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27 October, 2012

Roseanne Barr, Presidential Candidate, Transphobic Fuckwit.

Roseanne Barr is on twitter espousing that women need a "safe space" from "men," ie: women's restrooms are too good for trans women to use because feminists are so busy being oppressed that the possible chance they might see a penis is just traumatizing.

Roseanne uses the example of a transgendered woman being kicked out of a women's locker room at a college campus to push her mistrust and hate against the trans community. It's this link here, and while Roseanne and her ilk try to make it out as if this woman was flashing her penis in the faces of these High School girls who were using the facility, that's not what happened at all. Read it for yourself.

In light of this news story, Roseanne has begun a "safe-space" crusade, the typical anti-trans argument that "real" women are more important than transwomen. Here is the first exchange of many transphobic remarks:

Thank you Enda Blog 2.0 for the image

Her obsession with what is between people's legs is what is wrong with this puritanical, sex-hating, binary-gender pushing country.

What does this have to do with atheist morality? Binary gender roles and rules about sex that were born from religious oppression, I could say, but really, I'm posting this because it's my fucking blog and I'm fucking pissed about this. Moving on.

Sex and gender is a complicated issue, but what it comes down to is that some people are born with genitalia that don't match the rest of their body. Some have an expensive and invasive surgery and some don't. Respecting the person's personal identity is paramount to accepting them as a human being. To do otherwise is to reduce them to their sex organs and treat them as sub-human.

Feminists can't stand this idea of acceptance. For some reason, they think that being female is some special privileged you're born with, endowed by some higher order. These magic-vagina disordered rad-fems are as bigoted as the people who thought the same thing about their skin color forty years ago.

So here we have a locker room where a group of girls accidentally sees the remaining "male" bits on a woman and the world freaks out, saying that the girls aren't safe. Roseanne and her twitter friends take the opportunity to bash transgirls as not "real" women and paint a picture of predatory trans people taking away women's rights. Not once do they reverse the role and try to apply this logic to transguys.  Some followers imply that a penis is nothing more than a rape tool, never mind that there is a person behind it.

This is my last straw. I used to be a feminist. I still look up to the many suffragettes and trail-blazers of the past who looked forward to a day when all people were treated equally, but feminism today is more about superiority and magic vaginas than about true equality. I just can't get behind that.

20 October, 2012

Fuck You, Paul Wallace

Paul Wallace has a ridiculous post at HuffPo about how he isn't an atheist because he's too pessimistic.

Apparently, when atheists began writing books, he got scared that he might have some doubts about his faith. These "New Atheists" were proclaiming that science and religious claims were incompatible, and that a scientific worldview could disprove the existence of God. He writes,
As a professor of physics and former working scientist, I have told myself that I care because the New Atheists claim that science -- of all things -- disproves God's existence. During my years as a seminary student I told myself that I care out of theological interest. But what really scared me was the possibility that my fascination was an index of my own unconscious unbelief. I gradually began to ask myself: Am I a closet atheist?

He came across his answer reading William James, apparently. (Side note on William James: his works inspired Bill Wilson to start Alcoholics Anonymous, a "recovery" group with less than 3% success rate). William James "draws a distinction between two psychological types, the "healthy-minded" and the "sick soul," I saw clearly what separates me from the New Atheists: pessimism."

Wallace goes on to use the example of the half-empty or half-full analogy. Turns out we atheists must minimize the evil in the world in order to see the glass as half-full. He quotes James that optimists stay cheery "by systematically declining to lay them to heart or to make much of them, [or] by ignoring them in his reflective calculations." As pessimists, believers see the evil in the world and "can't stop wondering why it's that way," which ultimately leads to the conclusion that there can only be a spiritual solution to these evils.

Yes, folks, you heard that right. He doesn't have to support the God claim, he just has to pay more attention to suffering and not be so willing to ignore it like us atheists. You know us, never looking at suffering so we can ignore God. Never giving to Kiva or Doctors Without Borders in record numbers... Oh wait, we did that.

He calls science -- our replacement for religion -- "the most optimistic enterprise ever concocted by human beings." Because scientists believe the world can be made better by humans, it is too optimistic. (You know, because doubling the average human lifespan through the use of modern medicine doesn't deserve any credit or something. Meanwhile, in the Bible, bats are birds and the earth is a disc).

He paints a mental picture of a park with an atheist bus going by, with the message "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

His next paragraph is appalling and insulting and ignorant. I'll just leave it here in full:
It is optimistic because it assumes that the default condition of human life is peace. It is optimistic because, in its refusal to acknowledge the deeper problems of life, it redraws human experience on a solvable and finite scale, presuming that what people really need is to "enjoy their lives." After all, it's a beautiful day in the city; what else could there be to need? It is optimistic because the creators of the campaign could not bring themselves to imagine -- or if they did imagine it they did not take it seriously -- someone reading it who, in the words of Francis Spufford, is poverty-stricken, or desperate for a job, or a drug addict, or a mother who just lost a child to social services. Someone who is truly alone in this world and who may have nothing but the faintest hope of a loving God keeping them alive. Maybe they did think about such a person and decided that they too need to "stop worrying and enjoy their life," starting with a breath of clean godless air. Now that's optimism.
In the two-thousand years of Christianity's reign, the churches have held wealth and power while people starved and died. Wallace doesn't think we could imagine a person seeing our message whose only hope is in a loving God.

Quite the opposite. Religion is a crutch and an oppressor, keeping people impoverished and their minds too dull to fight against the superstitious clutch that has held humanity back for thousands of years.

That poverty-stricken job hunter should be relying on himself to keep searching -- or better yet, our community should come together to rally around this person until they get back on their feet.

The drug addict, in and out of 12-step recovery programs wondering why her craving for drugs won't leave her should be doing intense psychotherapy work and getting help from others in a detox center instead of waiting around for a miracle. Better yet, our community should be rallying around her to get help, offering real solutions instead of pseudo-spiritual mumbo-jumbo.

Same with the person who loses their child to social services. God won't bring the child back; doing the footwork necessary to become a fit parent will. Better yet, a community ready to teach that parent what it will take and encourage her would be better suited than an invisible and silent imaginary friend.

It's the prolonging and perpetration of suffering that turns many atheists from religion, that even if a God were found to exist, he would deserve no worship for allowing such suffering to continue in the world, choosing to do nothing about it, even though he can.

Wallace ends his pathetic piece by taking another stab at us "optimists:"
The Christianity I know takes note of the blue London sky, of the footballers, and of the picnicking lovers, but it starts with the addict on the street. You know, the one optimism forgot about. The fragile one standing alone at the edge of the park, watching the Atheist Bus roll jauntily past.
Without any evidence and only a bus ad, he assumes that the New Atheists are cheerfully ignoring the suffering in the world so we can live gleefully without a God, while Noble Christians turn their head to the suffering person.

How dare Wallace make such an accusation when it has been religion and superstition that have kept these people delusional and miserable, giving them false hope and ripping away any self-direction they might have. All he had to do was Google search and he'd see atheist groups helping homeless people, addicts, third-world countries, starving people, offering medicine and promoting community throughout the world. Paul Wallace is the worst kind of theist, the sanctimonious know-it-all too afraid to look outside of his own little bubble lest he find his preconceived prejudices might turn out to be wrong.

And they are wrong. So fuck you, Paul Wallace.

15 October, 2012

Knowledge is Power

Knowledge is power. Power in the hands of a fourteen year old girl was too threatening to the Taliban, who attempted to assassinate Malala Yousufzai, who advocated giving education to young girls.

When your biggest threat is a child with an education and you feel the need to make an attempt on her life to silence her, you have lost the battle.

The cravenness of the Taliban is amplified in this case by the courage of this young girl.

Malala landed in the UK today to receive specialized treatment for the gunshot wound to her skull. She was airlifted with help from the UAE and Pakistan has condemned the attack, with thousands taking to the streets to protest against the Taliban's cowardice.

Malala is expected to recover, but hopefully this is a death knell to any support the Taliban finds in conservative Muslims and marks the end of the silence of those too terrified by these cretins to speak out against them.

10 October, 2012

I Forgot I Screencapped This.

I want to provide here one of the saddest examples of what I call the atheism plus McCarthyist mindset. On the blogs celebrating the petition for the SCA to remove Justin Vacula from his position, I found this comment and had to cap it. Attack-dog level A+:

"We can intimidate people like him..."

This is not honorable behavior. Justin Vacula originally came under fire for merely asking questions regarding the "sexism" controversy that has developed on the internet the last year and for retweeting a twitter account that makes fun of the overreacting group of people who have been behind these witch hunts. The Surly Amy thing came after he was already in their sights and Surly Amy herself put her own address onto the website where Justin found it. Even so, he removed the comment where he linked to it and apologized. Still, he's called a bully and a misogynist.

"There's no room for people like Vacula in our community." He's doing a lot more in the real world than these forum and blog-comment creepers sitting on the internet making themselves into victims of imagined injuries.

This kind of stuff is why the people posting these blogs will never be able to change their position and must keep on stirring the pot. If they changed their position or admitted they were wrong their own followers would turn on them like rabid dogs. That is scary. They've created their own monsters, though, and I don't feel sorry for them for that.

Just a Thought

Reap Paden, the Angry Atheist and a co-host on the A-News podcast has come under fire for calling Stephanie Zvan a bitch in the latest episode. I listened to the entire podcast. For regular viewers and for people who know some background on the situation, it was clear that a lot of the language they were using was meant to make fun of the caricature that people like Zvan have created out of those that disagree with her and her friends' radfem views. The sole reason for using the terms were to make a mockery of the easily offended. And it worked. The overreactors are overreacting yet again.

I've listened to the podcast for a few weeks now and these guys are not women haters. Zvan is an inflammatory personality who purposely stirs controversy on her blog. She's mean and nasty to those that disagree with her and pretends to protect women, but holds a double standard when her friends (like Greg Laden) attack others. I wouldn't want to be in the same room with her, she's that despicable. Instead of going into all that, the A-News guys just used the word "bitch."

If you've been reading my blog lately, you know my approach to disagreement has changed. I won't be calling Stephanie Zvan a bitch here, but I will be clear that I do not like her or her Rovian-like tactics. That doesn't mean that I am going to condemn Reap or anyone else for using the language they see fit. Freedom of speech is essential, especially that which offends. This also means that Zvan has a right to hate-blog back (which she always does), but in doing so, she's only proving their point. Just a thought.

"Bitch" is not the new "N" word

Certain bloggers and forum lurkers have compared words like "bitch" and "cunt" to racial and homophobic slurs. It's a terrible analogy and here's why.

Language changes. The meanings of words change. For example, resentment was once used to describe something someone thought of fondly. "Bitch" and "cunt" are no different.

While "Bitch" was once a derogatory term for women, the general meaning of the word has changed over time. In fact, its original meaning was innocuous, describing a female dog. In certain contexts, the term can still be used against women, but often the term is applied to men, too. In US English, "bitch" is the equivalent of a shady person undeserving of respect, no matter what their gender. It can also be someone who complains about things that are trivial, ("don't be such a bitch about it").

"Cunt" is another one. In US English it has been a particularly cutting and insulting word with a great taboo placed upon it. This made the term more powerful when used, (frequency of use does affect how we view words). In European English-speaking countries this word has not had the same effect. They use "cunt" as often as we use "asshole" over here. In fact, in French, the term that translates to "asshole" is "con" or "connard," which, a hundred years ago, was the word for a woman's vagina.

Internet forums demanding those two terms be treated like racial and homophobic slurs are actually giving those terms more power than they have or deserve.

The "N" word was once used to describe an entire people who were oppressed, murdered and sold into slavery.

The "F" word was once a term used to compare gay people to the bundle of kindling lit by the fires they would use to burn these people. It's come to my attention that the origin of "faggot" is unclear. Regardless, it's been used in a much broader sense to oppress gay people than "bitch" or "cunt" has to oppress women. In fact, "woman" is used more as a stereotypical marker to enforce strict gender roles than any other word. With it comes much more baggage than "bitch." I'm not saying we need to change what word we use, I'm just pointing out that women's history of cultural oppression and that of minorities are different.

Bitch was used to insult a woman who wasn't following the rules of lady hood and respectability. There are some major differences there.

The "F" and "N" words are still used in much the same way they used to be. "Bitch" has undergone a lot of changes and has a lot of different meanings. Perhaps we should instead focus on the way we talk to each other and disagree about things rather than the words themselves.

09 October, 2012

Really, Arkansas?

Arkansas legislatuve candidate Charlie Fuqua came under fire for proposing in his book that the death penalty be instated for unruly kids. His argument for this legislation is two-fold, the first being that it's biblically accurate and the second being that it would never have to be used because just the threat would be enough to keep kids in line. He also states that there are no accounts of children being executed by ancient Israelis, despite the law being on the books.

While reading the article, I clicked a link to a HuffPo article about Arkansas representative Jon Hubbard calling slavery a blessing in disguise in his own book. Two crazies in one week! Arkansas, you are the state that gave us Bill Clinton and now you're offering us this? Come on, now. So slavery and killing unruly children are biblically accurate. That just makes you consistent Christians, not good people!

08 October, 2012

The Way We Live Now.

The atheist community is divided, no doubt. Who started it, who is fueling the fire, and what solutions are best have been hotly contested, but I think there are a few things both sides could try for awhile to see if they can come to a civil disagreement with the opposing side.

I can summarize where we are today in a few bullet points:

  • We are all arguing over the same thing: fair and equal treatment of all members of our little minority.
  • The approaches to solving these issues are hotly contested, as well as what constitutes unfair or unequal treatment.
  • When one side says something, whether they are right or wrong, the other side goes on the attack and blogs about the person instead of addressing the issue with the person.
  • Said blog posts are often full of insults, vitriol and strawmen.
  • If one side honestly makes a mistake and apologizes, but includes an explanation of their actions, a defense of their position, or tries to dispute the strawmen, they are blasted in a subsequent blog post accusing the person of a "not-apology," and fueling the fire and starting the cycle all over again.
The problem with the not-apology concept is that no one is required to admit to faults they don't think they've committed. Being mad at someone and being right about one thing doesn't give you the right to make the person wrong about everything. You can accept the apology or not, but if you don't, at least explain why in a civil way, instead of going back on the attack. 

Engage with the person. Tell them how their actions made you feel before you go back on your blog to rally your troops. Be open to the fact that, even though the person might have been wrong about their actions regarding one thing that they've apologized for, they might actually be right about other things. We aren't going to get to mutual understanding by attack-blogging each other every time we disagree.

Also, realize that people are going to have different opinions than you. Yes, our movement is important. Yes, it's very special to people who have been oppressed by religion and are finally finding a voice. No matter how impassioned you are, though, you don't have a right to make sure everyone falls in line with you on certain hot-button topics. Those topics have caused controversy in the larger society, so it's not a strictly atheist problem that these things are cropping up. You shouldn't expect them to suddenly be solved just because you've joined the atheist movement. 

No one has any right to say how our entire group should or shouldn't approach problems of racism, homophobia, and sexism. If you are getting upset at people for disagreeing with you about these topics and not apologizing for holding these different opinions, you are expecting way too much. If someone proposes a different approach to addressing one of these issues, they shouldn't be called enablers of whatever behavior is being criticized. If someone asks for more data on how often this behavior is occurring, they aren't blaming the victim or pretending there is no problem, they're just being skeptical. If you can't provide any actual data, you might want to want to consider why some people have been skeptical. 

The "not-apology" concept and the conflation of objection with being an apologist for bad behavior have got to be thrown out, in my opinion. Let's address each other instead of the readers of our blogs that will undoubtedly validate the opinions we already hold. Maybe we can get to a place where we can say, "We agree to disagree."

07 October, 2012

Freethought Day Code of Conduct

The code of conduct in the Freethought Day program was two pages long and very extensive. It included, "Ask for consent before all interpersonal contact," and "Outside of [speakers' and entertainers'] performance, understand that they may not necessarily wish to pose for photographs, provide an autograph or be interviewed." I didn't get any pictures with the authors or speakers I met because I was uneasy and didn't want to look creepy. If I had asked for a picture and they had said no, I would have respected it, but because of the note in the policy, I would have felt guilty for asking, so I didn't even ask.

I think that, on a small scale, this is the kind of thing Thunderf00t and Karla Porter are talking about when they mention the unexpected side-effects of extensive and rigorous policies. There was even a moment when I reached out to shake someone's hand to introduce myself where I thought, "Should I ask first?" This is a handshake, folks. Our culture's universal greeting and sign of respect, much like bowing in Japan.

I was disappointed a bit about it because I didn't agree with Ms. Porter and Mr. Thunderf00t about there being no need for a policy, but, as I didn't see or experience any harassment at the event (and have no reason to believe it would have been prevalent without the policy), in this case, I think it would have been better not to have one. That's all I'll say on the subject until I have more information. It didn't totally change my mind about harassment policies in general, but it did get me thinking.

Freethought Day

Yesterday was Freethought Day at the Ben Ali Shrine Center in Sacramento. It was an outdoor event with student, humanist, atheist and political groups tabling and various booths with different authors and entertainers. There was a large stage and seating area where speakers presented. It was a lovely California day, about 75° and sunny.

My husband and I arrived around noon and wandered around. I met David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed: TenTen Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All. He is a very nice man with a great sense of humor. He wore his shirt, "PhD in Heresy," to the event.

Wandering around a bit more, waiting for my friend Sarah, who was meeting us there with her parents, we got a look at The Brick Bible, which I had heard a lot about, but had never seen.

We listened to a poignant talk by Rebecca Hensler of Grief Beyond Belief. Some of you may know that over the last year both Chris and I have lost our grandmothers. It was good to hear that there is a group out there for people who are tired of being told that our loved ones that we miss so much are still floating around, able to see us but forbidden from letting us know, as if some prank were being played on mortals all the time.

We heard an impassioned talk by Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who made clear that he was there with security and that he and his party were armed due to the threats that his organization and family receive regularly. He explained how the most powerful military in the world is full of extremist, right-wing Christians who believe it will be their job to fight for Jesus come judgement day. Their loyalties are not to protect the Constitution or the rights of US citizens, but to the Bible and the religion in which they've been brainwashed and the leaders of our militaries prop up and support this mentality.

What struck me as interesting is that Mr. Weinstein didn't begrudge the fact that he had to be armed. He never said, "We're in fear constantly." He made clear that he asks for no pity for the necessity to carry firearms and have a security entourage. It's as if he's answered the threats with, "I fucking dare you, you bastards -- you'll be dead before you realize your mistake." It was very empowering. He was also clear that he will not stop, his organization will continue to grow, and the religious extremists hiding behind the uniform will have no choice but to lessen their hold on our guns and missiles.

My friend showed up at that point and we did some more mingling. I talked to the SacFAN group about my Davis Area FreeThinkers idea and they told me to create a topic in their meetup and see if anyone else is interested in a Davis meetup.

We met Mr. Deity, Brian Dalton, who was extremely charming and nice. He spoke shortly after on stage about the show, how to get DVD's and some projects in the works that will include Richard Dawkins and others.

We stayed in our seats for the talk by Chris Lombardi of the Secular Coalition for America. SCA is trying to create lobbying groups in each of the fifty states right now. Politically and financially, non-believers are one of the least represented groups in Washington. Slowly but surely, SCA is bringing freethinking organizations together to change that. Sadly, he explained that the SCA can't touch the topic of abortion unless there is some kind of church-state separation issue. The sexual reproduction rights of women is a concept born of religion in my opinion, but I understand that if whatever state or area attempting to ban abortion isn't explicitly endorsing religion as a reason for the ban, the SCA can't get involved due to the nature of their organization. Still, it stings a little.

We took a break for some refreshments and came back to hear Jessica Ahlquist tell her story, which was amazing. There was a man behind us who yelled, "Thank you for doing that!" a couple of times and I wanted to tell him to knock it off. Hecklers, even supportive ones, need to shut up and let people talk. He got more than a few judgmental glances from people who turned their heads to look at him the second time he shouted.  Jessica took it in stride and told the rest of her story without a hitch.

I had to go up and thank her at the end and let her know that ten years ago, no one at my school was an out atheist. There were no atheist clubs and a lawsuit like hers would have been unimaginable, and this is in California. Her bravery is inspiring.

I'd also like to mention the Mockingbirds, a local atheist choir group. They all had beautiful voices and sang fun songs about Darwin, freethought and the absence of faith. I will definitely be checking the SacFAN meetup page for future performances.

All in all, it was a great day and went off without a hitch. I'm looking forward to more events like it.

06 October, 2012


As you may know, I had an interesting twitter conversation with Ophelia Benson today. We kind of hashed it out and then reached a point of empathy that would seem impossible in this climate. We realized that on some points we agree on things. She conceded that there is a problem with the hypersensitivity to trolling that causes the knee-jerk bans, and I understood her frustration with having to deal with tons of trolls in a day and not being able to tell the difference between JAQoffs and people honestly seeking knowledge.

I also had an opportunity to let her know that I don't think that some people have been allowed the chance to be wrong and have their apologies accepted. To this, she countered that there were people who made not-apologies, but I personally see that it's hard to tell the difference between an apology with an explanation of one's own hurts and what she calls a "not-apology." I also pointed out Vjack's blog post, "Attack Blogging" that tends to add fuel to the fire.

It started with me trolling twitter because I honestly was under the impression that that was the only way to get the attention of the FtB people, but Ophelia turned out to be different. We will probably never agree on the honesty of DJ Grothe's apology for certain statements (or the truth of others he's made which I agree with), the integrity of Justin Vacula, or about the intentions of other people who have come under fire from the Freethought Bloggers, but I felt like it was productive. You know me, I have a big mouth and I often find I have to put my foot in my mouth and apologize for what I say. I always leave what I say up for the world to see because I value responsibility.

I went on my alternate twitter account to formerly apologize to Rebecca Watson for calling her a bitch. Even though I felt I was wrongly treated, I want to keep my own side of the street clean from now on. Those of you who've read my blog long enough know that I was in Alcoholic Anonymous for many years and did all the steps, including amends to other people. By apologizing, I'm not making anyone else right, I'm only trying to fix what I did wrong. I have yet to hear back from Ms. Watson.

I still disagree with a lot of the proposed solutions to sexual harassment that have been proposed (more on that later). I still don't like the tactics and tone that many of the FtB blogs use, or how they pick targets and campaign against people (such as in the case of Mr. Vacula and Mr. Grothe).  That being said, from now on I'm really going to make an effort to ignore the people who are purposely causing conflict and keep my own side of the street in check. I don't think our community will become unified if both sides keep insulting each other and I am willing to be one of the people that says, "No more. I won't do it anymore."

That doesn't mean, of course, that I expect anyone else to change their tactics or that I won't have a good laugh with those that are able to make fun of our little groups and disputes, or that when someone is doing something obviously divisive or attention-seeking I won't call them out -- in a respectful manner, of course. Just expect that I'll do it with a mite less cussing and emotion.

My husband and I went to Freethought Day today and now we're watching Aristocats, so I am going to end this long post here. Feel free to comment. I value opinions other than my own because I know I can always be wrong! Have a good night, readers.


I just had an excellent conversation with Ophelia Benson and while I will probably always disagree with her and others about "tone trolling" and the attacks on Justin Vacula, DJ Grothe, Paula Kirby and many, many others, I think I got my point across that we all have a right to be wrong sometimes. I'm hoping the conversation will go in the direction of civil discourse.

I'll blog more later. I'm on my way to Freethought Day in Sacramento. I also extended an apology to Rebecca Watson for calling her a bitch, which I hadn't done directly.

My hope is that, with the distraction of my own incendiary comments out of the way, maybe we can come to some kind of terms as to how people should be dealing with disagreements about touchy subjects. We'll see.

04 October, 2012

A Pyrrhic Victory

I'm joining the ranks of people blogging in support of Justin Vacula after he resigned his leadership position with SCA today. A smear campaign by one vicious, internet-famous, attention-grubbing opportunist in particular did so well to distract the secular community from the real issues gripping our nation and our world, that in order to protect the Secular Coalition of America, he decided to step down.

The accusations against Justin by various bloggers, tweeters and commenters in McCarthyist forums, included bullying, harassing people, and sharing of public information doc dropping on Surly Amy, the latter of which he's already apologized for. Meanwhile, no one on their side has apologized for their own transgressions and they continue to defend their foot soldiers for threatening people they disagree with.

My first thought when I read Justin's blog this morning was that the bullies had won, but I quickly realized that this is the culmination of a series of events over the last couple of weeks that amount to the death rattle of a fruitless heifer. Matt Dillahunty being banned from the Atheism+ forum after asking a question anonymously to try and prove that people were wrong about their criticisms, PZ Myers putting people in the unfortunate position of having to defend an MRA, and now Justin Vacula's resignation all do nothing more than show moderates how extreme the FtBullies clique really is and far they will go to elbow people from the community.

Once upon a time, people like PZ, Watson, McCreight and Greta did good for the world. They fought to unite atheists against the people who bullied, burned and tortured the great thinkers who dared ask questions. Now, they call that "tone trolling."

Justin has been able to admit that sharing the public link to Amy's address was a mistake. As someone with a big mouth and a much hotter temper than him, I look up to him for that. I have foot-in-mouth disease sometimes and I take note of people who admit their wrongs. I have yet to see the leaders on FtB admit they were wrong in their attacks on the character of people who challenged their beliefs. They simply don't live in the integrity they claim to espouse.

This "victory" for them has been Pyrrhic. They know it, or they wouldn't have to stoop to petty critiques of writing style in order to keep the dramedy going. Justin has promised to continue working for equal treatment of secularists and the separation of church and state. It's time to move on from this and start ignoring this little fringe group of extremists circle-jerking each other in the name of "social justice."

The people flocking to their blogs is dwindling and I imagine that legitimate secular organizations will be looking for people a little less focused on drama and a little more focused on the goals of the community. It won't take internet petitions -- the actions of people like Myers, Zvan, Benson and Watson really speak for themselves. Justin stepping down says miles more about them than it does him.

Goodnight everyone. I'm going to leave you all with a quote.

"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." – John F Kennedy.

Oh, Twitter

I'm being called a "psycho" and "bonkers" by twitter user @Dr_Awesome, whose first tweets to me included, "You're silly" and "fucking idiot."

He then blames me for his insults, telling me I deserve it for not giving him respect and tweet-laughing, "Hahahahhaha" at him.

I'm not an expert, but if someone is going to talk about being a psychopath, they ought to know a little more about what constitutes a personality disorder. Just sayin'

03 October, 2012

Bullying, Part 2: This Time It's Personal.

This was going to be a comment response on my post Bullying, but it got long, so I decided to put it in its own post.

I was bullied very badly throughout school. In elementary school (K-5), it was mostly just name calling. My last name was made fun of, my height, my glasses, you name it. My dad home-schooled me for the end of my fifth grade year because it got so bad and I got an inter-district transfer so I wouldn't have to go to school with most of the people that picked on me.

Out of the frying pan, into the fire, as they say. In middle school (6-8), the people got meaner. Suddenly, it was all about clothes and appearance, which I was clueless about. I was very gender neutral as a kid, just wearing whatever was comfortable.

My parents took a very hands-off approach to parenting, meaning they were too busy working and fighting to give a shit about what I looked like. My mom left my dad right before I started sixth grade and he worked swing shift. She went to go build a life with someone new and us girls had to stay with him. He was sleeping when I left for school and gone when I got home. It was like this until he moved away when I started high school.

Thus started the gum throwing, the pushing, the yelling and the violence at school. I would walk between classes with my nose in my Sherlock Holmes book so I could pretend to not hear the names. Even still, they would get right up into my face and scream at me.

I was followed from school multiple times by groups of kids. Two girls got expelled because the Vice Principle watched me get beat up on two separate occasions. I'll never forget the first time I was hit. I was in sixth grade and this girl Alma was in eighth. She kept telling me, "Put your hands up! Put your hands up!" Finally, she hit me and a white light went through my head. My glasses fell off my face. She hit me a few more times and the crowd dispersed.

My anger came out in different ways throughout this. I had a bad temper growing up. I started smoking cigarettes and pot at twelve years old. I was constantly getting bad grades and acing tests, my teachers sending progress reports with "In Danger of Failing. So Smart; Does Not Apply Herself." In high school, the violence subsided and the names were less frequent, but I still had to ditch certain classes to get away.

I smoked pot and did drugs. I got a boyfriend who got his GED. I decided I'd do the same, but couldn't wait long enough for that and took the CHSPE, which let me leave almost an entire year earlier than the GED. I had actually had the best quarter I had ever had the year I decided to do that. I had been forced to move from my mom's house to my dad's, 100 miles away, when she decided to leave my step dad. I had almost straight A's when I left Tracy. I decided to go to the continuation school in my new area while I studied for the CHSPE. I passed and received my certificate without walking on a stage.

I believe there's a connection between everything that happened to me and the decision to leave school. In college, I've found the love for learning that I had when I first started school and I can actually enjoy it. I get mostly A's now, consistently. I'll never forget the time my short-essay answer was read in a class (anonymously) by the teacher as an example of what she was looking for. Due to financial circumstances and career choices, I haven't been able to finish yet, but I wonder what it would have been like if I hadn't hated going to school so much due to the bullying. The divorce had a factor, too, but I really think most of it came from my peers, spending time each day just to try and harm me. For years and years.

This, folks, is bullying. Telling you you're wrong is not bullying. Pointing out stupid things you say on your blog is not bullying. Cyber-bullying cases have been hyped up by the media while they ignore the fact that most of the bullying was actually done in school, not on facebook. It makes a better story to make parents believe the internet is dangerous, however.

If someone sends a person multiple messages a day threatening them, yes, that's bullying. If someone threatens a person's job, it's bullying. If someone wears a shirt at a conference that distances their self from your clique, it's not bullying. If someone points out where you're wrong about a topic or issue, you're not being bullied. Critiquing your use of DMCA to censor blogs is not bullying. Creating a petition to tried to get someone fired is bullying. If someone uses mockery to point out ridiculous beliefs or behaviors, it's not bullying, but also not tactful. If they are constantly calling that person names and contacting that person after being asked not to, that is bullying.

The lines are pretty clear and there is a specific set actions that describe bullying. They include intimidation and fear, coercion and threats. People on the internet are not always clear on this and it needs to be made clear because there is more awareness about this subject and it will be a damned shame if it gets muddied by people who want to redefine the word to include disagreement or the pointing out of ridiculous beliefs. If your feelings are hurt, it's one thing. Bullying is a whole different arena.

Don't tweet while hungry and angry

Wanting to show some people the entire fallout from my tweet to Rebecca Watson (Which I thought had happened in February), I began searching PZ's blog for the post he made that helped bring the down vote brigade to my subsequent reddit post that called Watson a bitch (it's often used gender neutrally, but try and tell the feminazis that. I was creamed for being sexist because of it).

I thought I remembered PZ in the comments addressing me as "he" but it was in fact another commenter. It came to light I was remembering wrong about the date of the post and who identified me as a male.

I couldn't find the post and tweeted that he must have deleted it. I was surprised PZ responded to me at all, but he did.

My view of PZ being dishonest isn't out of hand. If you've been paying attention the last year or so, you've seen numerous examples of him quote-mining, cherry-picking and straw-manning people.

I was hungry and getting angrier by the minute. I created what would later be clarified as a conditional accusation. I'm grateful to an unbiased third party for pointing that out to me because I had misidentified my own statement as a mere false dichotomy.

The tweet in question was, "@pzmyers As did I. Which means you deleted it and you’re lying or there’s something wrong with FtB (minus the obvious)."

So I was wrong and apologized. Ophelia Benson, who is apparently the moral last word, didn't accept my apology as authentic enough. I lol'd. Apologies, once given honestly, aren't validated by whether or not they're accepted.

I really do apologize for the mistakes I made, regardless of the objections I have to the methods and actions of PZ, Benson and the like. I made some mistakes here.

Anyway, I was hungry and over emotional throughout the thing and I've been pretty lax on my "trying to be nicer on the Internet" goal. In the last couple of weeks I've used insults and have gotten pretty hot-headed toward some theists and now the FtBers.

Here I am restating my goal to engage in more civil discourse. Feel free to call me on it if I fall back on old habits again! Again, sorry for my mistakes.

02 October, 2012


I'm going to say something controversial. Jennifer Livingston, the newscaster who addressed the subject of a viewer's email on air, was not bullied by said email. Hear me out.

It was an inappropriate email and none of the guy's business, but his words were not inflammatory, they were rude. He expressed a critique of her appearance and concern that a person in a media position might influence others by their looks. It's a bad position to hold and her weight is none of his business, but he wasn't attacking her in order to incite fear in her or intimidate her.

If this is bullying, then so it is when we say young kids need to pull up their pants, or that musicians need to change their persona to be better influences on youth. These are all critiques that are none of our damn business, but that we freely express without a second thought.

The man is an asshole, but I'm afraid that "bullying" is the wrong word here.

As someone who deplores bullying of all kinds and was bullied from first grade through high-school, I am grateful that anti-bullying measures and messages are finally making it to the mainstream, but I don't think redefining it to include rude people is going to help.

One Sad Panda

UPDATE: He who must not be named bought me flowers and cleaned the house. It's a start. ;)

Mistakes were made. Dawkins in Berkeley tickets were not purchased when I thought they were by an unnamed party who was asked to do so. The tickets are now sold out. won't be seeing him on the eleventh after all.

To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. I was looking forward to this for a couple months and don't really know how it slipped through the cracks with me blogging and tweeting about it so much. It was really important to me and I even was going to take time off of work for the event.

What's done is done. Foul play was not involved, and I don't want to chalk it up to thoughtlessness. It was simply a brain fart, I guess. Still, I'm sad.

So instead, I'll be looking instead to Freethought Day in Sacramento this weekend. I've also started a group on Facebook (did you know meetup.com charges?) called the Davis Area FreeThinkers, or D.A.F.T. (Aren't I just clever)? I've got two members, myself and my husband. We're on our way to big things, I tell ya.

I went ahead and purchased my Star Trek SF tickets so there's that to look forward to as well. It's my first, so I haven't decided whether I want to be a Trekkie or a Trekker. I'll play with both labels and see which one feels right. In the meantime, I think I'll learn how to use my communicator...