Accounting.

I’ve been doing a lot of mental calculations lately, trying to triangulate on my courses of action that result in maximal good for all the people who deserve it the most. I have a lot of competing and mutually exclusive variables in my head, though. I figure if I lay these variables all out, publicly, putting all my cards on the table, someone can help me figure out which ones I can discard and redraw, and maybe point out where I might have a better hand than I think.

I’m going to pay a number of costs for writing this post, but I’m writing it because some people I love and trust have privately told me they think I’ve fucked up. I’m going to do my damnedest to repair that perception, and the only way to do it is publicly, because other avenues have been cut off to me.

Much of this is old business, and I’ve been bottling this up for a bit. Bear with me. Once that’s through, you’ll get to new info.

Over the past two months, a shitstorm has been swirling throughout this network, wherein Ophelia Benson is — to put it as charitably as humanly possible — perceived to have acted trans-antagonistically by some trans folk, who called her on those points, and Ophelia is — again, charitably — perceived to have repeatedly doubled-down, and tried to defend herself from what she saw as ravening hordes who want nothing better than to throw her out of the network on her ear.

During those two months, because I frankly had not had any resources for this fight, I stayed out of it. I could barely bring myself to blog regularly about good things — every time I tried to set digital pen to digital paper, the only fight worth having was the one I had to stay mum on lest I get sucked in.

Eventually, I succumbed. I saw two people I liked once, on Twitter, going at each other’s throats about whether or not Ophelia is a straight-up, no bones about it, Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminist. I tried to turn the conversation toward behaviour — at that point, I had seen Ophelia participating in a TERF-heavy gender-critical Facebook forum, asking for help countering a specific demand that she answer “do you believe trans women are women, yes or no”. Some of the replies were awful, explicitly anti-trans. Some of these awful replies were liked by Ophelia. I pointed out on Twitter that that meant it was reasonable for someone to assume that she agreed with the post in question. Even if it was a like intended as “thank you for answering”, it is not actually irrational for outsiders to assume that someone doing a thing that 99% of the time means you agree, means they agree. So, it meant that trans folk who felt she was holding a position that was directly anti-trans were not actually irrational. But I said all of that in service of the argument of damning her for specific behaviours and not for a perceived position that she’s expressly denied in the past, e.g. that she’s an unrepentant TERF hiding among us.

This, of course, was only part of all of the interactions she had on that forum. And only part of all the future interactions she’s had on the topic. And only part of all the ways she and her defenders have reinterpreted things she’s done, said, and all the ways she’s treated trans folk through this entire escapade.

One of the costs I’ve paid for stepping in and trying to keep an argument to one about behaviours instead of perceived positions was that she pointed to me and painted me as an unmitigated slimepitter-like stalker and attacker.

This post containing a passage outlining what I’d like to happen:

There are honest interlocutors genuinely hurt by things she’s said and done, that they can point to, that are still extant on the internet and not grossly misinterpreted; and these honest interlocutors are demanding a genuine and contrite apology and improvement in behaviour in the future. That is to say, nothing that would cost her a damn thing except a moment’s introspection.

Shortly thereafter, PZ Myers publicly threw me under a bus.

On a Facebook post on Ophelia’s wall, where she first expressed her desire to leave the blog network because of all these snakes in the grass who were out to get her, PZ said that given the choice between supporting her or supporting a person who wants to see her kicked off the network who has only blogged once in the past month (or words to that effect), he supported her.

I did not, ever, once, ask for her to be kicked off this blog network. I had stayed out of it entirely, because, in the past, Ophelia — prickly though she is — usually comes around to understanding the positions of people she’s unfairly hurt, and integrates those positions in her effort to continue learning how to navigate this world. I trusted that it was, at that point, still possible that she — and her “defenders” — could rightly recognize that to the trans folk she had hurt, she was actually in the wrong, and she could fix things by apologizing, learning, and moving on. These trans folk, their allies, and everyone else gravely disappointed with how both Ophelia and now PZ were acting about the whole fight, were by then actively attempting to collate their experiences to determine if this was actually a pattern of behaviour with Ophelia.

And they found a few really hurtful, really questionable “jokes” she’s made, like one comparing trans folk being uncomfortable with drag to Rachel Dolezal being uncomfortable with blackface. Like one in answer to a question as to why trans women couldn’t just call themselves very feminine men: “too last week?” Like one in answer to a trans woman identifying as a woman, that she could then identify as an African American (something else, memory fails) who went to Oxford. These were not just trans-antagonistic, they were outright transphobic jokes. And people’s outrage redoubled; and the demands for an accounting of this pattern of behaviour increased. They wanted her to recognize this was shitty behaviour, apologize, and do better. But neither her nor her defenders heard any of their cries that way.

By this point, I recognized that siege mentality had kicked in so hard that it was literally impossible to get through to her; and that PZ himself, in defending his friend from overreach, felt that this dredging up old (as in within the last few months) stuff was prosecutorial and like a witch hunt.

Given I have done some of this “witch-hunting” of this level before — that is to say, an aggregation of instances that make a person think perhaps a given situation is an actual trend and not just an isolated incident which is a mistake — I found that argument fell flat. It fell as flat as it does in terms of whether or not we were “witch-hunting” Michael Shermer when outraged over “kind of a guy thing”, and held as much weight as the arguments that we were witch-hunting Tim Hunt when chastising him for saying that girls shouldn’t be in labs because they fall in love and cry (no matter how flippantly it was said). And even when it came time to try to show Michael Shermer has a history of harassment and possibly even rape, that still wasn’t a witch-hunt, no matter how far back we were going to dredge up instances to show a pattern of behaviour.

Those were not witch-hunts. This is neither a witch-hunt, by the exact same token.

But I attempted to let it lie again. I had said my piece, once, twice, thrice; and I even clarified that I don’t think Ophelia’s an outright TERF on my blog, even though she’s damn well been repeating a lot of their bullshit from that gender-critical group, and even making up some new bullshit of her own. I further said that I saw her as lashing out at people trying to be fair to her, that I saw her attack those who were obviously trying to offer her a spoon feeding of the actual arguments without any of the vitriol and even those who wanted to discuss the questions that got us into this mess WITHOUT talking about Ophelia’s situation. I also said that she was acting “paranoid” (by which I mean seeing attacks where there are none — I hasten to say that I will not use that word again in case it affects people with clinical paranoia).

I thought that was enough for the moment — and that I would live and let live, because the people doing the aggregating were doing a yeoman’s job at it. Sure, they were being classified as “poisoner”, “the worst”, “fixated”, etc. But without me, they were empirically right, and didn’t need what little support I could actually offer — and I didn’t have the resources to offer any anyway. And, Ophelia, despite her pretensions at leaving, has not left yet. Mostly, I’ll note, because PZ begged her to stay. I thought, maybe, if I left well enough alone, if we ALL left well enough alone for a short time at least, things would calm down, Ophelia would feel less under siege, and she might even have learned something in the endeavour.

Then, after a few days of silence, Ophelia pointed to my comment saying I didn’t think she was a TERF and she called it an indictment of her for thoughtcrimes, meaning she absolutely had to leave because of all the vicious and cruel attacks she was taking from those who were once her colleagues on the blog network. She pointed to me, to my comment about how I saw her as lashing out viciously and repeatedly at the people who were trying to help most, as the only example of someone talking shit about her. This despite my comment — aside from implying she’s attacking those who aren’t attacking her by using a word that might be mistaken for a mental illness diagnosis — was not exactly predicated on any lack of evidence.

I tried my damnedest to plead my case and explain why I’m arguing what I’m arguing. Why I thought that my sticking my nose in, in her own defense even, might actually not cause her to whip around and bite me viciously — like she did. Repeatedly.

I offered, straight off, to leave Freethought Blogs instead. I did so because my blog gets significantly less traffic than hers, and I didn’t think she was irredeemable, and that her presence — numerically, and in terms of the people who might leave in her wake — was more valuable to the network than mine.

(Remind me to post an extended form of my argument that doing wrong does not leave an indelible mark, which I mention now and then on Twitter.)

I tried several times to explain myself to no avail.

I don’t think you’re a bad harmful evil person. I don’t think you’re engaging in thought crime. I think you’re hurt, and feel cornered, and want to blame everyone for all the evil befalling you; as though every person criticizing specific behaviours has it out for you. I understand that; I empathize. But I’m telling you — I’m not attacking. This isn’t an attack. I don’t want us to have bad blood. I wish you could see what I’m saying for what it is.

Trans identity is a separate and distinct axis from gender. “Trans” does not modify “woman”, because we could as easily be talking about trans neutrois, trans agender, trans man, etc. You can talk about trans folk without discussing gender and still have a set of problems and disadvantages unique to them. The fact that your argument says “how could it be unequivocal or not in need of nuance with the word trans there” is part of the problem. The fact that the rest of your argument goes that not all trans folk would consider themselves women is beside the point. If someone asks “do you believe trans women are actually women” they are asking if you think “trans” modifies “woman” in some way that “white” might not modify “woman”.

This is the whole argument, soup to nuts. That’s what you just won’t back down on, despite once-friends and once-colleagues trying to tell you is harmful, and that’s what trans folk (from what I’ve seen) are upset about, notwithstanding everything else they might have gone back to dredge up in order to overreach and call you a TERF.
Saying I’m lying about any of this is a gross misrepresentation — if I missed the nuance of “do you believe”, that’s not a lie, it doesn’t actually modify my argument, and it’s not actually salient to the argument that people are trying to have with you in this comment’s paragraph one which you somehow keep evading by painting the people trying to express it as liars and poisoners and attackers.

And the interactions on that thread, after the original post proper, are part of the substance of why trans folk feel you were looking to TERFs to buttress your counterarguments. Because some of the arguments — from TERFs — were quite gross.

If a single trans person tells me to back down on this, I will, Chris. But to have another cis man tell me I’m doing it wrong when I am underscoring the arguments I’ve seen from trans folk, doing so because I’m placed closely enough that they might get through to Ophelia, that strikes me as blinkered. If you think I’m attacking, obnoxious, harmful to trans folk, that’s certainly not my intent and if anyone better placed within the group that’s upset is willing to tell me to stop, I’ll stop advocating for them. I never want to talk over anyone who otherwise has a marginalized voice.

Mmm-hmm. So your saying “THEY are like slimers” and using four tweets of MINE to illustrate how bad THEY (ostensibly including me) are, doesn’t actually mean you think I am too.

Never mind that up until that moment, I stayed the hell out of it because I hoped that the trans folk who were upset with you would be able to get the actual arguments through to you themselves.

Never mind that I only stepped in because I hoped that my being once considered a colleague might mean you’d recognize my actions as honest — as explaining why people were evidently upset.

Never mind that I didn’t even do it to you directly, I did it to someone who was going overboard saying that the arguments were that you were a TERF because thoughtcrime because associations. I was, in effect, defending you against overreach, and explaining exactly what I thought people had problems with.

Never mind that I did not point the conversation to you out of respect for the fact that you were getting a lot of hell from a lot of dishonest interlocutors stirring the pot, and didn’t want to add to that, and that you sought that conversation out and used it to illustrate how EVIL “THEY” ARE, and now you’re claiming it wasn’t about me, and that my post defending myself (and simultaneously restating the arguments I saw that trans folk were making) was actually an attack on you.

I honestly thought you might see my name and not immediately think “dishonest interlocutor”, “troll” or “slimer”. I honestly thought that, placed as I was as a colleague, that you could take what I was saying at face value. But you whipped around on me and bit, as though you were cornered. And all your commenters think I’m evil too, including a number I once counted as friends. I fucking hate every aspect of this but I don’t see how we can ever reconcile it. That’s why I’m leaving, so everyone can go back to peace and harmony without me, the dishonest attacking slimepitter.

@87: My point… as though I could make it any clearer… is that yes, there has been some dishonest interlocutors, and some people who are perhaps too quick to burn you out of their lives because they need to defend themselves from anti-trans sentiment generally, just like in any conversation about feminism in the skeptical community and all the sides-taking and too-quick-burning-out that happens around them. My point is that some people in amongst all this actually have real grist for their mills in discussing how your actions have hurt them directly. That there are legitimate grievances in amongst all the vitriol. I appreciate your apology to HappiestSadist too, because they’ve been one of the people I’ve been thinking of as people that have been hurt by this fight.

Yes, some people are out for blood. Yes, some chunk of those people are slimepitters stirring the pot, who actually have it out for you because they see you as vulnerable right now. Yes, the people who are out for blood might seem like attackers, even aggressive, even though they’re doing as much distancing as they can and not actually pointing that disagreement at you (like Alex, who did not direct it at you, and you had to either seek it out or have one of their friends send it to you).
But I’m seeing a large number of people — myself included — trying to pick up the points of genuine disagreement and talk about those, and getting treated as trolls, attackers, wrong-headed evildoers.

And I’m further seeing you lumping everyone together as “ugly group demonization”, where my talking about specific behaviours leads you to believe I think you’re a TERF or that I’m stalking you or that I’m part of some groupthink hatemob. And all of this reminds me of your fight with Shermer about “kind of a guy thing” and his immediate response was “feminazis!!!” So, at this point, I’m disappointed in how you’re reacting to the legitimate grievances (though I empathize with why — the under siege part of this does not escape me, I know you’re under attack by hateful and disingenuous assholes). I’m further disappointed that you can repeatedly characterize my actions in criticizing your behaviour as assaults on you as a person, or that I’m no better than the disingenuous assholes who just want you out.

I never once said I wanted you out. I don’t. I don’t want you to leave any more than I want to leave myself. I don’t want to be conflated with the attackers and haters, because I’m not.

And that’s why I’m here, in the comments of your post painting me as the reason you need to leave, defending myself against your attacks on me, because that disagreement — your disagreement with me — needs some dissent. If I can’t disagree with the implication that I’m some evil attacker, then I guess some thoughts are freer than others.

And then, a hundred posts later, Ophelia released Tigger The Wing from moderation WAY early in the thread, where they said:

Jason, here’s a trans person telling you that your characterisation of what Ophelia said is so wrong that it amounts to a lie.

If other trans people are reacting based on the lies about Ophelia then I can’t say I’m surprised, but I am disappointed if they did so without making any attempt to find out what she actually did and said.

So I made good on my promise, though a person reading the thread now would have to get to comment 120-ish to see that that moderation magic happened and thus I looked like I talked over a trans person through the whole thread. Which, I’ll note, is a great rhetorical post-hoc well poisoning, but nothing with any intentionality behind it. Just a fortuitous coincidence for those predisposed to think I’m an asshole.

Which, maybe, I’ll cop to. I like to think I’m an asshole for good causes, though. Maybe I’m wrong about that. I dunno. I’m too close to tell.

Then PZ put up a post about kittens. Here’s the “new stuff” I promised. Well, almost new. I haven’t expressed them in full anywhere yet.

Well, it wasn’t about kittens. On first read, I agreed unequivocally with everything in it — that everyone’s got their hackles up, that people need to try to read one another charitably (and boy howdy, not much of what I’ve said lately has been read charitably!), that it is gross to try to push people from one gender “box” into another, and that Ophelia’s particular box is a spiky one. I also agreed with the sentiment that nobody could tell trans folk that they were wrong to be upset about such things, especially not an old white cis guy like PZ. (Especially also not another middle-aged white cis guy like me, which is why I have been deferring heavily to trans voices about what exactly was wrong with the whole situation.)

I agreed even that some boxes, when people are pushed into them, explode, per the topic of the post. One thing that I didn’t mention in my “agreement”, but certainly should have, is that it’s the people within them that do the exploding, not the boxes. If you try to push a trans woman into the “man” box because she has a penis, it’s not the box “man” that explodes, it’s the trans woman. My not saying that on the post, undercutting the analogy, was me holding my tongue. Because, I was honestly hoping that Ophelia might stay and that she might apologize to the people she’s hurt and learn to do better — to not make the sort of shitty diminishing trans-bashing witticisms she’s made in the past ever again.

I especially agreed that trying to push Ophelia into a box labeled TERF was only going to exacerbate the situation. For instance, it might incline her to wholly adopt the “trans cabal witch hunt” narrative, which would certainly endear her to Brennan and Hungerford, who are already hovering around her and lovebombing her.

There’s another card I didn’t play then, for a few reasons, which I’ll get to. That card is that we presently have no compunction with regard to people who hang out on A Voice for Men in order to laugh at funny jokes about feminists, make funny jokes about feminists, and get help arguing against certain feminist ideals, calling those people MRAs. We likewise have no problem calling people slimepitters those who hang out daily in the slime pit, posting funny memes about Freethought Bloggers, giving us funny names like Oafie and Thimbledick, and generally considering it a fun and free and free-wheeling forum dedicated to TRUE freethought. Nor do we even hesitate to call people slimepitters who revel in these same activities acting as anti-feminist atheists, borrowing memes from the slimepit proper, borrowing tactics from their posters, taking cues from their intended targets and their intended attack methods, sockpuppeting in order to commit false flag operations to exacerbate situations like the one with Ophelia today. We have zero problem calling these people MRAs and slimepitters.

We likewise should be less unwilling to call someone a TERF who has Elizabeth Hungerford as a commenter in good standing on their blog; who accepts thanks and support against those evil skeletons from Cathy Brennan; who was until recently hanging out in that selfsame gender-critical Facebook group started by Hungerford and which was found to be replete with anti-trans sentiment, some of which posted by Ophelia herself.

But pushing her into that category WOULD exacerbate things. So I agreed with the post.

Some people, as I said in the original framing, feel hurt by that thought, that I would 100% unequivocally agree with everything PZ has to say about the fight since the beginning — why would I pivot so hard to Ophelia’s position and to Ophelia’s unequivocal defense, so suddenly?

Well, I didn’t. I didn’t agree with everything PZ has ever said about this. I agreed with the post, as I read it, though I have to clarify something.

In the comments, I quickly came to understand I misunderstood two parts of PZ’s post, and had to clarify my own position a handful of posts later. First, I thought that PZ was pinning the campaign to push Ophelia into the TERF box (as a label) was based on “lies and uncharitable assumptions”, and not that the people outraged at what she’s actually done being based on that. Absolutely, with all the false flag comments I’ve seen trying to exacerbate things, saying extremely TERFy things in Ophelia’s name, or trying to say that she’s intentionally misgendered HappiestSadist (who she has apologized to, and who accepted her apology), there were lies around. Though, I still don’t 100% know if I misunderstood. I was giving PZ the most charitable reading of that passage, which is empirically correct, that there are lies and uncharitable assumptions in the mix. If I DID misunderstand the thrust of this argument — and PZ never clarified — then I disagree strongly. The people who are upset with Ophelia presently are still upset because she has actually said and done things that are trans-antagonistic, and for the most part, the people demanding an accounting of all of that have kept their grievances to the specific and evidenced things that they can prove happened.

Second, I believed PZ was suggesting that Ophelia’s feeling, that she was alone in a den of poisoners on this network, began when Alex wrote his “smoke and fire” post. I would amend that to the first instance that I know about, which was Stephanie demanding better intellectual rigour in Ophelia’s defense. Stephanie’s post was completely understandable and correct, in my mind, given that there were many arguments flying around that were rightly mocked when served in defense of Dawkins or Shermer or any other recalcitrant big-name fighting the scourge of feminism within our communities. It became muddied, though, whether PZ actually meant the WHOLE ARGUMENT around Ophelia started with Alex’s post, as though he singlehandedly wrote a hatchet job ex nihilo and without any priors. At least, I now BELIEVE that to be what PZ means. I could still be wrong.

In response to the charge that the whole fight started when Alex wrote his post, a large number of people started posting a full accounting of all the various grievances they had with Ophelia pertaining to trans-antagonism, and none of them started with Alex’s post, but predated them by up to a year. I didn’t participate in the thread any more because, as I’ve been lamenting elsewhere, a trans person told me I was talking over them, so as promised, I shut up when trans folk were talking. They were airing their case, and my participating then would have made things worse, both for me — in terms of looking like I was out for her head — and in terms of their arguments. I stayed mum because I thought it was the best course of action.

And now people who think of me as an ally, think I abandoned them then. And, yeah. I did. I’m sorry for that.

Meanwhile though, PZ then closed the comments on the post, with this:

You know, I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of campaign before. You’re all sounding like Michael Nugent, the Mouth of the Slymepit: according to him, I’m a homicidal monster who connived to railroad an innocent young woman who threatened to accuse me of rape, which apparently, according to a mob on twitter, I’m guilty of. If all you do is look over any voluble person’s record on the internet, you can find words and phrases you can twist or take out of context to support any nefarious claim you want. You just have to ignore 99% of what they say!

This is not to say Ophelia hasn’t screwed up or been intemperate (just as I wouldn’t say I’ve never done that, either), but that there’s an obsessive pursuit of every detail of her internet presence explicitly calculated with an intent to reach a predetermined conclusion. I’m also disappointed that, while she’s been reluctant to own her own errors, you all have been rather dishonest in admitting to your own agenda: you’re pissed off, you’re looking to score points, and hoping to drive Ophelia off this network altogether. Every time you claim you aren’t, I just have to roll my eyes.

There is no interest in honestly improving her awareness of trans issues at all — as if she were somehow completely opposed to any kind of social justice concerns at all — and clearly this thread has just become another opportunity to rage away. So it’s closed. It’ll stay that way, since the angry finger-pointing is completely unproductive.

This is absolutely patently an unfair characterization of what was happening on that thread.

Every single person who posted about repercussions wanted an apology, or at most, for her to shut up about trans issues while she went and learned about them herself. I know PZ sees a prosecution, rather than an attempt at convincing him that the history was actually far deeper and far more troubling than that Alex started a shitstorm single-handedly. I know PZ thinks that walking through one’s history for every single problematic thing that a person has ever said about any topic is Nugent-like — but that’s because that’s what Nugent’s done. That’s not remotely like what anyone else has done here, though. The absolute worst that you can say about anyone involved in this fight who’s actually doing any of the comment-dredging, is that they went looking through Ophelia’s history of transphobic comments, and finally, after building a dossier of them, demanding an apology and some self-reflection, and demanding an acknowledgement from him and others that, yes, this was actually problematic behaviour in the first place.

And the icing on the cake is that PZ recognizes that she’s been reluctant to own her errors, suggesting that he thinks these ARE errors. Even while he tries to play judo and call anyone asking for an apology and self-reflection as “having an agenda” of “hoping to drive Ophelia off this network altogether”.

I’ve screwed up bigtime in the past. I’ve talked out of my ass about things that I didn’t really know much about, and hurt people I didn’t mean to hurt, and they’ve brought those cases to me and, though it took me a while (measured in days, mind you), I’ve eventually come around on those issues. It is possible to do bad things, unintentionally, to realize you’ve done bad things, to own them, to apologize contritely, and to work to do better next time. What I didn’t do is dig in for months, then leave the network when more and more people said “no, seriously, you’re fucking up here”.

This is, of course, what I’m doing now with this ever-expanding post, trying to do right by those who think I’ve abandoned them and pivoted on them.

One of the big reasons I held my tongue more than I wanted to, is that first, PZ was actively trying to keep the network together, a goal I agreed with — I’d have preferred, best case scenario, that Ophelia stayed here, figured out that she was being an ass about some stuff (even while she felt under attack), and fixed those problems herself. Then we all stay together, one big, happy, resilient family.

Another is that I had a few extra days’ lead time on knowing that Ed was leaving. Traffic-wise, Ed and Ophelia both are about a third of this network. Without them, it’s now PZ and The Also-Blogs, at about a 90/10 split. We’re taking a big hit traffic-wise, which results in a big hit money-wise. That big hit money-wise means the server we’re paying for is slightly overprovisioned (which means more stable, yay!) but also means a larger slice of the ad revenue and more likely to result in shortfalls (boo). Shortfalls that will probably be paid out of PZ’s pocket. Shortfalls that probably mean if anything goes sour, we’ll have lean months, maybe even where bloggers get $0 revenue, where even now we’re lucky to get double digits.

When I offered to leave the network to keep Ophelia here, I was doing so from the pragmatic standpoint that if the cashflow stops, the network becomes destabilized further, and I am not personally dependent on my blog revenue to stay afloat. Some others of our bloggers are actually, believe it or not, dependent on that meagre revenue flow. The last thing I want to have happen is that the network collapses because of Ed and this coincidental simultaneous shitstorm with Ophelia, resulting in a lot of people without a digital home.

I was prepping for the eventuality that some people might end up homeless, and I was seriously planning a “solo career”, so to speak. This is why I offered to leave — I could probably do it safely. If I had, I planned on offering free berth to anyone who’d come with me. I don’t know how viable I’d be on a tiny Amazon AWS instance alone, but maybe with a few others, we could stay afloat.

But with Ed’s departure coming so soon (I thought I might have a few weeks, maybe a month!), I cannot possibly leave the network responsibly — without my free-tier tech support, the revenue stream becomes significantly tighter.

The fact that Ophelia’s apparently moved out with some finality now, though, means it’s all moot. I don’t have to go anywhere, at least for the moment. I can take a breath.

But, in order to reassert my right to speak freely, I do actually have to speak up, about the things that need to be said about how this all went down, and with some specificity about how the Guy Who Now Holds All The Chips has handled this scenario.

I think PZ is categorically wrong about what people’s intentions were. I think he is categorically wrong about what caused this shitstorm. And I think he’s categorically wrong, now, about prioritizing blog network unity over actually treating people’s concerns about Ophelia’s actions properly — that is to say, not mischaracterizing them as a witch-hunt when they are about accounting for actually shitty things she’s done. Now that she’s gone, I’m not saying “piss on her grave” — I’m saying, be a little more honest about who was demanding what. And I’m saying definitely don’t mischaracterize people, where the people who are blowing up in his kitten scenario are having the temerity to do it all over the thread that looked like it was there for that reason.

I suspect I will pay a lot of costs for this post. I’ll probably pay the cost in any intended mediation between myself and PZ, insofar as I’ve laid it all out publicly, though these grievances are not insurmountable regardless (at least, not on my end). I’ll probably pay costs with regard to my place in this network, and amongst peers who at least once respected me. I’ve already paid the cost of writing it for the past three hours, and will probably pay more cost for posting it with only minimal reread. But, I won’t, at least, leave people I love and trust with the impression that I’ve hung them out to dry through inaction. And at least one of the costs I’m recouping, finally, is that I’m no longer shutting the fuck up “for the good of the network”. The network can stand it, and though I suspect I might not be able to stand the costs personally, maybe I actually can. We’ll see. If not, I still have my backup plan.

I will post my thoughts on Ed separately. Something he said privately to me makes me think that my posting this first, clearing my conscience, is the right thing to do.

(No, I won’t tell you what that was. I said it was private.)

Jesus fucking hell. Sorry about the length.

{advertisement}
Accounting.
{advertisement}
The Orbit is still fighting a SLAPP suit! Help defend freedom of speech, click here to find out more and donate!

285 thoughts on “Accounting.

  1. 101

    Pierce R. Butler @96,

    “Did you ever reconsider your habit of shitting on the heads of little babies? YES or NO!!!”

    No we never had any habit of shitting on the heads of anyone so there was no habit to reconsider. That said, if consenting adults want to shit on each other that’s their right but babies obviously can’t consent and so shitting on them would be wrong.

    See how easy that was? Despite the fact that you wrote “yes or no” we were not constrained to answering in those terms. We have agency and can answer using whatever words and adding whatever nuance we need.

    We didn’t feel in the slightest like we were being persecuted or under siege by the way.

    So how does this little experiment effect your opinion now that you’ve seen some results?

  2. 102

    Pierce R. Butler @95:

    One example of that was linked at Pharyngula: I followed it, and did not find anything egregious there, nor a basis for any of the other accusations flung at Benson in that same thread.

    You can honestly tell me this

    I’m getting tempted to do some kind of obnoxious parody thing. Like…”I appear to be an American but actually I’ve always thought of myself as Sri Lankan. Not that I’ve ever been there or know much about it, but I *feel* Sri Lankan. The rest of you don’t know how fortunate you are, with your cis-nationality privilege.”

    is not transphobic? That it does not say that trans*women are not women?

    I do not have the time or inclination to pursue every last thing she may have posted on that wretched user-hostile site

    There were direct links and quotes in that thread, and in this one as well. You did not have to “pursue” anything, it was handed to you and repeatedly explained.

    Did you miss the post in which Benson did give her answer?

    I certainly didn’t, as I considered it strong evidence that she was a TERF.

  3. 104

    @102. Hj Hornbeck : I don’t think Pierce R. Butler can respond to you even if xe wants to.

    See # 97. Jason Thibeault : .. for that, you’re binned Pierce. Moderation, one million years. To be let out when *I* have time to deal with you.”

  4. 105

    Welp. At least Pierce is giving us a good illustration of what’s going on. Proudly declare that you could only be bothered to look at one example, appoint yourself the arbiter of what’s objectionable, declare that what you saw doesn’t meet your unspecified definition of “objectionable”, accuse people who have thoroughly documented a year’s worth of antagonism of cherry picking and QED. *eyeroll*

  5. 106

    Huh, I wonder how Pierce would react to a man saying he hadn’t looked at all the statements made by Hunt. but what he saw didn’t look particularly egregious to him. Now can all you feminists shut up about it and stop your witch hunt, righty-oh old chap.

    Feminism/SJ 101 apparently needs to be rolled out, *listen* to the people effected by the bigotry Pierce. Don’t judge it based on does it look egregious to *you*. Obviously sexism and transmisogyny are never going to look as egregious to you as they do to the people effected by them. Jeez.

    Oh and if you’d bothered to look there are more than a few examples of OB being transphobic herself, let alone cosying up to and ignoring the bigotry from TERFs in the group she was a part of.

  6. 107

    I couldn’t even find “darvo” at urbandictionary.com.

    Funny, I typed the letters “d”, “a”, “r”, “v”, “o” into the text entry box on this fantastic but sadly obscure website called Google and got 6 explanations of the acronym without even scrolling the page at all. I’d have had 7 but apparently there’s a character named Darvo in the game Warframe.

  7. 108

    Jason Thibeault @ # 97: …you’re binned Pierce.

    On top of which, I have a funeral to attend this morning.

    Later this afternoon, I hope to attempt some replies. Please exercise patience, those who’ve answered me thus far (though to start with: Seven of Mine… scores a definite hit @ # 106!).

  8. 109

    No more than demanding yes/no to loaded questions, sure.

    “loaded questions’ have been explained to you already, so your repeated assertion that a question that 1)does have one ethical and one unethical answer; 2)does not in fact assume a position, but asks to point blank state one’s position; and 3)was the result of months of behavior rather than an unjustified assumption is actually a loaded question can at this point only be interpreted as willful ignorance maintained for actual lack of argument.
    But pretending that the asking for a non-weaselly answer to a basic question is the same as stating that “gender is totally binary” is just sad and pathetic. The question “are black people inferior, yes or no” doesn’t make race a binary either. such nonsense.

  9. 110

    She’s been deleting comments by *hostile* readers (of various or unknown modalities) for months now. incorrect. those readers were fans who admired her; right up until she started treating them like shit.

  10. 111

    dammit, blockquote fail.

    She’s been deleting comments by *hostile* readers (of various or unknown modalities) for months now.

    incorrect. those readers were fans who admired her; right up until she started treating them like shit.

  11. 112

    Haven’t read Benson’s post about Y/N questions, have you

    ha. not only have I read it, I found it deeply tragicomic that “the Question” was so powerful, it made her change her mind on the whole #UpForDebate thing, which was all about how some questions are settled and have very easy y/n answers and needn’t be endlessly re-hashed by the skeptic community

    (note: this comment is sarcasm; i do not in fact think Ophelia no longer believes that some things aren’t up for debate. it’s just that she thinks trans womanhood is, and for whatever reason she chose slf-contradiction to defend that stance)

  12. 113

    @96:

    She’s been deleting comments by *hostile* readers (of various or unknown modalities) for months now.

    This is not true. See, for example, my posts 13 and 23 in this thread.

    @61:

    She screamed about people reading her Facebook posts (in a *public* group that, it turns out, she had felt safe expressing these things in because she did not realize it was public), screencapping comments and posts (because she challenged them to, and had been Deleting Fucking Everything), and generally doing what’s going to happen to anyone who is caught in a lie and doubles down publicly.

    I gave so much benefit of the doubt trying to understand both sides of this clusterfuck, and said “OK, I can respect that” when Ophelia said that she was feeling under attack from strangers sharing screen caps of her posts in that public FB group as evidence of transphobia.

    After seeing this comment at 61 though I searched back for evidence supporting it, and, well, yeah…

    A reader: This is horseshit, and do you want to know why? Because there’s a real thing called a screen capture that we all damn well know about and which these so-called critics would have been using long ago if there were any substance to these allegations, since their prevailing narrative is that “Ophelia deletes the evidence!”. The reason why there is “nothing concrete for … critics to point to” is because there is, in actual fact, nothing concrete for her critics to point to.

    OB: All their screen caps got swept away by a flood.

    …come on. What can one expect at that point? Of course people are going to start taking screen caps of public posts.

    And her complaint that “too last week?” was just a trivial joke doesn’t even stand up either, given what she has said about jokes and microaggressions when it comes to sexism. For instance, on numerous posts about Tim Hunt:

    That of course – now I think of it – partly explains Tim Hunt’s bafflement and the bafflement of his enraged supporters like Dawkins and Cox. It was “just a joke” and it was just one of millions like it and it was trivial and it was totally normal so what is the big deal??

    You could agree with all that, as Dawkins and Cox and the rest of them do – you could agree that he shouldn’t be singled out for something at once so trivial and so normal. But you could also (instead) say yes but we’ve been trying to do away with that kind of “normal” belittling and dismissal for at least half a century. Half a fucking century, dude, don’t you think you could start to catch up by now? Yes, we know it’s an entrenched part of human history that people like to sneer at people below them in the pecking order, but that’s a bad feature of being human and we should change it.

    Even if meant to be taken lightly – so all the enraged anti-feminists shouting that it was a joke are missing the point. This seems slightly dim of them, since sexist jokes have been well known to be an issue since the renaissance of feminism first drew breath.

    See I’ve never thought he wasn’t a lovely man. It seemed pretty clear that he is one – lots of people said so, including lots of the people who deplored his clumsy “jokes” in Seoul. Lovely men can screw up. Sexism and casual contempt for women are entrenched and pervasive, at the same time as they’re considered not ok by people who give a damn. This means that it’s pathetically easy to be both lovely and sexist.

    Also, the claim that “silly” dismissive contemptuous remarks about women are “entirely harmless” is highly debatable. (I think they’re just flat-0ut wrong, but then that’s what I think, and it’s debatable.

    As is so often the case with jokes, especially with snotty put-down jokes like this one. The disingenuous claims of shock and disbelief about this strain my credulity until all the bolts pop out. You have to live inside a tree trunk to be unaware of people who use “jokes” as ways to get away with saying shitty things.

    Sexist jokes are still sexist.

    But when it comes to a joke in a transphobic thread (I’m taking it as such, because it sure looks like it and I was given nothing to the contrary)?

    I have no idea what the thread was about. I don’t bother to remember things like that. I probably spent all of 10 seconds scanning it and then made a flippant joke. Who cares?

    If nothing else, it’s certainly hypocritical and intellectually inconsistent. This has opened my eyes to how even educated and progressive-minded people can blind themselves to what they don’t want to acknowledge.

  13. 114

    (Adding to the above since it’s not clear, by “supporting it”, I mean the suggestion that she’d challenged people to take screen caps)

  14. 115

    (Adding to the above since it’s not clear, by “supporting it”, I mean the suggestion that she’d challenged people to take screen caps)

    Exactly.

    Ophelia: “Why don’t you have screen shots?”
    People: *produce screen shots*
    Ophelia: “Why do you have screen shots?”

  15. 116

    StevoR @104:

    I know, I was also venting some frustration. After linking to a blog post where I laid out some of my reasons for thinking Benson was a bigot, she declared

    That’s nice. That’s charming. That’s pleasant. Based on nothing so far, he’s decided I’m a bigot.

    By quoting the anger of her critics, while either omitting the arguments or lying and saying they have none, she’s created a group of people who are mystified at why anyone could possibly disagree with her. I’m just the latest target in what appears to be a year-long campaign of gas-lighting to protect her ass.

  16. 117

    [Cross posted from Ophelia’s separate blog wherein she vomits forth ye old “but, but, but, it was just a joke” routine. Unsurprisingly my comments have now been purged but archive versions are available to prove they were posted. Please don’t delete this it needs to be said.]

    Here’s how her post starts out FWIW:

    Part of the bill of indictment against me is that
    I MADE JOKES.
    The horror. Who does that? Who makes jokes?

    Here is my comment that Ophelia later deleted. Admittedly it was confrontational but some things need confronted with force. I genuinely pity her given not only the path she is on but apparently how far down that path she is.

    Down, down, down the rabbit hole we go.
    Is the OP the same Ophelia Benson who spent weeks churning out post after post after post decrying Tim Hunt’s “sexist joke” and how the fact that it was a joke “doesn’t change a thing?” Is this same Ophelia Benson actually now trying to pull the old siwtcheroo and asking us to buy her “but it was just a joke” routine? The same one who co-authored the book Why Truth Matters?

    The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.
    ~André Gide

    Few love to hear the sins they love to act.
    ~William Shakespeare

    ————————————————

    From: Even if meant to be taken lightly (by Ophelia Benson; July 9, 2015)

    Even if meant to be taken lightly – so all the enraged anti-feminists shouting that it was a joke are missing the point. This seems slightly dim of them, since sexist jokes have been well known to be an issue since the renaissance of feminism first drew breath.

    Ophelia, even if your “jokes” are meant to be taken lightly (intention is not magic but it is data), aren’t you and your defenders just missing the point now as the “anti-feminists” did then? Transphobic jokes have been well known to be an issue as well, after all. How do you imagine trans people feel about being the subject of such jokes?

    As many people (including me) have pointed out, hardly anyone would disagree with that if he’d made “jokes” about Asians at that conference. Pretty much everyone would agree that was a terrible gaffe that put UCL in a supremely awkward position. But because it’s just women, we get all this enraged push back. Why does “jokey” or “ironic” contempt for women get so much more forbearance than jokey/ironic national or racial or ethnic contempt?

    Ophelia, why do you believe that trans jokes deserve more forbearance than sexist ones, or more than “jokey/ironic national or racial or ethnic contempt?” Why do you believe that you deserve more forbearance than Tim Hunt, for that matter.

    That which we call sin in others is experiment for us.
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    ————————————————

    From: Shifting (by Ophelia Benson; July 7, 2015)

    Noticing derogatory jokes is considered a high crime worthy of having the subject changed and changed and changed until all the parts fall off.

    Yes, the people who noticed your derogatory jokes have been accused by yourself and PZ Myers (not to mention some of your commenters) as being part of a witch hunt, police action, etc. They are all committing high crime in your eyes aren’t they? Is that why you fired off, what was it, a dozen or more posts, all of which sought to change the subject, change the subject, change the subject and make it about anything other than what you said and what you did?

    No, it really isn’t. If there had been no backlash, no one would still be talking about it. It would have been dropped three weeks ago. It’s the ridiculous, tendentious backlash that has kept it going and going and going.

    [chortle]

    Most everyone seems willing to be a fool himself, but he can’t bear to have anyone else one.
    ~Josh Billings

    ————————————————

    From: Thankfully former (by Ophelia Benson; July 1, 2015)

    Tim Fenton at the blog Zelo Street has, like me, been watching the obsessive bullying by Louise Mensch of anyone who reported on Tim Hunt’s crappy sexist “jokes” at that fateful lunch in Seoul.

    All that, in aid of saying sexist “jokes” weren’t sexist. What a noble cause.

    Of course you don’t see yourself as bullying anyone who dared report on your trans antagonistic and transphobic “jokes” but that’s precisely what you and your defenders are doing when you label them all trolls and worse.

    Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if it’s done by nice people like ourselves.
    ~Author Unknown

    ————————————————

    From: Quite the rabbit hole (by Ophelia Benson; July 1, 2015)

    As is so often the case with jokes, especially with snotty put-down jokes like this one. The disingenuous claims of shock and disbelief about this strain my credulity until all the bolts pop out. You have to live inside a tree trunk to be unaware of people who use “jokes” as ways to get away with saying shitty things.

    Ophelia your reaction strains credibility and you appear to be one of those “people who use ‘jokes’ as ways to get away with shitty things.”

    Oh, sure, he believes he does not hate feminism, but then he believes a lot of daft things of that kind. He believes he engages in good-natured mockery while other people engage in rudeness and vitriol. He believes everything he says is LOGIC while other people talk baffling nonsense. He believes he is crystal clear on Twitter while other people are infuriatingly opaque. You get the idea.

    Indeed, we all most certainly get the idea. “One standard for me, a very different one for thee.” <– that is your M.O., Ophelia.

    The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself.
    ~Jane Addams

    ————————————————

    From: Illustrious company (by Ophelia Benson; June 30, 2015)

    Notice something? They’re all pale men – they’re all immune from the kind of casual contempt that Hunt expressed at that lunch, whether as a joke or not. They all have that in common with Tim Hunt, and all of them including Hunt do not have in common with their women colleagues the handicap of being subject to constant everyday sexism.

    Ophelia, how much do you have in common with the trans folk who are the subject of your “jokes?” Aren’t you also immune from the transphobic jokes and the constant everyday trans antagonism and trans bigotry that such “jokes” help to perpetuate, in the same way that “pale men” are “immune from the kind of casual contempt that Hunt expressed at that lunch, whether as a joke or not?” You recognized the wrong when it was Tim Hunt and his defenders doing it but now you expect us to accept that it’s not wrong when you do it?

    To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.
    ~Confucius

    ————————————————

    From: Piled higher and deeper (by Ophelia Benson; June 29, 2015)

    Sexist jokes are still sexist. Mensch is wrong about that too. She’s comprehensively wrong about this whole subject.

    Transphobic jokes or trans antagonistic jokes are still transphobic or trans antagonistic. Benson is wrong about that too. Benson is comprehensively wrong about this whole subject.

    Mensch and Dawkins should set up a Global Sexist Joke Council.

    Maybe now Mensch and Dawkins would be willing to make it a threesome with you heading up the brand new Transphobic Committee. Perhaps that’s what you are going for then?

    Character is much easier kept than recovered.
    ~Thomas Paine

    ————————————————

    From: Oh wait, it turns out he was joking! (by Ophelia Benson; June 24, 2015)

    You think it can’t get any more ridiculous, but it keeps doing exactly that.
    This time? A “leaked” transcript of what Tim Hunt said at that conference in Korea supports his account that it was a joke, so it’s all good and he should be given all his honorary positions back.

    Just when you think it couldn’t get any more ridiculous… Ophelia says it was just a joke. Which is a thing Ophelia does a lot. So it’s all good. Ophelia should immediately be given back all former respect and glory asked to come back home to FtB.

    Well, he apologized and then unapologized and complained and blamed and generally pitched a huge fit.

    Whereas you skipped the whole “apologized” thing altogether and jumped right to the blaming and the pitching of a “huge fit.” The baffling thing is that you and your defenders believe this to be a better approach.

    I don’t think anyone ever denied that he thought he was being facetious. Maybe this is news to Dawkins, but it’s not news to us: a hell of a lot of sexism is in the form of tedious, labored, unfunny “jokes.” Who hasn’t sat stony-faced through a million of them? Come on. Nobody thought Hunt was giving a serious scientific lecture on gender differences. We all knew he was “bantering.” That doesn’t change a thing.

    Indeed. A hell of a lot of trans bigotry is in the form of “jokes.” But come one. We all knew Ophelia was making a joke because Ophelia stated as much, at least for the Rachel Dolezal one. This doesn’t change a thing.

    The injury we do and the one we suffer are not weighed in the same scales.
    ~Aesop, Fables

    ————————————————

    From: Disparagement humor (by Ophelia Benson; June 24, 2015)

    We’ve been seeing that narrative for two weeks, intensifying all the time, and it’s gone into high gear today thanks to the Times and the Daily Mail and their publication of breathless pieces saying “it turns out that Tim Hunt was joking and that changes everything!!!” We already knew he claimed he was joking (along with also saying he was serious about at least some of what he said), and it changes fucking nothing.

    We already knew Ophelia was “joking” and “it changes fucking nothing.”

    In the right circumstances, among people who know and trust each other, parodic sexist disparaging humor can take the sting out of it, but that’s the only way it can. Hunt’s version met none of those criteria. (I’ve been seeing lots of the parodic kind on my Facebook wall, and indeed in comments here – but guess what, that’s not the same kind of thing as what Hunt did. At all.)

    Discussions or “jokes” that happen in spaces that are open to the public (like, say, Butterflies and Wheels, non-private Facebook groups, non-private Twitter feeds, etc.) cannot possibly be said to happening only “among people who know and trust each other.” The way links are shared and cross posted there is no way to know or control who will come along and read it. Also even if one grants for the sake of discussion that a being a joke somehow makes it all better (which, if true, would refute all of Ophelia’s quotes above about Hunt, BTW), at least one of the “jokes” (the Rachel Dolezal one for example) was made in the presence of trans people in the Ophelia’s comment thread. And it most certainly was not taken by anyone (who bothered to reply) as “[taking] the sting out of” well, anything.
    In other words, Ophelia’s version met none of the circumstances that would cause Ophelia to label this as “the right circumstances” in which to make such a “joke.” If Ophelia applied her ethics and morals consistently, that is.

    Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.
    ~Mark Twain

  17. 118

    Jason,
    Looks like I borked up the links in the previous comment. Accidentally included an extraneous closing quotation mark in each of the hyperlinks somehow. Here are the correct URLs.

    https://archive.is/80Bo4
    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2015/who-makes-jokes/

    Also for the sake of transparency here was a subsequent comment posted there and also deleted.

    Also, by way of pre-emptive replies to any would-be respondents:
    1) No your special pleading will not be convincing.
    Of course there are differences between the Tim Hunt debacle and the Ophelia Benson shitstorm, but the point is that Benson argued and insisted that UCL was right to kick Hunt to the curb, in large part for “sexist jokes.” Benson further argued and insisted that ‘saying it’s just a joke doesn’t matter.’ Replace “UCL” with “FtB” and “sexist” with “transphobic” and only the least self aware person in the free world would be unable to recognize the parallel.

    If you genuinely disagree, go right ahead. Special plead all you like. Parse those differences until only the finest of dust remains. Remember that you will be doing so all in service of justifying Ophelia Benson’s right to tell transphobic jokes and in defense of Ophelia Benson’s extended temper tantrum when criticized for that and more.

    2) Yes I did a keyword search for “Tim Hunt” and “joke” and spent about 2 hours compiling these quotes. Yes I am obsessive when it comes to exposing and ridiculing tribalistic, hypocritical ideologues and charlatans, though this list is not exhaustive by any stretch. Also don’t care if you consider it creepy.

    3) There are somewhere around 2000 words in my previous comment, though many are quotes. Figured that would fit in with the style here.

    4) It doesn’t matter if you try to dismiss me as a troll. That’s a cop out. If you bother to reply please address the points made or floosh yourself.

  18. 120

    You know, I find this framing about how poor Ophelia Benson is only ever reacting (and can’T be blamed for doing so badly) while everyone else is just maliciously acting (and totally responsible to be puke-inducing.

    Pierce R. Butler

    Yeah, gender is totally binary, and we all spend all our lives in either the pink pigeonhole or the blue one, and nobody who moves from one to the other (quantumly, without ever crossing the space in between) carries even a fleck of their previous color with them.

    Welcome to TERF logic where trans women are just men who like frilly pink skirts.
    Trans women have fuck all to do with gender expression. Gender expression is just the language they are using to communicate their gender identity.

  19. 122

    Trans women have fuck all to do with gender expression. Gender expression is just the language they are using to communicate their gender identity.

    This. It’s so rich that people who clearly perceive no difference between gender orientation, gender identity and gender expression think they’re qualified to glance at a gender-crit FB group and judge whether anything said there is objectionable.

  20. 123

    *sadness*

    TW: violence and aggression against transwomen

    The 12th black trans woman was just found murdered this morning, in Detroit. Amber Monroe, age 20.

    So while people debate for funnsies the humanity of trans people and make jokes at their expense actual people who care will be trying to save lives and mourning the dead.

    This is not an intellectual debate, this is life and death in real time.

  21. 124

    Darlene Pineda @123,
    Re: Amber Monroe that’s awful, so sad and senseless.

    So while people debate for funnsies the humanity of trans people and make jokes at their expense actual people who care will be trying to save lives and mourning the dead.

    This is not an intellectual debate, this is life and death in real time.

    Very well put although it’s depressing as hell that it even needs to be said.

  22. 125

    @HJ Hornbeck #102: I don’t know that’ I’d seen the Sri Lankan comment before. That gives us:
    “A friend of mine remarked yesterday that “This [not hiring drag acts for Glasgow Free Pride] is like objecting to blackface on the grounds that it makes Rachel Dolezal feel uncomfortable” from July 19 in blog comments.

    “So I can identify as an African-American born in Brazil and educated at Oxford?” from July 3 on Facebook.

    “I need a magic shield to shield me from assholes. If I decide to ‘identify as’ a magic shield-haver, maybe I’ll get one” from July 25 on Facebook.

    Plus various comments of the same nature from her “otherkin” posts (and the Facebook thread on at least one of, which I did not get a screenshot of). That’s just the jokes, just the jokes about self-identification, from a span of a couple of months, from screenshots that people have managed to grab and post. That’s without talking about the things she shared, the things she liked, the people she’s associated with positively, or any of the other problems that have gone on here.

    @Kris_is_Hypo: At least the “it was just a joke, gosh!” position represents a little more self-awareness. On July 25, on Facebook, she said “I tell Dawkins not to keep shitting on feminism, I tell people not to use ‘c[*]nt’ as an epithet. I say people shouldn’t make sexist jokes. Etc. I’m not wholly innocent in the telling people what to say department.

    “But then again it’s not as if I’m calling trans people names or telling transphobic jokes, so…”

    Despite everything, it’s a step in the right direction, I guess?

    @Darlene Pineda: Thanks for that. It’s a reminder that in the current climate, “are trans women women” isn’t an ontological question, it’s a political one.

    In an ideal world where all people were equal and society was structured for the benefit of all, we could sit in our smoking jackets and put any question up for nuanced academic debate, without worrying about the splash damage involved in treating the lives of real people as abstract hypotheticals for philosophical debate. “Are women naturally inferior to men with regard to STEM fields?” we could wonder aloud over snifters of brandy. “Are children better off when raised by opposite-sex couples rather than same-sex ones?” we might ask between puffs on cigars. “Do citizenship tests and voter IDs result in a more informed, less fraudulent electorate?” we could opine from our high-backed chairs. Because we would live in a perfect utopia, we wouldn’t need to worry about lending legitimacy to political movements or social institutions structured to oppress and disenfranchise actual people.

    Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where 50-72% of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes are perpetrated against trans women. Where trans people can be fired for their gender identities in a majority of states in the US. Where trans women are routinely housed in male-only prisons and denied access to shelters. Where multiple states and candidates for president support anti-trans “bathroom bills” that, in addition to stigmatizing trans people and setting them up for further violence and harassment, victimize cisgender people who do not conform to typical gender presentation norms. We live in a world that denies trans people the legitimacy of their gender identity and, as a result, sets them up for violence and harassment. Refusing to affirm trans people’s self-determined gender identities because you have some concerns and opinions about what gender is and isn’t and we need to address those things before we can allow trans people the legitimacy of identity that is a pillar of cisgender privilege means you’re putting your own desire to hash out abstract philosophical issues above the safety of actual people.

    You can go on about race being a social construct and colorism and the artificality of whiteness and how racial lines change from culture to culture or age to age, but black people are being gunned down in the street right now, and having those abstract academic conversations doesn’t actually address that. Insisting that you have that abstract academic conversation before or instead of affirming the value of black lives is a political statement, and not a flattering one, as Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley discovered at Netroots Nation.

    Similarly, putting your abstract discussion of gender ahead of an affirmation of the right of trans people to determine their own gender identity is making a political statement, and not a flattering one. Maybe Ophelia didn’t realize the implications. Maybe she’s been as in the dark about the sociopolitical issues surrounding gender identity and anti-trans bigotry as she has claimed to be about the TERFy history of the feminists she cites and interacts with and the existence and function of anti-trans dogwhistle words. I don’t know if I give Ophelia that little credit, but it’s possible. At some point, though, when weighing in on a topic that you’re not well-informed about, you need to admit your ignorance and do some legwork beyond just looking for sources to prop up your initial gut reactions.

  23. 126

    My feminism — my activism — is arm-locked with my trans sisters and brothers, my bi sisters and brother, especially PoC.

    Stonewall was PoC, drag queens and transwomen and bi’s — all erased from the LG movements now, and from the typical white feminism movements. Sylvia Rivera; black transwoman Marsha P. Johnson, black transwoman Miss Major (Griffin-Gracy), black butch Stormé De Larverie, and bisexual Brenda Howard. And even back in in 1973 gay pride and feminism was trying to get rid of drag queens and lesbians and at one event Rivera jumped on the stage and yelled, “You go to bars because of what drag queens did for you, and these bitches tell us to quit being ourselves!”

    And today, trans people, especially women, are facing the exact same horrors. Denied their womanhood. Being jailed with men. Being beaten and murdered. Living in poverty. No access to the medical care they need. And so-called feminists are still telling them to quit being themselves.

    Fuck. That. That is not feminism, or humanism, or activism. It is fucking bigotry. Call it what it is: BIGOTRY. No different than white power groups or membership in the KKK. And just as dangerous and harmful. That is what OB is. A fucking bigot.

    This is not for that faint of heart, and is super triggering, but what Sylvia Rivera was saying in 1973 is just as meaningful now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QiigzZCEtQ

  24. 128

    Jason Thibeault @ # 97: … your “gender is totally binary” interpretation of the claims that many of us have made that “are trans women actually women” is in fact a super-easy question.

    For social purposes in progressive circles, sure. As it was put to Benson, it included the explicit rider that she was being put on trial and that only an acceptable answer (no nuances, no genetics, no experiential quibbles would be accepted. I maintain that anyone issued such an ultimatum has not only the option, but arguably the obligation, to tell the questioner where to cram it.

    … Ophelia makes several jokes about trans identity, one of which she self-identified as “obnoxious parody”…

    Does making a joke of one’s own joke get too meta for some here? I live in the Deep South of the USA, and have yet to hear a racist describe his or her own racist jokes as “obnoxious parody”.

    …“are white women actually women?” Those should pass your “is/ought” problem easily.

    “White” and “woman” contain no contradictions. I had a dog who was mostly Chow and some Labrador: was he an “actual” Chow? He was a great success as a dog, but serious dog-breed people would insist that’s the wrong question.

    … I’ve been called all manner of names from her, and her supporters…

    That can only tolerably go one way, but not the other?

    I’m comfortable with where I stand on those issues. Are you?

    I’m still learning, thanks. That does involve some discomfort.

    … arguing as you do, alienating trans folk in the process…

    One thing I have not yet learned is how the trans_ community speaks with a unanimous voice. Could you direct me to where I might find the ultimate inarguable monolithic Trans_ Answer Book? Meanwhile, struggling along without it, observing and hearing/reading of issues still lacking universal answers, I do run the risk of alienating absolutists – and yes, I feel comfortable with that too.

    Jason Thibeault @ # 98: … “Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender”. It is what Ophelia’s done …

    Thanks for the clarification. I followed Seven of Nine…’s example @ # 107 and found this:

    When wrong-doers are confronted with their acts (which may be criminal), they show a pattern …

    Don’t you love the assumption that anyone accused qualifies as “wrong-doer” without further question?

  25. 129

    Tom Foss @ # 99 – Do you really see Benson’s & Dawkins’s positions as comparable???

    You complain about people being misrepresented, then refuse to actually look at the evidence.

    I did look at the “evidence” presented, which told me more about the accusers’ lack of judgment than about the accused’s alleged crimes. I would have looked at more, but it all seemed to involve a boring group on a platform using mediocre software extremely ill-suited for searches.

    You’ve also consistently ignored the toxicity that she was the source of.

    Most of the toxicity I’ve seen has come from the group I labelled “O-phobes”, much to the irritation of our esteemed host. Maybe you, or he, could help me out with a better label for antiBensonites?

    Saying “I do not believe trans women are women,” for instance, means that you do not believe trans women ought to be able to determine their own gender identities’ or, at best, that we ought not take their word for it when they tell us their gender identities.

    According to Tom Foss, Diplomate of Advanced Epistemology. I suggest you not use the above statement in post-graduate essay tests, unless the question involves gratuitous assumptions, examples of.

    You act as though Ophelia did nothing wrong or questionable until a troll provoked her into reacting badly to a loaded question …

    Again, pls read my comments. Did I not say that Benson showed symptoms of stress for months?

    When you called abbeycadabra a troll …

    Those who ask slanted questions get called on it, yup. But I did not try to say why abbeycadabra did that, and since a search for that name at B&W now produces no results, I would have very little to go on if I tried to speculate.

  26. 130

    We are Plethora… @ # 100: Define “under siege” as you mean it.

    Receiving major quantities of personal attacks.

    … does that justify or excuse trans antagonism, bigotry and gaslighting?

    Does refusing to answer a slanted question justify or excuse accusations of those things?

    … you are gaslighting and strawmanning and beating the “Ophelia is under attack” drum.

    Reality check: she has experienced prolonged verbal attacks. Our disagreement involves only whether such attacks, or some part of them, has any justification.

    You aren’t granting us anything at all for being under siege are you?

    Your antagonism clouds your perceptions here. I have not denied any aspect of the problems experienced by transpeople.

    You think because you checked “one example” and “did not find anything egregious” that means you got the whole picture …

    No, I assumed that the particular individuals who claimed they had a smoking gun had nothing but hot air – or for some reason chose to offer weak evidence and conceal their stronger case. That specific thread at Pharyngula ran high with emotion: the justification given did not match the accusations made. This thread here does give more and better examples – though still, imo, with disproportionate fervor.

    You picked which “one example” to check out of the many that were provided, right?

    I followed a specific link to a Facebook group, which several commenters claimed proved Benson’s transphobia (and which some claimed they were not allowed to quote). I not only did not find transphobia from Benson there (though some from others, as I acknowledged in my own comment), I did not find any proscriptions against quoting what I saw. The accusers thus failed two for two on their claims. IIRC, most everything else they had came from Twitter – a medium made for misunderstandings, and one very tedious and iffy to review for context.

    The rest of your comment consists of what I’ve recently learned to call DARVO. More facts, less indignation, please.

    Your # 101, however, provides an interesting exercise in irony. You answered my “yes or no?!?” question with a non-binary, premise-challenging, context-providing statement – a liberty that it seems you and many others here insist on denying to Ophelia Benson.

  27. 131

    Hj Horbeck @ # 102: You can honestly tell me this (…) is not transphobic?

    I can honestly tell that that obviously implies a context which I don’t have, and clearly represents a fragment of thinking-out-loud. Benson made a mistake in sharing it, and more so for not realizing her ruminations were public, but I can no more call her essentially evil for that than I can excoriate myself that way for writing a draft comment which I decided inappropriate and deleted without publishing. (Have you ever done such a rascally thing?)

    Confessing one’s temptations does not equal acting on them.

    You did not have to “pursue” anything, it was handed to you and repeatedly explained.

    Sure it was, on a silver platter. Just like the prosecutor’s case presented to a grand jury for indicting that notorious ham sandwich.

  28. 132

    StevoR @ # 104: I don’t think Pierce R. Butler can respond to you even if xe wants to.

    Please call me “he”, thank you.

    I’ve written several replies to you & those preceding you in the vague hope that, having allowed one post-binning comment through, our esteemed host might do so again so long as I refrain from certain arbitrary neologisms.

    But I need to take a break now: you may see this, but further replies run the gamut of both Jason T’s vagaries and mine – and I couldn’t blame him a bit if he wearies of this tiresome nitpickery.

  29. 133

    Pierce, you really are a piece of work. I love how you quote things part-way when the rest of the sentence you quoted from undercuts your answer.

    I also especially love that you showed your hand that you think “white” does not alter “woman” but “trans” de facto does. It is telling of what you think about the box labeled “woman”, that you’re unwilling to let a person self-identify as one based on the path they’ve taken through life. It tells me you want a rigid boundary around that box; that, despite your earlier strawmanning, you’re the one who thinks binarily.

  30. 134

    “White” and “woman” contain no contradictions.

    But “trans” and “woman” does? If you think so, have the courage to say it. If you don’t, then what was your point?

  31. 135

    Yes, by the way. I said you’re in moderation until *I* can deal with you, so that you aren’t running roughshod unchecked. Though I shouldn’t have let ALL FIVE of your posts through without first replying to them all myself, I found the one most important and proximate issue within them and pointed that out in my last comment. That’s what I’d like to focus on — that you evidently think that my answering “yes” without hesitation to “are trans women women” is significantly more binary-thinking than your own demanding that we be allowed to say “no” on the grounds that who knows whether that self-identified woman actually qualifies. You’d like to define rigid boundaries for the box “woman”; we’d like them to be permeable so that when a person deems themselves woman they count.

  32. 136

    Well, wait. Here’s another thing that needs answering.

    I can honestly tell that that obviously implies a context which I don’t have, and clearly represents a fragment of thinking-out-loud. Benson made a mistake in sharing it, and more so for not realizing her ruminations were public, but I can no more call her essentially evil for that than I can excoriate myself that way for writing a draft comment which I decided inappropriate and deleted without publishing. (Have you ever done such a rascally thing?)

    Yes, I have said things that are inappropriate and hurtful inadvertently. When pointed out, I have apologized, and tried to do better in the future.

    WHICH WAS THE ENTIRE GODDAMN REASON THIS ESCALATED BEYOND ALL MEASURE.

  33. 137

    Pierce R. Butler @

    I can honestly tell that that obviously implies a context which I don’t have, and clearly represents a fragment of thinking-out-loud.

    All the context is right there, if you’re logged into Facebook.

    Benson made a mistake in sharing it, and more so for not realizing her ruminations were public, but I can no more call her essentially evil for that than I can excoriate myself that way for writing a draft comment which I decided inappropriate and deleted without publishing. (Have you ever done such a rascally thing?)

    No, because I’ve always thought that trans*women are women. What you’re arguing here is that Benson thinks trans*women are not women, but because she’ll never say that publicly she shouldn’t be considered a bigot.

  34. 138

    Pierce R. Butler #131

    …but I can no more call her essentially evil for that…

    Please point to where Hj Horbeck called Ophelia “essentially evil”. Because otherwise this looks like a transparent attempt to strawman him. In fact, it’s looking exactly like the behavior Ophelia exhibited; painting any degree of criticism as a bloodthirsty and unreasonable attack, short-circuiting any reasonable dialogue.

  35. 139

    Well, my #s 129-131 made it through, so I guess I’ll continue my rampage.

    I like to imagine I addressed Seven of Nine…’s points @ # 105 in my # 130.

    oolon @ # 106 presents a different comparison, which depends on relating Tim Hunt’s explicitly and admittedly sexist comments with Benson’s refusal to submit to an ultimatum. I don’t have time to even count the mismatches there, never mind explicate them.

    …*listen* to the people effected by the bigotry…

    Umm, I did. I heard self-identified transpeople taking different sides of the issue. Maybe I misjudged here, but it seemed like I had to do some of my own thinking – don’t you just hate it when that happens?

    … there are more than a few examples of OB being transphobic herself…

    Most of which require both a yanking out of context and a hostile presupposition to reach a verdict with. Some of the later comments here seem to build a better case than I’d seen previously, but by the time I finish wading through these replies I expect to have little energy left for anything but supper and bed. I hope to dig into, e.g., some of what Kris_Is_Hypo passed along @ #s 117 & 118, mañana.

    And I’ve already conceded Seven of Nine… pwned me utterly @ # 107.

  36. 140

    Tom Foss @125:

    It’s a reminder that in the current climate, “are trans women women” isn’t an ontological question, it’s a political one.

    I loved the rest of your comment, but that made me cringe. Most people think that TERFs are uniform in wishing trans* people direct harm. Not so; many are happy to support their causes and improve their lot, yet still persist in mis-gendering and excluding them. Here, for instance, is a TERF blogger that Benson follows:

    37. Transsexual people are a marginalised group who need and deserve support, empathy and compassion. They are human beings trying their best to live and to flourish under the constraints that gender imposes upon them, just as everyone is. They should be provided with whatever support and treatment they need to live happy, healthy, flourishing lives, and be treated with the same respect and kindness as anyone else. They have the same right to privacy as anyone else, and therefore there can be no justification for doxxing trans women or publicising their past identities, or bullying, abusing or harassing them, either in person or on social media. They have a right to physical integrity, safety from violence and protection from harassment, access to medical care, and protection from discrimination in education, employment and housing.

    38. We can support trans people without pretending to believe in something that is quite clearly false, namely the current dogma which insists that that there is no such thing as male and female, that trans women are female and have always been female, that there are no important social and political differences between trans women and biologically female women.

    Even though I didn’t know of that blogger, nor that Benson was a fan, when I read that she was willing to politically support trans* people but the ontological side was left in the air it set off all sorts of alarm bells. That’s very close to the typical TERF stance on trans* people, yet a surprising number of people were treating it as definitive proof that she wasn’t transphobic.

    Others have answered the ontological question well enough in this thread, so I won’t dwell on that.

  37. 141

    Thank you for being a good trans-ally Jason. This post has been linked to in a (supportive!) private forum that I can’t name for fear of their safety being compromised. What you are doing is important. There are TERF groups that regularly doxx transwomen.

    I wasn’t familiar with Ophelia Benson before reading this. Now that you’ve exposed her actiions, I cried all day. She really did real world harm there. I’m not suicidal over her actions, but I’ve had bad nights before where her statements might have been enough.

    Jason, don’t stop doing what you are doing. You are enabling others to survive and thrive. You’re speaking up for others who probably can’t.

  38. 142

    LykeX @138:

    I can go further, as I still stand by a comment I made over here.

    PZ Myers @104:

    How about if instead of insisting that she’s an unrepentant child of Satan, you try to explain what you want to do about it?

    Uh, I don’t think of her as a child of Satan. As a feminist, my default is to think of people as plastic and capable of change. As someone with a scientific bent, my default is to think that if you present the arguments clearly and with sufficient evidence, your view will win the day. As a humanist, I can see the humanity even in people who wish me dead.

    Ophelia Benson may be a bigot (in my view), but she’s not “evil.” That doesn’t exist. When she says she’d never try to harm a trans* person, I believe her.

    So far the choice seems to be to brand her with the mark of the TERF and cast her into the outer darkness, or…oh. There is no other possibility.

    I’ve been very careful to stick on the “describe” side of the fence, rather than the “proscribe.” It’s not my job to suggest how this blog network is run, at best I can present evidence and let the people who run it decide on that. I’m not calling for Benson to be cast out.

    I am asking if you want a transphobe on FtB.

  39. 143

    Pierce, have you seen the end of the “effective silencer” thread? SC, Josh, everyone has finally worked out that Hungerford is a nasty bigot. Ophelia’s response is to say she must have wanted to “provoke” them, and that it “didn’t go well”. Huh, no shit sherlock. SO now we’ve established Hungerford is a TERF and a horrible bigot, which Ophelia was apparently not at all sure about in the OP. (Although pretty much every trans person and their allies already knew, she’s Dean Esmay infamous, sidekick to Brennan rather than Elam)

    How is that possible? Ophelia has been on that gender critical group for 5 months, according to Facebook. She’s posted herself, commented, had conversations, WITH Hungerford and the EXACT SAME bigotry on display that was just ripped apart by Josh, SC etc.

    It’s that inability to see anti-trans sentiment which people have been criticising, and getting dismissed. Ophelia, very very charitably, has a blind spot for transphobia, she apparently doesn’t see it. Her reaction to other people seeing it is to get all defensive and block / ban them. We’ve just had a demonstration right in the midst of all her friends, sans blocking because no one is challenging her on why Hungerford is her friend.

  40. 144

    Ophelia deleted my comment as well from her “It was just a joke” post. It was comment #7 when I posted it. Here is what I wrote:

    That joke was not the only time you recently belittled trans people.

    In a comment to your blog post about trans people objecting to drag-queen performances at a Pride festival you said this:

    “A friend of mine remarked yesterday that ‘This is like objecting to blackface on the grounds that it makes Rachel Dolezal feel uncomfortable.'”

    This joke clearly says that trans people are to gender as Dolezal is to race. It says that trans people are gender fakers. It doesn’t work unless that’s what you are saying. You made trans people — and specifically the legitimacy of their claimed identities — the butt of a joke. Again.

    Nobody complained that you told jokes. They complained that you told jokes that were only funny if you believed that trans people’s identities were worthy of ridicule.

  41. 145

    Pierce R. Butler,

    Your antagonism clouds your perceptions here.

    You far far overestimate your own ability to know the minds and motivations of others. It would truly be amazing if you could actually tell not only the state of our perceptions (apparently cloudy) but also the cause of that state (apparently antagonism). But alas your pronouncements reveal more about you than they do others.

    No, I assumed that the particular individuals who claimed they had a smoking gun had nothing but hot air

    “No, I assumed…”
    “I assumed…”
    “assumed…”

    The cynic in us is tempted to suggest you are a troll or deliberate provocateur but the truth is we couldn’t possibly know that as we don’t have direct access to your thoughts. What we can say definitively is that your behavior presently is indistinguishable from that of a troll and your arrogant and brazen gaslighting is beneath contempt.

    More facts, less indignation, please.

    As soon as you stop the gaslighting others we’ll be happy to stop being indignant. Deal?

    As to “more facts…” The level of projection you are displaying is off the charts (again). Really off the charts. By your own admission you checked “one example” and had neither the “time or inclination” to dig further. You “assumed” others “had nothing but hot air.” You repeatedly insist that you know what drives and motivates others, apparently better than they do themselves. Despite repeatedly being told you are wrong.

    The kind of tactics you are using belong more on a creationist site or a homeopathy site or maybe Scientology, but this doesn’t belong anywhere near a skeptical community and it most certainly doesn’t belong anywhere near social justice. Not the kind of behavior we want to ally ourselves with that’s for sure.

  42. 146

    Bigots aren’t evil, but the results of their bigotry often are.

    Prejudice causes real, genuine, physical harm. “I’ll support you as long as you stay in your place OVER THERE.” is mere toleration, and it is fucking bullshit.

    OB is a bigot. That bigotry kills. She doesn’t have to actively do evil to do harm. She is just validating transmisogynists’ views so THEY can justify doing harm. That’s why feminist decry rape ‘jokes’ and why racist ‘jokes’ aren’t found in public spheres. Demeaning and dehumanizing an already marginalized and extremely vulnerable group to get your laugh on? Fucking bigotry. And defending it? More bigotry.

    Call it what it is.

    Amber Monroe. Barely 20. #12 this year. Because of bigotry. This is what transphobia does.

  43. 147

    Jeez, more new replies: entirely predictable and reasonable, but adding even more to my backlog here.

    Since in this context Jason T outranks all others, Jadehawk et al. will just have to wait some more.

    Jason Thibeault @ # 133: I love how you quote things part-way when the rest of the sentence you quoted from undercuts your answer.

    I try to pick out the parts which encapsulate the whole, to keep this dreary disagreement from even more unnecessary verbosity.

    … you think “white” does not alter “woman” but “trans” de facto does.

    Yup, I think in some cases it certainly does. I base this on the facts that “woman” is, in part, socially defined; that we are all now involved in the process of re-defining “woman”; that it works better to consider “woman” as a point on a spectrum rather than half of a binary pair; that trans_ individuals have a great deal to say about both that point and the spectrum as a whole; that trans_ individuals have only begun to explore that space; and that absolutism rarely helps in such processes and in this context is wildly premature at best.

    No doubt the above leaves out various important aspects, but I submit that my premises have enough validity to work with in good faith.

    … you’re unwilling to let a person self-identify as one based on the path they’ve taken through life.

    No. I call this over-extrapolation at best – and I see a lot of it around lately. My questions about the categories we use in general do not, to me, justify interfering with any individual’s actions or identity. The closest I come to that involves a confusion of pronouns with the one transwoman whom I knew for several years in her male persona before she “came out” (a mistake I have so far never made with those I’ve known only as women): this may well represent the stupidity of habit overriding needed flexibility, and various mental failures that accompany aging, but I truly feel neither hostility nor any urge to control how others cope with a situation I barely comprehend.

    If I’ve omitted any of your major points in the above, pls specify which.

    Jason Thibeault @ # 135: … you evidently think that my answering “yes” without hesitation to “are trans women women” is significantly more binary-thinking than your own demanding that we be allowed to say “no” on the grounds that who knows whether that self-identified woman actually qualifies.

    Again, what’s “evident” to you is conclusion-jumping to me. I have no interest in getting in the way of any transperson’s identification. I do consider that “woman” as a universal category is not carved in granite. Certain people, evidently (omg that word!) including yourself, interpret a reluctance to accept fluid definitions as absolute in all cases as a desire to deny any fluidity to individual persons. Please remove those fiery-red spectacles to see what I’ve actually said – and what I haven’t!

    Jason Thibeault @ # 136: … another thing that needs answering.

    Okay, but I really do have to do some chores before sundown.

    Yes, I have said things that are inappropriate and hurtful inadvertently. When pointed out, I have apologized, and tried to do better in the future.

    WHICH WAS THE ENTIRE GODDAMN REASON THIS ESCALATED BEYOND ALL MEASURE.

    Well, I addressed that to Hj Hornbeck, but will attempt to answer your interjection. Which I don’t quite grasp, but I think you imply that Benson has made no apologies nor attempts at improvement. That does not match the facts, though her obvious pain and (to me, justified) defensiveness does seem to have interfered with the process thus far.

    A teeny little optimistic part of me wonders if you also intend to address that to (ahem) Benson’s critics, whose raging inappropriateness and hurtfulness may have been slightly mitigated somewhere by some de-escalating comment(s) I’ve missed – but I’ve learned that part of me hardly ever gets things right. 🙁

    Or maybe I’ve misunderstood your point completely. If so, kindly spell it out more clearly for a mossbacked boomer, and then resume enumeration of my abundant personal failings so I can address each in proper context.

    More later, Thibeault willing…

  44. 149

    A “reluctance” to “accept fluidity in definitions” as “absolute” means you’re trying to turn fluidity into absolute. You’re taking acceptance of an analog spectrum as a binary. You’re literally reversing the priors — the person who accepts a spectrum does so dogmatically, apparently.

    evidently (omg that word!)

    I won’t miss you.

  45. 150

    Wow. Can you please shut down these vile TERFs trying to set up home on your blog? They are infamous in our circles. We are afraid of some (not the ones here) for our lives.

    I see you’ve zapped a few already.

    It’s no wonder we have that ‘Die Cis Scum’ mentality.

Comments are closed.