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Posted by on Oct 28, 2012 in blogosphere | 139 comments

Controversy, activism, and the internet

Sharon Hill of Doubtful News asked me a compelling question following my recent speech at the PA State Atheist/Humanist Conference pertaining to controversy. What advice might I have for someone who does not handle controversy well and may want to become involved in the atheist/skeptic communities, specifically with real-world activism? She noted that I, as should be quite apparent to many of my long-time readers, am no stranger to controversy.

I handle controversy really well; I do not break down in tears, jump to unreasonable conclusions about my safety, or have mental breakdowns. When I was preparing to challenge the constitutionality of a religious holiday display on a courthouse lawn in Luzerne County, I was told that I will very likely receive death threats, threats of violence, and a great deal of nastiness. I was ‘warned,’ one might say, and had every opportunity to back down and ‘pass’ the issue to someone else. I did not. I was aware of the potential outcomes of what turned out to be my very public challenge and weathered the nonsense.

Had I been a person who did not deal well with controversy, the responsible action for me would have been to not go forward with the challenge. If possible, I could have remained anonymous, passed the ‘public torch’ to my friend Rodney Collins, or completely stepped back from the issue. In a climate that is generally extremely hostile to atheists who raise church/state complaints, there are obvious ramifications for those who go public with a complaint.

It seems extremely obvious to me that people should consider the results of their actions before they make them and then act appropriately depending on various factors including their coping skills, past experiences, support systems, financial stability, etc. This line of reasoning is quite uncontroversial in some areas of the secular community when people consider ‘coming out’ as an atheist; many will say persons should not come out if they will have to face dire consequences for doing so. People who give this advice are almost never told they are ‘blaming the victim’ or ‘giving a warrant for bullies,’ but when the topic is changed to people who write on the internet — and often engage in vitriolic writing — all bets are off for some reason.

I am quite amazed, when considering what I see as a very uncontroversial statement [persons should not engage in activities if they do not want to deal with the potential outcomes], that people who express controversial ideas on the internet complain about the commentary that follows their writings…and continue to write in a similar manner revisiting drama, launching character attacks against certain individuals, and even going so far as to insinuate that ‘some male speakers in the atheist/skeptic communities are dangerous individuals’ and ‘atheist conventions are hostile climates for women.’ Such writings, one would think, would result in a great deal of vitriol and negative feedback…especially when they are written in a hostile manner.

I could understand a person riding a roller-coaster for the first time and, after riding, expressing that the experience was a very bad one that resulted in sickness, extreme dizziness, and was generally very scary. After all, this person hadn’t ridden a roller-coaster before and didn’t know what would happen. Perhaps the person would try to ride again thinking that he/she just wasn’t prepared or perhaps just had an ‘off day.’ After the second ride, the same results from the first try manifested. Enough is enough, one would think…and most thinking responsible persons, one would assume, would not ride the roller-coaster again. Continual attempts, especially after experiencing the first two outcomes, would be foolish. Even more foolish would be if the person were to blame the manufacturers of the ride and the park attendants who allow people to ride the roller-coaster.

The same could be said of a person who has a fear of crowded places. Perhaps, to try and overcome the fear, he/she might visit a very crowded bazaar. Upon entering, the person has a panic attack, becomes very nauseous, and must leave the bazaar. Trying to enter again, the same results are seen. It would be foolish for the person to start yelling and screaming while blaming others for crowding them, coming to the event, and triggering their panic attacks.

I see the beforementioned roller-coaster rider and bazaar visitor in many ways I see people who write on the internet and, time and time again, receive a great deal of vitriol as a result of their writing (which is often attacking others, instigating conflict, and making ridiculous claims). If you can’t handle particular situations and continue to engage in said situations despite similar results happening, why bother engaging? Might these people actually like the conflict and just be painting themselves as victims or otherwise acting dishonestly?

As a program assistant for a class of students, I work alongside other program assistants and instructors who teach students how to manage conflict and exercise responsibility. One part of ‘Conflict Management 101′ is to not engage in situations which you know will lead to non-desirable results. If one student knows that interacting with another student may lead to hostility, it is best for the student — if other methods such as ‘using your words’ and trying to be friendly do not work — to simply not engage with the other student.

Whether we consider classrooms, internet forums/blogs, or the hostile climate against atheists, it should be understood that nasty people exist. The nastiness is, of course, unfortunate. We can work to change this nastiness and hope that people will be nice, but this just isn’t the case and likely won’t be in the near future. We should, then, make responsible decisions based on our environments. If you don’t get along with another student in class, avoid interactions with that student. If you can’t handle negative feedback online and have received it many times, disengage and write about another topic (or stop writing). If you are uncomfortable with coming out as an atheist or filing a church/state complaint, do not do it.

It is very possible to be active in the online atheist community and with church/state activism while not disclosing your personal information or ‘going on the front lines.’ For those who can’t handle conflict well, I would recommend that these people find friends who can and do engage in conflict. Perhaps, too, you might consider being an anonymous contributor to specific websites as many do. Might you have a church/state complaint that you would like to see addressed? Send it to the Freedom From Religion Foundation or another organization of your choice.

Earlier this month, when I was being attacked by persons in the atheist community and being labelled as an “anti-women leader,” “sexist,” “misogynist,” etc., I largely ‘stepped back’ realizing that almost nothing I would say would improve the situation considering that the people attacking me did not understand what was going on, never met me in real life, or bothered to even ask me questions despite my openness and the public listing of my phone number on a press release. Why bother engaging when I knew that my engagement would just add more fuel to the fire and result in more irrational attacks?

These matters shouldn’t be so difficult.

  • http://karlaporter.com/ Karla Porter

    I think you have handled that which was voraciously hurled your way rather well and that you maintain your composure in the face of conflict and vitriol much better than most. The post begs the question ‘Why?” in many instances that you are not likely to get the honest answers to however. Nice reflection and analysis. Some of the members of the class could could likely serve as peer mentors for individuals who find Conflict Management 101 too difficult.

  • ool0n

    “Why bother engaging when I knew that my engagement would just add more fuel to the fire and result in more irrational attacks?”

    Bullshit Justin, you linked to the post by emily dietle in the slymepit as someone ‘on your side’… She said you should apologise and move on, many FtB’ers also agreed an apology and understanding that you had alienated some of the community you were meant to be representing would go a long way to being forgiven – in that comment thread. So it is your boneheaded inability to say exactly what you did wrong (You said there were some things but not what) and apologise for them that led to the inevitable conclusion.

    http://www.emilyhasbooks.com/second-chances/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/10/04/the-ways-we-lost-the-battle-for-the-sca/

    http://bigthink.com/daylight-atheism/what-cost-is-too-high-on-justin-vacula-and-secular-leadership

    You can be a martyr if you want but with so much evidence to the contrary you just look like someone who is incapable of apologising.

    • Mykeru

      Oh, someone remind me, exactly what is it Justin is supposed to apologize for?

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      You missed “I largely ‘stepped back’ realizing that almost nothing I would say would improve the situation considering that the people attacking me did not understand what was going on, never met me in real life, or bothered to even ask me questions despite my openness and the public listing of my phone number on a press release.”

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  • Kate Donovan

    I handle controversy really well; I do not break down in tears, jump to unreasonable conclusions about my safety, or have mental breakdowns.

    This is ableism. Thanks for playing!

    • http://brassycassy.deviantart.com BrassyCassy

      ^^ this

      • Edward Clint

        Does it feel good? To feel so right, so completely correct that snarky dismissal, name-calling and insult are suitable replacements for any kind of reasoned discussion? It must be nice.

        But it isn’t welcome here. Here we stand on argument and evidence and I’ll thank you not to applaud such behavior, from anyone.

        • http://brassycassy.deviantart.com BrassyCassy

          “name-calling”?

          Pointing out the use of language that is marginalizing to others is not “name-calling.” But yes, I will applaud such behavior.

          • Edward Clint

            You know Cassy, I’ve long respected and liked you. I know you to be a sensitive and passionate person, particularly so when it comes to social justice issues. I will assume an overexuberance in that area accounts for your odd remarks here.

            While some may indeed be guilty of using marginalizing language, others use accusations without justification in an attempt to dismiss those they disagree with. One of the ways this is done is with hasty use of epithets like ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, ‘bigot’ et cetera. While this may not have been the intended effect, it is regardless indistinct from such behavior and in any case, unfair, unpersuasive, and rude.

            If you truly wish people who disagree with you not to dismiss you or to marginalize you with unjustified labels, then you must grant the same consideration to those who disagree with you.

            I suspect that Kate, or you, has a reasonable point to make because you are both thoughtful people. However, dropping in with glib, rude “ablest bubye!” type comments is not constructive. It could only serve to cause acrimony and likely will close the ears of people you wish to persuade. Where is the rationality in such an action?

            It might be that you consider Justin beyond reasoning. If that is the case, then such drive-bys appear immature and spiteful. if you think so lowly of Justin, or me, then there is no purpose in engaging either of us and you should spend your time on more productive pursuits.

            Whatever your choice, know that unsupported claims which disparage anyone are unwelcome in discussions at Skeptic Ink, as are any accessory “othering” behaviors. The truth is not decided by applause.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SU3L6O6MNAPXLBIGJGEX5NW5UQ jqb

            [crickets]

            Such a thoughtful, rational post surely deserved *some* sort of response.

    • Windows

      ^ THAT

    • Windows

      THAT^^

    • Andrew Tripp

      Infuckingdeed.

    • http://www.skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      Kate, I never said that these responses are bad or good. You know of the naturalistic fallacy, yes? Just because something exists in nature does not give it a moral basis. I would not find people who react in these ways to be ‘bad’ or blameworthy by any means. Some people just handle conflict well and some do not. This is no ‘stirke’ on a person’s character.

      I, for example, know many situations in my life which would not turn out well for me, so I don’t engage in them. The same should go for everyone. If it’s possible to improve these situations or approach them in different manners, great, but it’s not always the case. People should think about consequences before they act.

      • HJ Hornbeck

        Those phrases sound like veiled references to Surly Amy, Ophelia Benson, and Jen McCreight, though. Given the charged atmosphere and context, it is very easy to read that line as implying a negative connotation, and it was only in the comments that you provided clarity to your actual meaning.

        You also do not deal with the sorts of consequences people receive. Take Amanda Todd; did she deserve all the consequences her choices created? No, of course not. So we not only need to consider the consequences of action, we need to consider the expected, received, and deserved consequences. Your article above neglects this angle, making it either incomplete or misleading.

        Please be more careful with your writing, there’s a gap between what you intend and what other people are thinking your intent is. More clarity in your posts would be welcome, and might lead to a better reception.

        • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

          Wow – did I just see Surly Amy, Ophelia Benson, and Jen McCreight compared to Amanda Todd???? Yep, I just did.

          Yeah, because they’re *just like* isolated high school being driven to suicide. Well, the *high school* part is correct.

          • HJ Hornbeck

            No, you didn’t. Todd was an extreme example used to make the point clearer, not an analogy to what Amy, Benson, or McCreight have experienced. Please read more carefully next time.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SU3L6O6MNAPXLBIGJGEX5NW5UQ jqb

          “Those phrases sound like veiled references to Surly Amy, Ophelia Benson, and Jen McCreight, though.”

          When the shoe fits …

    • Kera Vote Left Morris

      Have you ever read Vonnegut’s ‘Harrison Bergeron’? o.O

    • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

      Asking that people become fully cognizant of or at least consider the potential reaction to their actions is ableism?

  • http://www.facebook.com/geekysteven Steven Olsen

    You totally could have improved the situation. It’s called an apology. It’s what grown ups do when they realize they were wrong.

    • CommanderTuvok

      Justin has nothing to apologise for. However, a number of bloggers at FreeThoughtBlogs should be issuing them out by the dozen.

      • HJ Hornbeck

        Here’s one thing, courtesy Opelia Benson:
        “I’m pretty sure the only thing I’ve ever asked you to do is to correct the lies you told about me in your podcast. Needless to say you have steadily refused to do that (while writing posts about my “complaining” instead).”

        • John C. Welch

          Ophelia calling anyone out on any form of dishonesty is like the pope bagging on one for wearing an ugly hat.

          • HJ Hornbeck

            Ah, you’re saying Benson is [dishonest/evil/smelly/whatever], and therefore she can never call out dishonesty. I don’t find that a convincing argument.

          • Pitchguest

            That’s usually how it works, Hornbeck. It’s called cleaning out under your own porch before calling out someone else’s shit under theirs. It’s called not throwing stones when living in a glass house. Because it’s hypocrisy in action. But I’m curious what Justin really has to apologise for. Ophelia’s threats he recounted on his podcast wasn’t lying. They were not taken out of context. He even assumed devil’s advocate on that podcast taking Ophelia’s position into consideration, but she didn’t consider that. The problem was that he didn’t broadcast every single threat she received. The problem was that he jokingly said “does that sound threatening to you?”

            Ah, but, of course you have to add insults to help your narrative along. When did Justin call Ophelia smelly and evil or whatever kind of insults you can think of? Even the most grievous of them all, ‘cunt’, has never been said by Justin to Ophelia. In fact, the word ‘cunt’ has been written about for longer — and more often — by Ophelia Benson than anyone on the Pit combined. Not sure what to make of that.

          • HJ Hornbeck

            “It’s called cleaning out under your own porch before calling out someone else’s shit under theirs.”

            Actually, it’s called “Ad hominem.”

            “They were not taken out of context.”

            So he mentioned the part where the person who sent the email seemed to imply Benson would get shot at TAM?

            “When did Justin call Ophelia smelly and evil or whatever kind of insults you can think of?”

            I’m not talking about Justin and Ophelia, I’m talking about Welch and Ophelia. Why did you shift the topic?

          • John C. Welch

            No, she can say whatever she wants. I’m saying, given her actions and rampant hypocrisy, her criticism in certain areas lacks any form of high ground and should not be taken even vaguely seriously.

            It’d be like me scolding someone for using profanity. I mean, I CAN, but it would be pretty fucking stupid and hypocritical. Now, poor use of invective is different, but for me to get pissy with people over merely using rude words? Yeah, that would be really, really stupid.

          • HJ Hornbeck

            I have yet to see “rampant” hypocrisy from Benson, and all the links I’ve read from people critical of her have failed to demonstrate this. Can you do any better? Because this is still looking like an ad hominem to me.

          • John C. Welch

            you’ve already established that no matter what is pointed out to you, it will be justified as “okay” as long as the source is on your side.

            As long as the proper ox is being gored, you have zero problem with anything done to facilitate said goring.

          • HJ Hornbeck

            Where so? I’ve been diligently responding to your arguments this entire thread. Even if I was as heavily biased as you claim, we’re not the only two people here; any third person reading along would benefit from your evidence, and might be convinced of your case even if I remain unmoved.

          • John C. Welch

            then they can spine up and ask me themselves. If they don’t care enough to ask, why should I care? I see no point in putting any effort out for *you*, because *you* have no interest in anything but “winning”. So for me to do any work at your request is in fact a waste of time.

            You only wish to score points for your side here. I assume you’ve done so. At this point, you just seem to want either the last word, or, you think you’re going to bludgeon me into admitting you’re right. Good luck with either.

          • HJ Hornbeck

            You’re telling me my own motives again. That only works if you’re psychic, you know.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/NaomiChambers Naomi Chambers

    Very well written. I did have a difficult time being in controversy, but that was a long time ago. Things do not bother me like they use to.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/NaomiChambers Naomi Chambers

    Very well written. I did have a difficult time being in controversy, but that was a long time ago. Things do not bother me like they use to.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    I certainly understand the desire to step back in the face of the attacks directed at you. But I do tend to think that it would have been helpful if you had defended yourself by providing a clear and rational case for why the accusations were wrong. The missing piece in this controversy has been your side.

    • HJ Hornbeck

      From the second link:

      “I did not present the address with any malicious intent (I even noted
      it wasn’t a threat) and regret that people believe that it was posted in
      that fashion.”

      In other words, other people were at fault. There was nothing wrong with posting someone’s personal address to a forum hostile to them, on a whim, you only removed the address because other people complained loudly enough.

      You’ve also said you don’t agree with A Voice For Men on certain issues, but never clarified. Your article is still up on their site, implying you still endorse the majority of their views. Will you clarify which of their views you support?

    • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

      I can’t be alone in having little interest in listening to podcasts, but I appreciate having the link. It will at least let me share it with those wondering why you have not defended yourself. The “Surly” Amy link only addresses one part of the controversy. I think what many were hoping for was a response to each of the main points made by those going after you, although I did post what you shared with me here: http://www.atheistrev.com/2012/10/lessons-from-justin-vacula-debacle.html

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  • Gato Precambriano

    I was told that I will very likely receive death threats, threats of violence, and a great deal of nastiness.

    Funny. I’ve always thought this…kind of thing is what’s in need of change, doesn’t it? People should be able to jump in any kind of controversy without having to fear death threats. That’s what civilization is all about, right? That you trivializes that, kind of naturalizing it, is awfull, to say the least.

    • http://www.skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      Yes, this is in need of change. …and the secular community is working on this and, in my opinion, doing a great job. The point of my post, though, is that people who can not handle the consequences should not engage – they can participate in the secular community in different ways which does not put them in the way of harm.

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  • The whole truth

    Sheesh! When is this childish soap opera going to end?

    All of the petty, self-serving bickering and whining between people involved in the so-called “atheist movement” just makes the “movement” look like a producer of foul excrement.

    • Vic

      Dunno, man. Looks like 99% of the blogs and websites of the godlessphere don’t give a damn.

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  • http://karlaporter.com/ Karla Porter

    I think you have handled that which was voraciously hurled your way rather well and that you maintain your composure in the face of conflict and vitriol much better than most. The post begs the question ‘Why?” in many instances that you are not likely to get the honest answers to however. Nice reflection and analysis. Some of the members of the class could could likely serve as peer mentors for individuals who find Conflict Management 101 too difficult.

  • http://twitter.com/ool0n oolon

    “Why bother engaging when I knew that my engagement would just add more fuel to the fire and result in more irrational attacks?”

    Bullshit Justin, you linked to the post by emily dietle in the slymepit as someone ‘on your side’… She said you should apologise and move on, many FtB’ers also agreed an apology and understanding that you had alienated some of the community you were meant to be representing would go a long way to being forgiven – in that comment thread. So it is your boneheaded inability to say exactly what you did wrong (You said there were some things but not what) and apologise for them that led to the inevitable conclusion.

    http://www.emilyhasbooks.com/second-chances/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/10/04/the-ways-we-lost-the-battle-for-the-sca/

    http://bigthink.com/daylight-atheism/what-cost-is-too-high-on-justin-vacula-and-secular-leadership

    You can a martyr if you want but with so much evidence to the contrary you just look like someone who is incapable of apologising.

  • http://twitter.com/Mykeru Mykeru

    Oh, someone remind me, exactly what is it Justin is supposed to apologize for?

  • http://www.skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

    You missed “I largely ‘stepped back’ realizing that almost nothing I would say would improve the situation considering that the people attacking me did not understand what was going on, never met me in real life, or bothered to even ask me questions despite my openness and the public listing of my phone number on a press release.”

  • flueedo

    Regardless of whether the reasons he gave here are bs, if you were following the whole thing, then you know that, by the time Emily wrote the post, the FTB clique had already slung a lot of mud at him. For instance, do you remember Amanda Marcotte’s tweet claiming he considered women as sexual objects? Does that even make sense?

    So, he could not unilaterally apologize or he would be indirectly admitting to all the hyperbolic/false accusations thrown at him. The other side would have to meet him halfway, that is, “clarify” what they had written so far about him. But would they have done that? I somehow find that unlikely. For something like that to happen he would have to not only apologize but commit himself to their narrative, turn his back on the slymepit, blindly vilify any mras and so forth.

  • CommanderTuvok

    I love the sheer audacity of a Baboon supporter ordering other people to apologise. The height of hypocrisy!

  • CommanderTuvok

    Further, perhaps you should get Surly Amy to apologise for lying about Justin’s attempt to get her address via a DMCA. That was one big lie. You know it, Oolon.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SU3L6O6MNAPXLBIGJGEX5NW5UQ jqb

    No one who refers to “the slymepit” has an ounce of intellectual honesty.

  • Vic

    Revealing the private address of Surly Amy in a thread at the forum “slymepit” (with which you are familar, afaik).

    The defense so far has been that the adress could be found via google. The accusation is that Justin Vacula brought it needlessly to the attention of potentially dangerous people and bullies, ITT the members of the slymepit forum.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Phil-Giordana-Fcd/685136164 Phil Giordana Fcd

    Posting Surly Amy’s very public business address, IIRC. Also called doc-dropping, or doxing, an activity his critics never ever engage in…

    /snark

    Justin: very good post, although maybe a bit naïve about “those who can’t handle conflict”. I’d say they handle it quite well. Even more, they seem to feed on it.

  • http://twitter.com/ool0n oolon

    So don’t bother trying? Didn’t I see somewhere Stephanie saying she had sent you an email to discuss the petition that was set up? An example of someone giving you an avenue for private rational discussion that you spurned. Again be a martyr, but it is not that convincing. If you had not just admitted there were ‘things you did wrong’ but actually said what they were and apologised I’d be supporting you as a leader of the SCA. It is a core principle shared by many atheists/humanists that people be given second chances…

  • Vic

    Addendum: When I said the members of the slymepit are potentially dangerous or bullies (or “haters”) I should have made clear I quoted the accusations.

    I have no knowledge what members of the slymepit have or have not done in regard to bullying or similar things. I know they seem to be in opposition to A+ and watsonists.

    That I know Mykeru frequents the forum is not an accusation in any way, but merely the result of me being familiar with certain snarky media he produces.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    You want an example? That’s easy enough:

    “I think I’ve found [Zvan].
    I think she’s the partially obscured fatty sex panelist wearing green.
    I guess Ben plays the part of the foam wedge!”
    http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=73&start=20700#p22411
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/10/23/just-getting-a-response/

    Maybe one more? OK, fine: Franc Hoggle has helped hijack the #atheismplus hashtag.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/09/23/atheism-hashtag-camping/

    …. oh, fine! How about monitoring and swarming blogs on FtB?
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/06/because-of-a-song/

  • HJ Hornbeck

    OK OK, just one more example: how about hounding out people people who don’t toe the party line, like Justicar?

    “Indeed, a sign of integrity is to concede points that one’s enemies make that are, in point of fact, correct. And on this point with respect to the dishonesty of the people at the SP2.0, Stephanie was perfectly
    correct. I get that this inconvenient for those who want to persist in
    dissembling; that is their problem, not mine.

    Stop lying and it will be impossible to find evidence that you’ve lied. It’s very simple.

    For others, I highly suggest you join in the ‘let’s bash Justicar’
    threads over at SP2.0; I’ve always wanted to be Witch of the Week to two groups simultaneously. There are, last I counted, 3 threads
    specifically about me.”
    http://integralmath.blogspot.ca/2012/07/slymepit-20.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Phil-Giordana-Fcd/685136164 Phil Giordana Fcd

    Rest assured that as a Slymepitter, I will NOT spend thousands of euros flying to the US to settle an internet quibble IRL. I won’t even spend a phone-call on that, which seems to not be the case of certain other people who dwelve elsewhere *cough* Laden *cough*.

  • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

    Is there any good reason to believe that people who post on the Slymepit will engage in acts of violence or are otherwise dangerous?

  • http://www.skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

    Is there any good reason to believe that people who post on the Slymepit will engage in acts of violence or are otherwise dangerous?

  • John C. Welch

    Right. So you don’t actually know anything about anyone there, yet, you are going to completely buy into what other people call them, and accuse them of things based completely on what someone else, who just might be biased tells you.

    Let me guess, you call yourself a “skeptic”, don’t you.

  • KiwiInOz

    I think you’ll find that many Slymepitters are disdainful of people such as Surly Amy (and quite possibly yourself). For some, that disdain is active. For others, it is merely, meh.

    The biggest threat we pose is to electrons. Our mission is to fuck those babies into the ground – like PZ wanted done to Gelato Guy.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

    The reason the address was posted was because an FTB commenter accused me of counter-DMCAing in order to gain her personal details. I debunked this by saying the address was public and posting it. This wasn’t the right way to handle the situation. I should have instead ignored or noted it was public. The controversy which followed was ridiculous especially considering Surly Amy was just fine tweeting her address, engaged in discussion about her address being public, and her friends continued to discuss her address being public.

  • John C. Welch

    I love that shit. Exactly how bullying et al have “members of the slymepit” done, especially when compared to the acts of current and former members of FTB and A+?

  • CommanderTuvok

    “The accusation is that Justin Vacula brought it needlessly to the attention of potentially dangerous people and bullies”

    Evidence, or STFU. The only person who I know who HAS threatened people is Greg Laden. No one from the Slyme Pit has. So take your moronic ideas somewhere else.

  • KiwiInOz

    Since when is personal reflection akin to martyrdom?

  • http://www.skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

    The only person I chatted with was Lousy Canuck – after the fact – which was actually quite nice. Stephanie didn’t reach out to me. No one did.

    The SCA resign letter was not meant to be a chapter-long letter describing specifics and going into deep explanations. I already addressed the issue of Surly’s address on my old blog.

  • CommanderTuvok

    “If you had not just admitted there were ‘things you did wrong’ but
    actually said what they were and apologised I’d be supporting you as a
    leader of the SCA.”

    BS. It was a FTB-ordained witch hunt, and nothing that Justin could have said or done would have made any difference.

    “It is a core principle shared by many atheists/humanists that people be given second chances…”

    Tell that to the zealots at FTB and Skepchick.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    Suppose Justin had specifically said “I am sorry about posting Amy’s address” instead of merely taking the necessary actions to have the post removed. That would have been great and all, but does anyone (other than possibly Oolon) seriously believe the FtBullies would have called off the flying monkeys at that point? No effing way.

  • flueedo

    Indeed, that’s what I’m saying.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    When Vacula resigned, Zvan made sure to update her posts referring to the petition with this:

    “Update: Justin Vacula has resigned his position as
    co-chair. The petition to remove him is no longer necessary, and I
    congratulate him on making the right move for the Secular Coalition.”

    File me next to Oolon.

  • Vic

    I do not know any good reason to believe that. I also do not have any good reason to believe the opposite, but my default assumption of people I do not know is that they are probably peaceful and reasonable, or “normal”, whatever that word means.

    Considering what I know about the whole affair, of which it is impossible for me to know all details and all protagonists, I can assume they probably somehow crossed the radical feminists around skepchick or the A+ crowd and then got the usual treatment, of which we all know too many examples of.

  • CommanderTuvok

    I would like to know what Phil’s thoughts are on Surly Amy doc-dropping the details of a Twitter user via a DMCA counternotice she received. The information that she revealed WAS NOT publically available already, unlike the information Justin posted. She joins a number of Baboons who have doc-dropped, including Greg Laden and Rebecca Watson.

    Phil is just another one of the Baboon hypocrites, and should be ignored by all sensible people.

  • CommanderTuvok

    Phil, ignore my last post. Misunderstood your snark, and didn’t see the Giordana FCD bit.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “BS. It was a FTB-ordained witch hunt, and nothing that Justin could have said or done would have made any difference.”

    He could have resigned. Which, to Vacula’s credit, he did. And sure enough, at the top of Zvan’s posts about the petition:

    “Update: Justin Vacula has resigned his position as
    co-chair. The petition to remove him is no longer necessary, and I
    congratulate him on making the right move for the Secular Coalition.”
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/09/29/petition-to-the-secular-coalition/

    “Tell that to the zealots at FTB and Skepchick.”

    Indeed. Only zealots would congradulate their “enemies” on doing the right thing. /snark

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “I would like to know what Phil’s thoughts are on Surly Amy doc-dropping
    the details of a Twitter user via a DMCA counternotice she received.”

    You’ve made this claim before. I searched for it, and couldn’t find out what you were talking about, so I asked for details. You provided none. Care to actually answer me this time?
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2012/10/open-letter-to-justin-vacula/#comment-26589

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “I would like to know what Phil’s thoughts are on Surly Amy doc-dropping
    the details of a Twitter user via a DMCA counternotice she received.”

    You’ve made this claim before. I searched for it, and couldn’t find out what you were talking about, so I asked for details. You provided none. Care to actually answer me this time?
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2012/10/open-letter-to-justin-vacula/#comment-26589

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Phil-Giordana-Fcd/685136164 Phil Giordana Fcd

    BWAHAHAHA!!!

  • http://twitter.com/ool0n oolon

    LOL! You owe me a new laptop! Spat tea all over the fucker!

  • Vic

    I do not really feel addressed as “somebody having moronic ideas” here, since I know your intent is to respond to those who make these claims; i.e. not me, but I’d still like to point you at the addendum I gave in response to Joe C Welch about 10 hours ago to avoid confusion.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    You did, by repeatedly saying you did it without malicious intent. Cool. But you know what? Intent is not magic, and doesn’t change what you’ve already done. Worse, rather than actually apologize for making the error, you decided instead to go on the attack:

    “Instead of inquiring as to why the address was posted or looking at the
    context surrounding the post, people jumped to a conclusion — likely
    because they unjustifiably hold preset notions of me being a horrible
    person — that it was done with malicious intent. It seems that people
    are trying really hard to weave a malicious narrative about me with no
    concern of what is actually the case or for my welfare. This is
    regrettable.”
    http://greenatheist.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-clarification-surly-amy.html

    You did the right thing by yanking that address. But so far, I haven’t seen any remorse from you about the incident, any sign that you’ve learned from the incident and won’t do it again. It was one of the key reasons why I signed that petition against your appointment.

  • CommanderTuvok

    Surly Amy revealed the name of a Twitter user (ElevatorGate), whose name was then used in a “parody” account to badger him. The fact that Surly Amy revealed his details was confirmed by Lousy Canuck.

    If you want all this confirmed, why don’t you ask Canuck?

    Of course, the difference is that Scurvy Amy revealed information that was not publicly available. Justin merely reposted information that was already in the public domain, and in response to a lie Scurvy Amy promulgated.

  • CommanderTuvok

    I like the idea of the Slimy Turd having to fork out for a new laptop because of me. I’m sure you could cosy up to PZ or Ophelia and get them to buy you one. :)

  • CommanderTuvok

    “Justin Vacula has resigned his position as
    co-chair. The petition to remove him is no longer necessary, and I
    congratulate him on making the right move for the Secular Coalition.”

    Is this supposed proof that Stefunny has a little humanity? Pull the other one, mate. It was condescending, patronizing nonsense.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    I commented that his apology wouldn’t suffice, you replied that his resignation would. Are we having a disagreement?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thaumas-Themelios/100001074236927 Thaumas Themelios

    He didn’t buy into it. He was quoting their reasons. He clarified in subsequent comments, if you want to check.

  • John C. Welch

    So let’s see here. In the first example, none of this was said directly to Svan. it was said on a website that she, in theory, doesn’t go to, or can simply not go to, in the same way that I don’t read hers. She could spend days calling me all kinds of things, and unless someone else told me, I’d never know.

    The second one…maybe. It’s weak, but yes, if you follow that hashtag, it would be somewhat harder for you to avoid people saying mean things.

    the third one: READING A BLOG IS BULLYING? REALLY? So when things are said in the ‘pit that the FTB lot swarm over and say mean things about back on FTB, are they not engaging in bullying behavior as well? Oh, i bet you won’t agree, because, well, FTB is good and the ‘Pit is bad, so clearly the same actions are different.

    And swarming comments? You mean like the FTB lot did to ERV? Or tried to. even though ERV doesn’t ban commentors for disagreeing, they weren’t able to pull it off. Funny, I bet you have no problem with them doing the same thing you get your knickers in a twist over when people you don’t like do it.

    aka “HOW DARE YOU GORE MY OX! ONLY YOUR OX IS FOR GORING”.

    Look, I will agree, albeit weakly, that the hashtag thing comes close, although again, if one ignores the hashtag, one never sees the posts that only use that hashtag.

    But we have to have some fucking standards. Posting on a blog that isn’t someone else’s is not bullying. Posting on facebook accounts you aren’t friends with isn’t bullying.

    It’s standing in your own house calling someone names. As long as the person you’re calling names doesn’t listen at the door, they’ll never hear it. If Svan et all are that upset about the fucking ‘pit, stop reading it. They should tell their followers to stop monitoring the site, and guess what: it will cease to exist for them. I don’t know fuck all anything that goes on at FTB unless someone tells me. Guess how upsetting things I don’t read are to me?

    Right.

  • John C. Welch

    What hounding out? Dude, I do talk to justicar here and there. He’s really deep into not giving a fuck about the ‘pit, except for video fodder. He dislikes some of the people who post there, he likes others. I think i’m in the latter category, but if not, oh well.

    So let me get this straight. By devoting a thread to “Justicar is a poopyhead” (which, by the way, the closest thing you can find to an actual thing is one thread with 4 replies that hasn’t been active since july), on a website that is not Justicar’s, they are “hounding” him.

    Do you actually know what “hounding” means? Because if that’s “hounding” it is so ineffective as to not be anything close to “hounding”. It’s “people in a different place than you saying mean things about you that you cannot hear”.

    If that is “hounding”, then everyone is hounding everyone else, constantly. In fact, by posting unkind things about the slymepit here, you are, by your definition, hounding them. HOUNDER! YOU’RE A HOUNDER! OH FOUL SCURRILOUS HOUNDER THOU ART!

  • http://twitter.com/ool0n oolon

    Canned response no #2 again. But without the sexual references. More imagination please Tuvok. I know you are Vulcan and these ‘colourful metaphors’ are hard for you but I have been insulted by the best of em at Pharyngula and frankly you are doing your side no favours being this rubbish.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    My disagreement was with “That would have been great and all, but does anyone (other than possibly
    Oolon) seriously believe the FtBullies would have called off the flying
    monkeys at that point?” Hence, the reference to Oolon.

    Yes, Vacula could have called off “the flying monkeys” by resigning. Which he did. And, as far as I can see, said monkeys stopped chattering about Vacula until he insisted they read this article.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    Um, here’s Thibeault’s comment:

    “My understanding of the situation is that Amy provided the name she
    received from the DMCA counterclaim to conference authorities so they
    were aware that the ElevatorGATE hate-blog owner would be flagged as a
    potential security risk, and some unknown entity floated some name (that
    nobody’s confirmed as belonging to ElevatorGATE) on some forum or
    other.”

    To “dox” someone is to make their information public; Amy PRIVATELY shared ElevatorGATE’s name, which means she never doxxed. You could of course prove me wrong by pointing to where Amy made said name public, but I suspect no such evidence exists. You’re instead lying about Amy to grind her name into the dirt.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    Let me be very clear. By “at that point” I meant the point of apology, not the point of resignation. Do you see the daylight between those two points?

  • HJ Hornbeck

    I’ll admit, my first example sucked.

    You mis-characterize the third one, though. We’re not simply talking about reading, but monitoring. It only took 48 minutes from when Benson posted that article until the first post from someone who hangs out in the Slyme Pit. As Benson said, she’s getting “Hundreds of hits every day” originating from there. Zvan just mentioned it took a mere twelve minutes for her first Tweet from CSICon to be replied to by Vacula, who hangs out in the Slyme Pit.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/10/29/vacula-ladies-y-u-no-quit/

    They are essentially stalking Skepchick and FtB, looking for even the slightest error to use as an excuse for ridicule. My first example was supposed to be an example of this, but I failed to explain it clearly and it wasn’t related to the point under discussion. My bad.

    “But we have to have some fucking standards. Posting on a blog that isn’t someone else’s is not bullying. Posting on facebook accounts you aren’t friends with isn’t bullying.”

    Tell you what: let’s go along with that. For now, I’ll agree that posting comments to a blog, Facebook, Twitter or some other social media outlet doesn’t qualify as bullying, no matter what their contents are.

    You said, however, that “Exactly how [much] bullying et al have “members of the slymepit” done,
    especially when compared to the acts of current and former members of
    FTB and A+?” If we exclude all social media and blogs, though, what bullying have FTB and A+ done? The closest I can think of is Zvan’s petition to remove Vacula from the SCA, but that was careful to point to specific events with ample evidence to back it up, and it went away once the aims were achieved. There’s no consistent pattern of behaviour there, it was a one-time event.

    So where is all this bullying you decry?

  • HJ Hornbeck

    Uh, there was more than just a few threads. For instance, Hoggle sent him this email, amongst many:

    “You
    are a pathetic fucking crank head. Stop telling others to “let things
    go…” when you can’t and just regurgitate crap in and endless circle.

    You
    just churn out gibberish and bullshit, and have complete contempt for
    any reality that deviates from yours. You’re just a screaming spoilt
    brat that has to have his way in everything. Stop speaking for Abbie –
    you represent no one other than some meth’ed up alpha male RPG character
    in your own fantasy world.”

    And don’t forget, Justicar’s complaint was that editing and deletion was allowed on the new Slyme Pit. The public evidence of any hounding could be long-gone.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    Where is the bullying? Google “Witch of the Week” sometime when you have a couple hours to spare, pick the most over the top example you find and research the factual background to your own satisfaction.

  • Pitchguest

    You must be joking.

    By the way, did you read the link to your third example? Ophelia Benson said racists and homicidal maniacs would fit right in at ERV, accusing commenters at ERV to support such practices and ideas. To be able to have such an underhanded (albeit misinformed and ultimately false) impression of ERV, she must have read the blog from time to time, yes? Were she stalking ERV? Nevermind. It’s a stupid question to an even stupider supposition.

    The bullying tactics of FTB have been documented for a long time now, and it is such because it’s necessary or you wouldn’t believe the absolute inanity if you heard it secondhand. The “Witch of the Week” is evident of that. The A+ people have taken up the mantle and as before, precise documentation is prudent or you wouldn’t believe what you hear or see if you didn’t have it, black and white, on paper. For instance, the time when a moderator on A+ implied a male rape victim would have been better off dead than raped. You couldn’t make that shit up. However, it might not apply to bullying tactics as such, even if the members and the moderators dogpiled him afterwards and got him sentenced to a temporary ban.

    No, perhaps a better example would be when Setar, A+ member, tore down harmless posters with harmless messages from an MRA group with unanimous adulation from the crowd.

    Another one could be when another moderator, very clearly, in a condescending manner, to a non-English speaking member who disagreed with them but wrote very politely and courteously, told him that his English weren’t good enough and as such shouldn’t continue posting in the thread.

  • John C. Welch

    You mean like Svan, Myers, and Laden actively trying to force NatGeo to censor ERV? Or Laden stalking Abbie and sending emails to her place of work to try to get her silenced?

    How about those as a start?

  • John C. Welch

    in addition, seriously? How fast it takes someone to read a blog post is bullying? that’s pretty funny given how current benson, zvan et al are on any and every post in the Slymepit. Wonder how THAT happens…

    OH, THE SAME WAY.

    Yet it’s only bad when it happens in one direction. Funny that.

    b

  • CommanderTuvok

    Well, Amy made her own information public, and by your standards Justin didn’t “dox” anybody.

    But the important thing here is that we forget about what constitutes “doc-dropping” and simply consider the facts.

    1. Justin did not reveal any information that was private or not already publically available.

    2. Surly Amy used information from a DMCA counternotice to inform other people of information that was private and not publically available.

    3. The excuse that “somebody else” revealed private information is simply not good enough. That “somebody else” was informed by Surly Amy, and so the buck stops with her.

    You would be crying like hell if somebody contacted the Pyt with private details of Baboons. It is one rule for you, one rule for everybody else.

  • Pitchguest

    Ah, I see. One person having a public disagreement with another is ‘hounding’?

    Therefore when people on the Slymepit have a public disagreement with Benson, Zvan, Thibeault, etc, but not others on FTB, like, say, Christina Rad, Aron Ra, Justin Griffiths, and so on, they are ‘hounding’ them, ‘stalking’ them? By reading information that they make public that anyone can read? For your accusations of ‘stalking’ and ‘hounding’ to be better substantiated, wouldn’t it make more sense to say that if the information on FTB and A+ would only be available to active members? When Benson frequently make references to what’s going on at the Slymepit, does that mean she’s stalking the Pit? And is it that she herself has been reading what’s going on or one of her trusted commenters?

    There has been no editing, deletion of any sort the time I’ve been to the Pit.

  • John C. Welch

    that’s funny, since you can’t edit shit on the slymepit once it’s posted, not even for typos. Justicar’s in error there.

    and in all honesty, I’d be shocked if franc could actually succeed in bullying Justicar. Justi’s got a little more fortitude than that. But i’m sure he’s amused by franc.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    There was never an apology. Vacula himself called it “a clarification.” He admits no wrong, and does not demonstrate he’s learned from his actions. Feel free to quote the sections which contradict that, however.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    To be condescending or patronizing, she would need to express superiority to Vacula. Instead, she treated him as an adult by acknowledging his behaviour, congratulating him for doing the right thing. She didn’t keep flinging mud, and she certainly didn’t invent an insulting nickname.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    1. He did reveal information that was tough to find, but your argument is a red herring; note I’m careful to say he revealed “personal” information, not “private.”

    2. What part of “To “dox” someone is to make their information public” didn’t you understand? If what you say is true, doctors “dox” their patients when they share their information with hospitals, all witnesses “dox” by talking to the police, and your bank “doxxes” when it talks to their HQ. You’ve redefined the term to cover any exchange of information, which makes it useless.

    3. So you know that comment is not a troll posting a false name to stir up controversy? How do you know this? Why didn’t you link to it, or even that comment, when I asked? It would have proven your point handily, and saved us some time.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    Ah ah ah, remember that I proposed ruling out posts to blogs or other social media! Directing me to blogs and social media isn’t helping your case.

    I did Google it, though, and found a website devoted to collecting posts that discuss a specific person. It implies these are coordinated attacks, but presents no evidence that’s the case. What if, say, the person in focus simply did something objectionable, and multiple blogs independently decided to call them out? I can’t help but note it’s extremely sympathetic to the people in focus, for instance:

    “Following this annoucnement[sic], Justin [Vacula] was made ‘enemy of the people’ by the usual crowd and then some.”

    Which completely glosses over why people found Vacula’s appointment objectionable, let alone what evidence they used to back that up.

    I also charged that the Slyme Pit was monitoring blogs, too. Pointing me to a list that collects blog posts by the Slyme Pit’s opponents, organized by topic and week, isn’t helping your case.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “To be able to have such an underhanded (albeit misinformed and
    ultimately false) impression of ERV, she must have read the blog from
    time to time, yes? Were she stalking ERV?”

    Well no, to stalk she must show persistent, unwarranted attention. I’ve hung around Benson’s blog for a year, and I had to resort to Google to find a single post where she directly talks about ERV:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/05/deep-rifts/

    Compare that to “Witch of the Week,” a list that collects blog posts by the Slyme Pit’s opponents, organized by topic and week. That’s far more like stalking than anything I’ve seen from Bensen.

    “No, perhaps a better example would be when Setar, A+ member, tore down
    harmless posters with harmless messages from an MRA group with unanimous
    adulation from the crowd.”

    Promoting hatred against women is harmless? And shouldn’t the fact that the crowd approved of the poster’s removal suggest their contents were objectionable to the average person?

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “One person having a public disagreement with another is ‘hounding’?”

    No, someone claiming they’ve been hounded out of a forum, and offering evidence to back that up, is an example of hounding.

    “There has been no editing, deletion of any sort the time I’ve been to the Pit.”

    Ah, so Surly Amy’s address is still available on the Slyme Pit? Last I checked, this was in its place:

    “EDITING TO FIX UNWISE POSTING”

  • Neil Terry

    As long as “the right thing” is surrendering 100% to their will with no back talk. Can’t have any of those skeptics getting uppity with the Popes of social justice.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    I’m not making a case. You asked about bullying online, I provided you with several examples, and you moved the goalposts.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    You missed the part where I said “If we exclude all social media and blogs, though, what bullying have FTB and A+ done?” in another comment.

    Setting aside my exclusion, however, your example doesn’t demonstrate bullying by SkepChick or FtB, it only demonstrates that they sometimes discuss friends of the Slyme Pit. Are their discussions sympathetic, or hostile? Do they back up that hostility with evidence and valid criticism, or drop ad hominems? You’ve only done the first step in making your argument, you need to put in far more work to complete it.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    Censor ERV? Does asking a blog network to follow their own policy count as censorship now? Here’s a quote from ScienceBlog’s Code of Conduct:

    Do not post anything that:

    – slanders, defames, threatens, or harasses another person

    – is bigoted, pornographic, hateful, racist, sexist, intolerant, or excessively vulgar

    And yet ERV has managed to get away with:

    “I am so glad some of these pig fuckers got their spineless asses off SciBlogs. [...] Dont let the door hit your ass on the way out, you ungrateful media whore.”
    http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2010/07/08/sciblogs-caves-to-hysterics/

    Those three bloggers, and many others, were right to call out ScienceBlogs and National Geographic for not following their own policy. As for Laden, here’s his summary of the “silencing:”

    “By the way, I also made a complaint about that specific issue, at the
    same time (along with a couple of other points of interest) to the chair
    of Abbie Smith’s academic department. Like it or not, this is how
    blatant professional misconduct is often managed in academia. The
    expected outcome of such an email might be a follow up phone
    conversation and a sit down talk between the student and adviser or
    chair.”
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/06/28/is-cyberstalking-abuse/#comment-94072

    Laden’s done some bad things, but sending an email to Smith’s department about her online conduct isn’t one of them.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “that’s pretty funny given how current benson, zvan et al are on any and every post in the Slymepit. Wonder how THAT happens…

    OH, THE SAME WAY.”

    You’ll have a point if you can show me a website which exists solely to catalogue what goes on in the Slyme Pit, Hoggle’s blog, or the blog of any other friend of the Slyme Pit. Until then, there are two simpler explanations: someone noticed a post, and forwarded it along to Benson/Zvan/et al, or someone made a post, and forwarded it along.

    “There’s an important difference that you are, deliberately, I think, ignoring.”

    I don’t think I can be more deliberate than “If we exclude all social media and blogs, though, what bullying have FTB and A+ done?” I’m happy to drop my exclusion, though, and have already done so several times in this thread.

    “The distinction is this: Zvanity, benson, et al can say whatever they like about me on twitter, facebook or their websites, and if I do *nothing*, if I take zero positive action, I shall never, ever see it unless someone else takes some action to tell me. None of those would be bullying.”

    Very true, but note the key words: “I shall never, ever see it unless someone else takes some action to tell me.” That’s exactly what’s happening to Zvan, Benson, and the rest. Other people are tweeting or emailing them links to blog posts, or posting them to their Facebook pages. And if they get repeated enough, anyone searching for Zvan/Benson/etc. online will see them. This amounts to bullying by proxy. It’s not as bad as direct bullying, but when done often enough it can amount to the same thing.

    “In addition, if they start trying to cause me problems that could hurt
    my employment, ala Laden, or sending me threatening emails, again, ala
    Laden, that is DEFINITELY bullying.”

    I’ve addressed Laden’s “bullying” of Smith elsewhere in this thread, but not his threatening email to Griffith. THAT was very wrong, and Brayton was justified in kicking Laden off of FtB for it. Hopefully Laden learned from his mistake, and won’t do anything similar in future.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “Funny, you don’t seem to have a problem with the strident, even hateful things posted about various religious groups by PeeZus, Laden et al.”

    I have not seen anything from PZ that “slanders, defames, threatens, or harasses another person” or “is bigoted, pornographic, hateful, racist, sexist, intolerant, or excessively vulgar.” Would you care to enlighten me? Because otherwise, his posts seem perfectly in line with ScienceBlogs’ policy.

    “What proof did he have that she was engaged in “professional misconduct”?”

    You don’t think calling your colleagues “pig fuckers” or “ungrateful media whores” is unprofessional? I’d hate to see where you work…

    “We also leave off the fact that Abbie isn’t actually listed as “Abbie
    Smith” at her institution, so he had to spend more than a quick search
    to find out who she was, where she worked, and who her boss was, so he
    could have her silenced.”

    Huh, didn’t know that. It still doesn’t do anything to change her comments, though, it simply means she was using anonymity to shield herself from the consequences of her comments. Anonymity can be a good thing, as any whistle-blower will tell you, but it can also protect bullies and harassers from being called on on bad behaviour.

    “But she’s a hateful gender traitor, so what’s the point of asking her, right?”

    Uh, where did I call her a gender traitor? And how is her views on gender relevant to a discussion of bullying and harassment? You are straw-personning me, rather than focusing on my actual arguments.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    Since the bulk of A+ and FtB consists of social media and blogs, that is a bizarrely arbitrary exclusion you’ve suggested above. When someone engages in cyber bullying, those are the usual conduits. Were you trying to narrow the scope of consideration to real world bullying?

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    Since the bulk of A+ and FtB consists of social media and blogs, that is a bizarrely arbitrary exclusion you’ve suggested above. When someone engages in cyber bullying, those are the usual conduits. Were you trying to narrow the scope of consideration to real world bullying?

    At any rate, would you consider it bullying to publicly accuse someone of a sex crime (with no evidence forthcoming) and promote the idea that a major leader within skepticism was deliberately covering up sex crimes? That sounds like bullying to me, regardless of whether it happened on a blog.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    Complete surrender? Then why did Zvan bother to update all those threads, if Vacula still hasn’t apologized?

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    Would you consider it bullying to publicly accuse someone of a sex crime (with no evidence forthcoming) and promote the idea that a major leader within skepticism was deliberately covering up sex crimes? That sounds like bullying to me, regardless of whether it happened on a blog.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “if it’s okay for laden to stalk her and learn her non-public personal
    information, why is it wrong for Vacula to provide information that is
    publicly available on the internet?”

    Laden never publicized an address or posted a photo of said address. Vacula did. There’s no evidence Laden knew any personal information about Smith, in fact; he could have tracked down the University of Oklahoma’s Biology department, filed a complaint about a grad student who blogs under “Abbie Smith,” and let them hunt her down.

    “Because Surly amy is an amazing person, and Abbie smith is an evil whore.”

    I disagree with Amy’s tendency to DMCA unauthorized use of her images of her jewelry. She’s well within her rights to do so, as the copyright holder, but it’s debatable how much revenue she’s protecting by those actions. That disqualifies her from “amazing,” in my books.

    I have no idea what Smith’s sex life is like, and I don’t care.

    So you’re zero for two in the reason department.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    What the heck? My reply was deleted. I’ll try again:

    Posts have been edited on the Slyme Pit. Google “site:slymepit.com “Last edited by””, and you’ll get a list of “12,300” (it’s actually no more than 30) examples. Vacula’s that that had Amy’s address not only has “EDITED TO FIX UNWISE POSTING,” it also lists:

    “Last edited by Lsuoma on Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

    Reason: Personal information removed at request of OP.”

    Now, you hang out on the Slyme Pit. Were you oblivious to the editing going on, despite Justicar’s complaints, or are you lying to all of us?

  • John C. Welch

    Censor ERV? Does asking a blog network to follow their own policy count as censorship now? Here’s a quote from ScienceBlog’s Code of Conduct:

    Do not post anything that:

    – slanders, defames, threatens, or harasses another person

    – is bigoted, pornographic, hateful, racist, sexist, intolerant, or excessively vulgar

    And yet ERV has managed to get away with:

    “I am so glad some of these pig fuckers got their spineless asses off SciBlogs. [...] Dont let the door hit your ass on the way out, you ungrateful media whore.”

    Funny, you don’t seem to have a problem with the strident, even hateful things posted about various religious groups by PeeZus, Laden et al.

    I guess it’s only when your heroes catch crap that you suddenly DEMAND JUSTICE. AKA “it’s only bad when MY ox gets gored.”

    Those three bloggers, and many others, were right to call out ScienceBlogs and National Geographic for not following their own policy. As for Laden, here’s his summary of the “silencing:”

    “By the way, I also made a complaint about that specific issue, at the
    same time (along with a couple of other points of interest) to the chair
    of Abbie Smith’s academic department. Like it or not, this is how
    blatant professional misconduct is often managed in academia. The
    expected outcome of such an email might be a follow up phone
    conversation and a sit down talk between the student and adviser or
    chair.”

    What misconduct. What proof did he have that she was engaged in “professional misconduct”? None. He insinuated she was using institution resources to run ERV, yet never got around to showing any proof of that. I guess “I don’t like what she’s saying” is now “professional misconduct”. We also leave off the fact that Abbie isn’t actually listed as “Abbie Smith” at her institution, so he had to spend more than a quick search to find out who she was, where she worked, and who her boss was, so he could have her silenced.

    Again, if it was okay for Laden to attempt this with her, it was okay for Bill Donohue to demand UMinn Morris fire PeeZus for the EXACT same conduct Laden was accusing Abbie of, namely using institutional resources to say mean things about stuff they care about.

    Laden’s done some bad things, but sending an email to Smith’s department about her online conduct isn’t one of them.

    Here, let me translate that from hypocritical douchebag to english for you:

    “See, I agree with Laden about Abbie, in that I think she’s a hateful gender traitor who should be silenced. So really, the idea that I’ll have any problem with any action he takes against her, or really, ANYONE takes against her is just silly. As long as Greg is only attacking people I also dislike, then it’s all good.”

    Yeah. Funny how you quote Greg’s take on it, but somehow leave off Abbie’s side.

    But she’s a hateful gender traitor, so what’s the point of asking her, right?

  • John C. Welch

    You’ll have a point if you can show me a website which exists solely to catalogue what goes on in the Slyme Pit, Hoggle’s blog, or the blog of any other friend of the Slyme Pit. Until then, there are two simpler explanations: someone noticed a post, and forwarded it along to Benson/Zvan/et al, or someone made a post, and forwarded it along.

    Translating Hornbeck from Hypocritical Douchebag to English:

    “because their actions are inconvenient for my narrative, I shall find a relatively minor point, and distort it so that I am once again right. If you’d just understand that NOTHING my side does can possibly be wrong, and your side can never be anything but evil, this would all be much simpler.”

    Very true, but note the key words: “I shall never, ever see it unless someone else takes some action to tell me.” That’s exactly what’s happening to Zvan, Benson, and the rest. Other people are tweeting or emailing them links to blog posts, or posting them to their Facebook pages. And if they get repeated enough, anyone searching for Zvan/Benson/etc. online will see them. This amounts to bullying by proxy. It’s not as bad as direct bullying, but when done often enough it can amount to the same thing.

    So why don’t they tell those people “Hey, I know they say mean things. I just don’t fucking care, they are unimportant in the scheme of my life. I’d appreciate it if you stopped relaying their shit to me, and maybe you should stop reading it too.”

    As far as the bullying by proxy, again, it’s the same thing your heroes do to everyone against them, but again, we see your basic philosophy:

    “If you’d just understand that NOTHING my side does can possibly be wrong, and your side can never be anything but evil, this would all be much simpler.”

    See how easy it is when you just speak the truth? There is nothing your side will do that you’ll not justify as okay. Nothing. So stop with the pretense of fairness.

    I’ve addressed Laden’s “bullying” of Smith elsewhere in this thread, but not his threatening email to Griffith. THAT was very wrong, and Brayton was justified in kicking Laden off of FtB for it. Hopefully Laden learned from his mistake, and won’t do anything similar in future.

    BAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA

    Bullshit. The only reason you’re behind laden getting kicked off the site is because Brayton did it. Had that not happened, and it was just “the bad people” calling for Laden’s removal, you’d be defending him to the fucking hilt.

    Again, if you actually thought what Laden did is okay, then simply state that Bill Donohue was similarly right to try to get PeeZus fired for the exact same reasons.

    I’ll wait. I’ve time.

    The only reason Brayton kicked him off was because Justin had the bad taste to reprint that email, so it couldn’t be swept under the rug. Period.

    Again, spare me your pretentions of ethical consistency or moral fiber, and go back to tonguing the asses of your heroes. It’s all you’re doing here in the first place.

  • John C. Welch

    I have not seen anything from PZ that “slanders, defames, threatens, or harasses another person” or “is bigoted, pornographic, hateful, racist, sexist, intolerant, or excessively vulgar.” Would you care to enlighten me? Because otherwise, his posts seem perfectly in line with ScienceBlogs’ policy.

    again, there’s no point. you’ve already established he and the others can do no wrong. Any effort on my point would be wasted effort, and just require you do justify yet more shit.

    Huh, didn’t know that. It still doesn’t do anything to change her comments, though, it simply means she was using anonymity to shield herself from the consequences of her comments. Anonymity can be a good thing, as any whistle-blower will tell you, but it can also protect bullies and harassers from being called on on bad behaviour.

    Translation:

    “Then it’s a good thing Laden stalked her, we can find her easier next time”

    Is there anything you won’t justify?

    Uh, where did I call her a gender traitor? And how is her views on gender relevant to a discussion of bullying and harassment? You are straw-personning me, rather than focusing on my actual arguments.

    You have zero problems with any of the names your side has called her over the last year, so on some level, you approve. you have zero problems with Laden stalking her, so on some level you approve.

    Just be honest dude. Short of Laden physically attacking her, you have no problem with anything he’s done on any level.

  • John C. Welch

    oh yeah…one more on this:

    if it’s okay for laden to stalk her and learn her non-public personal information, why is it wrong for Vacula to provide information that is publicly available on the internet?

    I’ll save you time:

    “Because Surly amy is an amazing person, and Abbie smith is an evil whore.”

    You’ll take more words to explain it, but that’s the reason right there.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “Were you trying to narrow the scope of consideration to real world bullying?”

    I was trying to bring out Welch’s definition of bullying, by taking an extreme view and bargaining down to a mutual understanding. He seems to have wandered off the topic, though.

    “At any rate, would you consider it bullying to publicly accuse someone of a sex crime (with no evidence forthcoming) and promote the idea that a major leader within skepticism was deliberately covering up sex crimes? That sounds like bullying to me, regardless of whether it happened on a blog.”

    If that happened, sure. I assume you’re thinking of DJ Groethe’s comment that there were no reports of sexual harassment at TAM, however, and in that case we do have evidence:

    “Two complainants approach me and another conferee. They are
    pale and trembling. Allegedly, a man with a camera on the end of a
    telescoping monopod has been attempting to surreptitiously take photos up their skirts. Yes, he was attending TAM. They had taken concerns to conference organizers and got little satisfaction. Hotel security confiscated the camera. I later learned the individual was “well-known”and had been complained about in previous years, and yet there he was again.”
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/rob-tarzwell/tam-rebecca-watson-and-female-safety-two-anecdotes/10150932203392412
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/06/14/those-meddling-kids/

  • HJ Hornbeck

    Er, that should read “Vacula’s post that had Amy’s address not only contains.” I blame my fat fingers. :P

  • John C. Welch

    Nice work there, you’d do well in a propaganda ministry.

    Let’s see what your intrepid investigation has found:

    1) The guy running the site can edit things and, fyi, he’s the only one to my knowledge.

    2) There have been edits *by him* for things like:

    Making posts sticky (items 1, 2, 5,6, on the return from your search)
    Making posts unsticky/”normal”: (items 3, 4, 7,8,9)
    Fixing a quote mistake (item 10)

    In each case, the edit is not changing content, and is documented.

    So far, i’m not seeing any evidence of memory holing ala Benson/Zvan or the kinds of edits both have been caught doing when their words were inconvenient (The infamous disappearing “fuck you miranda” on benson’s old site being a prime example), or how Zvan will block a commenter, then reply to them and demand they reply, knowing they cannot, then use that lack of reply as “proof” she is right.

    is this really the best you have, or do you have any, you know, actual evidence of the shit you’re trying to accuse the ‘pit of? Because the one example you cite is actually documented as to what AND WHY it was changed. Fuck, I WISH the idiots at FTB did that, it would remove many objections.

    But we all know the answer: if it comes from FTB/A+, it’s correct, and if it comes from any who disagree with them it is wrong.

    You haven’t said anything different yet.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “you’ve already established he and the others can do no wrong.”

    Where? I’ve already criticized Laden elsewhere in this thread. You’re straw-personing again.

    “Any effort on my point would be wasted effort, and just require you do justify yet more shit.”

    Oh how convenient, you don’t need to provide any evidence because you know I’ll never change my mind. You know my own brain better than I do, apparently.

    “Translation:”

    That’s not a translation.

    “You have zero problems with any of the names your side has called her
    over the last year, so on some level, you approve. you have zero
    problems with Laden stalking her, so on some level you approve.”

    I likely have problems with some of the names, and had Laden stalked Smith I would certainly have problems. You’re telling me what I think again, with predictable results.

    “Just be honest dude. Short of Laden physically attacking her, you have no problem with anything he’s done on any level.”

    I’ve got deep problems with what he’s done, as I’ve detailed elsewhere in this thread. Are you finished with telling me what I believe and straw-personing my views? I’d like to get into an actual argument at some point.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “you’ve already established he and the others can do no wrong.”

    Where? I’ve already criticized Laden elsewhere in this thread. You’re straw-personing again.

    “Any effort on my point would be wasted effort, and just require you do justify yet more shit.”

    Oh how convenient, you don’t need to provide any evidence because you know I’ll never change my mind. You know my own brain better than I do, apparently.

    “Translation:”

    That’s not a translation.

    “You have zero problems with any of the names your side has called her
    over the last year, so on some level, you approve. you have zero
    problems with Laden stalking her, so on some level you approve.”

    I likely have problems with some of the names, and had Laden stalked Smith I would certainly have problems. You’re telling me what I think again, with predictable results.

    “Just be honest dude. Short of Laden physically attacking her, you have no problem with anything he’s done on any level.”

    I’ve got deep problems with what he’s done, as I’ve detailed elsewhere in this thread. Are you finished with telling me what I believe and straw-personing my views? I’d like to get into an actual argument at some point.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “you’ve already established he and the others can do no wrong.”

    Where? I’ve already criticized Laden elsewhere in this thread. You’re straw-personing again.

    “Any effort on my point would be wasted effort, and just require you do justify yet more shit.”

    Oh how convenient, you don’t need to provide any evidence because you know I’ll never change my mind. You know my own brain better than I do, apparently.

    “Translation:”

    That’s not a translation.

    “You have zero problems with any of the names your side has called her
    over the last year, so on some level, you approve. you have zero
    problems with Laden stalking her, so on some level you approve.”

    I likely have problems with some of the names, and had Laden stalked Smith I would certainly have problems. You’re telling me what I think again, with predictable results.

    “Just be honest dude. Short of Laden physically attacking her, you have no problem with anything he’s done on any level.”

    I’ve got deep problems with what he’s done, as I’ve detailed elsewhere in this thread. Are you finished with telling me what I believe and straw-personing my views? I’d like to get into an actual argument at some point.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “you’ve already established he and the others can do no wrong.”

    Where? I’ve already criticized Laden elsewhere in this thread. You’re straw-personing again.

    “Any effort on my point would be wasted effort, and just require you do justify yet more shit.”

    How convenient, you don’t need to provide any evidence because you know I’ll never change my mind. You know my own brain better than I do, apparently.

    “Translation:”

    That’s not a translation.

    “You have zero problems with any of the names your side has called her over the last year, so on some level, you approve. you have zero
    problems with Laden stalking her, so on some level you approve.”

    I likely have problems with some of the names, and had Laden stalked Smith I would certainly have problems. You’re telling me what I think again, with predictable results.

    “Just be honest dude. Short of Laden physically attacking her, you have no problem with anything he’s done on any level.”

    I’ve got deep problems with some of what he’s done, as I’ve detailed elsewhere in this thread. Are you finished with telling me what I believe and straw-personing my views? I’d like to get into an actual argument at some point.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    If you’d actually read through the thread following that Facebook note, you’d know that no one had been seen “attempting to surreptitiously take photos up their skirts” but rather had been spotted carrying around a camera on a monopod and that was considered suspicious activity. This was confirmed by the only known eyewitness to these events, who was very polite and patient in explaining what really happened. You’ll note that I was in that thread as well, trying to draw out the real story, like a skeptic should.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

    Of course, I’ll accept that harassment happens, but that doesn’t make it acceptable to accuse DJ of covering up sex crimes: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/06/15/holy-fucking-shit/#comment-76611

    Greta took a secondhand report of a sex crime and republished it to the world, thereby defaming the alleged perpetrator if he is innocent. Her commenters make the natural inference that DJ covered up the sex crime. This is terrible skepticism, with no attempt to corroborate facts, and it is cyberbullying at its worst.

  • John C. Welch

    “Because greg laden is on my side, and therefore, whatever he does is okay. Unless it’s inconvenient, then under the bus with him.”

    “I disagree with what amy did, even though she’s right to do so”

    yep. You’re a paragon of independent thought.

  • John C. Welch

    You criticized laden for the ONE thing that actually got him booted off FTB. Had that not happened, I doubt you’d care. And in fact, your continuing defense of his stalking of Abbie smith, and his attempts to do the same thing to her that Bill Donohue tried to do to PZ, with only the latter being wrong show that your “Criticism” of laden is certainly not a stance you would take had you any other choice.

    Laden did stalk her. That’s black and white. He took extra effort to find out what Abbies actual name used at her institution was, and used that information in an attempt to force her to shut up, because she was inconvenient for him, and then got mad when it didn’t work, and HIS privacy/anonymity was compromised.

    You have no problem with that. In fact, based on your defense of it, I rather think you were cheering him on. So again, what would he have to actually do to her to be wrong. Spare me the “I agreed with firing him from FTB” shit. The only reason that happened is because Justin Griffith had some spine, and refused to allow him to operate in the dark.

    Criticizing someone because you no longer have a choice in the matter isn’t that impressive. But I will say, we now know where your line is. Stalking? Okey-dokey. Threatening to kick someone’s ass is bad. I guess he would have to threaten abbie for you to think he did her wrong.

    Aren’t you just awesome.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    Welch: “that’s funny, since you can’t edit shit on the slymepit once it’s posted, not even for typos.”

    Welch: “The guy running the site can edit things [...] In each case, the edit is not changing content, and is documented.”

    I think that sums it up. Oh, and you conveniently forgot about the post where Vacula posted Amy’s address, then had it removed by the mod. I think that qualifies as changing content, no?

    “But we all know the answer: if it comes from FTB/A+, it’s correct, and if it comes from any who disagree with them it is wrong.”

    You have this wonderful habit of blatantly strawpersoning your opponents, then ignoring them when they ask for evidence that they haven’t been strawpersoned. It’s not a very convincing tactic.

  • HJ Hornbeck

    “Translating Hornbeck from Hypocritical Douchebag to English:”

    Thanks! I was looking for a shorter way to say “I’m about to distort someone’s words into something more convenient to my narrative, while trying to imply they are a horrible person at the same time,” and I think you nailed it.

    “As far as the bullying by proxy, again, it’s the same thing your heroes
    do to everyone against them, but again, we see your basic philosophy:”

    You really don’t have a counter-argument, do you? The best you can manage is to pretend I argued something different, and hope everyone forgets my original arguments while I waste time defending things I never said, or bring up other arguments irrelevant to the topic on hand. That’s most of the content of your post:

    “Bullshit. The only reason you’re behind laden getting kicked off the site is because Brayton did it.”

    “The only reason Brayton kicked him off was because Justin had the bad
    taste to reprint that email, so it couldn’t be swept under the rug.
    Period.”

    “Again, spare me your pretentions of ethical consistency or moral fiber,
    and go back to tonguing the asses of your heroes. It’s all you’re doing
    here in the first place.”

    This is as close as you get to an actual argument:

    “Again, if you actually thought what Laden did is okay, then simply state
    that Bill Donohue was similarly right to try to get PeeZus fired for
    the exact same reasons.”

    Smith violated the Code of Conduct of her blog network. Myers hasn’t.

    Now, are you going to start responding to my own arguments, or continue to throw up your smokescreen?

  • HJ Hornbeck

    And you’re reduced to blatantly strawpersoning me, instead of explaining the errors in my argument. You can’t do it, can you? You haven’t a single decent counter-argument to anything I’ve said, but you’re so desperate to oppose me that you’re reduced to changing my words to suit your narrative and quoting your fabrications back at me.

    I’m starting to feel pity for you, Welch. I hope you’re less impotent in other aspects of your life.

  • John C. Welch

    “Anything my side does is okay, as long as we don’t get caught.”

    Tell me something hornswoggle…did you happen to pay attention to what Donohue accused PeeZus of doing? Because if you had, you’d see that it was…violating the code of conduct for UMinn Morris.

    Now, it was ridiculous, because his entire “proof” was that PeeZus had been horribly mean to poor catlicks. Which was true. But had he been hateful? Dunno, I guess the person getting told their beliefs are shit might have a different opinion than the person saying that beliefs are shit.

    but in any event, Donohue did a shit job of proving it.

    Yet, Laden says the SAME THING about Abbie, with really, the same “proof”, aka “SHE’S SAYING MEAN THINGS. Again, did they actually violate NatGeo’s code of conduct any more than PeeZus violated UMinn Morris’s? Probably depends on your point of view.

    Yet with really, the ONLY difference being whose ox is getting gored, you’re fine with Laden stalking her, you’re fine with everything he did to her, because Laden is on your side.

    I dislike PeeZus on about every level I can, yet, what Donohue did to him is *wrong*. It’s wrong when you try to fuck with someone’s job so that they know to shut the fuck up. It’s the internet version of “nice place you got here. Man, sure looks like a fire would fuck it all up. Be a shame if that happened”. I don’t care that I think PeeZus is a cowardly fuckwit, he has the right to be one, and you don’t go being an even BIGGER coward just because you don’t like what he’s saying.

    What Laden did to Abbie, even though it failed, and what Donohue did to PeeZus, even though it failed are wrong for the SAME REASONS.

    that, right there is the difference between us. I’m not going to give a jackanape like Donohue a bye because his actions were targeted at someone I dislike. What he did was wrong, for both definitions of “he” in this case.

    Unlike you, I don’t set aside my sense of right and wrong just because the target becomes more or less convenient.

  • John C. Welch

    Oh loooooook! Hornswoggle’s making penis jokes now. Isn’t that cute. Well, now I have proof that I have in fact, been arguing with a 12-year old. Bless your heart honey, does your mommy or daddy know you’re trolling internet forums?

  • laursaurus

    I agree with Karla. You handled the whole ordeal amazingly well, Justin. Your only misstep was taking the bait that Lousy Cannuck shoved in your face. They needed a male scapegoat, especially after Dr. Hall shrugged Amy’s hysteria off. I saw your frustration and confusion, operating under the assumption that you were dealing with rational people. But realizing just in time, you acted honorably and gracefully.

    The topic of your post should help things click for readers who are still naively operating under the same assumption; that these “victims” are enthusiastic volunteers. Watson’s blogging is always geared to up the ante. The “hate” she provoked did not occur in a vacuum. She knows exactly the right buttons to hit, never admits a mistake, intentionally plays rough, and basks in the spotlight of self-righteousness. She’d throw her own mother under the bus for attention.

    I think she anticipates the reactions she evokes.