You’re Not Helping
There is a pattern emerging in the comment section of posts about “good people behaving badly”. It seems that some people seem obsessed with the idea that people we share some common goals with are beyond reproach.
Richard Dawkins writes off sexual harassment as a worthless First World Problem- people insist that he get a pass. Commenters all over the internet tell us that we can disagree, but politely- and we must- MUST- afford his comments the most charitable possible interpretation. I agree with Dawkins on most subjects- but I find his line of reasoning dismissive and dangerous on this issue. So why am I supposed to give that idea less measured criticism than I give to any other?
We come to respect people because they are uncannily right- so when they get something wrong- do they not equally earn criticism as they have earned esteem?
The faux-pas du jour is now DJ Grothe’s. The President of the James Randi Educational Foundation has handled the issue of harassment at TAM with all the tact of a bull moose courting a chihuahua.
DJ decided to do some classic victim blaming. He suggests that harassment victims “regret” past “sexual exploits”. In other words, he suggested that harassment is not that big of an issue because the people claiming to have experienced it are just feeling guilty for letting their hair down. Some of the bloggers out there have suggested (in no uncertain terms) that DJ is forwarding an offensive and unwelcoming opinion of people who are trying to share their experiences in an effort to make conferences safer and more enjoyable.
Once again, the chorus of those who think that certain people deserve a pass chimes in. Why should victim blaming be considered reasonable by virtue of the person who initiates it? Why should I or anybody else give Grothe’s comments the most charitable interpretation when such an interpretation doesn’t even exist? He doesn’t get a pass. He doesn’t get to act like he never said those things. People have a duty to call him to account until he acknowledges his mistake.
Did people call DJ some bad names? Sure. Has he earned most of them? Yep.
Ideas that don’t respect facts don’t deserve respect. Period.
They deserve to be mocked. They deserve to be attacked. They deserve disdain. Measured comments deserve measured responses. Poisonous comments deserve poisonous responses.
So why am I writing a post about this? Because a friend of mine is dealing with a troll over at his blog who is arguing that DJ deserves to be treated with more respect than his actions deserve. Not only that, said troll is arguing that he himself doesn’t deserve to be called a troll- and doesn’t deserve to be banned- because he is Kind of A Big Deal™.
The only way that sentiment could be any more annoying is if it was written in Comic Sans.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 33 so far )
Many theists are annoyed by the fact they believe in something they cannot logically defend. When discussing religion with an adherent, you can usually break down the argument to where reason ends and faith begins. Unfortunately, from time to time you run across a believer who tries to shift the entire discussion about what I believe or don’t believe. Instead of actually trying to defend what they believe, they waste your time trying to attack a position that was never introduced in the first place. That’s like questioning the reporter. It’s not about me.
Even if you define the term “atheist” in its narrowest sense of asserting the non-existence of a deity, it still has nothing to do with defending the believer’s position. It’s merely a distraction to shift any burden of defending their claim. I wonder if two theists with conflicting ideologies would suffer the same fate. There seems to be more tolerance from adherents towards people with any faith rather than dealing with someone with no faith.
So, it all comes back to my original question of asking “why do you believe what you believe?” Your answer should be about your position, not mine. It’s not about me.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 42 so far )
Edit July 1, 2010: William, the author of You’re Not Helping, has made a proper apology here. I would like to add that I believe this apology to be sincere, and applaud William for his bravery in coming forward and clearing the air. Thank you William.
I don’t get to do much blog watching on weekends and completely missed the climax of a story I had been following since mid-last week.
You’re Not Helping imploded before our very eyes this past weekend; effectively verifying accusations made by a couple of bloggers, most notably oedipusmaximus of The Buddha Is Not Serious.
After reading oedipus’ post and the comments last week, I was convinced something was gravely wrong with YNH (beyond just contradicting themselves on a post by post basis). Facts came to light that eventually prompted “William”, the “brains” behind YNH to admit to creating a circle-jerk of sock puppets to congratulate one another on their brilliance and gang up on dissenters. He does not, however, admit to being a religious Poe masquerading as an atheist to shame New Atheists; an allegation I leveled at YNH over on Camels With Hammers and still believe to be the case.
So “William”, it turns out, was several regular commenters on his own blog. I assume he used this system to bolster his argument by creating false consensus, maybe hoping that a gang mentality would eventually take hold so that his sock puppets could be eventually phased out.
This post, though, is about none of those things. Oedipus and Greg Laden and others have done a fantastic job of documenting the rise and spectacular fall of YNH.
This is about the last post on YNH, the one that should have been an apology to people who were attacked and villified by one person masquerading as many. It should have been an apology; what we got instead was an admission and finger pointing. It wasn’t even a good admission. Admissions should involve some degree of humility, some indication that the author bears responsibility for both the actions and the consequences.
So to Will, what I want to talk about is that last post; the missed opportunity to make a bad situation better and possibly save what could have been a welcome voice in the blogosphere: (more…)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 8 so far )