Saturday, June 01, 2013

The skeptics he-man feminist haters club

While reading up on the bizarre shenanigans of CFI CEO Ron Lindsay I saw references to somebody at the Women and Secularism conference who was apparently considered a nuisance, at best, but nobody named any names or provided a link. But today via Skepchick I found Greta Christina's posts on the issue and she writes:
And all of this unfolded while one of the primary anti-feminist harassers was sitting there in the audience. All of this unfolded while a person who has been invading and disrupting the Twitter feeds of conferences he thinks are too feminist, a person who has defended the misogynistic online harassment and the use of hate speech against feminist women in the atheist movement, a person who has written for, and done a recent interview with, a misogynist, rape apologist website that’s being monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center (the organization that monitors hate groups), a person who has said, “I fail to see how refusing to believe in God leads to the ‘logical conclusion’ of abandoning the belief that women exist to serve men,” a person who dealt with a dispute by posting someone’s home address on the Internet, was sitting in the room. The fact that Justin Vacula was attending this conference had many people on edge: nobody knew if he was planning in-person confrontations, or continued online harassment, or what. Many of the people Vacula has personally targeted with harassment were in that room with him. For Lindsay to give that particular opening talk in that loaded environment — and for him to then make a point of going up to Vacula and personally welcoming him to the conference — showed a level of contempt for the speakers and attendees of that conference that is shocking… and that is entirely unacceptable.
When I initially wrote about this controversy, I theorized that Ron Lindsay was trying to impress Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer. But it looks like I may have over-estimated Lindsay. It appears that Ron Lindsay was trying to impress Justin Vacula.

I had heard the name before - it's hard to forget since it looks like the name rhymes with Dracula, although I don't know how it's pronounced. But I had never really paid much attention to Vacula's activities. He and Lindsay appear to be cut from the same lying bullshit cloth though:

The goal of both Lindsay and Vacula is to try to misrepresent what Watson is saying. 

I didn't realize it when I first wrote about the Lindsay controversy, but he and Watson had clashed prior to the Women in Secularism conference. In Watson's excellent article in Slate about sexism in secularism she called Ron Lindsay out - although not by name but with a link:
But still, there are leaders in the skepticism community who refuse to accept that there is a problem, and those who play the “both sides are wrong” game, insinuating that “misogynist” is just as bad an insult as “cunt.”
She linked to Ron Lindsay's article "Divisiveness in the Secular Movement" in which he says:
But it’s not that simple. It’s not that simple because while everyone agrees that telling a woman you want to kill her after you rape her is intolerable and in and of itself marks you as someone who has no place in the movement, the label “misogynist”  is sometimes thrown about carelessly. For example, Russell Blackford, the Australian philosopher (and Free Inquiry columnist) has been called a misogynist shitbag. Yet, as far as I know, Blackford has never made any hateful comments or threats to women; indeed, he has condemned them. He has expressed doubts about the wisdom of harassment policies adopted by some organizations and, if I recall correctly, he has taken exception to some of the criticism directed against TAM (the JREF’s annual meeting). But although Blackford’s views on these issues may be misguided, that hardly qualifies him as a misogynist. 
I don’t mean to suggest that the stigmatizing and slurs flow only in one direction. Obviously not. Those calling attention to the problems of harassment within the movement have been dismissed as attention whores, feminazis, or man-haters. Again, even if the incidence of harassment within the movement and its seriousness were overstated (the reality is we don’t have reliable statistics, so anecdotal evidence is all anyone can point to), this would not imply that those emphasizing the problem are engaging in unacceptable conduct. They can be mistaken without being self-centered fanatics.
Now consider Lindsay's comparison:
While everyone agrees that telling a woman you want to kill her after you rape her is intolerable and in and of itself marks you as someone who has no place in the movement, the label “misogynist”  is sometimes thrown about carelessly.
He describes something that has happened, in many variations to Rebecca Watson. Watson has helpfully documented the hatred aimed at her on her  Page O' Hate. Here is one example:

And he compares that to Russell Blackford being called a misogynist shitbag. Once.

And it's unlikely that anybody is so obsessed with hating Russell Blackford that they create and maintain a web site just for that purpose.

And then Lindsay reassures his readers that in spite of this one insult to Russell Blackford, 
"I don’t mean to suggest that the stigmatizing and slurs flow only in one direction. Obviously not."

So you see? He isn't saying that it's ONLY feminists who are responsible for slurs. The other side is just as bad

And in any case, after reading Russell Blackford whining about a code of behavior I do think he's an idiot. But notice that my thinking he's an idiot doesn't mean that I want to threaten him with bodily harm. That's what the anti-feminist side does.

And that's why both sides are not equally to blame. 

Oh and as we know, Ron Lindsay is a pal of Justin Vacula. Here is Vacula giving an interview to his other good buddy, Paul Elam. Here is what Elam said of Watson:

But after all, Elam just called Watson a whore, he didn't threaten to rape and kill her. So obviously Justin Vacula and his good buddy Paul Elam have a place in the movement. 

Although thanks to the elevatorgate blog, I see that Russell Blackford is an even bigger idiot than I initially thought:

Poor Blackford - "bullied" by Rebecca Watson. I wonder how many rape threats or even just threats of having coffee thrown in his face that Blackford has received. All these old men, being repressed by women having contrary opinions!

As for Vacula, whatever else you can say about him he definitely appears to be a puerile moron:

What he considers "satire" appears to be him taking a photo of what is purportedly feminist skeptics and replacing the message that they were originally spelling out with "We (heart) Justin."

Now if you are familiar with the English language you will understand that by no definition is this in any way "satire." 

And because a feminist complained about his wankery, he attempts to present secular feminists as hypocrites because they support the right to graphically portray Mohammed without the threat of death.

And that is the hero of the anti-feminist movement within skepticism. That's Ron Lindsay's buddy. Jesus fucking Christ.

Greta Christina urges people to contact CFI instead of just blogging about this issue. I did contact CFI back on May 19, saying that while I support Lindsay's right to be an asshole, having him as their leader is a drag on their organization.