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Why is the Secular Coalition for America giving Justin Vacula — online bully, A Voice for Men contributor — a leadership position? [UPDATE: He's resigned.]

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UPDATE: Vacula has resigned.

As most of you are no doubt aware, the atheist and skeptic movements have had just a teensy bit of a problem with misogyny in their ranks. You may recall the unholy shitstorm that erupted last year when Rebecca Watson of Skepchick casually mentioned in a YouTube video that it might not be such a good idea for dudes to try to hit on women in elevators at 4 AM. The assholes of the internet still haven’t forgiven Watson for her assault on the sacred right of creepy dudes to creep women out 24 hours a day, every day.

Watson is hardly the only skeptic to face vicious misogynist harassment for the crime of blogging while feminist. Last month, Jen McCreight of Blag Hag announced that near constant harassment from online bullies was wearing her down to such a degree that she felt it necessary to shut down her blog – hopefully only temporarily.

I can no longer write anything without my words getting twisted, misrepresented, and quotemined. I wake up every morning to abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt (just to name a few). If I block people who are twisting my words or sending verbal abuse, I receive an even larger wave of nonsensical hate about how I’m a slut, prude, feminazi, retard, bitch, cunt who hates freedom of speech (because the Constitution forces me to listen to people on Twitter). This morning I had to delete dozens of comments of people imitating my identity making graphic, lewd, degrading sexual comments about my personal life. In the past, multiple people have threatened to contact my employer with “evidence” that I’m a bad scientist (because I’m a feminist) to try to destroy my job. I’m constantly worried that the abuse will soon spread to my loved ones.

I just can’t take it anymore.

McCreight’s harassers and their enablers were delighted in this “victory,” taking to Twitter to give McCreight some final kicks on the way out the door. “Good riddance, #jennifurret , you simple minded dolt,” wrote @skepticaljoe. “I couldn’t be happier,” added @SUICIDEBOMBS. “Eat shit you rape-faking scum.”

One of the celebrators that day was an atheist activist named Justin Vacula, who joked that “Jen’s allegedly finished blogging…and this time it’s not her boyfriend who kicked her off the internet.”

So here’s the latest twist:

Justin Vacula has just been given a leadership position in the Pennsylvania chapter of the Secular Coalition for America, a lobbying group for secular Americans whose advisory board includes such big names as Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Susan Jacoby, Wendy Kaminer, Steven Pinker, Salman Rushdie and Julia Sweeney.

It’s an astonishing choice. In addition to gloating that bullies had led McCreight to shut down her blog, Vacula has harassed atheist blogger and activist Surly Amy, including writing a post on A Voice for Men (yes, that A Voice for Men) cataloging all the sordid details of his supposed case against her. At one point he even posted her address, and a photo of her apartment building, on a site devoted to hating on feminist atheist bloggers.

Blogger Stephanie Zvan has set up a petition on Change.org urging the Secular Coalition of America to reconsider its choice. You can find further examples of Vacula’s questionable behavior there.

As Watson notes in a post on Skepchick, Vacula’s position with the SCA is likely to “drive progressive women away from the secular cause.” She adds,

I will never, ever get involved with SCA so long as someone like him holds a position of power anywhere, let alone in a state I live in. So Vacula is actively driving people away from SCA. …

It’s all a real shame, because SCA fills an important role in our movement and I’d like to give them my support. … I don’t believe secular organizations should reward bullies and bigots with high-level positions, even if those positions are volunteer-only.

I recommend that everyone here take a look at the petition.

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Posted on October 2, 2012, in a voice for men, actual activism, antifeminism, bullying, gloating, harassment, hate, misogyny, MRA, rapey, threats and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 553 Comments.

  1. CassandraSays, your cat is my favorite cat. Good job.

  2. Go look up the god damn guilt by association fallacy. It does not mean what you think it means.

    Guilt by association is “Hilter was a vegetarian, Hitler was bad, therefore vegetarians are bad.” Or, “David Duke endorses Candidate X. David Duke is a racist fuckwad Therefore candidate X is a racist fuckwad”.

    This situation is “Candidate X shares dinner with David Duke.* David Duke is a racist fuckwad; moreover there is no other purpose to David Duke besides racist fuckwaddery. Therefore Candidate X is cozy with racist fuckwads.” That’s not guilt by association fallacy, it’s just guilt by association.

    *Situation intentionally hyperbolic for the benefit of dim bulbs.

    -facepalm-

    “Guilt by association can sometimes also be a type of ad hominem fallacy, if the argument attacks a person because of the similarity between the views of someone making an argument and other proponents of the argument.

    This form of the argument is as follows:

    Source S makes claim C.
    Group G, which is currently viewed negatively by the recipient, also makes claim C.
    Therefore, source S is viewed by the recipient of the claim as associated to the group G and inherits how negatively viewed it is.

    An example of this fallacy would be ‘My opponent for office just received an endorsement from the Puppy Haters Association. Is that the sort of person you would want to vote for?'”

  3. PG: But that’s… not our claim. Our claim would be equivalent to “my opponent for office used to volunteer for the Puppy Haters Association. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe he hates puppies.”

  4. “My opponent published an editorial in the Puppy Haters’ Association about how Pro-Puppyists are censorious liars, deliberately misrepresenting the claims of a Pro-Puppyist, whom he also harassed. In conclusion, could someone remind me why this person is a candidate again?”

  5. If “everyone at my office is putting up Christmas stuff and they think I’m a spoilsport for not joining in” is your idea of persecution then you’ve led an unusually easy life.

    Pardon me, this is the equivalent of the “Dear Muslima” argument, no? Unusually easy life? I mean, I don’t have all the cards on the table, and I can’t know for sure if any atheist in the US have indeed been, as you say, persecuted or not, but if you wish to marginalise their plight of feeling persecuted to leading an “unusually easy life”, go ahead. I’m only being slightly sarcastic.

    The kindest possible interpretation of that comment is that the person who wrote it is a Poe attempting to parody what happens when not very bright people think that because they’re atheists they’re super intelligent and masters of debate. The less kind but more realistic interpretation is that the person who wrote that sentence is a barely literate imbecile.

    The issue was how people keep referring it to as a threat, when no such indication has been made by neither Justin Vacula nor the Slymepit and therefore the assertion should be dismissed as it lacks evidence to support it. The other issue being that if you keep referring it to as such without evidence, it could be interpreted as projection rather than fact. I don’t see what my being an atheist have to do with making such conclusions. Well, other than the fact I might be a barely literate imbecile. (Amazing how quickly one side resorts to name-calling, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you agree, Unimaginative?)

  6. It was wrong to call PG “barely literate.” PG is clearly adept at reading the fine print tattooed on the inside of PG’s colon.

  7. badandfierce: I know the story of which you speak, and the ending isn’t quite as happy as all that; there were some problematic interactions with him (on the part of people I know, and indirectly with myself) at another convention in the past month.

  8. Of course they’re not going to *admit* it’s a threat, admitting it’s a threat will make them look bad. However, I believe there’s a common Internet norm that posting the name and address of someone on your blog will make them fear for their safety (regardless of how rational that fear is).

  9. Pardon me, this is the equivalent of the “Dear Muslima” argument, no?

    No, dear PG, the equivalent of the “Dear Muslima” argument would have to include the corollary that since the average atheist doesn’t experience a whole lot of of nasty discrimination, he or she ought to shut up and concentrate on fixing the very horrible problems faced by atheists in, say, Pakistan or Indonesia, to name two countries that have engaged in actual persecution of atheists recently.

    The paragraph you were quoting from is simply explaining why the author is not convinced that atheists in the USA face significant persecution.

    If you disagree, please, go ahead and argue your case, but trying to set it up as a “Dear Muslima” argument? That gambit’s been played out for months. You anti-feminist atheists need to get better programmers.

    Now, to this whole guilt by association thing: NO. You are wrong, PG. The fact that Vacula chose to post on AVfM shows one of two things: 1. He approves of the misogyny that the site promotes as part of its mission or 2. He hates Surly Amy, Skepchick, and other feminist atheists so much that he is willing to overlook said misogyny. Either option does not speak well of his character. Either option lends support to the idea that Vacula subscribes to some misogynist ideas himself.

    But then, let us not forget that we are talking to PG, the person who attempted to lecture Crommunist and other people of color about the really real dictionary definition of the n-word and why they ought not take offense at it. And, of course, why nothing short of proclaiming via megaphone on national TV one’s universal and abiding hatred for all women should be considered “misogyny.”

  10. Hey, NWOdroppings!

    He thinks that Rebecca is a bitch and Manboobz is a hate site.

    …Dude, are you even TRYING anymore?

  11. captainbathrobe

    @PG,

    Well, other than the fact I might be a barely literate imbecile. (Amazing how quickly one side resorts to name-calling, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you agree, Unimaginative?)

    PG, I believe you were the one calling people ignorant fools without reading comprehension just a little ways back in the thread, before Unimaginative even shows up. That was, of course, before you ended up being proven embarrassingly wrong about whether the article was co-opted. So, yes, I’d agree that it is amazing how quickly one side resorts to name-calling here. That side also apparently lacks a sense of shame.

  12. PG: I stand corrected. The added commentary seems to be written for AVfM specifically. My mistake. In any case, again, it doesn’t matter.

    It does matter.

    1: You asserted that we were lying; without the merest acts of due diligence.

    2a AVfM is a cesspit, and adding that much material means either he doesn’t care who gives him a pulpit (the most charitable interpretation)

    2b or that he is willing to ignore the evil intent of the owners of that site

    2c or that he actively agrees with them in enough aspects that the points of disagreement aren’t relevant.

    3: His participation on AVfM, when put into the context of his other actions strongly implies the correct answer is 2c.

    And you don’t care.

    Let me get this straight. None of you are judging Justin on guilt by assocation with Paul Elam who supports legalising rape*, yet you are saying he has no qualms with contributing to a website run by Paul Elam. Which means what? If the principles of guilt by association does not apply here (which it shouldn’t), what are you implying?

    We aren’t implying anything. We are saying he’s a douchenozzle, or an idiot, or both.

    I happen to believe 2c. It’s not guilt by association. It’s not that Elam praised him, or happened to belong to a club he also belongs to. It’s that he chose to actively participate in AVfM’s activities.

    If I spoke at a Klan rally, as a sponsored guest; when the Klan was notable for not allowing dissenting voices to take part, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say I was, at the very least, a fellow traveller.

  13. Nope, not like the “Dear Muslima” debacle at all. If you’re going to make comparisons you could at least try to make them vaguely applicable.

    The thing about the issue of whether or not people are being persecuted is that to a large extent it can be assessed by looking at what actually happens to those people. Given that the only atheists who think they’re being persecuted as atheists tend to be straight white guys, all evidence points to the conclusion that atheists are not in fact persecuted for being atheists. If they were then the atheists who are not straight white men would notice it too, and for the most part they do not. This is because they have what is known as “perspective”, which you clearly lack.

    I don’t see what my being an atheist have to do with making such conclusions. Well, other than the fact I might be a barely literate imbecile. (Amazing how quickly one side resorts to name-calling, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you agree, Unimaginative?)

    I love that you wrote the second sentence directly after the first one. Hint – in the first sentence the word you are looking for is “has”, not “have”.

  14. PG: The issue was how people keep referring it to as a threat, when no such indication has been made by neither Justin Vacula nor the Slymepit and therefore the assertion should be dismissed as it lacks evidence to support it.

    That’s fucking stupid. Are you seriously saying only threats which are admitted are real threats? If I walk into a room with a sword in my hand; that’s a threat.

    Even if I don’t actually attack anyone.

    If I say, “I know where you live” to someone I am having a significant disagreement with, a reasonable person can see that as a threat.

    And that’s less than what Vacula did. He said, “I know where she lives, it’s right here,” at which point an unknown number of people, many of whom seemed to have ill-will to her suddenly knew where she lived. They didn’t have to do the research; it was handed to them.

    A reasonable person can consider that a threat; even if no, “threatening” words are used.

    So yes, it was a threat.

  15. There’s not just the fact of Vacula posting Surly Amy’s address, phone number, AND A PICTURE OF HER APARTMENT, there’s also where he did it.

    If you’re not familiar with the travails of Pharyngula, ElevatorGate, and FreeThoughtBlogs, then you won’t recognize the name “The Slimepit.”

    The Slimepit, now the “Slymepit,” was once a long-running comment thread and is now a website devoted entirely to hating Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers, Skepchick, FTB, and anyone sympathetic to or associated with them.

    Why the fuck would you post the address and contact info AND A PICTURE OF THE APARTMENT of a woman who writes for Skepchick on a blog that is entirely devoted to hating Skepchick, unless you wanted to increase the harassment that woman had to deal with?

    Either Vacula is dumb or he’s malicious.

    The kind of rhetoric you’ll commonly find on FTB and Skepchick: exhibit one.

    Is the Slymepit devoted to hating Skepchick? No. Does it say it is? No. Why say it is?

    Do the members of the Slymepit have a history of stalking, looking up people in real life they dislike and harming them? No. Do they have a history of sending death and rape threats? No. Why say they do? Are the concerns of Amy Davis Roth and Sally Strange about the denizens of the Slymepit unwarranted? In all likelihood, yes. It’s sad that you wish to slander and demonise them in this fashion, Sally, that you would actually imply, with malice, that the denizens of the Slymepit would possibly track people down they dislike and harm them. More than pitiful if you ask me. However, I suppose when FTB does the same thing, it’s for a good cause? Greg Laden tracked down bluharmony’s (Maria Maltseva’s) home address and posted it on his blog. Not her public information business address, but her home address. Of course, when he later realised it was, he removed it, but did not apologise. Not even a notpology on that one.

    Further once more to reiterate: Surly Amy’s address that was posted was her business and not her home address, which was publicly available for years before Justin Vacula posted it and which she had previously advertised herself through her own site. Then when it was confined within the Slymepit, Amy Davis Roth made it public knowledge by posting about it on Twitter – thereby making her address known to not just the Slymepit, but everyone else privy to her Twitter feed. So much for that exposure. Still, he, like Laden, removed it but, unlike Laden, apologised, yet he should continue to be lambasted while Laden is given a pass? Because he’s one of the “good guys”? Yeah, try to square that one in your circlejerk, Sally.

  16. I’m noticing that a lot of these Logic R Us misogynist “skeptics” tend to accuse people of fallacies, when it’s really just the thing.

    Like, saying you’re ugly and therefore you’re wrong is an ad hominem attack and a logical fallacy. But saying you’re ugly, and you’re wrong is a little insulting, but it’s not a logical fallacy.

    What I’m saying is, they use a lot of words in ways that suggest they don’t really understand what those words mean. And then they get all arrogant and superior and imply that they’re smarter than the people they’re trying to put down.

    These mostly strike me as the very young, people who were frustrated by name-calling and stuff as kids and find the existence of rules governing discussion to be a novelty. They tend to be disappointed when said rules don’t turn out to be a “stop people from saying anything I don’t like” button.

  17. The Slymepit sounds like something that people are dropped into for comic effect on a children’s television show.

  18. Cassandra: I’ve experienced some harassment for being an atheist, and I’m a bisexual white nonbinary. I think a lot of whether someone experiences harassment for being an atheist depends on their circumstances. I, for instance, was at a religious school and in my Noisy Dawkins-Reading Angry Atheist stage; growing up in an extremely religious family and community could lead to getting more harassment. But yeah, it was nowhere near the amount of hate the out queers at the school got.

    I’ve always identified more as a skeptic than an atheist (at least since I stopped being an angry atheist). There’s just so many more interesting things to say if you’re pro-empiricism and pro-science than if you’re anti-God (particularly since most of the arguments for #2 fall under #1).

  19. If I say, “I know where you live” to someone I am having a significant disagreement with, a reasonable person can see that as a threat.

    Especially if you then threaten to scoop their eyes out with a melon baller.

  20. You know, I don’t get the anti-God thing. I mean, I don’t think that God exists – how can you be anti something that you don’t believe in the existence of?

  21. Hey, PG? You, my friend, are a shitstain. You sound like those butthurt fundy Christians complaining about not being allowed to deny birth control to their employees or losing business to people who don’t want to fund their bullshit. And you know what? I make a point of eating assholes like you alive. The only frustrating thing about it is that you fuckwads actually think you’re winning the argument.

  22. I think that atheism is generally not overtly persecuted against in the US because it’s one of those things that you can generally hide pretty easily unless you are Big and Loud about it.

    I mean, you should see some of the shit that people say (and threaten to do) about Richard Dawkins, and he’s generally pretty level-headed and refrains from outright name-calling in his discussions on atheist thought.

    It’s like how I’m pansexual but since I’m married to a man and I have a child, people see me and assume “oh, heterosexual, probably some sort of Christian/monotheist, family values lady.”

    I receive “privilege” for things that I am not, because other people assume my privilege based on how I present myself. I like celebrating Christmas, and I don’t go on about how the whole baby Jesus thing could not have possibly happened IRL. I like hearing Christmas carols, even the religious ones, and I enjoy the holiday spirit in general….despite not believing that any of the stuff is true. I think that it’s perfectly possible to enjoy ritual and tradition without having to believe in it FORTRUTHS. It’s like how I enjoy greek mythos, and enjoy reading stories about Zeus and Athene and stuff but I’m not going to go burn some fat on some bones at the local temple for the gods.

    This may make me a “cop out” to some atheists but I say that being atheist isn’t being any one way- it’s simply not believing in god existing- a lack of religious belief so to speak. There’s nothing wrong with a lack of religious belief, it’s just problematic when in defining oneself as having a lack of belief, that one must actively attack and hate on all other religious thoughts to validate that lack of belief.

    Seriously. I’m not threatened by the Christian God if the Christian God does not exist. And as far as I have experienced, when I say I am not a religious sort of person, even most religious people accept and respect that fact. But if you come out as a vocal atheist in the whole “I don’t want to even have to experience your belief in any way, shape or form” sort of way, you WILL ruffle feathers and suffer a reduction in your privilege levels.

  23. CassandraSays: Think about it this way. Some people do not believe in God. Some people do not believe in God, and want people to know why. And then you have people who don’t believe in God and want to smite God to bloody gobbets in public. Those last people are our equivalent of manic fundies and Jacobins, and a lot of them have women issues besides. (I’ve seen a couple of that type that aren’t absolutely batshit, but once you get into that territory they’re the exception, not the rule, and I still think they’re overplaying their hand.)

  24. Cassandra: I was using anti-God as shorthand for anti-people-believing-in-God-because-you-think-it’s-not-true-but-not-necessarily-being-a-douchebag-about-it. :P

  25. Shorter PG:

    “The Slymepit never SAID they are all about hating Skepchick, therefore you can’t claim that’s what they are about, despite the fact that all they ever do is obsessively monitor FTB and Skephick and hate on everyone who posts there.”

    Sure, dude. Is this kind of like how it’s not misogyny unless you publicly proclaim your unfailing hatred for every single last woman, everywhere, throughout all time?

  26. I’m anti-belief-in-God. I’m an atheist and an anti-theist. I think god-belief relies on some of our most common cognitive errors to survive, notably “faith,” i.e., the believing in something for which there is no evidence. Faith is not a virtue, it’s a fucking cognitive error. The world will be better off when people stop thinking there’s any sort of difficulty involved in “having faith.” If there is, it’s a sign that the proposition you’re trying to muster belief in is really, REALLY obviously false.

  27. As far as I’m concerned, Vacula demonstrated he was a pretty shitty person simply by, you know, GLOATING THAT A WOMAN HE DISLIKED WAS DRIVEN FROM THE INTERNET by

    abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt (just to name a few). If I block people who are twisting my words or sending verbal abuse, I receive an even larger wave of nonsensical hate about how I’m a slut, prude, feminazi, retard, bitch, cunt who hates freedom of speech (because the Constitution forces me to listen to people on Twitter). This morning I had to delete dozens of comments of people imitating my identity making graphic, lewd, degrading sexual comments about my personal life. In the past, multiple people have threatened to contact my employer with “evidence” that I’m a bad scientist (because I’m a feminist) to try to destroy my job. I’m constantly worried that the abuse will soon spread to my loved ones.

    So, you know, there’s that. Add to that the Surly Amy crap, and you know, that’s not really the sort of guy that I think is a good representative for secular people like me.

  28. Oh yeah, and also this:

    Are the concerns of Amy Davis Roth and Sally Strange about the denizens of the Slymepit unwarranted? In all likelihood, yes.

    When was the last time someone threatened to track you down and rape you, asshole? And when was the last time someone fabricated a campaign claiming that you invented this rape threat for some bizarre reason?

    Once that happens then you can get back to me as to whether my concerns about the Slimepit are “unwarranted.”

    Seriously, fuck you.

    This is exactly the same sort of bullshit Justin Vacula pulled with Ophelia Benson–telling her that the threats she perceived weren’t really threats, therefore she’s just being stupid or paranoid, or just trying to ruin things for TAM and DJ Grothe.

    Not the behavior of a “leader” of anyone but a gang of bullies.

  29. Anyone who considers themselves a part of a movement that is oppressed and stigmatized by society for being non-mainstream and then condones abuse and attacks of people due to gender/race/sexuality/etc to silence them is doing exactly what they themselves are fighting to keep themselves from experiencing on their own front.

    To me, this is hypocritical and shitty because it’s basically saying, “well *I* don’t want to be oppressed and silenced and treated like shit, but because YOUR situation has nothing to do with mine, I’m totally OK with treating YOU in that manner because I feel that I am superior.”

    Bottom line, it’s the whole “I want to have privilege and respect but fuck you for wanting the same” line of thinking that I find utterly repulsive.

  30. Sally Strange is a good demonstration of the “I’m an atheist because I’m INTELLECTUALLY SUPERIOR” line of thought that is so closely associated with “the West is culturally superior,” etc (witness Ruby, for instance).

  31. My position is that theists and I disagree on a matter of fact. While many theists are lovely people who are far smarter than I am, I happen to think they’re wrong on that particular point. Which is cool. I’m wrong about things too.

    I’m also not super-invested in convincing people not to believe in God as long as they aren’t douchebags. I figure we should work on convincing people not to believe in wrong things that actually hurt people first.

  32. Also maybe I should clarify. By persecution I mean that a group is actively being discriminated against in a broad, institutionalized way. Racism impacts the ability of POC to get certain jobs, find housing, etc., homophobia leads to gay people not being allowed to get married, sexism leads to women making less money than men and having less chances for promotion, and so on. Having some of the people around you not like you and therefore be unkind to you on the basis of your being vocally atheist is not discrimination in any meaningful sense, I don’t think, since it’s not backed by any real concrete and institutionalized discrimination against atheists. Like I’ve sometimes run into people who’ve given me shit about being an atheist in the sense of wanting to argue about it, but I don’t think that’s discrimination in any sort of society-wide sense, it’s just those particular people having a prejudice and being jerks about it.

  33. My position is that theists and I disagree on a matter of fact. While many theists are lovely people who are far smarter than I am, I happen to think they’re wrong on that particular point. Which is cool. I’m wrong about things too.

    And that’s why you’re cool.

  34. Cassandra: How about the Boy Scouts? I’d say that counts as institutionalized discrimination against atheists.

  35. GRA - Gen's Rights Activist. Gynocracy works too.

    Hey PG,. the links you dropped in your comment don’t say what you want them to say. Wait, my shock, let me show you it. Further, just posting macros are not actually arguments. Just FYI.

    Oh, and I suppose that’s what the FTB crowd has done, is it? 1.) Oh 2.) wait. That’s 3.)not 4.)actually 5.)true 6.)at 7.)all, is it?

    (Added numbers for ease of debunkation).

    1.) What Greg Laden did was horrible and bullying and he was rightly removed from FtB for it. NO argument, no defense. He did a shitty thing. He was being a bully.

    What does that have to do with anything, though? Greg Laden has in no way been part of the “Hey guys, we don’t like that you call us cunts so we’ll just go over here and talk with people who don’t call us cunts” formation of A+ (which is what we’ve been talking about), so what’s your point with this?

    Also, if we look at the point you’re quoting, the very fact that Greg Laden was booted off of FtB for his bullying is in fact a point AGAINST your position. FtB did the right thing: when one of “their own” engaged in bullying behaviour they not only called him out on it, they removed him.

    2.) Linking to the atheist blogosphere version of the Conservopedia page called “Secular Shunning”? What’s that supposed to prove? Yes, there have been bloggers at FtB who’ve been critical of people. Critical of WOMEN, even. That does not equal bullying.

    Perhaps, mister Dictionary Doofus, you’d like to revisit the definition of bullying?

    3.) Links to an article by Stefanie Zvan, the blogger who started the petition, showing screenshots of the abusive tweets she has received because of said petition. How is this supposed to support your Ftb ARE BULLIES point?

    4.) Linking to an article by Jason ‘Lousy Canuck’ arguing that using the term “witch hunt” is ridiculous in this context. How is this supposed to support your “FtB ARE THE REAL BULLIES” argument?

    5.) Linking to a post by Skeptifem who used the word “Gender Traitor”… this is an actual guilt by association fallacy, in action! Skeptifem is not associated with FtB or Skepchick in any capacity other than a sometime commentor. Many of those who comment more regularly at FtB have publically and loudly explained that they are, in fact, uncomfortable with said term, yet you still wish to cite Skeptifem’s use of said term as being an indictment on Freethought Blogs?

    I’ll be over here, chuckling at the irony.

    6.) Linking to Justin Vacula’s “Response to Surly Amy and Lousy Canuck” – as support for your saying that ““Hey, I don’t like the vibe here. I’m going off to do this other, similar thing but with a groovier vibe”, that’s not bullying.” is not what the FTB crowd has done… what? Are you just throwing out random links now?

    7.) Linking to Greg Laden’s piece suggesting that DJ Grothe should possibly consider resigning his post at the JREF – again, what? Laden did the same in that post as what David, Ophelia, Stephanie, Rebecca and others have done in this kerfuffle – listed the ways in which DJ Grothe was not just wrong but harmful to the organization he represents and the people who support said organization… AND HE DIDN’T EVEN CREATE A PETITION or take it further in any way.

    So yeah, I seriously don’t get it. DId you think that drowning people under links and argumentless macros would somehow make some kind of point to your argument?

    Because it really didn’t. Try harder.

  36. I have also been asked about my religious beliefs by people before, and have been denied housing for that very reason, even though I was honest about my respect for other beliefs even if I do not share them. The thing is, when people ASSUME that I am of the same religious background as they are, I tend not to correct them. However, if it were to “come out” that I am non-religious to the point of atheism, there are a large number of prejudices surrounding that, and it is quite possible that there would be another institutionalized bar in my way from receiving promotions or being treated as an equal to someone who *IS* of mainstream religious belief.

  37. Just like it can be hard to “prove” that you were passed by for a job or promotion because of your sex or gender, it can also be hard to “prove” that you were discriminated against because of your atheism unless they’re REALLY overt about it (and most companies and individuals are tactful enough and fearful of being sued to make sure that they leave the underlying reason as vague as possible, even if you KNOW in your heart of hearts that they passed you by for some bullshit discriminatory reason).

  38. How are the Boy Scouts on non-Christian religions? If they have a hate-on for anyone who’s not a Christian then that’s not really discrimination against atheists. If it’s only atheists who they have an issue with, that’s a different issue.

    I’m not quite sure what to describe the “anyone who doesn’t follow my really specific religious doctrine is evil” way of thinking as. I guess you could call it discrimination, but I kind of feel like it needs its own specific description, and that psychologically it works in a different way to most things that we think of as discrimination. Though maybe not in the case of racism, which does often work in an either you’re just like me or you’re evil and inferior way.

  39. Cassandra: The Boy Scouts are cool with non-Christians (including Wiccans, “spiritual but not religious,” etc.); only atheists and agnostics are banned.

    I think Christian privilege is a thing, and the lack of Christian privilege affects different groups differently (although it certainly affects, say, Muslims more than atheists).

  40. Wikipedia indicates that the Boy Scouts specifically exclude atheists and agnostics. Practicing members of basically any religion are welcome (at least in theory, though I wouldn’t be surprised if non-Christians faced greater scrutiny).

  41. By the way, David, Surly Amy’s “address” being posted? Was to her business.

    Amy works out of her home, therefore her business address IS her home address. Just because to legally be a business her address needs to be on record doesn’t mean posting it and pictures of her home wasn’t meant to be intimidating and threatening.

  42. PG, I don’t like to shout, lie!lie! As there is always the possibility that someone is mistaken. But repeating this one about bluharmony when it is well known she was mistaken (lied?) about the address is daft.
    “Greg Laden tracked down bluharmony’s (Maria Maltseva’s) home address and posted it on his blog. Not her public information business address, but her home address. Of course, when he later realised it was, he removed it, but did not apologise. Not even a notpology on that one.”

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/08/22/maria-maltsevas-big-laden-lie/#comment-112241

    Greg did not track it down – someone else posted it. He did take it down when he saw it. Maria apologised for the misunderstanding… Not Greg!

  43. GRA - Gen's Rights Activist. Gynocracy works too.

    Further, just because her address is easy to find online doesn’t make it alright to go and find it and then post it, together with a picture of said address, on a forum that’s infamous for harassment and other kinds of unethical behaviour. How anyone can honestly argue that this is not threatening behaviour meant to shut Amy up is beyond me.

    Oh wait. “Honestly”. My bad.

  44. This is exactly the same sort of bullshit Justin Vacula pulled with Ophelia Benson–telling her that the threats she perceived weren’t really threats, therefore she’s just being stupid or paranoid, or just trying to ruin things for TAM and DJ Grothe.

    Oh shit, that was Vacula, too?
    I didn’t even retain his name,
    and yet I knew—
    I knew he was a douchecanoe.

  45. @oolon, is that the same episode that is supposed to be Greg Laden’s alleged threats of violence against someone that gets brought up so often?

  46. Huh, that is weird about the Boy Scouts. I’m British so I’m still occasionally surprised by how non-secular the US is.

  47. GRA - Gen's Rights Activist. Gynocracy works too.

    Tugley, Greg’s threats of violence are actual threats and he got booted from FtB for them. You can see it here:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/rockbeyondbelief/2012/07/04/greg-ladens-sometimes-the-bad-guys-win/

  48. Is the Slymepit devoted to hating Skepchick?

    I’d never heard of the Slyme Pit before, but I just went over there, and you’re right. It’s not devoted to hating Skepchick. It’s devoted to hating Skepchick and Freethought Blogs.

    It seems to consist mostly of guys gossiping and complaining about the same small group of atheist bloggers, almost all of whom–I’m sure this is a coincidence–are women. Well, and PZ Myers, of course.

    And, oh my gosh, there’s a pro-MRA thread! Ha!

    Yeah, this all pretty much sums up why I’m not part of the online atheist “movement.”

  49. Huh. I was in the Cub Scouts despite my completely secular upbringing; the topic never came up, as far as I remember, but that was a looooong time ago and I was, you know, 8 years old or whatever Cub Scouts are. But it’s ridiculous that the Boy Scouts have some sort of official position against atheists/agnostics.

    This sort of thing is why it would be great to have some sort of secular lobbying group working on these issues. Provided, you know, that it didn’t align itself with the worst people in the atheist movement.

  50. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

    Sally Strange is a good demonstration of the “I’m an atheist because I’m INTELLECTUALLY SUPERIOR” line of thought that is so closely associated with “the West is culturally superior,” etc (witness Ruby, for instance).

    That’s exactly what I got from it – and the whole ‘faith is a cognitive failure and bad and nothing good ever comes from it’ bollocks just made me think “hello, here’s another person who thinks they know better than I do what my experiences and interpretations of them and inner life are, better than I do.”

    Fuck that!

  51. I think there is discrimination against atheists, it just isn’t as apparent as other discrimination because even a lot of out atheists pass in most situations, even places where, for example, GLBT people would out themselves. But look what happened to Jessica Alquist when she tried to get her school to take down an unconstitutional banner–the banner is bad enough (I’d call it a case of Christian privilege rather than direct discrimination) but the community reaction was… scary. My sister and I have both received negative comments about our atheism when people find out, and I often keep my mouth shut about it in places where religious people, especially Christians, wouldn’t.

    And polls say that atheists are less trusted even than Muslims (not that anti-muslim bigotry is okay), the boyscouts officially won’t let us in (enforcement at the local level is likely spotty), and good luck getting elected to office in the US as an atheist. Also, I don’t think we can deny that Christian* privilege is everywhere, like on money and the pledge of allegiance as well as how people use “Christian” as shorthand for “a good person” even when they obviously have nothing to do with each other, and that has the same kinds of psychological effects that constant reminders of white, straight, or male privilege has.

    TLDR: No oppression is equal, but anti-atheist oppression can certainly lead to violence, depending on where you live and how loudly you talk. It also has really strong manifestations of privilege and microagressions.

    *A lot of it at least sounds not specifically Christian, but the vehement defenders of God in government generally all have a specific God in mind.

  52. @CassandraSays

    You know, I don’t get the anti-God thing. I mean, I don’t think that God exists – how can you be anti something that you don’t believe in the existence of?

    There’s a difference between being anti-God and anti-Religion. Though, I’m not surprised that you don’t get it.

  53. You’re not really in a position to be trying to talk down to anyone, sweetie.

  54. timetravellingfool

    What Thomas could have said: Well, actually, I distinguish between anti-god and anti-religion. Though I don’t believe in god, what really irks me is how organized religion deters free thinking and spurs violent action and I think it’s worth my time to advocate against that. What Thomas did say: I am an adolescent with an incredibly tenuous grasp on my ideology so I just say nasty sarcastic things to strangers on the internet rather than engage them in constructive dialogue.

  55. Dawkins is actually largely alright as a pop-science writer if you pretend he slipped into retirement in the late ’90s.

    @CassandraSays

    There’s probably an argument for anti-atheist discrimination in the US. Aren’t you Californian? The states are a big place.

    @Everyone again

    Internet atheists and my largely non-shitty but caught up on Logic and Reason (philosophy BA, got big into logical positivism) Dad actually made Dawkins-spouting proto-neckbeard teen me find religion, so there’s something.

    Two years ago I would’ve argued that no-one ever found religion, though :\

  56. The more defensive, angry little atheist boys who post here, the more the existence of Atheism+ starts to make sense. Seriously, guys, how do you expect to have any impact on mainstream culture when even other atheists dislike being around you so much that they decided to split off and form a sub-movement just to get away from you?

  57. @David Futrelle 

    So you are paddling back now? Maybe he’s not a stalker and harasser, but you don’t like him therefore you are entitled to make unfounded accusations?

  58. I am an adolescent with an incredibly tenuous grasp on my ideology so I just say nasty sarcastic things to strangers on the internet rather than engage them in constructive dialogue.

    Wait, there’s something wrong with that now? That’s been my entire schtick here and I feel made pretty welcome.

  59. @ lowquacks

    Yeah, I think I may have failed to take into account just how unlike the rest of the US the Bay Area is in a lot of ways. Here, people who act shocked and appalled by the fact that atheists exist are a minority and generally mocked. It’s one of the reasons we’re willing to tolerate the ridiculous cost of living.

  60. @Thomas

    Posting personal details of someone and identifying them as being one of those awful feminists at AVfM of all places is pretty harassing.

  61. @Thomas

    I’ll just leave this here since you appear to have missed it while having your little ragewank:

    Add to that the Surly Amy crap, and you know, that’s not really the sort of guy that I think is a good representative for secular people like me.

    Adding things to your position is not back-pedalling, Captain Logic.

  62. @CassandraSays

    I don’t think you know anything about my position. Usually I don’t even enjoy talking down to people. But I make an exception for your. See how special you are.

  63. It is also telling that Vacula’s post is tagged “FEMINIST LIES”… Whereas if you read it carefully, unfortunately this is needed as it is buried in there, he is *assuming* Surly Amy filed the DMCA. There is no evidence she actually did it… Could easily have been an over zealous fan. Or if you were a slimepit-paranoid-conspiracy theory type he did it to himself!!!

  64. Did Thomas just try to neg CassandraSays? We can all see through that, dude. Book in question came out, like, what , 12 years ago?

  65. Oh, I think you’ve made yourself perfectly clear. If you didn’t intend to then that’s a shame.

  66. timetravellingfool

    @ Cassandra- I think you’re attributing a sense of social responsibility to a group that just wants to be mean to people with a different view of the world than them. The off time they might actually make a decent point about problems with organized religion is just a nice opportunity to use the moral high ground as a rhetorical device. Throw them in a group of people with a relatively similar agreement on what constitutes a good argument, however, and they start to lose a grip on their false sense of intellectual superiority. That’s probably explains the venom they have for those women they obsessively deride and consciously endanger- they left their comfort-zone of nastiness and started arguing on topics that weren’t quite so easily to refute. The only thing these dudes have going for them is feeling smart, and these women made them look stupid. So they hate them.

  67. Dear all the angry little dudebro internet atheist trolls who have posted here,

    The fact that you’re just so gosh-darn committed to defending spaces/people that exist purely to denigrate, harass and intimidate others by doing things like (but not limited to)

    abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt (just to name a few). If I block people who are twisting my words or sending verbal abuse, I receive an even larger wave of nonsensical hate about how I’m a slut, prude, feminazi, retard, bitch, cunt who hates freedom of speech (because the Constitution forces me to listen to people on Twitter). This morning I had to delete dozens of comments of people imitating my identity making graphic, lewd, degrading sexual comments about my personal life. In the past, multiple people have threatened to contact my employer with “evidence” that I’m a bad scientist (because I’m a feminist) to try to destroy my job. I’m constantly worried that the abuse will soon spread to my loved ones.

    kind of proves our point.

    Most people would condemn that kind of behaviour and understand why it wasn’t such a welcoming environment, but because you are so convinced that you are totally LOGICAL ‘N’ RATIONAL and therefore right about everything, you instead start twisting and turning to ‘prove’ that the victims either ‘deserved it’ or ‘it wasn’t that bad’, then act like you’re some kind of social justice warrior for defending people’s ‘rights’ to be abusive doucheholes on the internet – to the point where when someone says that they don’t like abusive doucheholes, you cast them as some kind of oppressor of FREEDOM.

    This is why people don’t like you and don’t want to be in your gang.

    Sincerely,

    Nat Fantastic xoxo

  68. Also, can I make a general request here? Apparently the online atheist community has decided to spend most of their time squabbling with each other (and in some cases crossing the line from squabbling into harassment, like Vacula did). If that’s how people want to spend their time then that’s fine, but do they really have to carry their inter-blog squabbles over into every single other vaguely related online space? This isn’t the first time someone has shown up here with a grudge against, say, Pharyngula and a quite unwarranted belief that we’re going to care about what X said to Y in the comments of Zs blog. It’s getting tedious.

  69. @timetravellingfool

    I used to comment here long before you even knew the site existed. Trying to engage in good faith is pointless. So I spare my time and energy.

  70. I got modded because I quoted the language that anti-feminist atheists used… achem. So I’m going to try again:

    Dear all the angry little dudebro internet atheist trolls who have posted here,

    The fact that you’re just so gosh-darn committed to defending spaces/people that exist purely to denigrate, harass and intimidate others by doing things like (but not limited to)

    abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, r*tard, bitch, and c*nt (just to name a few). If I block people who are twisting my words or sending verbal abuse, I receive an even larger wave of nonsensical hate about how I’m a slut, prude, feminazi, r*tard, bitch, c*nt who hates freedom of speech (because the Constitution forces me to listen to people on Twitter). This morning I had to delete dozens of comments of people imitating my identity making graphic, lewd, degrading sexual comments about my personal life. In the past, multiple people have threatened to contact my employer with “evidence” that I’m a bad scientist (because I’m a feminist) to try to destroy my job. I’m constantly worried that the abuse will soon spread to my loved ones.

    kind of proves our point.

    Most people would condemn that kind of behaviour and understand why it wasn’t such a welcoming environment, but because you are so convinced that you are totally LOGICAL ‘N’ RATIONAL and therefore right about everything, you instead start twisting and turning to ‘prove’ that the victims either ‘deserved it’ or ‘it wasn’t that bad’, then act like you’re some kind of social justice warrior for defending people’s ‘rights’ to be abusive doucheholes on the internet – to the point where when someone says that they don’t like abusive doucheholes, you cast them as some kind of oppressor of FREEDOM.

    This is why people don’t like you and don’t want to be in your gang.

    Sincerely,

    Nat Fantastic xoxo

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