The GrotheBot 5000 meme

So one of our commenters who shall not be named unless xe comes forward used to create a meme generator to parody DJ Grothe’s latest bout of intractability.

It’s crude, it’s crass, it’s even gross mischaracterization in many cases, and I’m willing to admit that I’ve participated in creating at least one. I’m honestly hoping it’s enough of a slap in the face to wake DJ the hell up to the fact that he’s running around being a douchebag to those women who are identifying the problem and working to solve it, instead of actually fixing the problems people are having with harassment.

He can start by listening to the recommendations of the community and implementing a strong harassment policy that covers this year and all future years. Because there’s a lot of questions floating about regarding his, and JREF’s, willingness to do either. The fact that they haven’t yet is telling.

Update: Before you get all up in arms about “douchebag”, read this.

The GrotheBot 5000 meme

130 thoughts on “The GrotheBot 5000 meme

  1. 101

    I wonder…would you use the terms ‘douchebag’ and ‘asshat’ in relation to James Randi? Michael Shermer? Neil Degrasse Tyson? Sam Harris? Rebecca Watson? Greta Christina? Jen McCreight? J.T.? Jessica Ahlquist? Do these people deserve such disrespect as you’re giving to D.J.?

    Funny, that, but I remember that when Randi posted some lazy, non-informed comments on “climate-change scepticism”, lots of other prominent sceptics did take him to task for that, some none too gently. And when Sam Harris uttered lazy, uninformed views on screening people who “looked Muslim” in airports, he received a storm of harsh critics. Hmmm, maybe there’s a lesson, here. Y’know, something about great honour bringing great responsibility…

  2. 102

    No matter what you think of Dj, calling him a douchebag, as it overwhelmingly seems (and using, even, the phrase asshat in the tag of this post) is very immature, disrespctful, and unprofessional regardless of what you think he has said or assumed.

    In shorter words: You’re angry, therefore you’re wrong.
    It doesn’t matter that your concerns were dismissed, that women speaking out about harassment were accused of lying, were slut-shamed and told to shut up.
    Because DJG used long words for that and proper sentences and the offensiveness content doesn’t matter as long as the words are kindergarten-approved.

  3. 104

    SatanHimself@100: I won’t deal with the rest of your petulant screed, but this last parting shot certainly is worth examining.

    Oh yeah, and another thing. Feminism has nothing to do with atheism, and I’m sick of bleeding heart liberals trying to tie the two together, just like they tie “gay marriage” or “pro-choice” or the Democratic Party to atheism.

    The Venn diagrams intersect pretty heavily because empathy, compassion and rationality are all necessary to call one’s self a “humanist”, and the vast majority of humanists are atheist. Saying “I’m atheist” does not automatically mean you’re right on anything else. Look at, say, Penn Jillette or Bill Maher for example.

    Gay marriage and abortion are NOT strictly religious issues, but the liberals will try to convince people that they are.

    No we won’t. I’m well aware some people think homosexuality is icky without prompting by religious authority. But the “icky factor” is significantly smaller than the “that’s sinful and God will send hurricanes to destroy Florida if you don’t stop” factor.

    And if an atheist DARES oppose gay “marriage” (as if there’s no BIOLOGICAL component to marriage) or unrestricted abortions (as if abortion is a really HUMANIST procedure), they will be attacked as traitors.

    Not as traitors to “atheism”. As traitors to other values these people hold. Like that making abortions legal means saving women’s lives and protecting their right to bodily autonomy, valuing their full-grown-adult lives higher than the potentiality-for-a-baby-in-nine-months-if-all-goes-well that latched onto their internal organs. If they don’t want to reproduce, or if reproducing will kill them, they have every right to choose.

    As for the “biological component” to marriage, I’m well aware that in some jurisdictions you can annul a marriage if you haven’t “consummated”. It’s kinda up to the two people involved what constitutes consummation though, isn’t it? If those icky gays and their icky oral or toy sex or bum sex counts to them, what difference does it make to you? Why do you care so damned much?

  4. 105

    Somebody call the media. SatanHimself is a unicorn. He agrees with Republicans on every social issue and hates “bleeding-heart liberals” but votes Democrat because the Republican candidates are too…too….

    I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

  5. 106

    I wonder, with ‘tone-trolling’ and ‘it is just one word’ being a sufficient enough phrase to dismiss anything I say, why people find so much issue with the ‘tone’ of D.J. and the ‘just-one-words’ he says. Oh, of course, because the words have implications, right…well, so do the words you use when you levy personal attacks at him. …and two wrongs (assume for sake of argument that appraisals of D.J.’s comments offered here) surely make a right, right? Never again do I want to hear — if the standing of ‘tone-trolling’ and ‘it is just one word’ shall reign supreme — objections to ‘tone’ and ‘just one words’ for language just doesn’t matter, apparently.

  6. 107

    @ justinvacula #88

    “…and I think time can be well-spent discussing matters of tone…and so much so that I am actually going to be giving a speech about related issues under the umbrella of ‘reframing conversation’ this September to a humanist group which invited me to do so…and, as I mentioned, I have written and spoken about this before. One’s ‘waste of time’ might be another’s time well-spent.”

    I must admit that I first thought you were a typical tone troll with intent to derail. It now seems that you are a serious person seeking to make valid points. I definitely appreciate your thoughtful concessions and considered arguments. Others have already responded to various points in detail. What I am interested in is your thoughts on the importance of tone overall. So…

    FWIW: My $0.02 about Tone & Civility

    In my experience tone, propriety, civility, decorum, etc are very important to the progress of rational discourse, but this assumes a small to insignificant disparity in the power of the participants or explicit mechanisms for overcoming the disparities that exist (ie “Permission to speak freely, sir!”). When there is a large and unameliorated power differential, telling the less powerful to be civil is usually the equivalent of saying “We will give your opinions due consideration and get back to you with Our decision.” In some cases it may well be that those in authority truly are concerned, but as long as the imbalance of power exists it is still entirely up to them what form it is appropriate for that concern to take. To overcome this imbalance often requires impolite methods.

    If you will indulge me for a moment in an extreme example. I think we all agree that violence is a bad form of argument. But when one group brutally oppresses another sometimes it is the only viable response (argument) aside from submission (which is no argument). History is replete with brutal tyrants who exemplify this.

    In between the extremes of argument by violence and argument by civil discourse we have all sorts of various appeals to emotion, calls to action and so on which attempt to address the various power discrepancies. To tell women not to get all angry and stuff about sexism* is like telling workers not to strike or Gandhi not to make salt because they should just be having a reasonable conversation about their grievances.

    Does this seem reasonable to you? Is there something I’m missing?

  7. 109

    Justin @106:

    I wonder, with ‘tone-trolling’ and ‘it is just one word’ being a sufficient enough phrase to dismiss anything I say, why people find so much issue with the ‘tone’ of D.J. and the ‘just-one-words’ he says.

    You’re intentionally misconstruing what I said about “just one word”. You claimed we weren’t making arguments. The evidence you proffered was one word as opposed to thousands.

    Oh, of course, because the words have implications, right…well, so do the words you use when you levy personal attacks at him. …and two wrongs (assume for sake of argument that appraisals of D.J.’s comments offered here) surely make a right, right?

    You’re never allowed to insult anyone under any circumstances ever. Not even if they’ve insulted a class of people. Gotcha.

    Never again do I want to hear — if the standing of ‘tone-trolling’ and ‘it is just one word’ shall reign supreme — objections to ‘tone’ and ‘just one words’ for language just doesn’t matter, apparently.

    Of course it matters. If it didn’t matter, I wouldn’t offer an apology in exchange for DJ’s. I don’t see DJ offering an apology though.

  8. 110

    @ satanhimself #100

    And F**K the term “con”…”con” has many other definitions, and mere laziness amongst the youth in America has spawned its use in place of “convention” or “conference”.

    Absolutely right! Damn kids these days!… Wait. Just a minute… HEY YOU, GET OUTTA MY YARD!

    OK, where was I?

  9. 111

    Vacula makes more vacuous arguments. News at 11.

    Isn’t it interesting how he has endless amounts of time to complain about how mean people are to Grothe, but no time whatsoever to complain about insulting and sexist language used against women? Where’s my 5,000 word essay about all the slurs used against Watson? Actually, at the extraordinarily low signal-to-noise ratio Vacula writes at, it would probably take 50,000 words to address all of those. Not that he would ever consider trying.

  10. 112

    @ Jason

    “Emptyell: I just released two more Justin Vacula comments after you’ve commented. I suspect they will alter your perceptions somewhat.”

    So color me an optimist. I do tend to always assume the best of people.

    @ Justin

    I’m still open to the conversation if you are actually interested. If you prefer to just go on as you have then I will, sadly, stand corrected.

  11. 113


    …and yes, I do think D.J. deserves the benefit of the doubt and perhaps you (and commenters here) would understand why I believe this if you linked the quotes I used in my answer to your question here.

    D.J. deserved the benefit of the doubt. He was given multiple chances to clarify and apologize, and even when he did those things, he surrounded his clarifications and apologies with more of the stuff that people were complaining about to begin with. He has since lost the benefit of the doubt.

    And I think some would say that he lost the benefit of the doubt when he did all this six months ago and has shown no signs of learning from that fiasco.

    This use of the term ‘slut-shaming’ (and alleging D.J. is partaking in such) is quite interesting and really bizarre considering D.J. said

    The slut-shaming came before his apology, when he dismissed concerns about harassment with this statement:

    So much of that feels to me more like rumor and distasteful locker room banter, often pretty mean-spirited, especially when it is from just one or a few women recounting sexual exploits they’ve had with speakers who are eventually deemed as “skeezy,” and whom they feel should be not allowed to speak at such conferences going forward.

    He dismisses the concerns of women over being harassed as post-coital regrets. ‘These ‘rumors’ only exist because some women slept consensually with some speakers and afterward regretted their consensual sexual exploits, so they’re smearing the men involved.’ Slut-shaming or not, that comment is unconscionable.

    He has not, so far as I have seen, apologized whatsoever for that comment.

    As for your “just one word” bullshit, at this point it’s clear that you’re either seriously dense or intentionally misreading/dishonest. No one here for the most part gives a flying fuck what words D.J. used in his various responses. Our problems are with the actual substance of what he said. And what he said was that TAM women’s attendance is down, that it’s because of women bloggers misinforming women about the level of harassment at TAM, that it’s clearly misinformation because they have an anti-harassment policy statement in the program and no one thought to say that they were sexually harassed in the exit survey, and the only instance of harassment wasn’t reported in the precise right way (not that it was that important anyway), and it all boils down to some women being upset over consensual sexual encounters.

    This isn’t about tone. It’s about D.J.’s false and unsupported claims, his spin doctoring and blame-laying, his offensive and divisive insinuations, his attempts to claim authority and certainty with a flawed-at-best measurement tool, his inability to even suggest that the anti-harassment policy needs to be improved, and the incompetence represented by his handling of the whole matter, starting with publicly posting accusations that he apparently didn’t mean to be publicly posted.

  12. 114

    DJ Grothe’s apologies consist mainly of his justifications for his statements.

    He apologized to Ashley Miller for not recognizing that she had been sexually harassed and then complained that she hadn’t made a report about an incident at which he (Grothe himself) had been present and had been involved in ejecting the harasser.

    He apologized to Rebecca Watson for accusing her of being so unkind as to discuss harassment problems at TAM. He even acknowledged that such problems do exist. He went on to say:

    but I would appreciate if such reports were balanced with an acknowledgment of the great effort the JREF goes to ensuring that TAM is a safe and welcoming environment for women.

    He is complaining that all he’s getting is “awshits” and not a single “attaboy”. This complaint is in the middle of an apology for making a previous complaint.

    Grothe makes it obvious that he’s less concerned with harassment of women and more concerned about the reputation of JREF and of TAM. In other words, he’s being a douchebag and asshat.

  13. 115

    @ Justin #88

    …and I think time can be well-spent discussing matters of tone…and so much so that I am actually going to be giving a speech about related issues under the umbrella of ‘reframing conversation’ this September to a humanist group which invited me to do so…and, as I mentioned, I have written and spoken about this before. One’s ‘waste of time’ might be another’s time well-spent.

    It’s been a while since I offered to discuss this further. I guess I don’t rate as “time well spent”. Presumably too busy preparing that speech he has been invited to deliver*.

    Still, not the garden variety tone troll. Perhaps the koi pond type. A bit more pretentious than average with a knack for hiding in the lily pads.

    . . .

    *note to Justin: It’s great that people are interested to hear your opinions and I wish you well in your presentation. Bringing it up here looks a bit silly though.

    For one, many of the folks in these parts are well respected experts in their fields who lecture and stuff. We know how fallible we are anyway so we’re not all that impressed. Sorry.

    Secondly if Einstein, Newton and Galileo all showed up here insisting that proper tone and decorum are more important than dealing with sexual harassment and abuse of women we’d call bullshit on them too (though probably with a little more awe and deference and where the fuck did you guys get the Tardis?). Of course that would be an epic derail.

  14. 116

    I know that this is late and unfair since he can’t respond, but somehow I missed this before:

    …of course it can’t possibly be the case that someone sees a flaw with her reasoning, poses a reductio ad absurdum to help her perhaps discover this flaw, wants to express some skepticism to better understand her position, or perhaps wants to pose a defeater to a certain course of action

    Dude, you’re arguing against someone’s personal fucking choice of what to do with their time. And, moreover, suggesting that she was suggesting a larger boycott when she explicitly was not.

    To put it in Vacula’s terms, how is that “permissible”? What gives you the right to argue against how someone else chooses to spend their free time? Why the flying fuck do you care whether or not a person’s personal decisions are based on sound reason or emotion or preference or rolling a goddamn die?

    Here’s a reductio ad absurdum for you: “I was planning on going to this place, but the owner decided to blame me for a bunch of the place’s problems, without any good reason to do so. I decided not to go back, but some twits on the Internet got upset about it. Should I be forced to go to a place where the owner makes me feel unwelcome to appease some tool on Twitter?”

    God, what an asshat.

  15. 118

    So was Count Vacula banned?

    So much for the in depth conversation I was hoping to have about the place of tone and decorum in civil discourse and conflict resolution. Shucks.

  16. 120

    I think it’s funny the arguments/debates that we (Atheists) get passionate about. I’ve seen people here comment because someone takes issue with a word or two, yet we defend the first amendment. We don’t like someone being offended by a word, but openly debate because friends profess their love for jesus. Is religious harm different than the harm the characters in this tragedy or what have you are suffering? What kind of intellectuals ban a person, because they can’t win a debate against one person? All because he was looking at something from his own view point? Sounds like the christians I argue with. For a group of intelligent people, have we not learner to ignore? Yeah sure, you can over analyze this all you want, but I can always makes this as simple as you need it. I work well with those with special needs. See? That’s insulting and trolling.

  17. 121

    Yeah I can be a bit droll at times.

    I was flattered that LeftSidePositive gave me a 51% to 49% benefit of the doubt between hilarious and total misogynist scumbag.

  18. 122

    @ DoesItMatter

    You will have to try a lot harder if you want to be taken for a troll. If you want to study up on technique there’s some exceptional work by vethtiche over at:

    It starts at 18 with heisenbug and vethtiche gets going at 25.

    Vethtiche makes justinvacula look like rank beginner. LeftSidePositive also provides some links over there that explain this much better than I can.

    I try to give apparent trolls the benefit of the doubt, so I offer to discuss their concerns in a civil manner (I actually do find this an interesting topic and am happy to discuss it). You may have noticed this above. When they then completely ignore me and go on attacking is when I decide that they are a troll and not worthy of further attention.

  19. 123


    No. I really don’t feel like wading through some other long winded arguement where the tribe attacks somebody for being stupid or being raised with the wrong morals. It’s honestly quite simple, there are ultimately two reasons to debate. One is to get others to see our point of view and the other is to prove our intelligence. The issue is that everyone is intelligent, most just think they’re intelligent in areas they’re not.

    No. I am not going to wade through another blog where the hive attacks another misinformed, poorly educated or someone with piss poor manners or morals.

    You’ll be amazed how many people a simple, juvenile

  20. 125

    I appreciate you declining to take the bait. I also appreciate the response. For what infinitesimal value it may have you get my “not troll” seal of approval. This may seem silly but, as you are the first recipient this feels somewhat significant.

    I disagree with your hive mind evaluation but don’t feel any compelling need to resolve this. It’s refreshing to feel that we seem to share a somewhat limited assessment of the value of our opinions. The trolls are not like this.

    Cheers and best wishes.

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