Mr. Deity and the Victim-Blaming and Dismissiveness of Serious Allegations

Brian K. Dalton (aka Mr Deity) has stepped in it bigtime. As a SUBTLE JAB (pfft) at all these issues in the skeptical community with regard to accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and general predation, especially the accusations of such leveled against his friend Michael Shermer, he’s slipped into the end post-credits of his latest video (here, starting at 5:24) some interesting parallels. Like all “subtle jabs” predicated on a lack of understanding of a situation, however, they have all the subtlety of a hand grenade in a bucket of paint, and they fall apart under any degree of scrutiny.

Trigger warning for discussion of rape tactics and victim-blaming.

Transcript via John Morales:

I want to take this time today to answer this question I get a lot: why don’t I believe in the gospels.

Um — the first big problem I have with the gospels is that they are anonymous — a lot of people don’t know that, but it’s true.

Um, and no good skeptic, atheist, freethinker should ever accept any anonymous report just offhand; aah especially when we’re talking about something truly awful — I mean, the gospel writers have Jesus doing some pretty ugly stuff. Umm, killing a tree for no reason, which makes him look completely insane; they have him claiming to be God, which would have been a major blasphemy within Judaism at the time; and they have him turning water into wine, which we all know is just a tactic to get the ladies drunk — right? — I mean, no-one turns water into wine for any reason that’s not just completely nefarious!

But if you’re gonna talk [whoopee noise] about someone like that, you can’t do that anonymously — and if you do, what is that? What are we talking about?

That’s nothing more than gossip.

And I think that as good skeptics, atheists, freethinkers, we should all know how absolutely toxic, disgusting and beneath us it is to repeat and or report mere gossip.

[Person with wine bottle approaches wineglass-holding Mr. Deity: “would you like a refill?” “Um, no. Thank you.”]

Now. See how easy that was?

Here’s another little tip: if you find it hard to say no to the refill, you can just leave the glass full! Don’t take another sip!

That’s my friendly little piece of advice to those of you without a backbone, or any sense of personal responsibility!

The other problem with the gospels is that these anonymous reports are made years after the fact; some scholars say decades. Ah, that gives Jesus no opportunity to refute the claims — I mean, there isn’t a decent justice system in the entire world that doesn’t give the accused the right to confront his or her accuser. That’s just basic justice.

And in many cases, even the witnesses of the witnesses are anonymous.

Really?! C’mon! We’re skeptics! We don’t take stuff like that at face value!

The other problem here is confirmation bias: the tendency to see only what we wanna see.

That’s clearly what the gospel writers were doing here; they wanted a hero (or a villain, depending on your perspective), and they found one!
But, as good skeptics, we should all know the power of confirmation bias — I mean, for heaven’s sake, they found witches in Salem, and Joe McCarthy found the communists under every bed — as skeptics, we need to stand up to these anonymous gossipal authors and those who would repeat such gossip and say “have you no sense of decency, Sir! At long last, have you left no sense of decency.”

Of course, if you’re completely divorced from the skeptic community, I don’t expect you to understand these basic principles — but the rest of us should know better!

Remember: “do unto others”

Anonymous reports of extraordinary things, like those found in the Gospels, are in fact untrustworthy because they describe events that would take absolutely extraordinary evidence to prove, and they involve people who cannot be interviewed because they’re long dead.

Reports of rape, on the other hand, describe events that are depressingly common. While the specific people reporting these assaults are anonymous TO YOU AND I, they are NOT anonymous to the people bringing them forward. I explained why I trust the accusers who brought forward the allegations of rape against Michael Shermer, via PZ Myers — because PZ is measured enough to verify that his trust in the people coming forward is not misplaced, and he has a lot of reputation at stake if he trusts the wrong person with a grenade like that. AND, it’s not like PZ’s account is the only one we have on record — there are no less than five accounts given by five separate people so far.

Given that the outcome of this is not likely Shermer behind bars, but rather the public understanding that it’s well possible that people’s trust in Shermer is misplaced and they no longer drink around him, I have no problem with trusting that these rapes likely happened on balance of probability of the perfectly ordinary claim, and that women should likely be warned in advance. But that’s not to say legal action against him should happen, unless it could be proven beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

And that’s where it’s different from the gospels, which describe implausible scenarios as truth and demand that you believe it and take drastic action accordingly, despite lack of evidence. Rather than tentatively trusting the gospels and verifying before taking action, you’re expected to go all-in. And if we were asking for extraordinary drastic measures to be taken against Shermer, for him to be put behind bars over this, and if we were doing so with significantly less evidence than what we already used to establish a pattern of behaviour by Shermer, then yes, it would be a good analogy. But we aren’t, so it isn’t.

As for his side-swipes at drinking, and on not “having the backbone” to stop drinking, thus getting drunk enough to be raped, I have to point out that there’s some serious misunderstanding in this discourse about the risk factors for being raped, and that Dalton is well guilty of these misunderstandings.

Drinking alcohol inherently comes with some risks. Some of these include impaired functionality, impaired judgment, vomiting, blackout periods, and long-term damage like liver and kidney functionality issues. Acute intoxication could lead to poisoning, and death.

Being around people who rape others also comes with some risks. Those risks include having your bodily sexual integrity violated, including but not limited to non-consensual sexual activities and having orifices penetrated or otherwise violated in various manners with various body parts or instruments.

The means by which they might ply someone into a situation where they might more easily rape them without resistance can include alcohol, used as a date rape drug. Psychological tricks can be applied to keep a potential victim drinking and to keep them unaware of just how drunk they’re actually getting. Keeping them sitting, refilling their glass for them constantly so they never realize they have lost count, keeping the conversation going the whole while so a victim doesn’t realize how drunk they really are til they start to stand up and are wobbly. Or til they fall asleep and are rendered insensible. I seriously doubt any of these tactics involve actually ASKING the person if they want more — and that’s not what the reports suggested Shermer was doing.

But the fact that they’re insensible doesn’t automatically allow for or entail rape. Having an orifice penetrated against your volition is not a side-effect of over-drinking, and damn you for making me use the passive voice in this sentence.

Drinking is a social experience. We choose who to trust with our less-than-sober selves based on our past experiences with a person. Since most rape is acquaintance rape, it involves violating a built-up level of trust which can be used to help put the victim in a state where they cannot legally consent to anything — especially if they’re unconscious.

So, the risk factor for being raped is not alcohol. The risk factor for being raped is being around someone who rapes people. The alcohol, while under normal circumstances an enjoyable social activity, is actually employed as a tool of the rapist’s trade. And the trust engendered by popularity, while normally integral to any social experience in any community, is also a tool of the rapist’s trade.

People like Michael Shermer may very well be “doing unto others” things that they have not asked for consent before rendering them incapable of giving consent. Minimizing this shit is damaging — not only to the victims of rape, but to the fabric of our community, and to the efforts to stamp out this sort of disgusting, unbecoming, predatory behaviour. And my description of such behaviour is crafted without even assuming any rapes actually occured!

In order to prove with some finality that Dalton has completely fucked this one up, I present two comments he reportedly left on Ashley Paramore’s video:

I witnessed this assault, and it was so bold and blatant that I and several other good men stood around because we couldn’t imagine that it wasn’t just the two of them playing around. None of us could imagine that someone would do such a terrible thing in a room full of people. We all felt so bad that we didn’t understand what was happening and stop it. Men, don’t make the same mistake. Until you know otherwise, don’t hesitate to step in. I adore you, Ashley, and I’m so sorry I didn’t do more.

It is good that you’ve recognized that not every terrible act results in an appropriate response. Imagine for a moment how the victim of such an assault might respond. Or imagine for a moment how someone who idolizes a “big name” in this community might react if they are star-struck by the fact that they’re having a long conversation with them and their wine glass keeps magically refilling without them noticing.

Are you getting the impression at this point that perhaps your dismissive comments in your own most recent video were tone-deaf, and if you were aiming for comedy and parody, you skewered not only these alleged victims of assault within our movement, but also everyone who’s ever experienced a similar sort of assault historically? Including Ashley Paramore, whose video got more than its share of argumentation identical to what you just put forth about your friend Michael Shermer. Your account therefore carries no more weight than those of the anonymous-TO-US accusers bringing allegations about Shermer forward.

And given your own revelation that you could hardly believe what you saw, maybe your comments about selection bias — “only [seeing] what we want to see” — are really fucked-up accusations to level against the people who are seeing a morass of sexism and abuse? Why would ANYONE want to see that?

You’re not a mind reader. But you have to admit, that would be pretty damned crazy of me, right? I’ve spent the last seven years building something valuable to me — it’s how I make my living — but now I’m going to risk all of that (including my financial stability) just to lie about some incident for the sake of a cause I’ve shown absolutely no interest in? I’m not just some guy sayin’ x, y, and x. People know me and could ruin my reputation based on this.

PZ Myers built a reputation for being honest to a fault over the past ten-ish years, to the point of being off-putting to many for his bluntness. He is putting the entirety of his reputation on the line over accusations made by people whom he, himself, trusts. Remember, PZ Myers “divorced” the skeptic community, not skepticism, over churlish juvenile behaviour and dismissiveness of serious ethical breaches. I’m absolutely certain he viewed these claims with skepticism and weighed them carefully. He is doing everything you just said you were doing. And you’re calling those accusations that he brought forward “gossip”, “toxic”, and “beneath us”. And yet here we are, with you putting the trust we have in YOU on the line that your account of witnessing Paramore’s assault is true.

Why is it not “gossip”, “toxic”, and “beneath us” to believe you about what YOU say you saw there?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe you. (Provisionally. We’re SKEPTICS, after all.) I’m even going to make a point to put your corroboration on my timeline post. But I also believe other witnesses and corroborations on that timeline just as provisionally, and the numerous instances of predatory behaviour about Shermer came with multiple corroborations.

Maybe you should look over this timeline again. Get a real handle on the scope and breadth of what you’re denying here.

Then come back and apologize to the alleged victims whom you both said were simply “toxic” rumours, and simultaneously “had no backbone” and fell prey to predatory behaviour. And apologize to those people angry about this bullshit for saying that we’re “seeing what we want to see”.

Mr. Deity and the Victim-Blaming and Dismissiveness of Serious Allegations

138 thoughts on “Mr. Deity and the Victim-Blaming and Dismissiveness of Serious Allegations

  1. 101

    I’m not a drinker. A half glass of wine is my limit these days, and that is a rare event. Even when I was drinking, it was rare and not usually to excess. I’ve been in bars only a couple of times in my life. I’ve been drunk three times, on social occasions. (Once on spiked coffee.) So I may be missing something here.

    But let me run this through. Say a couple, or a bunch of friends, or any group are drinking together of an evening, and someone gets shit-faced. How do they get home? Friends take away their keys, and call a taxi. Or someone drives them home. Or drives them home and puts them to bed.

    Say they’re staying in the same hotel. If the drunk person can barely walk, someone kindly takes them to their room, and settles them in. That’s it, if they’re decent people.

    Ok. You’ve got this falling-down drunk person, (however s/he got drunk; it doesn’t matter) with someone who wants sex and doesn’t require consent. They don’t do it then and there, in the bar. They have to get to someplace private; her room, his room, wherever.

    So the way I’m seeing it, the sober(er) person says, “I’ll see you to your room.” Isn’t that a nice thing to do? Of course. And then, once the victim is inside and calm, he proceeds with his intentions.

    Where is she to blame in this?

    I’m not saying this is what happened in any particular case; it’s just that I’m seeing a disconnect between “They were in a bar and she got drunk,” and “He raped her.”

    Or am I too far out of the scene, and am missing something?

  2. 102

    Susannah, you’re not wrong, that is the tactic the more obvious user of date rape drugs use, i.e. get you so out of it, only quicker, that they can take you wherever they want. Alcohol just usually takes longer and is not so obvious in social situations.

  3. 103

    Paraphrase: (refuses wine from waiter) See! Isn’t that easy? Or if you don’t have enough backbone to refuse the offer, just don’t drink the wine!

    Because no woman who has ever been raped while drunk got drunk because she was naive, unused to drinking, overwhelmed, nervous, shy, inattentive, caught up in the festivities like everyone else, in awe of the famous person paying her attention, or in any of a thousand states of mind very different from that of a coolly sarcastic older white man refusing wine from a waiter.

  4. 104

    You know, maybe Dalton and Shermer would prefer the focus stay on the one case relayed by PZ. The more we talk about that one, the less time we spend relaying the numerous reports — including by non-anonymous individuals — of his disgusting, skeezy (though legal) behavior which by itself would be reason for a civilized person not to invite him to anything, nor give him a dime for any reason.

    The guy should be a pariah regardless of anything ever written on Pharyngula.

  5. 106

    or in any of a thousand states of mind very different from that of a coolly sarcastic older white man refusing wine from a waiter.

    Well, an actor playing a waiter. It’s funny how much easier it is to turn down an offer for more wine when doing so and moving on after the offer is declined is part of a script you’re supposed to follow. A clearly set-up situation is so much easier to predict than an actual situation with a roomful of people interacting without a script.

    I’m sure the victims would have had a far better experience had those offering drinks been following a script that dictated that they (a) make it clear that they were offering more, rather than just walking by and topping off drinks without asking, and (b) respect the wishes of people who said no, or (c) recognized that the person whose drink they were refilling without asking actually was perhaps more inebriated than they may wish to be.

    Life doesn’t come with a script.

  6. 107

    Ya know, the comparisons I keep seeing about liability for drunk driving really bug me.

    There is no conflict with drunk driving laws. The person who has caused damage due to intoxication is liable for that damage.

    The “intent” to drink was generally made before or concurrent with the intent to drive. As with many other torts, this intent is “transferable.” For instance, if you shoot a gun with the intention of “scaring” someone but end up shooting him, or someone else, you will be found criminally culpable and civilly liable.

    Further, with drunk driving, it is typical for people to drive to a bar or party, with the intent of driving back home from that location. So if they drink before driving home, the entire series of activities was intentional. If they harm someone, they are liable. This is a sound law based on sound reasoning.

    Now how does that compare to someone being responsible for their own rape? It doesn’t. An alcoholically impaired person cannot give consent for sex. Similarly, in most jurisdictions I’m familiar with, a person does not have capacity to enter into a contract or sign a will while they are intoxicated.

    Now, compare that to a person who wants to have sex with another whom they know to be intoxicated. They’d better wait until the object of their affection is sober enough to consent. And if a guy has been plying the object of his intentions with alcohol or other drugs to reach the point of incapacity to consent, then that is not seduction, that is rape. He has deliberately and knowingly abused his victim twice: first by liquoring them up then by screwing them.

  7. 109

    And this is pretty much what I’ve found out from my own personal experience. You get a million questions from people about why you were drinking so much and a lot of people ignoring the fact that no one shouldn’t be raping anyone and that you can’t get consent from someone who can’t stand up. People want all the details of the victim’s behavior and then also get angry at you if you haven’t reported it when you get the same routine from the authorities. You can’t win. Sigh.

  8. EEB

    @ Anne Marie

    Exactly. You can’t win. I don’t remember which Internet Feminist finally clued me into the fact that, no, as a woman, I can’t win and that is what patriarchy fucking means. One of those life-changing revelations; it was almost physically painful. I don’t remember what I was reading or even when it was, exactly, but I do remember the feeling. It hurt then, and it still hurts.

    Because up until that point, I didn’t believe in catch-22s. I really believed that there was always a solution, if you just looked long enough, worked hard enough. Even if you didn’t find the solution, it didn’t mean there wasn’t one out there, just that you couldn’t find it. But it finally hit me that not only are the rules of the game stacked against us from the start–hell, they don’t even tell us the rules, just force us to figure them out as we go along–but even if we start to win, the rules can be changed at any time. The game is rigged worse than any mob casino and you can never win.

    When people found out that I had turned down a ride home from a coworker the night I was raped, even people who were supportive let me know that was a stupid move. But if I’d gotten in his car, and it turned out he was a rapist, you know that I would have been blamed for accepting a ride from a guy I didn’t know very well, because obviously it would have been safer to walk home, considering I’d walked home every night for months without incident. As people have pointed out upthread, you’re a misandrist bitch for assuming all guys are rapists, but irresponsible and stupid if you drink with a guy. And on and on and on.

    (And it’s not just women, of course. To quote Charles M. Blow, writing after the Zimmerman verdict: “We used to say not to run in public because that might be seen as suspicious, like they’d stolen something. But according to Zimmerman, Martin drew his suspicion at least in part because he was walking too slowly. So what do I tell my boys now? At what precise pace should a black man walk to avoid suspicion?”)

    The game is rigged, and there’s no point even trying to win.

  9. 111

    Submit Comment @92 and so on, about false rape accusations: this is from Have a Balloon in PZ’s Grenade thread. It gets fierce.

    I also want to dig deeper into the statistics about false rape allegations. People have already cited the research showing that these make up only 2-8% of all rape allegations. What’s interesting is that recently, a report came out in the UK that actually looked in detail at the false allegations themselves.

    There were 5,651 prosecutions for rape for the period between January 2011 and May 2012 the study looked at, but only 35 for making false allegations of rape.

    The study found that a significant number of these cases involved “young, often vulnerable people, and sometimes even children”.

    Around half were brought forward by people aged 21 and under, with some involving people with mental health difficulties.

    In 38% of those investigations, the initial complaint of rape or domestic violence was made by someone other than the suspect. When the alleged victim was under 18, that figure rose to 50% and often involved a parent.

    It was a feature of these cases that the suspect later reported that the whole thing had spiralled out of control and he or she had felt unable to stop the investigation.

  10. 112

    Maybe it’s time for the MRAs to start being leery of Shrodinger’s Rape Accusers?

    Come on, guys, what were you doing, letting a woman you didn’t know into your hotel room at 4:00 in the morning? Didn’t you know you might be accused of rape?

    What were you doing, buying her drinks, and even– topping off her glass? Weren’t you just asking for allegations?

    And why did you trust her, if you’d never met her? (Alternative version, why did you trust her, if you’d known her for years and she’d never shown much interest?)

    You know, you’ve got to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for yourselves, guys. If you’ve been accused of rape unfairly, it’s PARTLY YOUR FAULT, because– unh, reasons.

    And, what were you wearing that night?

    You know, some women think men wearing bifurcated garments are just asking for accusations, don’t you?

    (Unless you were wearing a kilt, which would be waaay worse!)

  11. 113

    I don’t have much to add that hasn’t been covered but I would like to say that as a individual who has been a teetotaler her whole life (have sipped various alcoholic drinks but never had a taste for it), the pressure to drink in social situations is considerable. I’m a pretty prickly person and never really been one to respond to peer pressure (which sounds nice but can actually isolate you socially) and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised that most people have found themselves placed in a situation where they were unable to properly gauge how drunk they were getting. People want you to join in with them and there is actually considerable stigma associated with not drinking – people will often call you a killjoy and lots will assume I don’t drink because of religious belief or moral objection. It is not at all simple to refuse to drink and I would say that, as a person who can just say ‘I don’t drink at all’, I have it easier than most.

  12. 114

    Exactly how bad in bed is this guy supposed to be? How batshit, cackling, evil is this woman supposed to be to want vengeance years later because she got some dull nookie? Is this something they think women do? Do they think every now and then one of us get’s a lackluster lay, so we write a note in our journals reminding us to frame the dude for rape years later? ? Is she supposed to regret it because sex is shameful and nasty and makes her a slut? That isn’t regret. That’s shame and I don’t see why a person would draw attention to the thing they are so irrationally ashamed of.


    You’d shut up about it, maybe tell a close friend. Then one day another friend suggests that she’s got her eye on lack-lustre dude and …… ? I dunno, it’s never happened to me. I suspect I’d keep quiet and then eventually have it dragged out of me if someone notices the unusual reticence. At which point, the embarrassment takes over, the feet shuffle and you admit that it wasn’t very exciting, in fact it was a bit of a dud, but if you’re keen, you’re welcome to try so long as you’re not expecting much out of it.

    This is really the sort of thing I would see reserved strictly for “back-channel” or “locker-room” style conversations, much like the other kind really. (The Go for it, he’s really great! kind.) Never in a million years would I expect any woman I’ve ever known to say anything publicly about a too dull, too clumsy, sooooo embarrassing sexual encounter.

  13. 116

    TMI ahead
    I once got black-out drunk.
    I was a teen, at a camp for a weekend. I had too much beer. Then I decided to smoke pot. For the first time. That didn’t go down well. I puked. Mostly over myself. Later I found out that pot in and on itself has that effect on me.
    And I wanted to shower, only that I couldn’t walk ba myself anymore. Some friends helped me, all male. I lost memory somewhere in that shower. So, there’s this bunch of guys having a naked young woman on their hands who is clearly not saying no to anything.
    What did they do? Well, they rubbed me down, got me to my tent, helped me into my PJ’s and let me sleep. They laughed at me the next morning.
    I drank too much in my youth. I don’t like getting drunk anymore. And in the process I made the discovery that sometimes you simply lose track. Suddenly you notice that you had much more than you should have. And at that point there’s still more alcohol in your stomach waiting to enter your system. Yep, my mistakes. That still doesn’t mean it would have been OK for somebody to take advantage of me drinking too much.

  14. 117

    “As people have pointed out upthread, you’re a misandrist bitch for assuming all guys are rapists, but irresponsible and stupid if you drink with a guy. And on and on and on.”

    …and people wonder why we’re stabby sometimes…

  15. EEB

    @ hoary puccoon #107

    I remember a discussion a couple years back with my younger brother, and others. He was talking about how totally unfair it was that a guy could go out drinking a meet a girl, and if she lied and said she was underage, or drunk, he could go to jail for rape. Plus all the other stuff we’ve all seen about stupid girls who go out and get drunk– “What do they think is going to happen?” etc.–and hey, it’s nice to know Brian Dalton has the critical thinking skills of my 17 year old dudebro brother.

    So trying to think through the red-hot rage mist that filled my brain, I used pretty much the exact counter example you did. We hold a girl responsible for what she’s wearing/drinking/going home with a guy/etc. but we shouldn’t hold a guy responsible for sleeping with someone he didn’t know…if it turns out she’s evil and “cries rape” just for fun, or is 13 and looks 22, isn’t that his fault for not exercising more responsible behavior?*

    Yet another example of patriarchy being so ingrained in people’s minds. He could not wrap his head around what I was saying. He thought that holding the guy responsible was disgusting, victim-blaming (yes! he used that phrase!), morally reprehensible, showed I was a crazy, out-of-touch feminazi…but holding the girl responsible, well, that was just common sense. And he could not see the disconnect there. I eventually had to give up even trying, because I was in tears–another proof that he “won”, because he was able to discuss things calmly, and I was “emotional” and therefore irrational.

    What was worse is that we were at a family BBQ. Not only did no one agree with me, they all actively agreed with him. Even his girlfriend, which would have been bad enough, but what was really devastating was hearing my mom agree with him.

    (I spent the rest of that family get-together in my bedroom.)

    *Note: I was totally granting his utterly ridiculous points for the sake of the exercise. In no way do I agree with this.

  16. 119

    EEB: I’ve never been much of a player or anything, but I don’t see why it would be such a terrible hardship to not sleep with someone until you’ve known them long enough to figure out what age they are. If there’s a chance they might be lying to you about something significant, maybe that’s a sign to wait until the second or third date.

    Rape culture is bizarre, and I’m sorry you had to deal with its ardent defenders. Ugh.

  17. 121

    Tom Foss
    “When in doubt, do not fuck” seems to be too high a standard for many.
    Tells you a lot about them and their respect for their partners, because obviously they don’t fucking care and are pretty much willing to inflict life-long suffering on their partner just for the sake of a single fuck.
    Pretty disgusting people they are.

  18. 123

    Anne Marie
    With all the maturity of my almost 4yo who screams about “I want ice-cream NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW.”
    Seems like they didn’t learn the lesson that you can’t have everything you want whenever you want back then. Unfortunately there is no parent around now to tell them that yes, you can hear that and you understand that but it’s not good for them and others so no, they can’t have it…

  19. 124

    I have to disagree with you, Anne Marie. The response isn’t “I WANT SEX NOWWWWW” but rather “She’ll probably say ‘no’ so I won’t give her the chance to refuse me.”

  20. 125

    Al Dente, I think there’s plenty of both. I think there are some legitimately well-meaning but terrible-acting and loud dudes who think their desire for sex is more important than the issue of rape. They don’t believe they’d ever commit rape so it’s ridiculous that they should have to change their behavior and miss out on sex even once because they don’t think they’re the problem. Ugh.

  21. 126

    Dalton responded, really specifically, to criticism about his video. He was NOT referencing the woman who came forward with the story about being raped, but a single paragraph in the account of the woman who was not assaulted, but creeped out by the behavior of keeping her wine glass full.

    I know Brian, and it’s really important for anyone who is upset or cancelled subscriptions to hear him out on this. He doesn’t believe a woman can ever be complicit in her own sexual assault and in fact left the Mormon church because of this conviction. Please watch before blacklisting him as a bad guy; he’s an ally, and though his first video definitely came off as insensitive (and was definitely unclear about what he was commenting on, and open to highly offensive interpretation), this video makes the much more important point that abuse is never the victim’s fault. I think we can all agree with that.

  22. 127

    Someone posted that link on Skepchick, too, so sorry if my comment is a bit of a duplicate of the one there.

    His disclaimer followup said that he was only responding to the woman describing Shermer’s MO of keeping her wine glass full without her realizing it, but that story was corroborating the original woman’s story, that he coerces women with alcohol into a position where they cannot consent. And he misrepresented the entire situation by role-playing it as someone *asking* if they can refill a person’s glass, which is not what Shermer is accused of doing.

    No matter how many “nevers” he put in after the fact, the drinking segment conveyed that a rape victim is to blame for drinking in the first place. What other possible reason did he have for including it? And what possible reason could he give that would make it any less insulting, condescending, and belittling of women in any context? If he wanted to demonstrate that he does indeed unequivocally support rape victims, that he is not victim blaming, he would need to at a minimum start by apologizing for doing the wine glass schtick in the first place. It was demeaning and sexist AT BEST.

    His whole leaving Mormonism story demonstrates only that he is against victim blaming if he believes it was rape-rape. Clearly, it’s not rape if a woman is drunk, if there aren’t witnesses to the rape itself (there are witnesses to Shermer’s tactics and witnesses to the woman’s state afterward and to her filing a report, but that’s clearly not enough).

    His simply calling these accounts rumors and gossip is itself dismissive in a clearly sexist way. The word “gossip” is as common as the word “hysteria” to dismiss women. A firsthand account is not gossip or a rumor. Anonymous women aren’t gossiping about their own experiences, FFS.

    He supported Ashley after the fact only because he witnessed it. That makes it a *real* assault to him. A woman saying she was raped clearly doesn’t count.

    He didn’t just do a piece about supporting his friend and believing him to be innocent or wanting to withhold judgment. That would have been understandable. He chose instead to mock women and rape victims. There’s no clarification that could make this defensible. An apology for doing it in the first place should have been the centerpiece of what was essentially a CYA second video.

    With allies like this . . . .

  23. 128

    I know Brian, and it’s really important for anyone who is upset or cancelled subscriptions to hear him out on this.

    How do you determine what’s important for me?
    You apparently can’t believe that he’d fail to convince anybody that he’s right after all. Sorry, but that’s not the way the world works and melaniemallon has explained to you why.

  24. EEB

    @ Mary V Browder #119, Giliell #121

    Why? How do you determine what’s important for me?


    You know what’s important for me right now? Self-care. Not being triggered anymore. Walking away from dangerous spaces. Staying away from people who cannot be trusted.

    I’m not speaking for anyone else, but I can no longer trust Brian Dalton. In my evaluation of my emotional needs vs. Brian Dalton’s emotional needs, I’m sorry, but I’m going to place not being actively harmed ahead of Brian’s need for me to “hear him out”. He fucked up. I was not expecting what I saw at the end of what was supposed to be another funny Mr. Deity video (a video I was excited to see when it popped up on my youtube feed!). It triggered an emotional shitstorm, because I have PTSD and RTS, and I’m in the process of recovering from both the initial attack and the victim-blaming & disbelief I experienced afterwards. Is Brian repsonsible for my mental health problems? Of course not. But he is responsible for the words that came out of his mouth.

    I don’t owe him a goddamn thing.

    Maybe–maybe–in a few months, if he shows himself to be trustworthy, if he understands what he did wrong and accepts responsibility, if he apologizes (a real apology, without excuse or qualifications), if I hear from other people who I trust that I should listen to him and hear him out, I might give him a chance, and listen. Depending on what he has to say, I might even re-subscribe to his channel (though that would take a lot of trust-building on his part, assurance that I won’t ever click on a new video and receive another emotional sucker-punch). But even then, I don’t have any obligation or responsibility to do so, and he lost any right to expect consideration or openness from me.

    (Understand: I was open to him. That’s how he was able to land such a painful hit. If I hadn’t liked him, respected him, talked with him online, and thought he was a genuinely good person, I wouldn’t have been so affected by the video. Upset, yes, but not violently triggered.)

  25. 131

    I know Brian, and it’s really important for anyone who is upset or cancelled subscriptions to hear him out on this.

    Mary, how is this different from Brian’s defense of his friend?

    In the end, as EEB said, he violated a trust, and he appears not to have though the repercussions through from this action. He still doesn’t seem to comprehend what he’s done wrong – which is evidenced by an explanation but not really an apology.

    I felt sucker-punched, because the begging/thank you segment is always generally so funny and upbeat, and the episode itself was very good (I live in Salt Lake City and have family members and friends who are current and former members of the LDS Church), and we got to the begging segment and it was far more serious than anything he’s done in that segment.

    The sucker punch for me was just not being able to share it with my wife, but knowing that she’d hear about it anyways. So I was put in an awkward position. Relatively speaking, of course, being put in an awkward position is not really that big of a deal.

    I can’t even begin to imagine how it would feel to someone who was (a) a rape survivor, (b) a woman, or (c) one of the victims who this whole thing is actually about. I can’t even begin to understand that, but I try to empathize.

    With regards to “explaining” that he was referring to with the wine gag – I’m sure that explanation really comforted the actual victim. “Oh, I was only referring to this person/situation, not to all women around the world.” Wonderful

    Brian showed no empathy – not in the begging segment, not in the “explanation”. The “explanation” was a step in the right direction, but the right way to handle this is to unreservedly apologise for his actions.

    Not to apologise if people were offended, not to apologise for not being clear – just a straightforward “I fucked up, and I’m sorry”. That would start to rebuild the trust.

    Until that happens, my cancelled subscription will stay cancelled. Even with it, I might not renew, but without it, there’s no chance of that happening.

    You don’t get to tell me what I must or must not do. Only I can make that decision.

  26. 132

    Oh. My. God. I just went and read the comments on that new video explaining his other one, and He really doesnt deserve any respect at all. He really doesn’t believe the Jane Doe from PZ’s Grenade post:

    Ashley’s assault happened in a room full of people. Witnesses have backed her up and have been willing to make their names known publicly. Ashley told us where the assault happened and when. Ashley’s entire story can be checked out. Had she named the person in question, there is so much detail to her story that the person in question could easily clear himself were she lying. PZ’s report was a hit job. But not for long. Stay tuned (and tubed)!

    Thats in the Top Comment section for the video. Absolutely disgusting. He thinks only rape-rape deserves any notice and you better have several (male) witnesses at least.

  27. 133

    Well, we all know you need 4 male witnesses…
    That’s why I don’t believe a word about many male western atheists’ concern for muslim women. Because they’re not really interested in their rights and welfare, they just want to feel justified in their hatred.

  28. EEB

    Ah, I see, Skeptics would like us to emulate the famously rational middle eastern courts, which have decided a that it takes multiple women to equal the testimony of a man. We can’t just believe a woman who says she was raped–that’s crazy talk! But if a man saw it–hey, dilemma solved. He can assure people that it’s okay, this attack actually happened, it’s not just another girl who got bored with Lifetime reruns and bad sex so she decided to space things up and claim rape.

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