I run a pretty small blog here, so I’m always excited to see the little counter dealie up on the WordPress toolbar showing big lines to represent how many hits I’m getting. It’s a nice change of pace from the vast flatness I usually see. So, being curious, I sometimes check out where my hits are coming from. One recent source of visits has been a thread on the JREF forums, linking specifically because of my spat with Tim Farley. Here’s the relevant post:
Poster "Humes fork" saying "Tim Farley in a kerfuffle [links to my "Unskeptical Complaints" post] about Block Bot. Not surprisingly, what makes them angry is disagreement with them."
I’m not going to engage with that tired bit of mythology. I’ve dealt with variations before, and it’s repeated there without basis or substance. It’s an empty phrase, and you can judge for yourself whether or not what made me angry was “disagreement.”

But I found myself thinking about this post today, because of a Facebook post by JREF president D.J. Grothe:

There is an impressive distemper these days on the internets.
Many smart, good people that I know personally seem to fear this “call-out culture” online that is going on right now in many communities online. Folks are immobilized by a moral scare or panic that they think they are watching unfold presently. As for me, I think it all seems increasingly like some surreal science fiction imagining of some bizarre future dystopia. And so, I say:
Consensual sex — between any mature adult male or female etc. — is a human good. It is something that should be prized and promoted (would there be world peace if people just had more and better sex, ha?).
But instead I think unduly-moralistic scolds end up actively diminishing human flourishing by their sex-negativity.
And I curse the unholy alliance of the quack far-left so-called feminists: a different kind of ardent feminist than I am — and the authoritarian anti-sex rightist religionists whom I used to run with decades ago. (How the heck is it that these two equal opposites agree on so very much these days, and the two last decades, too?).
I have a disturbing answer, but it doesn’t work for a social networking or FB comment..

More accurately, my thoughts were spurred by D.J.’s response to some critical comments on that Facebook post. First, feminist blogger Amanda Marcotte posted this:

“I love consensual sex! It’s awesome. I couldn’t agree more. That’s why it’s super critical that consent exists, because when consent isn’t there, sex—and sexual behavior ranging from flirting to intercourse—stops being great and even really “sex” and starts being harassment, assault, and rape. So yea, feminists! By making consent a front and center issue, we can make sex better, more pleasurable, and more frequent—after all, nothing makes people less willing to have sex than being afraid that their right to say no won’t be respected. One question, though: Can you name some of these “feminists” that you’re talking about that oppose consensual sex? I’m pretty well-versed in feminism and don’t know any of the ones you’re talking about.”

Look at that! Not a nasty word, not an intemperate statement. It’s positively cheerful, with a genuine question at the end, looking for that thing that skeptics love above all, evidence in support of some claim. It got a whole bunch of likes, apparently more than anything else on the thread!

D.J. deleted the comment.

In response, Lance Finney posted this:

I’m curious what your commenting policy is on your wall. Earlier, I saw a comment from Amanda Marcotte that praised consent and asked you for examples of feminists that matched the description you gave in your first comment in this thread.
Did you delete her comment?
If so, why? As I recall it, there wasn’t anything abusive about her comment. If you have a policy of deleting contrary comments, what is the trigger?

Look at that, perfectly polite! A question of clarification! If there’s one thing skeptics love as much as evidence, it’s clarity and good questions!

D.J. deleted the comment and blocked Lance Finney.

So, um…who is it, again, who can’t handle disagreement? I eagerly await an answer from the JREF boards.

5 Responses to Projection

  1. Skeptico says:

    Deleting comments just because they disagree – bad form for head of the JREF.

    On a slightly different but related subject, what is happening at the JREF forum? I haven’t posted there for probably a year so I’m probably not up to speed on what is happening there, but a couple of weeks ago I posted some mild disagreements with someone (asking for evidence, got an anecdote in reply, posted “you don’t have evidence then – didn’t think so”) and it was deleted by the mods. Along with the post I was replying to and several others. I remember when the JREF forum was for skeptics to debate.

    The JREF seems to have gone down a lot since DJ took over, for many reasons. Such a shame.

  2. Doubting Tom says:

    I don’t even know, man. I never was very active on the JREF forums (just checked, I have a total of 10 posts), but it seems like the strong libertarian presence has morphed into a strong anti-feminist, anti-Atheism+, anti-FTB presence, and I hear similar things about the SGU forums (didn’t Skepchick host both at one point?). It’s depressing.

  3. Bronze Dog says:

    I used to be quite active at the JREF forums in my early years as a skeptic, and it pretty much ended up being training on how to blog. It’s sad to hear what’s been happening over there.

  4. somethinghere says:

    Your critique of Farley was substantial and can’t be dismissed like that but I have to disagree with a part of your older post. It’s not *always* like that.

    For example, PZ and most of his regular commentariat don’t seem fine at all (to me, at least) with criticism that they perceive to be from “outgroups,” only those they perceive to be from the “ingroup” and even then they can be ruthless if they perceive the slightest deviation.

    That’s why I never post there, even though I hold similar sentiments to the majority of the people there in most, if not all, matters. I’m not interested in trying to prove that I’m not X or Y just because a regular poster sees something he disagrees with and calls for the “horde” to savage the outsider.

    The pile-ons and wanton insults don’t help since they remind me how fruitless and exhausting it was to argue with people on, e.g., anti-evolution forums. I suppose all forums end up like that, more or less, but pharyngula is a pretty bad offender among “atheo-skeptic” blogs when it comes to fostering a climate extremely hostile even to reasonable disagreement.

    Btw, I don’t think the accusation of “echo chamber” necessarily (or, frankly, most of the time) includes PZ being a leader who influences the commentariat’s opinions. Rather, it’s more about PZ using his moderator tools and directing his blog to grow in a particular way and attracting a particular core audience and commentariat as you wrote…On the other hand, it’s true that the “echo chamber” accusation doesn’t speak to the opinions being right or wrong (and that’s where pharyngula is different from, e.g., the anti-evolution forums); but a lot of people will still dislike the atmosphere.

    PS: Note that I only mention pharyngula and not any other particular FtB blog (or the ones usually lumped in with FtB like skepchick). It’s because, as I see it, it’s that particular blog that’s absolutely awful in that regard. Carrier, for example (since he’s another FtB blogger I read a bunch), frequently writes posts about similar themes and his blog, both due to his moderation practices and his commentators, has a very different atmosphere – one that invites you to comment whether you agree or disagree with him, imo.

  5. That’s interesting, because pharyngula is my favourite blog in the world. I have been a lurker there for years and the only reason I rarely join in is that the commenters are so funny, so fair, so sharp and so thorough that there is not much more I can add. It is also one place if you are a woman, or non-heterosexual or belong to any minority group you can be sure that any bigotry will not be tolerated. That’s because they are good people. And why I feel safe there. Safe from being exposed to some of the women-hating bile on so many other atheist/sceptic blogs. I’m heading over there now. Sounds like he needs some support.

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