Ophelia’s actions at this point has to be willfully ignoring the trans commentators and our allies.

  38. 48

    kevinkirkpatrick

    Alex, if you feel OB misrepresented some part of what was stated on the back-channel, this post itself was still an unnecessary level of public divulgement. Rather, you could have taken a 2-pronged tack:
    * Send OB the content of this post in personal communication.

    Not that shit again, please.
    You know, some ships have sailed, some bridges been burned. After a few months when somebody has not displayed the least effort to engage honestly and in good faith with you*, you’re still supposed to privately talk to them?
    It was bullshit when Ron Lindsay said it, it is still bullshit when you say it.

    *On the contrary, there are several comments on this network by Opehlia Benson that can only be described as low level trolling as they added nothing to the discussion except of reminding people that Ophelia Benson, ironically, is still paying close attention to what they’re writing and disapproving.

  39. 49

    @Lesbian Catnip:
    I think this is more about Taslima than Ophelia.

    And while this post contains no dangerous information, there’s no way to know that from the title. A preceding discussion of the issue on the backchannel, with a chance for people to raise objections, would put people at ease.

  40. 50

    @LykeX:

    I know the risks referenced were about Taslima.

    The point I’m trying to make is that Ophelia is not Taslima. The primary proponent of threats against OB are Slymepitters and various MRA factions. Potentially dangerous, sure, but Alex has neither “doxxed” OB (seeing as how he is only quoting the material that she herself has posted publicly, and the additional commentary is posted with the various authors’ consent), nor provided any material (that isn’t already available from the blog history) the Slymepit would care to use as ammunition for a harassment campaign.

    In fact, conflating the trans commentators on FtB with the Slymepit is one of the many things that we’re fucking tired of seeing on this blog. Calling OB out for cis-sexism is not the same thing as issuing awful threats and launching harassment campaigns and writing up lists with a long trail of casualties.

  41. 51

    I am baffled at the idea that “private e-mail” apparently means that the people who wrote content in that e-mail are not allowed to publicize the very things that they wrote. I can understand it meaning that you can’t disclose other people’s e-mails without permission, but I am fucking baffled at the idea that even with permission, it still isn’t allowed. That is weird definition of “private”. Does FTB own the e-mails as soon as you type them or something? Similarly, I am also baffled at the idea that it is wrong to publish other people’s e-mails, and your own, when you have received explicit permission to do so, and yet you are allowed to “disclose the contents” of e-mails in the back channel as long as you aren’t directly quoting them. Or something. Absolutely bizarre.

  42. 52

    kevinkirkpatrick @45:

    Several issues with your response here:

    (a) By quoting the actual text of emails where he had permission to do so, Alex Gabriel takes this dispute out of the realm of she-said-he-said into the realm of specific, explicit evidence. It is incredibly easy for people to read the same text and interpret it differently; by quoting the actual text of some of the emails, Alex Gabriel gives his readers a check on what he said.

    (b) You talk about “rebut[ting] her claims w/out putting anyone else’s personal/private info at risk”; tell me: how did anything Alex Gabriel did in this post put anyone’s personal/private info at risk? No email addresses are listed, and the only personal information quoted other than the names of posters themselves – and specifically the names that they use publicly as bloggers, so no question of pseudonyms being pierced, either – is Ophelia Benson’s name, that she uses publicly as a blogger. Why bring up a risk that doesn’t exist?

    (c) What Giliell said @48. Ophelia Benson has made it abundantly clear that we should not expect her to admit wrongdoing unless she is forced to. The process you suggest would simply create a delay during which her lies went unchallenged with no corresponding benefits.

  43. 53

    Lesbian CAtnip
    The point I’m trying to make is that Ophelia is not Taslima.
    Yes, but I’m willing to concede the point that the headine is badly chosen. As indicated by my first reaction of “holy shit please don’t”. It may well be that Alex caused some splash damage as the people who are getting threats had no idea of knowing the content of the post prior to reading it and may well have been afraid of having been doxxed.

  44. 55

    Oh good, the nonsense about Ophelia’s comically-bad attempt at pretending that she had no idea of my gender again. This is always super fun.

    The facts: I’d been commenting for some years on B&W, and had made my gender and pronouns known on more than one occasion. For some mysterious reason, I do not have links to every instance of these, because I didn’t bother saving up evidence that OB is a bad liar for years, as I was still believing she was capable of operating in good faith. Which leads to the fact that she and I had been friends on facebook, and had talked plenty of times in the comments to her posts, and my pronouns are visible both on my info and notifications of anything I do on fb. These are again visible to literally anyone I talk to on the site, and not simply FB friends even if she’s going to pretend she had no idea at all who I was. She’s not just a liar, she’s a pathetic and bad liar. That I left her thread earlier than Silentbob liked, because why would I bother sticking with a hostile collection of liars means nothing at all. The company she keeps is dangerous to any trans person. I have not recieved anything like an apology and also would not accept one.

    As far as PZ goes, he’s extremely clear about his position, at least as far as I can see. He is a very loyal supporter to his friends, to put it bluntly.

  45. 56

    Oh good, the nonsense about Ophelia’s comically-bad attempt at pretending that she had no idea of my gender again. This is always super fun.

    Oh, I think she really had no idea – I think that she completely and utterly doesn’t care, so she neither remembered nor looked it up. There are other instances, too, where she doesn’t care that the knowledge of the world is at her fingertips.

    At the same time, as the OP demonstrates, she reads whole novels between people’s lines. I feel like I’m getting a glimpse at the multiverse of headspace.

  46. 57

    anteprepro @ # 51: I am baffled at the idea that “private e-mail” apparently means that the people who wrote content in that e-mail are not allowed to publicize the very things that they wrote.

    In faint hope of debaffling you, Alex G, and others, may I take the liberty of quoting from one Alex Gabriel’s citation in # 6, with a bit of highlighting:

    All emails sent or received on the list are considered to be private. …

  47. 58

    Pierce, read the footer that accompanies every email. It’s quoted in the OP and provides the expilcit permission that led to Greta, Miri et al to agree to going public with their words.

    That was what every user saw everytine they engaged with the system. If it was wrong, then the Committee needs to take responsibility for misleading the network’s users.

  48. 60

    Pierce R. Butler @56,
    (emphasis added for your convenience)

    All emails sent to this list are confidential and private. Revealing information contained in any email sent to the list to anyone not on the list without permission of the author is strictly prohibited.

    Funny how you completely ignore the bit about permission from the authors. Almost as if you think consent doesn’t matter and that you’ll happily ignore the rules to make your cheap point.

  49. 61

    Mmph – something about focusing on the exact wording of the private channel signature message bothers me. I don’t think Alex Gabriel did anything wrong, here, but it’s a little more complicated than “see, it says ‘permission of the author’ right here!”

    The back channel is private. When people post on the back channel, they expect the material they post not to be revealed, not to be shared. They expect that the only people who will be judging them on the basis of what they said on the back channel are other people on the back channel, whom they have reason to trust.

    Ophelia Benson violated that trust. Ophelia Benson made the behavior of people on the back channel the subject of public scrutiny. And, worse, she did so mendaciously. Not only were they being judged on the basis of behavior that should have been private, they were being judged on behavior they did not actually exhibit that should have been private.

    And that’s the core of the justification of Alex Gabriel’s response, here. The protection of privacy was already lost; the best one could do with the new situation was to make sure that judgment was fair, not unfair.

    But – crucially – the information Alex Gabriel revealed did not extend beyond the original violation of privacy. Were there other discussions of Ophelia Benson on the back channel, in other threads? Were there other discussions of the ethics of public disagreements between FtB bloggers on the back channel? We don’t know. (Which, by the way, reminds me another problem with kevinkirkpatrick @44’s argument – how do you know Alex didn’t have the exact conversation on the back channel that you advised?)

    And the material Alex Gabriel did quote contained approximately zero private information. Permission of the author would not cover any revelations of others’ private information that would be made by posting the author’s messages, but in this case there was no such information revealed.

    This was kind of disorganized, but I wanted to make it clear that the ethical standard that needs to be met for disclosure of emails from the back channel is higher than “authorial permission” – and that Alex Gabriel cleared that higher standard.

  50. 62

    Cartimandua @ # 57 & We Are Plethora… @ # 59 – The agreement was not so exact as I had thought – thanks for pointing that out!

    Giliell @ # 58 – I pointed that out to Benson to the exact degree that I was conscious of it at the time: namely, not at all. I have little doubt she’s reading this, or receiving messages from somebody who is. Therefore I will scold her about the situation to the precise same degree that I wish to add to her burdens now (see 1st sentence, this ‘graf).

  51. 63

    packbat @60,

    This was kind of disorganized, but I wanted to make it clear that the ethical standard that needs to be met for disclosure of emails from the back channel is higher than “authorial permission”

    Good point, well put.

    Pierce R. Butler @61,
    Fair enough thanks.

    Though we would suggest that your avoiding calling out or scolding Ophelia is actually adding to her burdens in the long run. You might think you are sparing her added burden but the lack of accountability is not doing anyone any favors. Essentially you are enabling her behavior by not calling it out as problematic.

  52. 64

    So Pierce Butler doesn’t want to “add to Ophelia’s burdens” but he will add to Alex’s? Even though it’s Alex on the defensive and Alex saying he’s low on spoons?

    That seems disingenuous to me.

  53. 65

    We are Plethora… @ # 62 – I think Ophelia B’s most problematic behavior has involved her striking back, ineptly, at those hounding her over what began as trivialities, when she was already experiencing severe chronic harassment from MRAs.

    This does not impress me as the sort of soul-imperiling sin that mandates all who encounter her must demand full confession, on the spot!

    Pro tip: as a strategy for ending transphobia, the prevailing local custom ranks right up with US Middle-East policy as a strategy for ending terrorism.

    Nate Carr @ # 63 – Alex’s primary FtB-related burden he picked up all by himself by posting backchannel discourse without even, apparently, consulting the backchannel per se, only those he named above.

    I worry that the heat of whatever dialog that backchannel carries even as we type may bring down the FtB servers, if not the Web itself. My feeble huffing and puffing amounts to a flickering of pixels compared to the bellows of pain emitted this morning by the resident 800-lb gorilla. In Alex G’s virtual world, even the most disingenuous thing Pierce R. Butler might say matters infinitesimally.

  54. 66

    The fact that you feel a woman who lied about privileged communications is more deserving of respect than the man defending himself from those lies says everything I need to know about you. You clearly have no respect for Alex, especially since you’ve brought up PZ against his explicit wishes. It’s clear consent only matters to you when it’s a cudgel for beating your opponent with.

    1. 66.1

      It is so lovely to see virulent transmisogyny and palling around with people who happily drive vulnerable people to suicide being brushed off as “trivialities”. Silly trans people, thinking they’re human or something! Best wait their turn to get to beg their case.

      Pro tip: advice for “ending transphobia” from cis people is worse than worthless. Gently coddling and pleading that the people who keep hurting us maybe do so a little less if it’s not too inconvenient for them has never worked.

  55. 67

    Nate Carr @ # 65: … a woman who lied about privileged communications … the man defending himself from those lies …

    Lies all around in this business, Nate.

    …You clearly have no respect for Alex… It’s clear consent only matters to you when …

    I stand in awe at your deductive skill and the breadth, depth, & of course clarity of the conclusions you reach on the basis of one (partially-retracted) blog comment. If only we had Nate Carr vetting those hundreds of thousands of refugees, the whole crowd could get sorted out before the Solstice.

    HappiestSadist @ # 66 – at least you live up to the middle of your ‘nym. May we trust that you will forthwith hold your total silence on all cis- matters, following the principles you elucidate? In view of the generalizational quality of your analysis, that really would constitute your best possible contribution to constructive discussion.

  56. 68

    Pierce R. Butler @64,

    I think Ophelia B’s most problematic behavior has involved her striking back, ineptly, at those hounding her over what began as trivialities, when she was already experiencing severe chronic harassment from MRAs.

    There is no point in rehashing what actually happened (yet again) but suffice to say your characterization (spin) is disturbing and offensive. And trivialities? You mean trans people saying they felt concerned and upset and offended by Ophelia’s trans antagonistic comments and her active participation in a blatantly transphobic Facebook group?

    As HappiestSadist alluded to @66 trans people face a shit ton of problems at rates that far exceed the general population from depression and suicide to discrimination to harassment to violence and murder. Of course Ophelia Benson is not personally responsible for these injustices but she certainly was not and is not acting as an ally against them. Also you are fooling yourself (but not anybody else) if you think her trans antagonistic comments and repeatedly signal boosting transphobes doesn’t contribute to the social and cultural atmosphere that allows for these injustices to happen.

    – Trans people attempt suicide at a rate that is nearly 10 times greater than that of the general U.S. population (source)
    – Trans people face discrimination, harassment, and homelessness at rates far above the national average (source)
    – Trans people face violence and even murder on account of their gender; internationally there have been over 80 murders of transgender people this year alone (source) at least 20 of them in the U.S. (which is an historic high) (source)

    Pro tip: as a strategy for ending transphobia, the prevailing local custom ranks right up with US Middle-East policy as a strategy for ending terrorism.

    First this sounds an awful lot like victim blaming. Nothing anyone else does or doesn’t do will ever justify or excuse anti trans bigotry and it’s not trans people’s responsibility to win the hearts and minds of the bigots. Rather it’s the bigots’ responsibility to educate and enlighten themselves and to rectify their own behavior.

    Second nobody was under any misconception that they would somehow end Ophelia’s transphobia. Rather the strategy was to make it clear that such views and such rhetoric are not welcome here. As a result she chose to isolate and marginalize herself by leaving as opposed to making a genuine attempt to listen and understand what folks were actually saying.

    Alex’s primary FtB-related burden he picked up all by himself by posting backchannel discourse without even, apparently, consulting the backchannel per se, only those he named above.

    You left out the part where Ophelia had already posted private info from the backchannel and that she lied in the process thereby compelling Alex to set the record straight. IOW it’s not accurate at all to say that “he picked up [this burden] all by himself.” It would be more accurate to say that Ophelia created the burden and threw it in Alex’s lap.

    Your repeated attempt to serve as spin master and apologist for Ophelia aren’t doing you or her any favors. You are enabling her obst

    Alex’s primary FtB-related burden he picked up all by himself by posting backchannel discourse without even, apparently, consulting the backchannel per se, only those he named above.

    Here again you are acting as an apologist for Ophelia Benson. You left out the part where Ophelia had already posted private info from the backchannel and that she lied in the process thereby compelling Alex to set the record straight. IOW it’s not accurate at all to say that “he picked up [this burden] all by himself.” It would be more accurate to say that Ophelia created the burden and threw it in Alex’s lap.

    Your attempts to serve as spin master and apologist are not doing you or her any favors. You are merely enabling her obstinance and giving cover to her problematic behavior.

    1. 69.1

      Pierce r. Butler @ #67

      You already made it clear that you don’t understand how oppression actually works, perhaps you may wish to hold off on embarrassing yourself further? I mean, you’re already defending a pathetic liar being caught out yet again, you didn’t need to show your total ignorance about how oppressed people should respond to being directly hurt by oppressors. But, I suppose, you do you.

  57. 70

    Riffing off HappiestSadist @66 re “trivialities”: there’s a difference between an act being of little significance and an act being of ambiguous significance. If a cashier were to give me $0.20 cents change instead of $0.19 cents, that would be simply insignificant. If someone were to bump into me on the subway, on the other hand, that could be completely innocent or completely malicious, and it is only on the basis of other information (are they clumsy, overburdened, or tired? was the train undergoing an especially heavy jolt? do they look apologetic or do they look angry?) that I might be able to guess which.

    Ophelia Benson’s acts were transphobic, but before she doubled-down on them again and again and again, a number of us were unsure whether they stemmed from thoughtlessness, from bad habits, or from unconcern for trans people. And, as usually happens, that uncertainty led people to give her the benefit of the doubt until they were uncertain no longer.

    1. 70.1

      And, for that matter, in reference to what packbat said @ #70 there, many people, myself included, respected her a great deal, and extended the benefit of the doubt for a very, very long time that she was simply being unintentionally harmful. Multiple offers were made of information if she wasn’t aware of the results/implications of what she was doing, and to explain and clarify her points. She responded quite angrily, ignored totally, or stated that she had no intention of educating herself or doing better.

      Making this out to be oversensitive trans people who despised her already and were just slavering at any chance we could to claim offense is at least typical of the circles she’s decided to move in. The reality is that she simply showed that she was happy to hurt people who called her a friend, and is a frankly terrible liar who’s given all the evidence anyone with an ounce of integrity would ever need.

  58. 71

    Pierce R. Butler

    I think Ophelia B’s most problematic behavior has involved her striking back, ineptly, at those hounding her over what began as trivialities, when she was already experiencing severe chronic harassment from MRAs.

    Is there anything she does you won’t excuse and minimize? Or anything you won’t twist and turn into something that doesn’t even resemble what actually happened anymore?
    She’s just striking back, she’s just the victim, people are hounding her, it’s your fault if she now hurts trans people!
    As Happiest Sadist says, people were more than willing to give her much more benefit of the doubt than they would have given anybody else. People sought to have a conversation, but blatant refusal was the best they got.

    Alex’s primary FtB-related burden he picked up all by himself

    It’S funny how Alex deserves all he gets but Ophelia must be excused.

  59. 73

    HappiestSadist @ # 66 – at least you live up to the middle of your ‘nym. May we trust that you will forthwith hold your total silence on all cis- matters, following the principles you elucidate? – Pierce R. [email protected]

    Srsly? You see a total moral symmetry between the privileged majority and the oppressed minority here? Like most cis people, I’ve spent most of my life barely giving a thought to the problems trans people face*; while they of necessity spend a lot of time thinking about how cis people think and act. Tell me Pierce, do you lecture black people in a parallel fashion? Jews? Gay, lesbian or bi people? Well, if you don’t happen to be a member of one of those minorities, maybe you do.

    *And parenthetically, I’m grateful to the trans people on FtB who have made dents in my ignorance, and obliged me to consider my own (thoughtless and ignorant rather than vicious, I hope) transphobia.

  60. 74

    Re: 74 Nick Gotts

    I must say, even though I quit this thread when it was clear I was persona non grata, that I 100% agree with Nick Gotts here.

    Don’t fucking lecture persecuted minorities from a place of privilege, Pierce. That’s just a really shitty thing to do.

  61. 75

    @Pierce:
    Ah, of course! Ophelia’s only mistake was overlooking a Nietsche-esque total extermination of her foe!

    Ophelia: Better nuke FtB from orbit. According to Pierce, it’s the only way to be sure.

    I await with bated breath the next Cissplain from Cis Bloke #901. Please, Pierce, tell me how exactly I should petition my abuser for a ceasefire when they have no interest in believing I’m worthy of my own life. Please. Gandhi will be so impressed. Maybe you can tell the Palestinians how to talk down Israel or the blacks to talk down the USA while you’re at it.

    Seriously, fucking Cis Bloke #900 even called you out for being an asshole.

  62. 76

    @We Are Plethora #69:

    First this sounds an awful lot like victim blaming. Nothing anyone else does or doesn’t do will ever justify or excuse anti trans bigotry and it’s not trans people’s responsibility to win the hearts and minds of the bigots. Rather it’s the bigots’ responsibility to educate and enlighten themselves and to rectify their own behavior.

    Right, it’s the same untrue respectability politics we keep seeing any time a marginalized group stands up for rights and recognition. “If only you women/black people/atheists/trans people/etc. weren’t so rude/mean/obtrusive/violent/in-your-face about it, you’d win more supporters and not drive away potential allies.” If an “ally” can be driven away because a marginalized person didn’t prioritize privileged feelings or convenience, then they were a shitty, useless “ally” to begin with.

  63. 77

    Too many replies to respond to each one in depth, so I’ll pick & choose.

    We are Plethora… @ # 69: … trivialities? You mean trans people saying they felt concerned and upset and offended …

    I mean people demanding Benson sign on to their own instant manifestos, while insisting their own tender fee-fees outweighed everything else imaginable.

    … trans people face a shit ton of problems …

    Which neither Benson nor I have ever denied, so repeated recitations of same serve no point here & now.

    … her trans antagonistic comments …

    Did I not say explicitly she responded to the spate of criticisms ineptly? The pile-on created severe defensiveness, which produced a spiral of further attacks and counterattacks.

    … it’s not trans people’s responsibility to win the hearts and minds of the bigots.

    Yeah, gays created a massive and rapid cultural turnaround by non-stop pissiness, self-righteousness, and refusal to discuss the issues resulting from their coming out. Who needs mere effectiveness when they have indignation?

    … nobody was under any misconception that they would somehow end Ophelia’s transphobia.

    Pls see WMDKitty @ # 75 (unless the numbering here changes again).

    You left out the part where Ophelia had already posted private info from the backchannel and that she lied in the process …

    Her pained flailing continues, yes.

    HappiestSadist… @ # 71: You already made it clear that you don’t understand how oppression actually works …

    Odd, every time you use the word “clear” you produce a gross overgeneralization far beyond the evidence.

    HappiestSadist… @ # 73: She responded quite angrily…

    Which fits my hypothesis of an overstressed person striking out in pain at an unexpected and dogmatic assault from behind while already severely overloaded with nastiness from the MRA front.

    …she was happy to hurt people who called her a friend…

    Not nearly so happy as certain self-righteous individuals I could name in the same flamewar. I saw hurt, not joy.

    Giliell… @ # 74: Is there anything she does you won’t excuse and minimize?

    Pls read & consider the hypothesis I describe above. Then ponder the countless mutual green lights given each other by the faction I call Opheliaphobes, all obviously above any reproach whatsoever, individually & collectively.

    WMDKitty @ # 75: I gave her how many chances?

    Chances to grovel and beg before you & the mob you joined with – so magnanimous!

    And every time, she would respond in an abusive manner.

    Substitute “hurting, defensive, and beleaguered” for the adjective you used, and see if it fits the original sequence of events as well – or maybe even better.

    Nick Gotts @ # 76: … do you lecture black people in a parallel fashion?

    The pile-on against Benson involved people of every gender, so far as I could tell. Why should I exclude myself?

    Lesbian Catnip @ # 78: … Cis Bloke #901

    I have no idea what you mean by this.

    … no interest in believing I’m worthy of my own life.

    Do you really see that as a reasonable and accurate description of Ophelia Benson?

    Tom Foss @ # 79: If an “ally” can be driven away because a marginalized person didn’t prioritize privileged feelings or convenience, then they were a shitty, useless “ally” to begin with.

    By all means, strengthen and purify whatever movement(s) you support by demanding 100% compliance with whatever off-the-cuff slogans anybody at all in that movement pops out in some more-heat-than-light flamewar – isn’t that how every worthwhile cause succeeds???

    Having other things to do tonight, I’ll check in with y’all tomorrow. Relax and enjoy the holiday (Usastanians, anyway)!

  64. 78

    Pierce R. Butler @80:

    By “sign on to their own instant manifestos”, do you mean “acknowledge that trans women are women”? Because that wording is quite deceptive, if so. Moreover, you seem to see the emotional state of Ophelia Benson as exculpatory and that of her trans-positive critics as damning.

    Let me ask you this: do you believe that trans people, including nonbinary, genderqueer, and agender people, have a right to see their gender identities respected?

    If so, why are you hostile to those who asked Ophelia Benson to grant them that respect?

  65. 81

    By all means, strengthen and purify whatever movement(s) you support by demanding 100% compliance with whatever off-the-cuff slogans anybody at all in that movement pops out in some more-heat-than-light flamewar – isn’t that how every worthwhile cause succeeds???

    You are beyond parody

  66. 84

    Nick Gotts @ # 76: … do you lecture black people in a parallel fashion?

    The pile-on against Benson involved people of every gender, so far as I could tell. Why should I exclude myself? – Pierce R. [email protected]

    I’ll take that as a “Yes, I most certainly do, and I’m proud of it”.

  67. 85

    Pierce, you don’t understand what I meant because you’re painfully clueless about what it’s like to have people play volleyball with your identity to push an agenda.

    The only “manifesto” that was demanded of OB was acknowledgement that she had been doing exactly that. Every question asked implies what a person already knows, and the sort of “gender-critical” questions OB asked (continues to ask) all imply that trans people are wrong about themselves. When it’s coming from a respected author with a platform, it stands to reason that they have the capacity to influence people.

    So it is with OB. Comments section of B&W is chalk full of people “just asking questions” like “if gender is a social construct, does that make it Not Real?”

    That’s MY identity they’re questioning. Mine and every other person who is trans. There are no more questions for us, yet we live in a society that will inundate us with the same ignorant bullshit. Gender isn’t some concept that exists in a vacuum. It can be a precious commodity–and probably is, to most.

    If OB feels like she is under siege, then I say: this is what it feels like to have every ignorant motherfucker trans people meet on a daily basis question your identity. Imagine the FtB eruption over this, but it’s that way every fucking day for a trans person.

    So no, Pierce, you DON’T understand, and that is precisely why you should listen and learn before you speak.

  68. 87

    [sigh]

    packbat @ # 81: … you seem to see the emotional state of Ophelia Benson as exculpatory …

    I find it explanatory, and I find that worth consideration: I seem to be alone in such a quest. So much more fun to throw rocks, iznit?

    … do you believe that trans people, including nonbinary, genderqueer, and agender people, have a right to see their gender identities respected?

    Do you believe that gender-nonconforming people, having opened a set of questions which have begun a major social transformation, benefit by their “allies” insisting on a simplistic dichotomy as the only way to explore answer those questions? (You are only allowed to reply by “Y” or “N”, btw.)

    WMDKitty @ # 82 – Pls be more careful about leaving your computer unattended when immature brats might post under your ‘nym while no adult is watching.

    julian @ # 84: You are beyond parody.

    Aw c’mon, give it a try – we can all use a giggle these days.

    Nick Gotts @ # 88 – Take it any way that suits your prejudices and emotions: so much easier than that “context” stuff!

    Lesbian Catnip @ # 89: … you don’t understand what I meant …

    I did a search for “Cis Bloke” (which it seems you invented), and I still don’t understand.

    … because you’re painfully clueless …

    Any frame of reference other than yours is abysmal ignorance, eh?

    … what it’s like to have people play volleyball with your identity to push an agenda.

    [another sigh] Step back and take a look: The trans (etc) movement’s agenda also includes a profound redefinition of “man” – which I do consider part of my identity, though irrelevant at many times – and I accept that. I don’t accept that this redefinition can or should take place without discussion: mature discussion in which questions are not treated as mortal hostility. (No, I don’t know where to find that, so I comment at FtB instead.)

    … the sort of “gender-critical” questions OB asked (continues to ask) all imply that trans people are wrong about themselves.

    Benson has been pushed into a corner and continues to respond to the accusatory with the defensive. Whether she will ever heal sufficiently from the social & verbal traumas of this year to address gender & other social issues with her previously customary detachment, only time can tell. (Have you noticed she retains a personal engagement with multiple other serious human rights concerns?)

    Comments section of B&W is chalk full of people “just asking questions” like “if gender is a social construct, does that make it Not Real?”

    a) “chock”
    b) B&W comments do, in point of fact, tend to support Benson. They do not (all) reflect such shallowness, though no doubt either of us could cherry-pick abundant examples.
    c) criticizing bloggers for what their commenters say… fer crysake.

    That’s MY identity they’re questioning. Mine and every other person who is trans.

    Is your identity too weak to face questioning? Have all the gender questions been answered?

    … we live in a society that will inundate us with the same ignorant bullshit.

    Indeed – and hardly a problem limited to the trans-etc population.

    If OB feels like she is under siege…

    If? You have doubts? Pls outline an alternative hypothesis.

    … this is what it feels like to have every ignorant motherfucker trans people meet on a daily basis question your identity.

    And therefore, of course, the only proper response is an ostracism that would make Shirley Jackson shudder.

    So no, Pierce, you DON’T understand, and that is precisely why you should listen and learn before you speak.

    An obligation incumbent only on those beyond the Party Line pale, it seems. Those within Know All and can/should/must monopolize the mic from now on, right?

    Enjoy your last-Thursday-in-November, everybody!

  69. 88

    Pierce R. Butler @91:

    You have avoided answering any of my questions quite ably. Let me take this one point at a time: You say Ophelia Benson’s emotional state should be considered when evaluating her actions. Should the emotional states of her interlocuters also be considered? If not, why not?

  70. 89

    Pierce R. Butler

    Which fits my hypothesis of an overstressed person striking out in pain at an unexpected and dogmatic assault from behind while already severely overloaded with nastiness from the MRA front.

    1.) Has it occurred to you that this also true for about everybody else? Stephanie? Zinnia?
    2.) If you strike out in pain, the adult thing to do is to lick your wounds and then say “I am sorry. I struck out in pain” Because being under lots of stress may explain why you are hurting people, but it does not excuse it.
    3.) So, how long is she to be excused for all the trolling she’s doing now, the lying and the continued shitting on trans activism as she is still engaged in on her blog?
    4.) Characterizing the desire of trans people to have their identity acknowledged, someting that is actually a matter of life and death for them as such:

    I mean people demanding Benson sign on to their own instant manifestos, while insisting their own tender fee-fees outweighed everything else imaginable.

    while at the same time literally insisting that the “tender fee-fees” of Ophelia Benson are a reasonable excuse for her behaviour is beyond pale. I think Mark Schierbecker needs a new PR person, maybe you want the job?

  71. 90

    Pierce R. Butler,

    I mean people demanding Benson sign on to their own instant manifestos, while insisting their own tender fee-fees outweighed everything else imaginable.

    Is your identity too weak to face questioning? Have all the gender questions been answered?

    Wow this is some really vile insensitive shit right here.

    Did you see the stats posted earlier @69? Trans people attempt suicide at a rate nearly 10 times greater than the general population not to mention discrimination, harassment, violence and murder.

    Your response is to characterize their concerns as “tender fee-fees” and to imply they are “too weak” to handle the trans antagonistic and trans phobic nonsense? Unbelievable.

    Pierce your comments here seem more the work of a troll deliberately trying to hurt and provoke as opposed to someone who genuinely cares about social justice or even other people for that matter. Is there any way you could take your hate-on somewhere else?

  72. 91

    Dear Pierce,

    on behalf of transfolk who are not ‘Opheliaphobes’, but do have reasonable objections to having a diet of transphobia and trollish antagonism served up on a neverending daily basis thanks to unrepentant bigots like yourself — please go to hell with the utmost expedition and fuck off out of here.

  73. 92

    HappiestSadist… @ # 73: She responded quite angrily…

    Which fits my hypothesis of an overstressed person striking out in pain at an unexpected and dogmatic assault from behind while already severely overloaded with nastiness from the MRA front.

    So, when she was overloaded like this, why didn’t she simply say “later, folks, I haven’t got the spoons for this today”?

    It’s really not OK to pass nastiness on.

    Benson has been pushed into a corner and continues to respond to the accusatory with the defensive.

    She could literally google her way out of that corner. Somehow, though, this doesn’t seem to occur to her; and when other people suggest this course of action, she just takes it as yet another attack – as if she had some kind of mental block about educating herself.

    She’s not making sense.

  74. 93

    packbat @ # 92: You say Ophelia Benson’s emotional state should be considered when evaluating her actions.

    A bizarre and unreasonable statement, in present company, I know.

    Should the emotional states of her interlocuters also be considered?

    If her “interlocutors” react with all their innermost agony at (what started as) a minor semantic kerfluffle, then that certainly does merit consideration and sympathy – but not enabling, especially when it turned into virtual mob frenzy (a consideration none of them have addressed, sfaik).

    Giliell… @ # 93: Has it occurred to you that this also true for about everybody else? Stephanie? Zinnia?

    Were S & Z under psychological siege for months in the same way OB was? (Yes, Z does undergo all the stresses inflicted upon trans-women in a deep-south red state – but, to the limited extent I followed her postings, seemed to maintain an even keel.)

    If you strike out in pain, the adult thing to do is to lick your wounds and then say “I am sorry. I struck out in pain”

    Quite so. To how many sides of this dispute does that apply?

    … how long is she to be excused for all the trolling she’s doing now…?

    How long will the “Ophelia is EEEVVILLLL!!!1!” cacaphony continue to add to her trauma(s)?

    … the desire of trans people to have their identity acknowledged, someting that is actually a matter of life and death for them …

    Hyperbole much? Pls name the corpses created specifically by Benson’s, or anyone else’s, blog posts. NB: I do agree, entirely, that the social environment for all non-violent gender expression needs a wholesale upgrading – but I consider the present case a textbook example of the wrong fight in the wrong way.

    … at the same time literally insisting that the “tender fee-fees” of Ophelia Benson are a reasonable excuse for her behaviour…

    You’ll have to do a lot of copy’n’paste to make my statements a “literal” “insistence” on that. Apparently even the suggestion that we try to see things from Benson’s context makes me an unspeakable criminal. As a progressive, have you never had someone twist your attempts at “explanation” into “excuses”? Why then do that to others?

    We are Plethora… @ # 94: … this is some really vile insensitive shit …

    Hey, I’ve been waiting for somebody to use that word “insensitive” here! Don’t worry, my irony meter only hummed and sparked a little – I’ve been toughening it up by exposure to Brayton’s “Brian Fischer Award” posts.

    As for the rest of your comment, congratulations on yr mastery of copypasta distortion – Giliell… owes you one.

    … your comments here seem more the work of a troll deliberately trying to hurt and provoke as opposed to someone who genuinely cares about social justice …

    Emphasis on “seems”. You really need to work on your mind-reading, ‘cuz you flunk the present situation entirely. Hint: y’all’s massive high dudgeon is neither the only nor the best strategy for social change.

    IMPERATOR … @ # 95 – I worry about how you’ll cope with a real bigot, when you seem unable to grasp a difference of opinion from someone who supports the transgender (etc) movement.

    David Marjanović @ # 96: It’s really not OK to pass nastiness on.

    From context, it seems you address me with this. Apparently …Plethora… & IMPERATOR… et al get a pass. Why?

    She could literally google her way out of that corner. Somehow, though, this doesn’t seem to occur to her; and when other people suggest this course of action, she just takes it as yet another attack – as if she had some kind of mental block …

    Yes. Accumulated stress from months/years of (ahem) “trollish antagonism served up on a neverending daily basis” could certainly do that to a person – particularly a sensitive, exploratory, bookish, ethically-focused one.

    She’s not making sense.

    Lotta that going around these days, have you noticed?

  75. 94

    If her “interlocutors” react with all their innermost agony at (what started as) a minor semantic kerfluffle, then that certainly does merit consideration and sympathy

    So your argument is that we are unfairly insensitive to OB…

    Is your identity too weak to face questioning?

    …yet you proceed to defend responses against you, by being insensitive.

    “fer crysake.” as you say.

    I wash my hands of this asshole. Alex, would appreciate a response from you on this.

    Oh, and for the record, nobody ostracized Ophelia. SHE LEFT OF HER OWN ACCORD

  76. 95

    David Marjanović @96: I might also add: if she was stressed out, she could have done what I do and walk away from the computer for a while. Responding to everything immediately makes it much harder to realize when you’re in the wrong – you make it a matter of saving face, instead of seeking truth.

    Lesbian Catnip @98: You’re right – conversation with this guy is not going anywhere productive.

  77. 97

    David Marjanović @96: I might also add: if she was stressed out, she could have done what I do and walk away from the computer for a while. Responding to everything immediately makes it much harder to realize when you’re in the wrong – you make it a matter of saving face, instead of seeking truth.

    Yes of course, the onus is on her to play nice with her self-appointed prosecutorial interrogators, with no such courtesy being extended in return. Makes perfect sense.

  78. 98

    Pierce

    Were S & Z under psychological siege for months in the same way OB was?

    Yes. PLain and simple yes. Stephanie has been a target for years, so has Greta been.
    BTW, by now Ophelia and friends are actually making the same nasty remarks about Greta, her cancer and a pair of fucking shoes she bought once that she’s been getting from the pit for ages. I’m awaiting your “explenation” for that.

    Pls name the corpses created specifically by Dawkins’ Tweets Trump’s remarks the Slymepit Benson’s, or anyone else’s, blog posts.

    Funny how that argument works…
    You could, of course, look up what We are Plethora kindly explained to you already, about suicide rates etc. You could further look up “trans panic” as a legal defense. Or that petition to the UN to strip trans people of legal protection carried out by her new BFFs.

  79. 99

    Is your identity too weak to face questioning?

    Pierce, please, try to step back and understand. People aren’t “weak” if they react to their identity being “questioned” with hurt and pain. As already been explained, all too many transgender people are living in a reality where their identity already is questioned and doubted 24/7. They are routinely mocked, called freaks and subhuman, because of their gender identity. That’s the bigger picture here. The suicide rate of the transgender population is about 18x higher than that of the general population – but the rate of suicide decreases significantly with a supportive environment that actually affirms their gender identity. (That’s why it makes me so angry to see people like Germaine Greer – who has such an enormous megaphone in the form of TV interviews, radio, books, lectures, Guardian columns, etc – hurl invective bile like “trans women are ghastly parodies of women.” It’s absolutely important that bigotry such as hers be challenged to the bone.) Understanding, empathy and compassion goes such a long way. I know you’ve said you agree “that the social environment for all non-violent gender expression needs a wholesale upgrading” – but I don’t think you do actually understand it if you can say the above (“Is your identity too weak to face questioning?”) to a trans person, particularly after she has just told you how much pain it brings her.

  80. 100

    Nick Gotts @ # 88 – Take it any way that suits your prejudices and emotions: so much easier than that “context” stuff!

    Your previous response was completely off-point – I had said nothing at all about Benson, but only about your ludicrous and bigoted remark to Happiest Sadist:

    May we trust that you will forthwith hold your total silence on all cis- matters, following the principles you [email protected]

    I asked a perfectly reasonable question: do you treat members of other oppressed minorities in the same way? You replied with:

    The pile-on against Benson involved people of every gender, so far as I could tell. Why should I exclude myself?

    If that is not a complete non-sequitur, it can only mean that trans people complaining about perceived transmisogyny from a cis person is morally equivalent to you telling a trans person to shut up about “cis-matters”. So how else could I possibly take it than as a sign that you do indeed do that kid of thing routinely, and are proud of it?

  81. 101

    The trans (etc) movement’s agenda also includes a profound redefinition of “man” – which I do consider part of my identity, though irrelevant at many times – and I accept that. I don’t accept that this redefinition can or should take place without discussion – Pierce R. [email protected]

    Has any trans person suggested that you are not entitled to identify yourself as a man? If so, was that part of your identity really threatened by it? If so, how?

    Or is it that you feel threatened by the prospect of not being able to exclude others – trans men – from so identifying?

  82. 102

    Pls name the corpses created specifically by Benson’s, or anyone else’s, blog posts.

    Pls name the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    From context, it seems you address me with this.

    No, I don’t address you. I address specifically what you said. You’re not some kind of monolith.

    Apparently …Plethora… & IMPERATOR… et al get a pass. Why?

    Huh? I wasn’t talking about them.

    Yes of course, the onus is on her to play nice with her self-appointed prosecutorial interrogators, with no such courtesy being extended in return. Makes perfect sense.

    How is it “playing nice” if you simply wait till you’re able to write a coherent, well-argued response? If anything, it’s playing nice to yourself.

  83. 103

    HappiestSadist… @ # 100: Frankly, fuck her “trauma”…

    Even in present company, I hadn’t expected a virtual roomful of soi-disant progressive feminists to let a line like that slide by unremarked.

    Fortunately for all concerned, Lesbian Catnip @ # 101, packbat @ # 102, & WMDKitty… have judged me unfit to speak to anyone, least of all themselves, so I shan’t waste pixels there.

    Thank you, Holms @ # 104.

    Giliell… @ # 105: Stephanie has been a target for years, so has Greta been.

    I have no way to measure either the quantity or “quality” of each woman’s respective online abuse – but it still seems the impact has hit Benson hardest, so far. I know – let’s all stand in a circle and revile her for such weakness!

    … Ophelia and friends are actually making the same nasty remarks about Greta, her cancer and a pair of fucking shoes she bought once that she’s been getting from the pit for ages. I’m awaiting your “explenation” for that.

    You’ll have to continue waiting, I fear. I went to “the Greta thread” at B&W and found no new comments to that effect, nor anything on anybody connected to FtB in any of the following posts.

    And yes, I do know about the stats and politics surrounding attacks on trans_ people. How much assholishness that justifies the self-appointed defenders of all that is gender-different dumping onto anyone questioning their poorly-defined “she/he/they said it – I believe it – that settles it!” ontology, I find harder to measure.

    falcon @ # 106 – Thanks for a clear and non-vitriolic response. I chose that particular response to Lesbian Catnip exactly because I considered her (them? I dunno) strong enough to deal with the following query (“Have all the gender questions been answered?’) with a constructive response. Apparently I got that wrong too.

    Other business presses, so I have to leave this with other comments unanswered. Lawd willin’ and the crick don’t rise, I’ll take those up in a few hours (unless booted by our esteemed host, of course).

    1. 103.1

      Pierce: I really don’t see how she has any possible claim to be “traumatized” by being asked, politely and repeatedly, given all the benefit of the doubt, for months, to stop hurting others. That you keep insisting on framing a group of people who have been victimized by her as “interrogators” is absolutely sick.

    2. 103.2

      Also, wrt to Pierce’s claim regarding Just Asking Questions about trans people “How much assholishness that justifies the self-appointed defenders of all that is gender-different dumping onto anyone questioning their poorly-defined “she/he/they said it – I believe it – that settles it!” ontology, I find harder to measure.”: I assume, of course, that Pierce gives cis people the same treatment. “Oh, you were assigned the gender you identify with at birth? You don’t expect that not to be challenged! delicate fee-fees! etc.” for all cis people too, or else fuck entirely off with your lazy bigotry and shitty lying.

  84. 104

    falcon

    Pierce, please, try to step back and understand. People aren’t “weak” if they react to their identity being “questioned” with hurt and pain. As already been explained, all too many transgender people are living in a reality where their identity already is questioned and doubted 24/7.

    It’s really funny how Pierce justifies everything Ophelia Benson with how poorly she’s been treated by people who are actually NOT trans people, but trans people, who are under that permanent questioning 24/7 have to react with kindness, grace and lots of understanding to somebody questioning their identy in the most insensitive ways…

    Pierce
    Seriously, you’re so dishonest, there’s no talking to you. Bye, bless your heart.

  85. 105

    IMPERATOR … @ # 95 – I worry about how you’ll cope with a real bigot, when you seem unable to grasp a difference of opinion from someone who supports the transgender (etc) movement.

    No True Scots Bigot, Pierce? I’m confronted with bigots every day, chum; some are more bigoted than others. You’re a mere asspimple as far as they go, but you’ve occupied way too much oxygen in this and other threads spewing transphobia to circle the wagons for your bigoted friend, none of which is going to deter me from calling a spade a spade. Frankly, if this is how you think you go about “support[ing] the transgender (etc) movement”, then please, don’t support us. You’re under a grave illusion if you think you’re helping anyone, and we don’t need your style of being an “ally”. Bye bye, Pierce.

  86. 106

    Benson is like most white feminists. Convinced she and she alone suffers in this world, rejects any examination of oppression that would make her complicit, and entirely unwilling to consider shr may herself be bigoted towards others. Pierce is your average white feminism defender. Self important, snearing, and convinced no one he’s talking to have ever been discriminated against or been victims of hate crimes.

    The guy dismisses everything women like Christina, Zvan, and ZJ have gotten and continue to get as barely note worthy but Benson getting called bigot is so great an injustice everything the woman does is excused by it. Oh, excuse me, explained. Apparently we can all agree she’s so prideful she has no sense of proportion and carries a grudge for months.

  87. 108

    Giliell @105

    BTW, by now Ophelia and friends are actually making the same nasty remarks about Greta, her cancer and a pair of fucking shoes she bought once that she’s been getting from the pit for ages. I’m awaiting your “explenation” for that.

    On B&W, I found one remark left by Chris Clarke referring to Greta’s cancer, that was the last comment to a post in August. Is that what you are referring to, or are my searching skills lacking?

  88. 109

    @Pierce R. Butler #80:

    By all means, strengthen and purify whatever movement(s) you support by demanding 100% compliance with whatever off-the-cuff slogans anybody at all in that movement pops out in some more-heat-than-light flamewar – isn’t that how every worthwhile cause succeeds???

    Yes, how dare trans people demand that their allies comply 100% with the ridiculous, off-the-cuff slogan that “trans women are women,” something that clearly just popped up a few months ago. You’d never see another movement demand that their allies recognize something so trivial as the legitimacy of the identities of the marginalized groups. Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals have always been happy to accept allies who think they’re just choosing to exercise a sinful lifestyle, that their orientations are just a phase and their relationships are illegitimate because they’re focused on sex and not children. Women have always been happy to accept male allies who believe women are physically and emotionally inferior to men, and that women have already achieved any meaningful equality with men through the passage of laws several decades ago. Racial minorities have always been happy to have allies who think there’s solid research to demonstrate the intellectual inferiority of nonwhite races, that affirmative action is a form of reverse racism and that equality would be best served through resegregation. Atheists have always been happy to accept help from religious allies who believe that deep down in their hearts they know God exists but deny him publicly so they can continue to sin without consequence, and that they’re all going to Hell unless they have deathbed conversions.

    It would surely be foolish of any social justice movement to demand such strict fealty to these passing fads that are in no way central to the movements.

  89. 110

    I feel like I should complete my argument, pointless as it is: the problem I was highlighting in Pierce R. Butler’s rhetoric was that Pierce R. Butler treated the requests of trans people as unreasonable demands – as entitlement and greed – when they were nothing more than statements of principles of human rights. The reason for my question in my post @81:

    Let me ask you this: do you believe that trans people, including nonbinary, genderqueer, and agender people, have a right to see their gender identities respected?

    …was to emphasize this fact. The people angry with Ophelia Benson (and Pierce R. Butler) aren’t angry because they are being denied some privilege they had arrogated to themselves in their minds, but because rights are being denied.

    It’s nothing that others in the thread haven’t said, but I feel better having explicitly tied up the thread of my own argument.

  90. 111

    HappiestSadist:

    I have not recieved anything like an apology and also would not accept one.

    Evidently, no one is going to address this, so I will. I do so not to take any position beyond this statement of fact. HappiestSadist did in fact receive an apology from Ophelia Benson for misgendering them, and accepted it. It’s quoted at #26 above by Silentbob, with a link to the relevant thread.

    OB: “I apologize for accidentally using the wrong pronoun for you.”

    HS: “I do appreciate the apology, and I do accept it.”

    There’s more discussion on that thread, for those interested. If we’re now discussing separate issues for which HS or others feel an apology is owed, or if HS now in retrospect regrets the acceptance of the apology, that’s another matter. But if so that should be made clear.

    (And, for the record, this misgendering was not a case of, say, someone Ophelia knew primarily [by a traditional female name] who she called “he.” It was a case of someone she knew primarily [by that name] who she called “she.”)

    Edited to remove name.—AG

    1. 111.1

      SC @ #120: thank you for the reminder, I had forgotten that she had apologized (two months later). Though as she still seems happy to misgender and out others, and spew the vilest myths about trans people, I certainly feel rather..skeptical about such an apology. And I do love having my nym, where I discussed things like the details of my abuses and my stalkers, connected to my real name again. Great feeling, I’m sure my stalkers appreciatethe help they’ve been given. And really, how very dare I not legally change my name to something OB deems suficiently neutral to be worthy of having clearly and repeatedly stated pronouns respected.

  91. 113

    So, Ophelia is not making nasty remarks regarding Greta’s cancer and shoes/fundraising. That would have been an ugly, purely ‘pit, thing for her to do. And by “friends,” you meant only Chris Clarke making one comment in August that was not replied to. I’m relieved that that accusation against Opehlia, the way that I understood it, was false, as I’m glad that Ophelia’s accusations about what was said on the back channel were shown to be false. I don’t plan to restart reading B&W (from before FtB) because I support trans-rights/inclusion, and won’t support bloggers whose work does harm to trans people.

  92. 116

    Salty Current @120:

    …two things.

    1. HappiestSadist has made it repeatedly clear that they do not want their legal name or face connected to their FtB screen name. It strikes me as wholly inappropriate for you to put their name in your post in light of that fact – a fact which they stated explicitly in the very threads you are referencing.

    2. I understand wholly the attitude of “facts matter”, but as Plethora said after Silentbob’s post, an apology two months later is no excuse for the behavior in the instant, and there’s little evidence that Ophelia Benson has changed her behavior in such a way as to stop being an asshole to trans people in the future.

  93. 117

    So Ophelia actually did make nasty remarks about Greta’s cancer and shoes/fundraising, and I’m lying about it? What the hell? Ophelia has made nasty remarks about Greta, but I don’t think she has gone after Greta for her cancer fundraising, and I did search for it. The ‘pit attacked cancer-survivor Greta for buying shoes on a regular basis with absolute glee and viciousness. Oh please please expose my many lies. I made a request for clarification of a serious accusation and I’m thankful for the clarification, because I initially misunderstood.

  94. 118

    Probably the most absurd statement in this entire thread.

    Well, you’re here so we know that’s not true.

    @WMDKitty

    kellym, just said they won’t read OB because of her transphobia. Did you missread their comment?

    OB: “I apologize for accidentally using the wrong pronoun for you.”
    HS: “I do appreciate the apology, and I do accept it.”

    Given that Ophelia Benson is now propagating the bathroom predator myth, this feels a bit hollow. Like a throw away line she used because she wanted to get rid of someone instead of accepting what she’d done was wrong or understanding the reasons why it was wrong.

    In any case it doesn’t matter. Since August OB has been on a slash and burn bender regarding anything (and anyone) critical of white feminism, its often overt racism, and its rampant transphobia. Her managing to be personable with a single individual on an internet thread really doesn’t amount to much. But thank you for showing up to defend you’re totally not transphobic friend. It’s what this thread needed.

  95. 119

    And just to emphasize my point here’s OB’s take on the “social justice bullshit phrase” schooling. Yes, school.

    Paint by numbers

    I especially liked the second para.

    One word I really hate is “schooling.” Use it in a sentence, you say, so that we all know what we’re talking about. “I schooled her on the issue but she doubled down and went right on asking her terrible questions.”

    Benson clearly has her finger on the pulse of this issue. XD

  96. 122

    Name removed from both comments, even though it’s been pointed out it’s a pseudonym. Since I didn’t recognise it, I initially assumed it was just an example, so wasn’t sure what to do here when it was given and have erred on the side of caution.

    Since I don’t have the time or energy to do the appropriate research in all these cases, I’m going to ask that people here avoid bringing in the specifics of arguments elsewhere like this: it’s hard for me to moderate without doing a lot of digging I don’t have the resources to do right now. Thanks.

  97. 124

    [email protected]: So it is. Apologies to Alex Gabriel and SC – I misread the comment.

  98. 125

    I have no idea what people are talking about. As the sentence indicated, it was a random name I plucked out of the air for purposes of illustration because it was it’s traditionally a woman’s name. It’s not the name or pseudonym I’ve seen associated with HS. I would never have posted that.

    But thank you for showing up to defend you’re totally not transphobic friend. It’s what this thread needed.

    Look, this has become absurd and shameful. Declaring someone a transphobe – regardless of whether or not the designation is accurate – doesn’t give anyone license to misrepresent or make false claims about them. Correcting false claims and misrepresentations, be they intentional or in error, is the right thing to do. It shouldn’t be met with outlandish accusations of dishonesty or bigotry or gish-galloping on to other allegations or issues, but with an acknowledgment of error and more carefulness in the future.

  99. 126

    @SC

    No, you look. You pointed to an apology she’s made, I pointed out it’s a meaningless apology. I made no false claim and frankly couldn’t care less how sincere she was being. Benson doesn’t get anything for a throw away exchange on a thread in light of everything that came after it. I don’t care one lick how this fight happened or what her catalyst was. Since (hell even before) her departure from this network she’s propagated transphobic myths, acted with open hostility towards abortion providers who discuss their work in gender neutral terms, dismissed the complaints of black feminists as misogynistic trolling, demeaned and lied about what her former friends have said in regards to her, and the list just keeps going. Transphobia is just one of Benson’s many issues so you’ll excuse me for rolling my eyes at your first comment.

  100. 127

    SC (Salty Current) @135,

    Look, this has become absurd and shameful. Declaring someone a transphobe – regardless of whether or not the designation is accurate – doesn’t give anyone license to misrepresent or make false claims about them.

    With respect this became absurd and shameful a helluva long time ago when Ophelia decided to double triple and quadruple down and then rage quit in the face of an inconvenient question.

    Further nobody here is declaring anyone a transphobe regardless of whether or not the designation is accurate. That’s an unfair mischaracterization and it would be surprising if you didn’t know it. The evidence examples and links have been posted and reposted and the specifics discussed ad nauseum.

    Just to highlight what is perhaps the most egregious and gross example (as julian mentioned @136): Ophelia Benson’s decision to harass an OB/GYN doctor on Twitter by sending more than two dozen unsolicited Tweets insisting on use of “women” instead of “pregnant people.” The doctor was in the midst of arguing with anti choicers and trying to be inclusive by using “pregnant people” and Ophelia literally tried to insist otherwise to the point where she was eventually blocked. Ophelia was arguing against the inclusive term and for the exclusive term.

    Just exactly what sort of mental gymnastics must you perform to explain that one away or to sweep that one under the rug? Bear in mind this did not happen in a vacuum either but rather took place in the context of what happened before and since.

  101. 128

    #127 julian
    Well, you’re here so we know that’s not true.

    Which of my posts in this thread was absurd, explaining your reasoning. Or was this just a content free insult based purely on disagreeing with me in another thread? What a petty grudge if so.

    Given that Ophelia Benson is now propagating the bathroom predator myth … [and other accusations]

    These are troubling actions, but I have not managed to find them. Could you point out where OB perpetrated the bathroom predator myth?

    #133 Giliell
    Probably the most content-free statement in this entire thread.
    Really, I’m flattened by the depth and profound insight of your comment.

    – Complaint about a comment being ‘content free’
    – Complaint is nothing more than a snide imitation of the post being complained about
    Well done.

    Anyway, it is possible that you interpreted the word ‘absurd’ to mean something along the lines of silly, ridiculous, laughable etc. I’ll grant that those can indded be reasonably ascribed to your comment about Clarke, but the meaning I actually had in mind was more obviously false, illogical. Which I maintain is an accurate assessment of your accusation that Clarke’s conduct has been nasty.

  102. 129

    (Sorry Alex if this is too much of a derail or too far down a rabbit hole but their apologetics should not go unchallenged)

    Pierce R. Butler, Holms, Silentbob and SC (Salty Current),
    Since each of you seem determined to come here and defend Ophelia or excuse her offensive comments and antagonistic behavior here’s another one for you.

    In addition to explaining away the treatment of the OB/GYN doctor on Twitter (@137) have a shot at explaining this doozy as well.

    In Ophelia Benson’s post in August Siobhan is speaking her truth Ophelia shared an offensive CollegeHumor video titled “Coming out as trans everything.” It’s ostensibly meant to be a parody or satire of trans gender identity that includes references to being “trans star sign” and “trans emoji” and such. Ophelia passed along this video with no criticism nor commentary of any kind in the OP.

    Chris Clarke commented:

    I identify as a hornet’s nest AND a baseball bat.

    Only after being challenged in the comments Ophelia pitifully tries to explain it away as harmless satire and how it’s not really making fun of transgender people. What’s most amazing though is how “it’s just a joke satire” is suddenly an acceptable excuse to her when it involves making fun of trans people. Because when it was Tim Hunt making a sexist joke Ophelia wrote well over a dozen posts about it and over and over and over again she made the point that “it’s just a joke” is not a valid excuse and doesn’t erase harm done. Here are but a few samples among many more where Ophelia made this point very cogently:

    Saying it was a joke doesn’t rescue it.

    Sexist jokes are still sexist.

    We already knew he claimed he was joking (along with also saying he was serious about at least some of what he said), and it changes fucking nothing.

    You have to live inside a tree trunk to be unaware of people who use “jokes” as ways to get away with saying shitty things.

    Right then Pierce R. Butler, Holms, SilentBob and SC (Salty Current) talk to us about these examples then. Go ahead. Tell us all how this “satirical” video was just a harmless joke now that you’ve seen what Ophelia has had to say about that excuse. Tell us all how insisting a doctor stop using inclusive language is not actually exclusionary in any way.

    On the other hand you can admit that Ophelia’s women not pregnant people Twitter tirade and Ophelia’s sharing of offensive anti trans “satire” is a problem. In which case your bullshit “Ophelia dindu nuffin” narrative begins to crumble like a stale cookie.

    In either case you all are as full of shit as Ophelia herself and you deserve to be forcefully called on it every time. Every fucking time. That’s how bigotry in all its forms should be dealt with.

  103. 130

    Holms

    Which I maintain is an accurate assessment of your accusation that Clarke’s conduct has been nasty.

    So, did you see that snide about Greta’s cancer?
    Or his accusation against Oolon and HJ Hornbeck of “white knighting”*?

    *Without being aware of the irony in the least.
    That’s behaviour I call “nasty”. You can, of course, disagree with my assessment. But just calling it “absurd” isn’t an evidenced disagreement.
    Please, defend those behaviours as totally not nasty. I’m waiting.

  104. 131

    “But just calling it “absurd” isn’t an evidenced disagreement.”

    Neither is simply calling something “nasty.” Why must I be the one to provide justification, when your initial assertion seemingly needs none?

  105. 133

    Pierce R. Butler, Holms, Silentbob and SC (Salty Current),
    Since each of you seem determined to come here and defend Ophelia or excuse her offensive comments and antagonistic behavior here’s another one for you….

    Correcting the record with the facts about what actually happened, as I did here, is not defending or excusing anything or anyone. (This should be obvious, but for good measure I even included in my post “I do so not to take any position beyond this statement of fact.”) In fact, it’s a basic ethical responsibility, as is not making false claims or misrepresentations. Sadly, the record I corrected in part continues to be misrepresented in this thread.

    Far too many people seem to be of the opinion that once someone is classified (rightly or wrongly) as somehow beyond the pale or outside the “moral community” – transphobic, misogynistic, racist, mean, dishonest, harmful,… – the responsibility to be scrupulously fair and accurate when talking about them no longer applies. This is of course wrong, and leads down a very dangerous road, especially when combined with a collective prosecutorial zeal. I don’t think anyone here would want to see false claims and misrepresentations repeated about themselves and allowed to stand unchallenged.

    julian:

    No, you look. You pointed to an apology she’s made, I pointed out it’s a meaningless apology. I made no false claim and frankly couldn’t care less how sincere she was being.

    My comment was explicitly in response to HS’s statement “I have not recieved anything like an apology and also would not accept one,” which they, in response, acknowledged had been wrong.

    WAP:

    Further nobody here is declaring anyone a transphobe regardless of whether or not the designation is accurate.

    You misunderstand. My point was that the responsibility to avoid and to correct falsehoods and misrepresentations applies even when the person under discussion is accurately designated as a transphobe. It applies when we’re talking about the worst transphobes in the world. It applies when we’re talking about people who are themselves unethical in this regard. It’s a general statement and had nothing to do with the accuracy or inaccuracy of the designation in this particular case.

    But it applies here. Again: whatever Ophelia Benson has or has not done or said or who she’s befriended, it doesn’t reduce or cancel the ethical responsibility to be scrupulously fair and accurate when talking about her, to correct others’ misrepresentations, and to acknowledge one’s own errors.

  106. 134

    Must say I agree with [email protected]: it’s hard to do, but we should be if anything more careful not to make inaccurate (negative) claims about those we disagree with or dislike – because we’re more likely to make them erroneously through misremembering.

  107. 135

    I also agree with Salty Current @143. I think this post was necessary to correct some of Ophelia’s falsehoods, and I also think it’s important to be scrupulously accurate when describing her actions. If for no other reason than false accusations make the accuser look less trustworthy.

    I disagree with Ophelia about pretty much everything trans related, and don’t plan to read her again.

    1. 136.1

      Yes, SC does seem to have a very selective dedication to truth.

      The last time I spoke with Chris Clarke, he either unfriended or blocked me for saying that it was not particularly funny to make jokes about trigger warnings or the people who need them. Charming fellow.

  108. 137

    SC (Salty Current) @143,

    You misunderstand. My point was that the responsibility to avoid and to correct falsehoods and misrepresentations applies even when the person under discussion is accurately designated as a transphobe.

    Ah gotcha. Definitely misunderstood thanks for clarifying. In that case it also wasn’t fair to characterize you as having defended or excused Ophelia’s comments as we did @139 so sorry about that as well. (though we do still stand by that characterization with regards to the other folks mentioned)

    But it applies here. Again: whatever Ophelia Benson has or has not done or said or who she’s befriended, it doesn’t reduce or cancel the ethical responsibility to be scrupulously fair and accurate when talking about her, to correct others’ misrepresentations, and to acknowledge one’s own errors.

    Agreed wholeheartedly along with Nick Gotts @144 and kellym @145.

    That said there has been and continues to be much misrepresentation as to the reasons people were or are upset with Ophelia and how this all went down. Such as mentioned in the OP just for starters. Are you applying your commitment to ethics and being scrupulously fair over at Ophelia’s place as well? Are you correcting the misrepresentations that have been and continue to be posted there by her and some of the commenters? Or are you avoiding that so as not to add to Ophelia’s burdens as was offered as an excuse by someone else earlier.

    Don’t we also all of us have an ethical responsibility to be rigorously honest and fair and accurate when confronting bigotry? And isn’t is true regardless of whether it’s someone we like and respect or someone we vehemently dislike?

  109. 138

    Or [Chris Clarke’s] accusation against Oolon and HJ Hornbeck of “white knighting”

    He did? I only ever get that from various anti-fems, is there a way of accusing someone of it without it being misogynistic?

    1. 138.1

      That it’s only men criticizing OB for her various… viewpoints is a favourite of her and her little clique’s. Note the focus on Jason and Alex as seemingly the only FTB writers who criticized her and ignoring all the others. The idea that the only people who object to her actions are men who are using giving a shit about trans people as a smokescreen for some elaborate misogynist in general, occasionally Pitter in particular conspiracy is a recurring one. In that clique, there’s also a nasty idea that seems to pop up now and then that the only reason young (apparently meaning anyone under 40, though some over 40 year olds seem to get included, it seems a code word for “intersectional”) feminists are ever listened to is because of our endless, intense sexiness and any allies we have are simply trying to get in our pants. It’s the flip side of the “ageism” persecution claim that keeps getting trotted out. It’s also a transmisogynist dig at the trans women who’ve spoken up. I do find it interestting that apparently OB can only hear or recall men’s voices. Much feminist. So anti-sexism. Wow.

  110. 140

    Are you applying your commitment to ethics and being scrupulously fair over at Ophelia’s place as well? Are you correcting the misrepresentations that have been and continue to be posted there by her and some of the commenters? Or are you avoiding that so as not to add to Ophelia’s burdens as was offered as an excuse by someone else earlier.

    My last interaction there or with Ophelia was in early September. (That followed an earlier incident in which I – and several other people – took issue with what we saw as a mischaracterization of the FB group, and other similar disagreements. So, yes, I think I was. (That’s to say, I was trying to challenge what I regarded as inaccuracies and misrepresentations over there, to the point that I stopped commenting when my comments were met with hostility; that shouldn’t be taken to mean that I agree with the various claims made here about misrepresentations or general comments over there, some of which I suspect are false and others I don’t know anything about.)

    Don’t we also all of us have an ethical responsibility to be rigorously honest and fair and accurate when confronting bigotry? And isn’t is true regardless of whether it’s someone we like and respect or someone we vehemently dislike?

    Yes, that’s precisely my point.

    And I’ll add: In addition to the issues I’ve mentioned, a tendency to be sloppy with or to distort or exaggerate the facts is counterproductive. Because I’ve seen a pattern of misrepresentations from several of the people commenting on this matter – again, I’m not claiming these have all been intentional – I ignore or approach with great skepticism any claims they make about related matters with which I’m not familiar (such as what people have been saying at B&W since I stopped commenting/reading there). Some people have done real damage to their credibility, I think.

  111. 141

    @ 139 We are Plethora

    Right then Pierce R. Butler, Holms, SilentBob and SC (Salty Current) talk to us about these examples then. Go ahead. Tell us all how this “satirical” video was just a harmless joke now that you’ve seen what Ophelia has had to say about that excuse.

    I doubt this comment will survive moderation, but since you’ve addressed my directly I’ll give it a shot.

    I cannot believe you have actually watched the video.

    There are five characters (plus one non-speaking part). Four of the characters are spouting woo woo. The fifth is the straight man (“straight” in the comedy sense, not the orientation sense). The straight man is meant to be the voice of reason. He clearly and explicitly says that being transgender is a real thing, and he’s pissed off at his friends for trivializing the experience of trans people. This is actual dialogue from the straight man:

    Transgender is a real actual thing that people are. Trans-star sign – that’s just something Siobhan made up.

    What you’re doing is you’re borrowing language from an actually oppressed group – just to suit your whims.

    Do you get it now? The message of the video is not “trans people are funny”, the message of the video is “don’t make a mockery of trans people by appropriating their language and making spurious claims of being trans-all-sort-of-ridiculous-things”. It’s targeting people who claim to be “trans racial” and stuff like that.

    If you can still watch that video and not see that what I say is true, then I give up. You’re just wilfully ignorant.

    If you can see that what I say is true, then there you go. Another piece of “evidence” of Ophelia’s supposed transphobia bites the dust.

  112. 142

    And I’ll add: In addition to the issues I’ve mentioned, a tendency to be sloppy with or to distort or exaggerate the facts is counterproductive.

    Ignoring the broader issue will always be a bigger threat than sloppiness. You can fix sloppiness with a little bit of criticism. If you won’t engage with the broader issue there’s nothing anyone can do.

    But I get it, you saw something that was factually wrong go uncontested for 100+ comments. You’ve seen enough of some people to no longer consider them credible. Fine. That’s your value judgement to make. Honestly, I’m never going to storify tweets or collect screenshots of threads, so I don’t expect anyone to ever believe me when I relate the things I’ve read. I’ve accepted they won’t be 100% accurate because it will always be my brain intrepreting it and then translating that interpretation to communicate an idea to someone else.

  113. 143

    @Gilliel, ahh he didn’t mention me particularly, but I guess I’m one of the “cis men” who was “beating up on” her O.o
    twitter. com/canislatrans/status/625335198247354369

    I’m sure that’s a great strategy, presumably metaphorically, beating up on women to get SJ ally points. In actual fact trans people had been saying to me she is a terf sympathiser and trans antagonistic for over a year before I worked it out. It took her laughing at trans people and agreeing with Becca Reilly-Cooper/boodleoops rant about trans pretenders taking over feminism on a hate group’s FB page before I believed it. Not exactly stellar “allying” there! Although better than the cockwomble Clarke who dismisses Zinnia’s point with a platitude in this Twitter thread where the block bot is also out to get Ophelia apparently!
    twitter. com/canislatrans/status/623907395756888065

  114. 144

    Ignoring the broader issue will always be a bigger threat than sloppiness.

    Even if true, that would be a pointless, referent-free statement.

    You can fix sloppiness with a little bit of criticism.

    In this matter, the sloppiness has very rarely been fixed. It’s been persistent and pervasive. I think that’s an inevitable side effect of the collective prosecutorial approach I’ve criticized. It has a distinctly Stalinist feel, and probably will always lead to major epistemic failures. It also makes for a hostile environment full of angry and bitter exchanges, in which addressing the broader issue becomes virtually impossible. Some people seem to relish that atmosphere. I’m not one of them, so I’m done here as well.

  115. 147

    packbat

    Stalinist? That’s an awfully provocative term for bog-standard confirmation bias.

    Just wait a little and we’ll get witch hunts and lynch mobs as well. Ophelia Benson has already covered “McCarthyinsm” and compared herself to native Americans being almost exterminated with genocide…

  116. 148

    I doubt this comment will survive moderation, but since you’ve addressed my directly I’ll give it a shot.

    Silentbob has been kicked. Second-guessing my moderation decisions to get a reaction is something I really cannot stand, especially on threads like this.

    Everyone else: After 159 comments, I’m closing this thread. Apologies to people who still had things to say, but I no longer have the energy to follow it, reading every comment and trying to moderate. I’ll happily have relevant conversations with people on other forums, but tracking comments here is too much work. Thanks.

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