There can be no Khitomer Accord

There has been a stirring as of late in the blogosphere. Lee Moore, the host of a podcast co-hosted by Reap Paden, has taken it upon himself to attempt to broker a peace treaty, a ceasefire, a breaking of bread and a healing of the divide between the two sides of the Great Rift — between the feminists on the one side, and the antifeminists (and those claiming the name “feminist” for their libertarian laissez-faire cargo cult “equity feminism”) on the other. A sort of Khitomer Accord, if you will indulge the Star Trek reference. Of course, this would depend on either “side” being a cohesive unit, with leaders or any ability to encourage conformity among its self-identified members. In a leaderless movement such as ours, a movement where leaders viewed with awe and reverence by some are equally eyed with suspicion by others, such a gambit is doomed to fail.

But what really strikes me as misguided about the whole effort is that, from the outset of this conversation, everyone is using terms differently. And not just terms of art — we’re all working with different definitions on just about everything of substance! We talk of attacks, of slurs, of in-fighting, of trolls and witch-hunts and censorship and co-opting of movements. We talk of inclusiveness and privilege and exclusiveness and tribalism. And every one of these words means something completely different to one another.

But let’s start with the core term at issue here: what exactly constitutes “in-fighting” to both sides in this argument?

Khitomer Conference from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. If you expect this to happen in our community, you're delusional. (via Memory-Alpha
Khitomer Conference from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. If you expect this to happen in our communities, you’re delusional.
(via Memory-Alpha

To those on our side, who have been put through one wringer after another just for daring to discuss feminism in our own forums, “in-fighting” comes in the form of the attacks we’ve endured. For the high crime of saying “guys, don’t do that” in reference to some predatory behaviour she experienced, Rebecca Watson was subjected to insane and disproportionate volumes of harassment, trolling, attacks, and vitriol. Anyone trying to legitimately argue with the thesis of “guys, don’t do that” without attacking in this manner, has likewise been (correctly) called out on sexist behaviour — maybe not behaviour as egregiously or unequivocally sexist as, say, rape threats or slurs, but it is definitely sexist behaviour to question a person relating an ordinary event just because said event was the genesis for a point you disagree with viscerally. It is certainly sexist behaviour to treat a woman’s word as less trustable than a man making an equivalently frequent claim — “I went to the store” is every bit as likely for a man as “I was made to feel uncomfortable by someone’s advances despite my stated desire to be left alone” is to a woman, but nobody launches years-long “skeptical” campaigns about a guy’s claim that he went to a store.

But the problem with telling them so, is that the people called out on the sexist behaviour of being “skeptical” of such claims apparently have the understanding that sexist behaviour is horrible, without really knowing what sexism is. They’ve evidently internalized the concept of sexism as comprising only the blatant sorts of sexism that involve slurs and harassment. So, they — folks like Justin Vacula — believe themselves to be above that layer of the problem, and they take umbrage at being lumped in with the most egregious folks who use slurs liberally — folks like Franc Hoggle or Reap Paden. They feel so, so much butt-hurt over being called “misogynist” or “sexist” that they shut out all discussion and double down on their actions, rallying with the “cunt”-criers and folks who think screaming “fucking bitch” over and over is reasonable discourse. They often mistake “that thing you said was sexist” for “you’re a sexist”, in much the same way that Jay Smooth points out that it’s very difficult to get someone to hear what you’re actually saying when you tell them that a thing they said sounds racist.

So then you get the kind of polarization that really preys on our own internal cognitive biases against taking criticism for what it is — the idea that when someone criticizes a thing you said as being impolitic in a particular regard, that they are “tarring” you or engaging in “witch-hunts”.

It has come to a point where attacking a sexist trope as sexist, means you’re attacking the person as sexist. And that calling someone sexist is a far worse crime than calling someone a cunt.

It has come to a point where documenting for all to see the abuse you’re getting is “playing the professional victim” (or alternately, “eating cat food”). And objecting to that abuse, why, that’s harassment!

It has come to a point where putting a commenter in moderation for abusing the discourse is “censorship” and “shutting down the debate” and “groupthink”, even if their words are enshrined, intact, on your page for all time, and everyone can see that they offered no actual argumentation to back up their mere gainsaying.

It has come to a point where big names like Michael Shermer can’t take mild criticism for a thing he said and probably didn’t even intend the way it came out, turning the debate instead into feminist Nazis hunting down various factions of ideologues, in his so-called defense essays that are more hyperbole and emotion than logic and reason.

It has come to the point where the event wherein a group of people expressing their own identities as both atheist and involved in some social justice movement, taking a name for themselves, and then withdrawing to their own pocket community, is treated like an attempt at co-opting the entire movement and turning everyone into something they’re not.

There is much resistance to the idea of coupling atheism and skepticism with any kind of moral judgements about particular actions, even though both movements are themselves social justice movements that do in fact carry moral judgement about a great many things. There is push-back against someone’s particular ideologies ever being examined critically and skeptically. One side thinks the other is guilty of this, suggesting that feminism can’t stand up to critical scrutiny. In my experience, this has been largely projection. A vocal subset of the atheist and skeptic communities are extremely wary of, and react with much volatility to, the idea that sexism might exist in our communities in large enough proportions to drive women away (however large or small that sexism problem might actually be). They question the existence of privilege, despite the concept having a strong sociological body of evidence, even while they defend less tenured scientific concepts like evolutionary psychology. They fixate on individuals, they hound them, they attack everything they say, following them from space to space and demanding the right to do so without consequences. They make life miserable for certain individuals, and they admit doing so, thinking themselves Brave Heroes and the Saviours of Tribe X.

And then still others question the validity of these hounders’ and harassers’ community credentials — they claim that these people screaming vile obscenities at a woman in the movement can’t possibly be anything but background trolling such as you’d experience on Reddit or Twitter, but then one has but to look at the other comments made from these accounts on other matters to see that many of them claim to be great leaders in our community and have the sorts of histories to prove their tenure.

So, with all that as background, we’re looking at a fundamental reality rift between the antifeminists and other such folks who generally think feminism is an encroaching cancer in our community, and the feminists who fight for the “no-soul” of the secular movements. The fact that these feminists and various social justice advocates are so numerous in our community that we can take petitions to our leaders asking them to enact strong harassment policies and take strong stands on social justice issues to improve and widen the reach of our secular movements, boasting several orders of magnitude more signatures than oppositional petitions demanding that we stop “silencing dissent” (a petition laudable in actually laying out its arguments for once, even if evidently so very few members of our communities agree!), tells me that we are winning.

Let me say that again. We are winning this battle. The evidence is all right there.

But we incur heavy losses from the battle fatigue. We drive away potential allies. People like Jen McCreight, who, while a skeptic and an atheist, places a much higher priority on fighting other injustices that affect her more acutely and directly and as such has backed away from the community even where we want to support her. I can think of a dozen allies like her — some of whom would rather not be used as examples — who got caught in splash damage, who got attacked by the members of the community. Attacked by these members whom some would disavow as “just trolls” and not really part of our community, others would rally around as “fighting the good fight,” and still others point out are the very problem we’re fighting to ameliorate.

These allies get driven out because the environment is too toxic to contain their voices, to add their distinctiveness to our collective consciousnesses and raise awareness of other issues stemming from the same lacks of skepticism and cognitive biases that we fight when we debunk psychics and argue against creationists. Sexism and racism and transphobia and homophobia are all every bit as worthy of targets for our skepticism and scientific inquiry as religion and traditional skeptical targets, especially since fighting them might improve the toxicity of our internal culture. They are every bit as worthy an adversary for our ire and for our rooting out and removing from our communities, because they cause every bit as much — in many cases, more even — real tangible demonstrable harm to individuals in our society, both at large and in the proximate sense.

When some third party steps in and calls for cease-fires, bear in mind that on our side of the rift, we’re firing at a target worthy of attack. If there are people with outmoded memes in our community, like the sexist idea that atheist and skeptical activism is a “guy thing” for instance, and we criticize those memes (and thus by that transitive cognitive bias we’re “attacking” the people as well), we are not engaging in a witch-hunt. Any pretension at claiming that particular victim mantle is the real instance of acting the professional victim. Forget people documenting the actual abuse they’ve received being the professional victims — the ones who truly profit from playing victim are the people who are called out on minor transgressions acting as though they’re being excommunicated by high priests of a feminist cult.

At this point, unless people could start actually using the same words to mean the same things, you’ll never see the kind of peace you’re looking for, Lee Moore. Here are some acceptable terms that Stephanie’s laid out for having a discussion with any of the other side of the rift’s supposed leaders, but I guarantee they’re unattainable in the kinds of numbers one would need to make an actual difference in the discourse, and would thus be for naught. See, anyone attempting to speak for everyone on either side of this debate will be rightly shot down as not representative of the whole argument or of anyone on their side but themselves — therefore, you might win a discussion with Stephanie, but that wins you nothing like a peace accord. And yet, nobody on our side of the rift has any pretensions that they can broker any kind of deal between feminists and antifeminists, any more than we could broker a deal between matter and antimatter.

I’ve been proposing that these great rifts have existed since the beginning, since we all started to coalesce as a relatively coherent “community” (though I still contend we are a loosely interlocked set of communities instead — a united federation of allied communities), and we’re only just now mapping out the boundaries of these great rifts. The problem presently seems to be, the rifts are too permeable. People on one side of the rift are too able to enter into and attack others’ spaces.

People on this side of those rifts generally want to be left alone by the folks on the other side, who swarm to feast on the flesh of the bloggers who dare criticize one of our movements’ “leaders”; we generally want to be left in peace and to let our contributions to freethought — in providing critical analysis of some of the things our leaders say — stand or fall on their own merits, without incurring undue levels of vitriol. The folks on the other side of those rifts generally want our leaders to remain sacrosanct and inviolate and above all reproach for saying things that are demonstrably harmful to an underprivileged class; generally, they want the liberty to be able to say anything, damaging or not, without repercussions. They want to be free of that one last meddlesome repercussion of people calling bullshit when they see bullshit coming from people who supposedly represent them. They claim to represent those who will not stand for censorship, and they prove it by trying to censor us and make certain topics taboo lest we bring down more harassment as a result. They want the repercussions to be entirely disproportionate and one-sided — for them to be the sole arbiters of who incurs what repercussions for saying which things, while we just want the freedom to say the things that we want and accept the reasonable repercussions as a result. Reasonable repercussions, meaning counter-criticism, for instance; not death and rape threats and howls of conspiracy and witch-hunts.

This is an intractable problem, presented the way it’s been so far. You’ll never have a Khitomer Accord in this scenario, with the two sides forming a strong alliance and teaming up to fight the big fights and respectfully washing their hands of other political issues between themselves. First, this assumes that the two factions are of equal power and influence and, hell, assumes that both sides are objectively equally right. This is not the case, demonstrably. And second, this assumes that we would put aside our differences and respect the cultures of people who engage in the very sort of nonsense that we fight so hard in other areas. We cannot, will not, stand idly by while people claiming to be allies in secularism do things that harm our own side’s members.

The best you can hope for is a Treaty of Algeron. A Neutral Zone could be erected between us such that if either side enters, it could be considered an act of war. Adam Lee has a fairly decent idea of what such a zone’s shape might be. In short: don’t act sexist or misogynist, and we won’t call you sexist or misogynist in return. We already have such an agreement in place in other skeptical domains. Don’t peddle woo, we won’t call you a woo-peddler. Don’t promote anti-evolution junk science to pump up your god’s image, and we won’t call you a creationist. Don’t say ridiculous racist shit, we won’t call you racist. It shouldn’t be that hard. Stop your antisocial behaviour, and we’ll stop pointing it out.

And it’s not like we’re not already gunshy on actually calling misogyny misogyny, what with the antifeminist sentiment so prevalent on the internet and so quick to jump up and say “but they totally don’t look like Yosemite Sam jumping up and down and screaming ‘I hates those wimmenz’, so they can’t be misogynist!” Hell, I’ve had to be corrected on this gunshyness myself. We’re all prone to that cognitive error, to making that mistake.

The fact that people are damaging discourse by pretending calling out an instance of misogyny is a witch-hunt, though, ain’t helping cure us of that particular cognitive bias! And the terrible fact that you’re comparing being called sexist to being burned at the stake for being an uppity woman is as richly ironic as if you called being chastised for saying something racist a “lynching”.

If you stop firing at us, at feminists and social justice advocates in general and at women in particular, then all the firing will stop. What you perceive as “firing” from our side is actually us pointing out each of your volleys.

{advertisement}
There can be no Khitomer Accord
{advertisement}
The Orbit is still fighting a SLAPP suit! Help defend freedom of speech, click here to find out more and donate!

214 thoughts on “There can be no Khitomer Accord

  1. 151

    I wonder if he calls the police station every time he sees a patrol car out, and attacks the cops for accusing him of a crime. Or same thing when he walks into a bank with security cameras: “TURN THOSE CAMERAS AWAY FROM ME! Why are you treating me like a bank robber? I have done nothing wrong, and your surveillance implies that you think I’m capable of robbing a bank! HOW DARE YOU!”

  2. 153

    Imagine you go to a store and there’s a sign saying “Thiefs will be prosecuted” and “Please have your
    handbag ready for inspection”.
    Funny, I don’t feel particularly prosecuted when the cashier asks me to lift my bag/ basket for a moment so they can see underneath. Poor Edward seems to have issues to big for us to solve.

  3. 154

    Funny, I don’t feel particularly prosecuted when the cashier asks me to lift my bag/ basket for a moment so they can see underneath. Poor Edward seems to have issues to big for us to solve.

    Maybe. A seemingly unusual number of clients have weird traffic citations such as jaywalking and riding a bicycle on the sidewalk or forgetting to use a turn signal when changing lanes. One might suspect that their race or appearance contributes to these odd stops, but I’ll pass on your suggestion that maybe they have issues too big for us to solve.

    One thing that is interesting is the total dismissal that I have any legitimate complaint or anything to be offended about. Is this categorically different from people who claim offense from some possibly racist or sexist act? The dismissal of their feelings happen, too. Which categories are acceptable for feeling offense?

  4. 156

    I do happen to think that calling people stupid does some amount of splash damage (specifically to people who are less privileged with education), but certainly not as a personal slur. I’m perfectly willing to call you obtuse, mendacious and ass-backward in your philosophies, but not stupid, if only because there are people with less education than you who may be unfairly insulted despite being markedly better thinkers.

  5. 158

    One might suspect that their race or appearance contributes to these odd stops

    (I hope Jason will forgive me for being so horribly blunt, but the specimen seems resistant to “listening”)

    HOW THE FUCK DOES THIS RELATE TO YOU!? Or, for the matter any other commenter on a blog? WHERE, WHEN, and BY WHOM were you “singled out?” How does this have ANYTHING to do with “race or appearance?”

    QUESTIONS! Can you answer them!?

  6. 159

    One thing that is interesting is the total dismissal that I have any legitimate complaint or anything to be offended about.

    That’s because you haven’t shown a damn thing. Nobody has asked you whether you stopped beating your wife.

    Maybe. A seemingly unusual number of clients have weird traffic citations such as jaywalking and riding a bicycle on the sidewalk or forgetting to use a turn signal when changing lanes. One might suspect that their race or appearance contributes to these odd stops, but I’ll pass on your suggestion that maybe they have issues too big for us to solve.

    Can I keep the straw? I have rabbits to feed…
    You are complaining about the equivalent of the signs “Be a good example to children, don’t jaywalk” and make it sound like you’re actually a member of a prosecuted minority who actually gets harassed by the police for petty offences.
    Again, you’re whining and you’re apropriating the experiences of underprivileged people for your own ends. That’s despicable.

  7. 160

    And yes. Unless you’re going to point out who singled you out to call you a rapist, this conversation is over.

    Since I never claimed anyone singled me out, I find this statement odd. Since my personal feelings were questioned, I attempted to compare this situation with another so that it might make more sense. Clearly I failed to explain myself properly. My main point was that I was offended by Adam Lee’s tweet about how if people like Justin Vacula just wouldn’t rape or stalk and be against free child care, he could act with some civility. And that’s that. I understand and am perfectly comfortable with the fact that you aren’t going to feel about it the same way I am.

    You are complaining about the equivalent of the signs “Be a good example to children, don’t jaywalk” and make it sound like you’re actually a member of a prosecuted minority who actually gets harassed by the police for petty offences.

    I don’t recall complaining about any signs nor claiming I’m being harassed by the police.

  8. 161

    I never claimed anyone singled me out

    You clearly implied it.

    I don’t recall complaining about any signs nor claiming I’m being harassed by the police.

    Yet you were obviously drawing a comparison to people who are, unfairly, subjected to such harassment. Why would you make that comparison? If you are not claiming that it is analogous to your own situation the why else would you mention it? That is a sincere question.

    WHAT FUCKING RELEVANCE DOES YOUR “EXAMPLE” HAVE?

  9. 162

    I’m trying to figure out how something that didn’t actually happen to JV means that EG gets to be offended and make up shit and make really strong false insinuations that he can’t back up.

  10. 163

    I would rather enjoy Chappelle’s Show rather than not have anyone use the n word.

    False dichotomy.

    However, you probably aren’t going to convince me that every fat joke ever made was some sort of crime against humanity.

    Straw man.

    Maybe I think causally tossing out rape accusations is an awful thing to do that insults me, you, women, men, and rape victims.

    Outright fabrication.

    Your witness, ladies and gentlemen.

  11. 164

    One might suspect that their race or appearance contributes to these odd stops, but I’ll pass on your suggestion that maybe they have issues too big for us to solve

    This is the kind of thing that makes me think that maybe Eddie is not as stupid as he seems, but is trolling. That little twist seems to me more indicative of deliberate distortion than simple cluelesness.
    If a person is being singled out due to race, that is obviously not the same as a general rule or statement applied to anyone and the attempt to twist the sentiment into sounding racist is so disingenuous that I can only assume that it’s intentional.

    Since I never claimed anyone singled me out…

    The implication of your example was quite clear and, in fact, central to the point. If you agree that you were never singled out, then what was the point of your example, which was explicitly about somebody being singled out?

  12. 165

    Let’s make it really simple:

    Carlie:

    You’re saying it’s offensive to people to tell them not to do bad things???

    Edward Gemmer:

    Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is extremely offensive, as his tweet was. Here’s an example: Imagine if you go to a store and people are coming and going. The manager singles you out and tells you not to steal. You may not be offended by that, but I imagine some would be

    My emphasis. Please explain, if you agree that you were never singled out, how this example at all relates to this discussion.

  13. 166

    Edward, did you realize that you contradicted yourself in the same comment?

    Sometimes it is extremely offensive, as his tweet was. Here’s an example: Imagine if you go to a store and people are coming and going. The manager singles you out and tells you not to steal. You may not be offended by that, but I imagine some would be. Not every action is going to have the same effect on everyone everywhere.

    […]

    It’s hard for me to see there is one right way to think about the issue, and in fact I hate the idea that there is one right way to think about words that offend people. But as a general rule, I’m pro-word.

    First you said that sometimes people can be extremely offended by others saying things like “don’t be a rapist”, and that’s terrible. That even if another person doesn’t take that statement as offensive, the first one was terribly offended and that means the other person (in this case Adam) shouldn’t be saying it.

    Then, when it comes to fat jokes and using slurs and the like, suddenly it’s free speech everywhere and if someone is offended they just don’t understand that other people aren’t offended, and therefore the offended person should just shut up and roll with it.

    So which is it? Adam should apologize for saying something that offended a few people, even though others didn’t take it as offensive, or Stephanie should chill out and not worry about all the things said that offended her, because others don’t see that as offensive?

  14. 167

    My emphasis. Please explain, if you agree that you were never singled out, how this example at all relates to this discussion.

    Sure. The point of the example is to show a situation where it would seem weird and arbitrary as to why you were being singled out and while not specifically accused of a crime, treated as if you were. I think it is plain to see that many people would be offended by the store owners actions. The Adam Lee tweet was, as far as I can tell, the conditions he might impose before he would speak to Justin Vacula (or perhaps anyone on “the other side”. Since I find myself on this side, I took it as aimed at me just as much as anyone else. I took the tweet to suggest that anyone who disagrees with him is akin to someone who rapes, stalks, and whatever else evil things you can imagine.

  15. 168

    disingeuous lying fuckwad: (emphasis mine)

    The point of the example is to show a situation where it would seem weird and arbitrary as to why you were being singled out and while not specifically accused of a crime, treated as if you were.

    Again, no one has singled you out. What the fuck does this have to do with anything?

  16. 169

    The point of the example is to show a situation where it would seem weird and arbitrary as to why you were being singled out and while not specifically accused of a crime, treated as if you were. I think it is plain to see that many people would be offended by the store owners actions.

    And again, how is this somehow a terrible thing that should be avoided, whereas if the store owner followed you around the store, made snide comments about everything you put in your cart, told you how fat you were, drew a mustache on your driver’s license when you showed it to them at the cash register, and then insinuated you were too stupid to know how much change you should get back, you should be able to “take a joke” rather than being offended?

  17. 170

    So which is it? Adam should apologize for saying something that offended a few people, even though others didn’t take it as offensive, or Stephanie should chill out and not worry about all the things said that offended her, because others don’t see that as offensive?

    Now, this is a really, really good question. I don’t know. Clearly I get offended by some things, as much as I try to avoid it. Clearly other people get offended by different things as well. It would be hypocritical of me to say he shouldn’t say this or shouldn’t say that and in the same breathe say he should say whatever he wants. So…

    I don’t know. One thought is that this idea of being offended is part of life. I read his tweet and I got really ticked. It was a real emotion. It didn’t feel great, but it did move me to write about it on the internet. Perhaps this notion that ridding the world of everything that causes some negative emotion is not the most worthwhile goal. Rates of depression in America seem to be increasing despite everyone’s best efforts to protect their children from anything harsh. Suicide rates are not decreasing. I’m not depressed because of anything Adam Lee said (and in fact not depressed at all), but it did tick me off.

    I guess I’d say that encouraging more honesty among people, and discouraging the demonization of people, are pretty simple things. Such rules would probably lead to more racist and sexist comments, but also lead to more understanding and perhaps acceptance among various groups. I don’t know, I can’t prove it.

  18. 172

    The point of the example is to show a situation where it would seem weird and arbitrary as to why you were being singled out…

    But since you agree you were never singled out, how is the example relevant?

  19. 173

    I guess I’d say that encouraging more honesty among people, and discouraging the demonization of people, are pretty simple things.

    Indeed. This is why we aren’t saying “walk away from all the people at the Slyme Pit”, we’re saying “repudiate this sort of bullshit that you see on the slimepit”.

    There are important differences: one, people can change. The people are not the people’s actions, and they can easily recognize those actions as harmful and repudiate them. Two, the Slyme Pit is a website. The slimepit is an ethos: an ethos involving a shared experience of having been banned from various things by various feminists and feeling marginalized as a result, then taking out their frustration in very hate-filled and vitriolic ways, proving why someone might be willing to ban them from various conversations.

    If you’re willing to look at the cognitive dissonance of “if you don’t want to be called sexist, don’t do anything on this list of sexist things and people won’t call you sexist any more” and zero in, with laser-like precision, on the one item in the list that you personally don’t do and are offended by the implication, then you’re hyper-fixated on your own emotions and ignoring the emotions of everyone else involved.

    And since you deal with laws every day, where if someone breaks a law there are set punishments, having a set of rules for discussion with one individual surely shouldn’t be that unfamiliar. There’s no reason you should look at that list and say “stop accusing me of all those things” unless you feel as though you’re actually being explicitly targeted — or you have a guilty conscience about some of them.

    If you do any of that laundry list of things, Adam Lee doesn’t consider you worth discussing with. If you don’t do any of those things, then you shouldn’t end up being called sexist or misogynist in the first place, so where’s your loss?

  20. 174

    Since I never claimed anyone singled me out

    More lying. Either people are accusing you, specifically you, of being a rapist, in which case, yes, go ahead and be offended, or they aren’t, in which case no. You don’t get to complain about general proclamations that rape is bad and people shouldn’t do it.

  21. 175

    I don’t recall complaining about any signs nor claiming I’m being harassed by the police.

    Ahh, the stupidity again. No, nobody said you did that. What happened was that people drew the analogy between you reading a blog post about how rape is bad and concluding that you’re being accused of rape, and you reading a sign noting that stealing is prohibited and concluding that you’re being accused of theft. And you brought up the police harassment of minorities as if it had something to do with anything, why? Obfuscation or maybe just sheer incoherence and ineptitude, who knows.

  22. 177

    If you do any of that laundry list of things, Adam Lee doesn’t consider you worth discussing with. If you don’t do any of those things, then you shouldn’t end up being called sexist or misogynist in the first place, so where’s your loss?

    I have no loss, other than my feelings. Similarly, calling someone fat does not make them lose out on anything, nor does calling someone some sexist or racist slur cost them anything but perhaps some hurt feelings. If hurt feelings are irrelevant, then what is all the fuss about?

  23. 178

    If you admit that no one ever did then what is the purpose of your anology to being singled out by a shopkeeper?

    To show a situation that can be offensive where no one is actually accused of doing everything.

  24. 179

    Similarly, calling someone fat does not make them lose out on anything, nor does calling someone some sexist or racist slur cost them anything but perhaps some hurt feelings. If hurt feelings are irrelevant, then what is all the fuss about?

    It’s not about hurt feelings. It’s about being told that if one is going to participate, one has to participate with people who abuse them. It’s about shutting out everyone in the groups that receive abuse who isn’t willing to put up with the abuse.

    Speaking of which, Jason, I won’t be commenting here while you keep your pet.

  25. 180

    Or to put the expected outcome out for everyone to see, please let me know when you tired of this guy who thinks it’s funny to laugh at people calling me fat by the oh-so-clever means of posting a picture of a fat person and saying it’s me.

  26. 181

    Fair enough Stephanie, he’s growing quite tiresome on my end as well. But I have one last bit of duplicity to wring from him here.

    Edward, don’t post elsewhere on this blog. Especially not on posts by my wife. You’re on a short leash here. You get to keep posting here until I am done with you.

    You said “calling someone fat doesn’t make them lose out on anything”. But that’s not in question — I said “if you don’t do things, you won’t be called sexist and thus where’s your loss?” That means, if you DO do those things, and you lose out on the opportunity to speak to Adam Lee, then that’s because you broke his rules for whom he considers a good-faith arguer.

    Here you’re arguing on the one hand that you should be able to call people fat, and simultaneously that someone “calling you sexist” (who isn’t actually) hurt your feelings. Either you should be okay with people calling you sexist (especially when they aren’t), or you should respect people ‘s feelings Edit: FULL STOP and not call them fat.

    Especially not if by doing so you’re hurting a whole class of people who are overweight for whatever reason outside their control. Or that you’re attacking people for being “overweight” who aren’t actually, only by some societally ingrained standard of beauty that none of us could acheive. Therefore, most of the time you’re calling someone fat, trying to shame them for some kind of moral failing of not being attractive to *you*, you’re flat incorrect. And the rest of the time you’re just being an asshole and doing damage to the whole class of people for no reason whatsoever.

    You’re doing damage to people by demanding your right to call them fat. That behaviour is actually quite bigoted, and calling you a bigot for demanding that right might hurt your feelings, but it’s absolutely and unequivocally correct.

    Either you stop calling people names and thus don’t get called a bigot, or you continue calling people names and accept that people will call you a bigot. You do not get to slice it both ways.

  27. 182

    To show a situation that can be offensive where no one is actually accused of doing everything.

    Your situation is offensive because the shopkeeper singled you out. Your calling someone fat is doubly offensive because you’re targeting a specific person, and you’re hurting everyone who’s not a societally-accepted weight. Adam Lee’s list is a reply to the request for a cease-fire — it is a list of terms by which he will stop “firing” by calling people sexist and misogynist, in return for people stopping doing a list of things that he (correctly) deems sexist or misogynist. If you feel personally hurt by this, then is it because you did one of those things? Or is it because you were called sexist by Adam and yet you’re not aware of doing one of them? This seems fundamental to why you’re so butthurt.

  28. 183

    But since you agree you were never singled out, how is the example relevant?

    It’s relevant because everything is all about him!!! Even when he’s not being singled out, he’s being singled out, because he’s the only person worth talking to. That’s what makes it so tough to be the center of his universe, donchaknow.

  29. 184

    And it’s not just emotional hurt – it has been well-documented that people who are overweight get passed over for promotions and raises, are trusted less, and get poor medical treatment from doctors. All those fat jokes simply reinforce that kind of behavior and make it acceptable.

  30. 185

    Disengenuos Gemmer

    To show a situation that can be offensive where no one is actually accused of doing everything.

    We all get that, fuckstick. The question is HOW THE FUCK IS IT RELEVANT TO YOU? Or, for that matter, to THIS FUCKING CONVERSATION?

    Are you capable of answering a straightforward fucking question?

  31. 186

    YES. Though, I didn’t say “hurt their feelings”, just “hurt them”. That clarification is well warranted and I endorse it wholeheartedly.

    So you either get to hurt people and get told off for it, or you stop hurting people and you stop getting told off for it. Again, I say — you don’t get to slice it both ways. You don’t get to both hurt people and inure yourself against criticism for it.

  32. 188

    I have no loss, other than my feelings. Similarly, calling someone fat does not make them lose out on anything, nor does calling someone some sexist or racist slur cost them anything but perhaps some hurt feelings. If hurt feelings are irrelevant, then what is all the fuss about?

    Isn’t it funny that some hours ago you compare yourself reading a general message that says “don’t rape” to people who are actually harassed and marginalized for their skin colour or gender and now you claim that people don’t lose anything by being marginalized.
    But you of course are horribly marginalized by somebody making a general statement not directly about you…

  33. 189

    If you admit that no one ever did then what is the purpose of your anology to being singled out by a shopkeeper?

    To show a situation that can be offensive where no one is actually accused of doing everything

    But the whole reason that situation is offensive is because the person’s being singled out. Take that away and it’s no longer offensive and the “being singled out” part is exactly where this scenario differs from your situation.
    All you’ve done is to illustrate the difference between your situation and something genuinely offensive.

  34. 190

    Speaking of which, Jason, I won’t be commenting here while you keep your pet.

    Edward, don’t post elsewhere on this blog. Especially not on posts by my wife. You’re on a short leash here. You get to keep posting here until I am done with you.

    LOL, you guys are a trip. Look, if you don’t want me to post here, just say so. I’m not trying to insult people, and as far as I can figure it, the most offensive thing I’ve said is that I’m not offended by fat jokes. Guess what, I am fat, so it’s not like I don’t understand the plight of fat people. I’m getting married in June and so I have to try and get in some sort of shape, so maybe I can leave it all behind.

    But that all being said, this exchange hits at the heart of all the issues everyone complains about. One person feels some sort of offense, so she calls me a “pet,” and now I’m not supposed comment on other subjects, because…I’m not offended by fat jokes? And some person will refuse to comment on your blog as long as there is someone there who isn’t offended by fat jokes?

    This is why there will be no cease-fire or Khitomer Accord or whatever you’d like to call it. People can’t just talk and ask each other questions and appreciate different point of views and different feelings. No, no, if you don’t have the “right” feelings, you are a pariah and deserve whatever scorn someone can muster. You can go on and on about sexism and racism and fatty-ism or whatever other ‘ism floats your boat on that particular day. It stills comes down to you think your “right,” and it’s ok to do whatever you want to those that are “wrong,” even if it amounts to doing the same thing you were complaining about in the first place. I would imagine you wouldn’t take it kindly if I started spouting off about how I won’t post here as long as there are women, or black people, or fat people, or people with mustaches, or whatever other division you can think of. That would sound arbitrary and silly, and I would deserve all sorts of scorn. But I’m not sure why “someone not offended by fat jokes” is somehow and important class of people that we need to isolate and scorn.

    Or is it because you were called sexist by Adam and yet you’re not aware of doing one of them? This seems fundamental to why you’re so butthurt.

    I’m butthurt because his tweet ignorantly assumes things about people that are not true.

    So you either get to hurt people and get told off for it, or you stop hurting people and you stop getting told off for it. Again, I say — you don’t get to slice it both ways. You don’t get to both hurt people and inure yourself against criticism for it.

    I tend to agree, at least in theory. But then, this doesn’t really match reality, does it. We don’t really mind offending people at all. Clearly, she’s ok with hurting people’s feelings, and she doesn’t like having her feelings hurt. This makes her a human being. We all are looking out for #1, and go around offending people and being offended and on and on. Is there some sort of solution that makes everyone happy? No. But perhaps being more open to diversity and differing people and points of view is a good thing. I think that’s something that has been shown throughout history.

  35. 191

    Oh I’m definitely banned. PZ listed the reason as me being an oppressed white male…

    First you say you were banned for talking about criminals; now you change your story and say you were banned for a totally different — yet equally implausible — reason.

    Gemmer, you’re nothing but a pathological liar, and an amazingly stupid one at that. Either that, or you have some kind of real developmental disability, and you should either get help for it, or at least admit it and adopt some measures to compensate.

  36. 192

    Now here’s a bit of stupidity:

    Here’s a novel thought: try contemplating the idea that there are people who aren’t you. No, really. Take your time. Once you’ve managed that and pondered the implications, maybe you’ll be able to grasp what’s going on here.

    Noted. Still don’t get that excited about the b-word.

    And

    Clearly I get offended by some things, as much as I try to avoid it. Clearly other people get offended by different things as well.

    Edward, you’re terrible at thinking, and you’re incredibly selfish and self-centred.

    That latter part kinda really does make you a shitty person.

  37. 193

    Released @189 from moderation.

    If I don’t want you to post here, Edward Gemmer, I will say so. I’m putting restrictions on where you can post because you have a tendency of turning threads into all about you, and I won’t have it happen on more than one at a time. In fact, it’s likely at the end of this conversation I’ll say “you’re done here” because you’re not adding anything to any conversation and you’re doing a piss-poor job of defending your hypotheses to begin with, so I keep you here at my leisure for the purposes of showing why your worldview is counterproductive to your stated goals of diversity.

    No, here, you get to defend why you have an absolute right to call people fat via ridiculous juvenile photoshops and still get to demand their attention for “civil discourse”. Here, you get to explain why fat-shaming people is okay if you perceive them to be “mean”, when we’re telling you that even if we think YOU’RE mean, we’re still not going to fat-shame you because it DAMAGES ALL OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE, not just you.

    The reason there can be no Khitomer Accord — by which I mean, a strong alliance where the Federation and the Klingons put aside their differences to fight mutual enemies — is because your “differences” are in whom you’re willing to hurt for teh lolz. When some of those groups of people are the very people we’re trying to make this space welcoming toward, you’re working against us, and we won’t stand for it. When you demand civil discourse about our differences with the same people you’re harassing and making fun of and hurting repeatedly, your demands are nothing short of entitlement — and making STOPPING those hideous acts contingent on us talking to you is horrible. We don’t want to talk to you as a price to you leaving us alone — we want you to leave us alone. If you were interested in defending your ideas without pulling the bullshit on us, you would have done that first, and would have “agreed to disagree” and walked away when people called your sexist attitudes sexist. But no, you had to get together into a collective and ramp up the harassment, the photoshops, the parody accounts, the bullying, the lying and mischaracterization and character assassination.

    And then after all that, THEN you come in demanding a ceasefire — and all the concessions have to be made on our side. We stop calling out sexism and misogyny, THEN you’ll stop harassing us (and go back to being sexist and misogynistic and antifeminist and all manners of woo). In other words, we give up our community and give it all to you. You won’t settle for anything less than the total annihilation of all feminist thought in the freethought movement — and once we all start accepting your right to call people like Stephanie fat because she’s a fucking bitch who wants to destroy TAM (by making harassment policies that prevent your sorts of behaviour), that’s when you’ll finally stop harassing us.

    No.

    That will not happen.

    End of.

  38. 194

    No, no, if you don’t have the “right” feelings, you are a pariah and deserve whatever scorn someone can muster.

    This has been mentioned by Edward Gemmer in a few different ways in this comment thread. I’m a bit confused by this assertion. If you’d be so kind as to explain how being intersectional with racism, feminism, etc. equates to a demand for “right” feelings, I’d appreciate it.

    I personally don’t care if you aren’t offended by fat jokes. I’m fat and I rarely pay attention to fat jokes. That doesn’t mean I think it’s okay for people to make fun of people for being fat. Or for being gay, or for being non-white. It’s not about personal feelings, it’s about caring that you’re hurting someone else.

    The fact that you don’t think of others when coming across jokes at other people’s expense is a luxury you can indulge in. You get to ignore those things because they don’t affect you personally.

    And yet, when someone claims they they won’t tolerate misogyny or someone who condones rape when talking to people, you become personally offended. Without seeing Adam Lee’s comment, I don’t know the context. I can’t comment further than to say that to personally be offended by that seems a very odd reaction considering you weren’t personally addressed in Adam Lee’s tweet. If you’re not personally affected by fat jokes, despite being fat, why would Adam Lee’s comment be different? Your commentary about it being personally offensive to you doesn’t fit with the rest of your assertions.

    I’m trying for benefit of the doubt, but I’ve often seen men, usually white and cis, that aren’t offended by racism, sexism, etc. yet become outraged when they come across comments that tell men (who are the majority of rapists, despite women being a small percentage of rapists) that rape is bad or that misogyny isn’t right.

    When one’s privilege is challenge, one tends to go on the defensive. I’ve done it myself. Doesn’t mean your feelings are wrong, just your basis for those feelings. You shouldn’t go out of your way to give examples of how you’re not racist when it’s pretty obvious that isn’t the problem. (I have black children! I’m marrying a black person! My best friend is black!) You don’t get a boy scout badge for having black people in your life if you’re white. You get to claim to be a decent person by not using your white privilege to pretend people of color don’t have it worse off.

    I sort of lost my way with that comment. My apologies if something is unclear.

  39. 195

    The douchebag men in the atheist movement who can’t take being called out on their sexism or racism make me laugh. These little princes who think their you-know-what don’t stink and they can say anything and do anything without repercussions are hilarious, because they’re all cowards. That’s why they talk so big online, where they know nobody’s going to give them the beatings they so richly deserve.

  40. 197

    No, here, you get to defend why you have an absolute right to call people fat via ridiculous juvenile photoshops and still get to demand their attention for “civil discourse”. Here, you get to explain why fat-shaming people is okay if you perceive them to be “mean”, when we’re telling you that even if we think YOU’RE mean, we’re still not going to fat-shame you because it DAMAGES ALL OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE, not just you.

    It’s not that I want some absolute right to call people fat. I don’t tend to call people fat at all. However, I guess what I’m saying is that there is a cost/benefit ratio to everything. Say we end all fat jokes. That would include, ending, say, the funny bit on Letterman where Chris Christie ate a donut. Jokes are fun, and it isn’t required that they hurt people’s feelings. In fact, learning to deal with jokes is a major part of growing up. So ending all fat jokes would, yes, lead to less hurt feelings, but it would also take some enjoyment out of life. This line is the same for pretty much all jokes, because most of them have some potential to cause hurt feelings and some potential to be funny. Where is the line on where a joke shouldn’t be told? There isn’t a right answer – I’m not a particularly sensitive person, so it’s pretty far for me. I don’t care if someone has some hurt feelings from time to time – I don’t think life is made more enjoyable by never having hurt feelings. In fact, I think the opposite – having negative experiences from time to time is an important and essential part of life. That doesn’t mean I think insulting people for no reason is a good thing, but it also means I’m not going to stand on a soapbox so Letterman can’t tell fat jokes about Chris Christie.

    If you’d be so kind as to explain how being intersectional with racism, feminism, etc. equates to a demand for “right” feelings, I’d appreciate it.

    That isn’t a demand for the “right” feelings. What is a demand for the right feelings can be seen in this thread, where I said I was offended by Adam Lee’s tweet and I’m not offended by every fat joke nor the b-word. I fully realize that not everyone here feels the same way. But because I feel differently, I get called all sorts of things. It’s a symptom of racism and sexism, and every other ‘ism, which boils down to drawing differences between people or groups then insulting or dismissing them based on those differences. So it feels empty when a person on one hand demands an end to the insults that big people suffer and in the same breathe insult someone because they don’t agree with them.

    <b.If you’re not personally affected by fat jokes, despite being fat, why would Adam Lee’s comment be different? Your commentary about it being personally offensive to you doesn’t fit with the rest of your assertions.

    I don’t know for sure, and I certainly wouldn’t say it makes some logical, coherent sense. Feelings often don’t make that sort of sense – which is why we consider feelings a separate category from formal logic. I pointed to some reasons that it might be offensive, but I can’t say for sure. However, trying to apply some sort of logical rigor to it is, IMO, misguided. Why are people attracted to each other? Why people beat their partners. There are probably reasons, but it is tough to make sense of them in a case-by-case basis.

    You don’t get a boy scout badge for having black people in your life if you’re white.

    Nor do I want one. But I do want people to quit telling me how unprivileged by daughters are when they are a hell of a lot more privileged than most. And I’m sure I do get defensive. Everyone here gets defensive. It may be about privilege, or the time of day, or anything else – people don’t like being challenged, which is one reason why the insults fly when people are challenged. It’s a fact of life, which is perhaps one reason I don’t get offended by people calling me stupid here, as it says more about them than it does about me.

  41. 198

    I didn’t have time to produce a full reply to this last Gemmer comment that I’ve released from moderation, nor do I have time now. I’m releasing it so you folks can go to town on it.

  42. 199

    I don’t care if someone has some hurt feelings from time to time – I don’t think life is made more enjoyable by never having hurt feelings. In fact, I think the opposite – having negative experiences from time to time is an important and essential part of life.

    So nobody should give a shit that you got offended by Adam’s comment, then? Awesome.

  43. 200

    So ending all fat jokes would, yes, lead to less hurt feelings, but it would also take some enjoyment out of life

    As would the ending of all homicides and rapes and thefts and…

    so it feels empty when a person on one hand demands an end to the insults that big people suffer and in the same breathe insult someone because they don’t agree with them.

    You’re actually going with the “you’re being intolerant of my intolerance” defense?

    I’m bored now. Can we feed him to the sharks already?

Comments are closed.