"Strengthening Public Interest In Science?"

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 11, 2010 10:02 am

The following recent comments on the “Pharyngula” blog have been brought to my attention via multple emails from readers–some of them victims of rape and sexual abuse:

Fuck them [my co-blogger, our commenters, and I] all sideways with a rusty fucking knife.

Later:

The commenters are basically wetting themselves hoping Kirshenbaum comes down hard because people are saying she should be raped with a rusty knife, and Myers “likes it that way”.

I am a big proponent of free speech, however, this thread crosses the line by advocating sexual and physical violence. I have become accustomed to ignoring much of the ridicule I receive online, but keeping silent on this particular issue, is, in my mind, acceptance. Those who contacted me do not have a platform to publicly express their disgust, but I can. Rape is not a joke or game and the fact that these remarks were not removed perpetuates the notion that they’re okay.

Adam Bly and I shared a panel in 2008 at the AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy where he discussed the values of Seed Media Group. Further, as a former Seed blogger with many friends still on the network, I’m quite familiar with their stated mission:

Seed Media Group is committed to strengthening public interest in science and improving public understanding of science around the world.

I cannot see how the tone of commentary contributes to this goal. However, given the volume of emails I’ve already received, I’m certain it reflects poorly on Seed, science blogging, and science broadly.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture

Comments (337)

  1. Bob S.

    Since the “we’re just joking!” defense will be the first reply to this, I want to repost my response to Kagato from the other thread when he accused me of overreacting to “jokes”, if that’s OK:

    “I have yet to see the clearly demarcated line between joking and threats that all of these remarks stand firmly on one side of. In fact, many of the death references specifically have been hurled at those that many on Pharyngula willingly label as enablers of crime (sometimes violent), child abusers, and those responsible for evil in the world. So, I personally find it a bit hard to believe that someone would engage in some innocent, good-natured ribbing with someone that they willingly view as an enabler of genocide.

    But maybe I’m wrong. The problem is that those who are getting told to get sexually assaulted and/or killed (hyperbolic or not, “_____ needs to die” and “f*** them with a rusty knife” are pretty clear as to what they refer) don’t know if you’re just “joking” or letting your true wishes slip out in soome twisted, Freudian nature. Just assuming that everyone knows you’re joking isn’t a safe bet or a rational defense…especially when people like Seminatrix (who has admitted to having family members as victims of violent sexual assault) and Sheril (apparently a very well-read person on the subject of women’s rights) are the ones you’re requesting get raped/killed – hyperbolic or not.

    Because to them, getting “f***ed with a rusty knife” isn’t anatomically impossible or “over the top.””

    I hardly think that rape, assault, and murder are things to trivialize as good-natured hyperbole and “jokes.” I guess I just don’t get it…

  2. Milton C.

    There is certainly a line that one should not cross, even if using hyperbole or “jokes,” to quote how the comment in question was painted on the other thread.

    Requesting that people get raped with a “rusty knife” is about 5 steps over that line. Disgusting. (I know, I know – I’m “pearl-clutching.” I think a trivializing rape as a “joke” warrants some pearl-clutching. Poor little old, sensitive me….I take rape seriously.)

  3. Philip Jr.

    Seed’s Terms of Service:

    “You may not submit any Submission that is unlawful, harmful, harassing, threatening, abusive, hateful, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, profane, vulgar, indecent, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable…”

    Calling for the rape of other bloggers/commenters = sexually-explicit, threatening, abusive, hateful, obscene, vulgar, and indecent. That’s 7 strikes. (And I don’t see anything in the terms that excuses such language if it’s used as a “joke.”)

    Pharyngula’s comments are full of such rhetoric. (and before someone accuses me of having it out for Pharyngula, I’d be just as vocal and angry if things like that were being said here.)

  4. Seminatrix

    I didn’t email you, Sheril, but I have a family member and a friend who are both victims of sexual assault (albeit far in the past). And I agree that using rape and sexual assault, even hyperbolically, on science blogs (or any blog) is counter to the purpose of blogging. To people like myself, these crazy, “overblown” references to sexual violence aren’t funny, because they happen to real people.

    Trivializing rape and sexual assault is about as horrible as trivializing violence, in general. I would use that analogy to highlight how far Pharyngula goes over the line with the rape references, but the latter example has been used there, too.

    Let’s keep trivializing violence and sexual assault, folks. It’s completely rational (vomit).

  5. Guy

    I don’t read the comments over there anymore. Garbage in = garbage out. It’s basically just a water cooler for frothing at the mouth atheists. I wouldn’t waste my time with their putrid remarks.

  6. bilbo

    That’s the problem with water-coolers, Guy. Get enough like-minded people together and they start viewing something like rape as a funny, innocent joke just because it’s made in reference to somebody not standing around the water-cooler.

    And, of course, there’s a bigger issue at hand: Seed’s terms of use policy, to which Pharyngula and its commenters are bound.

  7. Dake

    There are some things that clearly cannot be written off as joking. This is one of them. There is no reason why any of us should have to put up with threats of physical violence, or even verbal abuse, just because “it’s a blog” or “I was only joking.”

    It has somehow become commonplace to think that harassment and violence is an acceptable form of free speech. It is not, and we shouldn’t have to stand for it. Nor will we.

  8. Vyspyr

    That’s the problem with water-coolers, Guy. Get enough like-minded people together and they start viewing something like rape as a funny, innocent joke just because it’s made in reference to somebody not standing around the water-cooler.

    …except, in most cases, once the boss walks by the water-cooler and hears the rape trivialization, he’d shut them up. In this case, the boss either laughs along with them or purposefully turns a blind eye to it all.

    Rape must be hilarious, but I don’t get it.

  9. Petra

    I would write a longer comment about this, but I think the disgusting nature of these people speaks for itself. Using rape as a joke? Shameful. Good job representing science.

  10. Gaythia

    Verbal personal threats of physical violence are unacceptable and certainly not a joking matter.

    PZ Meyers in person is very polite, mild mannered and pleasant. He is correct that not all blogs need to be the same. His blog does offer much that is of value. I believe that he can run his blog in a manner which is, as he describes it: “… the gladiatorial arena of the science blogosphere, and we don’t restrict attendance to the prissy ol’ patricians — everyone likes a good bloody rhetorical battle now and then.” while still policing it to control verbal threats of violent personal attack. A blog can be rowdy, without being verbally abusive. Not all of the problems originate on PZ’s blog, although I do think that getting PZ on board would be a major step in resolving this issue.

    The nature of some of these attacks make women feel particularly unwelcome. Science has historically been a profession that frequently worked to exclude women. Some of this exclusion has been by overt acts of discrimination, some in forms of being made to feel as if one doesn’t belong.

    Feeling that one’s comments may leave one subject to threats of violent attack is not conducive to free speech or active participation. It certainly creates an atmosphere that does not lend itself to “strengthening public interest in science and improving public understanding of science around the world.”

    Seed Media has a responsibility to make Science Blogs a venue where everyone feels free to express their opinion on scientific matters in a spirit of open dialogue.

  11. Ed

    There really is nothing further to add or debate beyond “Rape is not a joke or game”. In an ideal world, people who are told that their language is offensive and puerile might stop for a bit of introspection. In this world, I will settle for one or two people doing this after a considerable time lag.

    I would normally advocate ignoring this, but Sheril’s right that on the issue of rape, silence is the enemy.

  12. Catharine

    Rape is no joke. The fact that such “rusty knife” scenarios are tossed around so freely and comfortably implicate our entire (male) society’s implicit acceptance of rape as a means to continue to control, humiliate, and enslave women. Consider this question: do you ever hear the word “nigger” tossed around (just kidding, right?) in these parts to underscore a point? I haven’t. Although racism is alive and well, and even institutionalized (think black men in prison being used as slave labor and the impossible odds for success for the poor black woman/girl-student), it has become socially unacceptable, at least in the educated white world. Racism now exists on a more sub-conscious level (which is not to say that the harmful effects no longer exist) and many people of my generation have worked pretty hard to un-learn the racism of their parents. And when the issue of rape is considered in the context of raping men, the humiliation is two-fold: not only is there the humiliation of rape, but also the humiliation of being treated *just like a woman.* Women in this society do not yet have the status of full-personhood and rape is the most effective way that this imbalance of power is maintained. I suggest that women everywhere become armed and dangerous, making every single attempted rape the last time a man will try to use his strength (and organ) to control another person. And men must also get involved. Any man who makes a “joke” out of rape should be immediately and permanently banned from the community.

  13. Alex A

    The internet is jam packed with this kind of rhetoric. It’s fairly horrible stuff but then again I don’t think you need to get any bodyguards to protect you from the pharyngulates. I don’t read Pharyngula much but my understanding is that PZ Myers likes to be as hands off as possible when it comes to comment moderation. With this comes the possibility of comments like the ones you describe. I would suggest that there are places people of a more tender disposition could go to find more moderated discussion. So I suppose I’m saying that if it’s not to your taste then stop reading.

  14. Petra

    Well said, Gaythia #6. People who bring irrational and/or false claims to the table on a place like Pharyngula should know that their arguments will be deconstructed and, occasionally, they’ll be met with harsh language.

    But trivializing rape, violence, and death (again, “Peter’s misogynist ass needs to die” – a request made on Pharyngula during a fight about ‘Family Guy’) is a line that should never be crossed, under any circumstances.

    I saw several people from Pharyngula justify “Peter’s misogynist ass needs to die” on the previous thread here by pointing out that the ‘Peter’ in question called someone a “bitch” in the comment that incurred the death reference, thereby considering it justified.

    If “bitch” is unacceptable, by are veiled threats of rape and murder acceptable and funny (“jokes”)?

  15. bilbo

    So, in other words, Alex, Sheril should just ignore the fact that someone out there in Internet Land is calling for her to be raped? I hardly think that’s a cause for ignoring the comment….especially when Seed Media’s terms explicitly forbid submissions from commenters that are “violent,” “sexually-explicit,” “abusive,” etc. etc. etc.

  16. hen3ry

    Bilbo,

    You said, on the previous thread about this:

    “81. bilbo Says:
    March 2nd, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Just to correct myself if I painted a false image, I don’t pretend to not be a troll. I am one here, for goodness sake, so I certainly was on Pharyngula. I was engaged in some similar, if not less inflammatory, rhetoric to regular posters there.”

    here

    And now, like, it seems everyone else here, you are going to the “Big Boys”, and complaining to Seed about a comment, not a post, but a comment on the post.

    Gaythia, you say:

    “Seed Media has a responsibility to make Science Blogs a venue where everyone feels free to express their opinion on scientific matters in a spirit of open dialogue.”

    Has this mystery commenter not expressed their opinion? Have they been censored? Should they be censored? Where do you draw the line? I do not agree with the limited statement quoted in the original post, but the important footnote is also not included.

    As for the original poster: “I cannot see how the tone of commentary contributes to this goal”. I can’t see how complaining about the “tone” of commentary helps either. Perhaps you should not be a self-appointed commissioner of what is right and proper, and maybe, just maybe, stick to promoting science your way. After all, no-one is forced to read all, or even any, of the comments on Pharyngula, and if they don’t like what they do read, they can always stop.

  17. bilbo

    Has this mystery commenter not expressed their opinion? Have they been censored? Should they be censored? Where do you draw the line?

    Rape would be a fine place to start.

    I do not agree with the limited statement quoted in the original post, but the important footnote is also not included

    You mean the “important footnote” that acknowledges that the commenter in question specifically made his remarks in the direction of Chris, Sheril, and commenters? Yes, he made a threat of rape as a “joke.”

    That’s precisely the point.

  18. andrew

    I had a friend tell me to “Break a Leg” the other day. It really disturbed me because these ‘jokes’ or ‘sayings’ have slipped into our language, condoning assault on performers, and nobody thinks twice about them. Other examples include “Suck it” and “Eat my shorts” (condoning sexually assault and torture?)

    There are lots of sayings… some more visceral than others. I think the intent of the comment was to elicit a reaction like this one.

    After going back to read it in context, it was stated as a joke, pointing to the fact he stated just before the joke that “It is so much better there. There is NO SWEARING.” (referring to this blog). It was a joke, but also a commentary about the fact that they aren’t censored on the Pharyngula blog.

    So this whole post is designed to have a joke removed from someone else’s blog?

    “Rape is not a joke or game and the fact that these remarks were not removed perpetuates the notion that they’re okay.”

    So whenever ‘bad comments’ aren’t censored, people come to think that what is bad is good? Is this your final answer? This is the most offensive thing “I’ve” read today!

  19. CW

    One thing of note…it does look like after that post was made, and possibly after that comment was added, PZ jumped on a flight to Australia and did not have access to the blog.

    This is not to excuse the comment, and comments like those are why although I do follow his posts I do not follow the comments most of the time, but has anyone actually contacted PZ on if he thinks that is a valid comment to leave on his site, now that he’s landed and may have jet-lagged time to deal with it?

    cw

  20. bilbo

    Yes, hen3ry, I act like a troll occasionally. I acknowledge that. But I don’t troll by suggesting other commenters be raped/killed, “jokes” or not. That’s a whole different ballpark from being obnoxious and not contributing to discussion (and, I’ll add, that I acknowledge that some of my past behavor is inappropriate. I don’t try to defend it as acceptable.)

    And now, like, it seems everyone else here, you are going to the “Big Boys”, and complaining to Seed about a comment, not a post, but a comment on the post.

    Someone’s making a joke out of wanting to see Sheril get raped – a comment that explcitly violates Seed’s policy (which, I’ll add, commenters are not excluded from).

    She has every right to complain.

  21. Milton C.

    I do not follow the comments most of the time, but has anyone actually contacted PZ on if he thinks that is a valid comment to leave on his site, now that he’s landed and may have jet-lagged time to deal with it?

    PZ spent a considerable amount of time here on the last thread on this topic defending letting almost identical examples of violence/death/rape trivialization stand on his blog unmoderated. He defended such speech rather vehemently, actually, on the grounds that it was “just a joke” or that other commenters were being obnoxious and deserved it.

    I hardly think that he’ll change his mind that quickly just because Sheril is involved. Seeing rape as a “joke” is clearly not a bad thing to him…based, at least, on what he said here last week.

  22. Gaythia

    I think that policies can be devised that allow for the immediacy of commentary and that do not unrealistically hold Blog owners responsible for a 24 hour monitoring service, and still draw a line between legally protected free speech and violent personal threats. Even if a comment were online briefly, I think that the blogging community, Seed Media, and blog owners, can all react in a manner which demonstrates that such behavior is clearly unacceptable.

    As I said before: “Not all of the problems originate on PZ’s blog, although I do think that getting PZ on board would be a major step in resolving this issue. ” Also, PZ has been quite protective of his own family in this regard. I think he is actually a reasonable man and has the potential of being approachable on this matter.

  23. Gus Snarp

    I like most of what PZ writes on Pharyngula, although he occasionally becomes a bit sensationalist about minor or poorly supported stories in the media. The comments on his blogs are another matter entirely. They are basically the worst example of an insular, tribal mentality that is simply looking for any opportunity to start a fight. I have the luxury of ignoring that, but a public person does not have the luxury of simply ignoring violent rhetoric. I think PZ encourages through his silence the tactics of his frequent commenters who use profanity, violent rhetoric, and ad hominem as routine tools to silence any opposition and hide behind the cloak of PZ’s rules and assessment of his own logic, pretending that these things actually apply to their behavior. PZ’s silence assures them that it does. But mainly these are people whose opinions are of value to no one outside of that narrow circle, otherwise they would have blogs as popular as PZ’s. As is common in all of blogging, commenters want to ride on the popularity of the blogger to get their own soapbox, hence the amazing ability of the pharyngulite hordes to turn any post on Pharyngula into an opportunity for them to heap insults and attacks on Sheril and Chris, however tangential their relationship to the original post. I just don’t get why they hate you so much. It’s not like you wrote the article that prompted the original post, or figured prominently in it or were filling up the comments on it.

  24. Ichthyic

    this blog has become a haven for clueless gits.

    It should be cordoned off with big, orange, traffic cones and tape that says:

    *DANGER* EXTREME STUPIDITY AND HYPERBOLE AHEAD, HARD HATS AND PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR BEYOND THIS POINT*

    because seriously?

    the stupid here…

    IT BURNS.

  25. Femminator

    I don’t know much about the ongoing spat between you guys and PZ (its roots, what has happened, etc.). But after reading the links to many of the comments on the last thread on this topic, it doesn’t matter. References to rape/murder/various forms of violence and sexual assault are commonplace in the comment threads on Pharyngula and some, like this one, are directed at individuals like Sheril.

    Seed, PZ, or someone needs to step up and get it under control. Rape and sexual violence are things that have no use being trivialized in our society. The internet is no exception and, from my understanding, Seed even has rules in place meant to prevent this kind of rhetoric. Yet it stands, and is even encouraged on that blog.

    Someone: get this under control.

  26. CW

    Having now read through most of the comments on the previous thread on this blog that PZ is now being hung over…I’m thinking that I’m going to avoid the comments here just as much as on PZ’s site.

    My problem with the comment on PZ’s blog is that, in an article having nothing really to do with this blog, the comments devolve into bashing this blog and then insulting people who have nothing to do with the thread (since I don’t believe either Sheril or Chris comment over there) with physical harm. This is over the line to me…that line being if it’s back and forth insults with people involved in the thread, that’s one thing (and again leave the harm out if possible) but bringing in other people outside the discussion just to insult them is over the line.

    However, in the previous thread on this blog, I see exactly the same thing…its basically quote mining and insulting back and forth.

    I personally am sick of seeing arguing between two blogs that BOTH TRY TO BRING SCIENCE forward and improve our lives. If you don’t like PZ’s blog, don’t read it and keep posting on what you like…and vice versa…quit the fighting.

    Last comment for a while…hopefully there will be posts that positive comments can come out instead of just fighting.

    CW

  27. Thomas H.

    This issue seems clear-cut to me:

    (1) Seed Media Group has a terms and conditions set in place that prohibit language such as that which Sheril posted. “jokes” and hyperbole are not excluded.

    (2) Pharyngula is letting such language and veiled threats stand without moderation.

    (#) PZ should step up, do his job as a blogger to adhere to those terms, and remove some of this, or Seed should step in with sanctions of some sort, if action is not taken. This seems a clear violation of an existing terms and conditions.

    And besides, it’s trivializaing (I guess – who knows? it might be serious) rape, and directing it at Sheril/Chris/et al. directly. There’s not much discussion to be had past that.

  28. Lindsay

    This is kind of insane, I mean, no woman should ever have a comment like that directed towards them for any reason. Reasonable people wouldn’t engage in that sort of poo-flinging.

    I’m sorry, Sheril, that you have to deal with that after being a victim of a sexual assault. At the very least it shows a spectacular lack of tact for someone to make a comment like that specifically directed towards you after the Silence is the Enemy campaign, which indicates block-head quality stupidity. However, I doubt anyone who comments on Pharyngula would consider themselves stupid. If they are intelligent as they want to think they are, the comment stands as much worse: a manipulative hate-filled, pointed attack on someone having known that they were the victim of such a crime. That makes one, I believe, pretty close to evil.

    @#24 – Wow, that’s basically exactly how I feel about the commenters at Pharyngula and have for a long time, but was too polite to say it. Thanks for helping me out.

  29. Matt Penfold

    Kirsehnbaum,

    You clearly think some of the comments at Pharyngula reflect poorly on Seed.

    Do you likewise think that some of the comments on your blog reflect poorly on Discover Magazine, on yourself and Mooney, and on science blogging in general.

    I refer in particular to those one containing out right dishonest comments. Neither you nor Mooney seem especially concerned about this, indeed some of your own posts to your blog have contained dishonest statements. I once emailed asking if you accepted you had a policy regarding dishonesty in comments. You lacked the courtesy to reply, as did Mooney. I even sent a follow-up email in case the first had escaped your notice. Again you decided to be rude and ignored it.

    In the “Pharyngula” thread here many people posted snippets from comments at Pharyngula. A good number of these were taken totally out of context. Not once did you step into require that any comments be posted in context, and that your commentators stopped being dishonest. That suggests you approved of their dishonesty.

  30. Alex A

    Bilbo: I’m sure you are a respectful troll. But there are many out there who don’t have your boundaries. So:
    Either you heavily moderate comments … i.e by reading and confirming they meet your standards and allowing them to be published. Or you allow free comments and you get quite vicious ones. If you’re not willing to deal with harsh and obscene comments then surely you must go to a place where heavier moderation is in place.
    No-one has found a way to clean up the internet yet so better to turn off the channel than to complain uselessly about content.

  31. Carlie

    Wow. Seriously? Anyone who thinks they have an opinion on this needs to read the entire previous thread here, “The value of science blogs”. Yes, all 500 or so comments. Because otherwise they, like Sheril, will have absolutely no context in which to make even a semi-informed comment. Not that it ever stops anyone here from doing so.

  32. Bernard Bumner

    Ah, and so the moralistic nonsense approaches crescendo.

    The abject and unmitigated dishonesty is now officially endorsed by Sheril herself, who would stoop to such as low as to proclaim that,

    “Rape is not a joke or game…”

    As though there is any right-minded individual who would disagree, but then proceed that,

    “…. and the fact that these remarks were not removed perpetuates the notion that they’re okay.”

    This is a disgusting and crass slur, and insult to the many thoughtful and intelligent posters on Pharyngula (many of whom would, and let there be no doubt, also claim to have similar personal experience of violence, sexual violence, and rape). There is no tacit endorsement of rape or violence on Pharyngula, and the lengths to which commenters here, and now one of the Bloggers themselves, have gone to pervert the evidence to show such a thing are truly incredible.

    I am very, very angry that, by implication and association, I am accused of trivialising or endorsing rape as (semi-) regular commenter at Pharyngula who can see no truth to the claims being made on this site. Those profane insults referred to are certainly offensive, as is the clear intent, but they are also common currency and have nothing to do with apology for or trivialisation of rape or violence.

    I also note that this particular bandwaggon appears to have a number of passengers who haven’t taken the time to understand who proferred the insult, or in what context.

    “Rape is not a joke or game…”

    No. It isn’t. Nor is it an issue that should be dragged into a grubby debate about tone on blogs, or a thing to be used as a cudgel in a war of words.

    I would suggest that anybody who is genuinely concerned about the issues of violence, sexual violence, abuse, and rape, should look up from their navel for long enough to find a victim support, offender rehabilitation, or young-person’s educational cause to put their money or energy into. Anything else is simply a lot of empty words.

    This thread, along with its predecessor is an insult to people who actually care about (and act upon) the issues.

  33. negentropyeater

    Gus Snarp,

    for someone complaining about insular tribal mentality, insults and attacks, I think your comment #23 is a perfect example of what you are complaining about.

    Great job !

  34. Matt Penfold

    Gus Snarp,

    It you want to know why Mooney and Kirshenbaum are held in such low esteem by many readers of Pharyngula, and indeed by many people who are not readers I suggest looking at how M & K reported the Crackergate incident in Unscientific America and compare that to the events that actually happened.

    The events as reported by M & K gave such a distorted view that it is difficult to see how they could have been written as such without a deliberate intention to deceive the reader. Or to put it more succinctly, they lied about it. For the best coverage of the dishonesty, see Ophelia Benson and Russell Blackford.

  35. John Kwok

    @ Penfold -

    Your comment is replete with self-serving, sanctimonious nonsense. Under no circumstances should anyone tolerate any silly comments in defense of rape or other acts of violence as those that have been posted over at Pharyngula.
    PZ Myers needs to do a better job of weeding out such comments, and if he can’t – or doesn’t wish to – maybe he doesn’t deserve to maintain Pharyngula at Science Blogs.

    Am seriously thinking of filing a complaint with SEED Media over the comments listed at that Pharyngula thread and would strongly encourage others to do the same.

    Respectfully yours,

    John Kwok

    P. S. I am writing this not to show any support for Chris or Sheril or to use it as an opportunity to “get back” at PZ for his own ridiculous behavior toward me. Nothing remotely resembling Pharyngula’s typically absurd commentary have I seen elsewhere either here or or at other Discover Magazine or SEED ScienceBlogs’s web blogs. PZ should have stepped in and established a policy whereby such rhetorical language shouldn’t be tolerated a LONG, LONG TIME ago. The mere fact that he’s now visiting Australia isn’t a valid excuse IMHO.

  36. Matt Penfold

    Kwok,

    I did not discuss the comments at Pharyngula. I think you must have been reading the wrong post.

    What I discussed was the posting of comments on this blog that contained dishonest claims, and the failure of authors of this blog to do anything about it. Indeed when asked what their policy was they failed to reply, suggesting they have no problem with people telling lies here.

    I note you cannot even be honest as to why you got banned from Pharangula. If you were you would have mentioned it was for your inability to go more than two posts without mentioning how friendly you were with either Ken Miller or Frank McCourt, or where you went to school. You should also really mention your attempts to blackmail PZ into sending you $500 worth of Camera equipment. If I recall you threatened to tell all your facebook friends to de-friend PZ. You also sent emails to his colleagues asking for their help in getting him to pay out.

    In fact, I call on Kirshenbaum to show some spine, and put a stop to your lies. What about it Sheril, do you have standards here or not ?

  37. Fishy

    I don’t get it… a comment I made to someone about getting a PhD does not necessarily move your social or economic class (I mention personal experiences in to prove my point) was inappropriate and got axed out, yet people declaring others need to be “raped with rusty knives” doesn’t?

  38. Bernard Bumner

    “Under no circumstances should anyone tolerate any silly comments in defense of rape or other acts of violence…”

    Clearly, nobody has. To suggest otherwise would clearly demonstrate that one is ignorant of the facts, or else a liar or a fool.

    “…such rhetorical language…”

    I see that you can recognise it for what it is. You should therefore also be able to recognise it for what it is not.

  39. John Kwok

    @ Bernard -

    Obviously you don’t get it. It is inexcusable to make any jokes about rape. Indeed, Sheril may remember what happened about twenty or so years ago when a male weather forecaster at a New York City television station was forced to resign after he made an on-air joke about a woman who was in the midst of being raped should just “relax and enjoy” it.

    On the other hand, Thomas H. (@ 27) does. Sadly, in spite of the good commentary that PZ does provide, especially when commenting on science, maybe it’s time to ask Seed Media to pull the plug on Pharyngula. If PZ can’t police his own blog, then why should he allowed to run it?

  40. John Kwok

    @ Penfold (@ 36) -

    Yours are again self-serving sanctimonious comments in which you are excusing the reprehensible behavior that’s all too common over at Pharyngula, of which the recent remarks advocating rape and death are merely just the tip of the iceberg.

    They are self-serving sanctimonious comments simply because nothing that I nor others have said here have demonstrated the same degree of stupid, offensive commentary that passes of “enlightened discourse” over at Pharyngula (And moreover, even when I was posting over at Pharyngula, not once did you read anything that was as demeaning or degrading as what I am seeing now at Pharyngula. So don’t think you’re morally superior than me by trying to “shift the goalpost” by reciting all the “crimes” I may have committed over at Pharyngula.

    The bottom line is this, Penfold. If you are really intellectually honest, then you wouldn’t condone the ongoing conduct of your fellow posters at Pharyngula. Since you seem incapable of doing so, methinks it is a case of pot meets kettle in your absurd demand that Chris and Sheril should stop those of us from posting “dishonest” remarks here.

    Who’s the bigger hypocrite, Penfold? Is it you or is it me, Chris, or Sheril? I think the answer is quite obvious, especially in light of your latest absurd commentary here.

  41. Sili

    Kudos on providing links for people to see the context (should they be so inclined).

    Fuck them [my co-blogger, our commenters, and I] all sideways with a rusty fucking knife.

    Fuck me. You, your coblogger and your commenters are the direct object of imperative “Fuck” so you need to use the pronoun in the objective case.

  42. Am seriously thinking of filing a complaint with SEED Media over the comments listed at that Pharyngula thread and would strongly encourage others to do the same.

    OH NOES!

  43. Matt Penfold

    Yours are again self-serving sanctimonious comments in which you are excusing the reprehensible behavior that’s all too common over at Pharyngula, of which the recent remarks advocating rape and death are merely just the tip of the iceberg.

    I have not mentioned the comments made at Pharyngula. You made this mistake the first time you replied to me, and I pointed out your error. It is difficult to believe that your repetition is not deliberate dishonestly on your part.

    I will leave it to others to decide whether Mooney and Kirshenbaum are guilty of condoning dishonestly by letting you continue to post here. For my part though it is clear. They do condone your lies.

  44. oaksterdam

    Kwak said:

    “If PZ can’t police his own blog, then why should he allowed to run it?”

    Didn’t PZ “police” yer namedropping nonsense off his blog? Seems like he’s doing an ok job.

    I’m sorry, buddy. Was that insensitive of me? Let me get you a camera.

  45. Brownian

    Am seriously thinking of filing a complaint with SEED Media over the comments listed at that Pharyngula thread and would strongly encourage others to do the same.

    Don’t forget to throw in a rider for a new camera. And see if you can swear in an affidavit saying that PZ Myers is a “mendacious intellectual pornographer”, no doubt a line Frank taught you.

    The mere fact that he’s now visiting Australia isn’t a valid excuse IMHO

    A humble opinion? From a Stuyvesant alumnus? Why Kwok, you are truly a king among men. This blog is indeed a suitable backdrop for a man of your intellectual calibre.

    Out of curiosity, how many blogs do you administrate from 40,000 feet?

  46. John Kwok

    @ Penfold (@ 36) -

    Trying to smear me again with your latest example of absurdity doesn’t absolve you from ignoring the ongoing conduct of your fellow Pharyngula posters. By ignoring that conduct, you quite simply have no right to make again your absurd demand that Sheril (and Chris) clamp down on “dishonest” remarks. Nothing that has been said here by myself nor others can be viewed seriously by any objective reader as comments that are equivalent to those now being posted at Pharyngula in support of rape and murder (Nor, might I have considered writing anything comparable to what is being posted now at Pharyngula prior to being banished from there.).

    Again if PZ Myers is incapable of policing his ScienceBlogs blog, then ScienceBlogs should revoke his privilege, since the content and tone of many of the current comments violate the rules set forth by Seed Media, which Thomas H. (@27) has noted already.

  47. Bernard Bumner

    “It is inexcusable to make any jokes about rape.”

    Show me an example of anyone making a joke about rape.

    “…a New York City television station was forced to resign after he made an on-air joke about a woman who was in the midst of being raped should just “relax and enjoy” it.”

    Which is clearly well beyond the pale, and deserves nothing less than disciplinary action. It is also absolutely not analogous to the comments made – somewhat sparsely, and only sometimes by regulars – on Pharyngula.

  48. I read the “value of science blogs” post and this one. Here’s the deal: You either want people to take you seriously or you don’t. Assholes don’t get taken seriously.

    Writing a comment on a blog post is NOT an instantaneous utterance. You can type, revise, read over, and then hit “submit.” You get to think about what you write before anyone reads it.

    I’m personally committed to getting more people to read science blogs and talking with scientists. So if someone, let’s say a mom, pops over to see what the chatter is about, and they see stuff like this, they don’t come back.

    If you post a comment like that one on a blog, you’re just an asshole. Maybe you’re condoning rape, maybe you’re not. But you’re clearly an asshole. And if you’re leaving a comment like that while hiding behind a pseudonym, you’re an asshole AND a coward.

    The whole “people say mean things on the internet – get over it” thing is stupid too. Grow up. The internet does not exist as a vehicle for science blog readers to unleash their inner asshole. Just because you CAN say something without the protocol nannies banging down your door doesn’t mean you should.

    I guess the great thing about the first amendment is it makes it much easier for us to quickly identify assholes.

  49. John Kwok

    @ Penfold -

    Maybe you should mention the comments over at Pharyngula, since this is what this Intersection blog thread is about. By refusing to do so, you are merely condoning the ridiculous, quite offensive, conduct that’s on display there now.

    Again, who is being the true hypocrite in this instance? Me? Sheril? Chris? Or is it you, perhaps?

    I think the answer is quite obvious, and thanks again for confirming it, Penfold.

  50. Gus Snarp

    @negentropyeater – As far as everything I wrote from “But mainly these are people whose opinions are of value to no one outside of that narrow circle,” onward, I can only accept your criticism and have a good laugh. As to the tribal and insular part, if you have some logical basis for calling my post tribal and insular I’d love to hear it.

  51. John Kwok

    @ Bernard -

    Like Penfold, you have your “blinders” on. Do you honestly think that if these comments were made “…somewhat sparsely, and only sometimes by regulars…” that Sheril would devote an entire Intersection blog thread to it?

    No, unfortunately, in this instance you do remind me a lot of Tex Antoine (I think that was the name of the stupid New York City television weather forecaster.) by not reacting with the seriousness that those comments at Pharyngula deserve (And by seriousness, I do mean reading statements from you that are replete in their disdain and condemnation.).

  52. negentropyeater

    Sheril,

    Rape is not a joke or game and the fact that these remarks were not removed perpetuates the notion that they’re okay.

    What I find appaling is that you seem to be accusing an entire community of Pharyngula commenters of somehow trivializing rape when it’s exactly the opposite : there are many, many feminist commenters (women and men) amongst them, some of them victims of rape, and they would never ever let someone get by who would attempt to perpetuate the notion that rape is okay.

    If you want to take the time to read these two recent threads where a commenter named Hyperon came in suggesting that rape was only “a temporary inconvenience” (note: he didn’t use profanities or jokes, but what he wrote was much more disgusting), then you will get a better idea of what is really going on with Pharyngula :

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/02/while_my_inner_fish_protests_a.php#comments

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/11/the_problem_of_the_oblivious_w.php

    Please read the whole conversations, and do check what one of Pharyngula’s most esteemed commenters, Pygmy Loris, has to say.

    Do a bit of research before you write such a disparaging post about Pharyngula and its community of commenters.

  53. Paul

    For my part though it is clear. They do condone your lies.

    They did at least eventually delete his post calling Ms. Benson a PMS b**** after several days of being asked to do so. So at least they don’t allow bad words.

  54. Zoe

    It’s weird how a hyperbolic and idiomatic statement that semantically equaled out to a dismissive “screw them, they can shove their censorship where the sun don’t shine” (but with Anglo-saxon curses used to emphasize the perceived suppression of same on this blog) has metamorphosed in these comments to *advocating rape.*

    Huh?

    That’s really not what the commenter said, nor was it directed solely at the female member of this team, as those rushing to bring this to the level of a personal sexual assault are intimating. I’m surprised that well-educated, literate individuals don’t seem to be able to comprehend simple statements made in the American vernacular (ie: profanity; sarcasm).

    Seriously, folks, what gives?

    (Also, the later comment quoted herein is actually a characterization of the *mis*characterizations here on this blog. It’s not an additional slight. I mean, duh.)

  55. Carlie

    It also probably needs to be said, although anyone with any understanding of context would already get it, that the comment Sheril posted was a tongue-in-cheek comment specifically in reference to the argument that was had HERE, on this blog. It’s something along the lines of this:

    “You said f* me with a rusty knife!”
    “No I didn’t.”
    “Yes you did! You totally said it!”
    “No, I used it as an example of something a terrible person would say, as part of a larger conceptualization of a particular type of awful person who I disagreed with, which you would know had you read the entire comment in question.”
    “No, you said f* me with a rusty knife! You did you did you did!”
    “Oh for pete’s sake. If you’re going to argue like that, then fine, go f* yourself with a rusty knife.”
    “SEE YOU SAID IT!”

  56. Matt Penfold

    Carlie,

    Please stop confusing people by introducing the concept of context. It is offensive to those without the intellect to understand it.

  57. Bernard Bumner

    “No, unfortunately, in this instance you do remind me a lot of Tex Antoine (I think that was the name of the stupid New York City television weather forecaster.) ”

    Come now, John, don’t pretend that you didn’t just Google his name.

    Still, comparing me to anyone who actually did make a joke about rape is offensive, bankrupt, and stupid. Fell free to apologise, once you’ve developed scruples. What you have done there is little better than that you accuse others of; either it is a smear on me, or else it trivializes a genuinely offensive act.

    I challenge you to retract that comment.

    “Do you honestly think that if these comments were made “…somewhat sparsely, and only sometimes by regulars…” that Sheril would devote an entire Intersection blog thread to it?”

    The evidence speaks for itself. She did.

    Either she has failed to examine the context – a very few posts out of many which contain sexual profanity, many of those not posted by regulars, and none of them jokes about rape – or else, she is being dishonest.

    The very comment she links to above (directed at “my co-blogger, our commenters, and I”) is very clearly (deliberately or not) dishonestly presented, since it was clearly intended to be referential to this very argument, was not a joke about rape (or indeed, a joke), and was posted in part to see whether it would be quoted out of context on this very site.

    Now, I ask again. Give an example of anyone making a joke about rape or excusing rape.

  58. John Kwok

    @ Paul -

    And you’re being a bit obtuse. My quote was a line from the Katy Perry hit “Hot N’ Cold”; the line was written by Ms. Perry and her collaborators. The only thing I am guilty of here is showing poor judgement in using that line as a literary metaphor to describe Ophelia Benson. But even my instance of poor judgement pales in comparison to the daily garbage that is written by you and your fellow Pharyngulites that is tolerated by PZ Myers and which, as Thomas H. (@ 27) has noted, is contrary to Seed Media’s own guidelines.

  59. negentropyeater

    Gus Snarp,

    tribal : you venting your distaste of what you call the Pharyngulite hordes on this particular thread where you can find other members of your tribe doing the same.

    And really ? The pharyngulite hordes turn any post on Pharyngula into an opportunity for them to heap insults and attacks on Sheril and Chris ?

    Take the first three current threads on Pharyngula right now : there are more than 200 comments. Tell me how many of them mention Sheril and Chris.

  60. John Kwok

    @ Bernard -

    No, I didn’t have to GOOGLE Mr. Antoine’s name, because that was a notorious episode that I heard about in my youth (That made more of an impression on me than remembering every single detail of daily classroom life in – and since Penfold has mentioned it – Frank McCourt’s classroom during my junior year in high school.). I remember it because I wasn’t aware that one could be punished as harshly as Antoine was for making what did seem like a silly, throwaway, remark.

    What it did impress upon me was the realization that rape isn’t a silly matter and, moreover, isn’t one that should be joked about. So I understand completely Sheril’s sentiment and raison d’etre for starting this Intesection blog thread, and not only do I understand it, but I endorse it wholeheartedly.

  61. Sven DIMilo

    If PZ can’t police his own blog, then why should he allowed to run it?

    J*hn, you forgot the clause: “the way that I personally think it should be policed”. Myers actually does an excellent job of policing his blog the way he thinks it should be policed. And, since it’s his blog, not yours, not Seed’s, his way is the only one that matters.

    It comes down to this: people at Pharyngula are used to operating at a fairly high level (for the Internet) of literacy. We can actually tell the difference between hyperbolic rhetoric and sincere advocacy. When somebody does mention rape–even prison rape–in even a joking way that even implies advocacy, they are called out. Every time.

    The truth is simply that the level of discourse is higher over there. We can use literary devices like hyperbole for rhetorical effect and not be confused by grade-school-simplistic literal-minded reading of out-of-context quote-snippets.

    Said another way: you-all are stoopid.

  62. Paul

    the daily garbage

    [citation needed]

    This post is based on a single comment, which itself was the product of a long thread of misrepresentation on The Intersection. Even in said previous thread, there were only somewhere between 10 and 20 examples given of “sexually explicit” language (all but one or two of which consisted of a variant of “go f*** yourself, and not all even then verifiable because of the degree of alteration bilbo performed on the “quotes”). Less than 20 examples total from a blog that gets somewhere around 500 comments a day is hardly “daily”.

    But no, let’s take things out of context and scream. That’s more fun, and brings in more traffic than trying to use reason, evidence, or context as part of a discussion. I’ll be ducking out of this one early, wasted entirely too much time on the last thread. No amount of pointing to actual posts can discourage people who are fitting anecdote to already firmly held opinion.

  63. Wow. All this kind of stuff does is make me less likely to read blogs.

  64. John Kwok

    @ Sven -

    Sorry, you don’t get it, and as a fellow resident of the New York City metropolitan area, I thought that maybe you would. You don’t joke about rape, period. All the comments I have been reading from you and your fellow Pharyngulites merely demonstrate that you would tolerate any form of behavior as long as it suited your Militant Atheist view of the world. IMHO that’s unacceptable, and even I, a registered Republican, can recognize the need to reject any support for treating the mere notion of rape as something that can be joked about.

  65. BACE

    -Rape is not a joke or game and the fact that these remarks were not removed perpetuates the notion that they’re okay.

    So now the failure of Myers to police each and every one of hundreds of comments on his posts means that he and other commentators are automatically approving of the sentiments expressed by one or two commentators? Have you taken care to remove each and every loathsome comment on your posts?

    You are again letting your bias against Myers get in the way of your objective judgement. The comment is deplorable, but Myers is hardly guilty simply because he did not remove it.

  66. hen3ry

    Well, so, if we ignore all context, and screw our eyes tight shut, we can identify at most 3 or 4 comments on Pharyngula that could be taken as saying that the posters of those comments either support, or trivialise rape. There are ~800 comments on posts on the front page of Pharyngula alone. How exactly is this “daily garbage”? If there is a better case of a storm in a tea cup around, I should like to hear of it.

    Comrade Westcott: Find this. . Now, you might say “But hen3ry, how can you link to such horror! My mythical “mom” will be distraught! She will never return!”, however, 5 more teenagers may say, “well, that was pretty amusing, lets see what else is happening around here, these guys have a pretty good sense of humour.”

    NB I do not support or condone actual rape. Except of the kids in the Narnia books. They deserve it. And Mickey Mouse.

  67. Lurker

    Kwok, the dude who got banned from Pharyngula for ad nauseum name dropping and then tried to bully Myers into buying him a camera to the extent of starting a Facebook campaign about it, calling Myers’s behavior “ridiculous”? Irony just died once again.

  68. Janine

    So many people are waving the rusty knife like it is a bloody trophy. In the previous thread, that quote was linked to in an attempt to provide context. But it seems that many did not bother. So I will try to lead you by the hand.

    This is thread where the line came from. This is what PZ said.

    You must listen to this ghastly interview with Bill Donohue on the Irish Catholic scandal. He is calmly taken apart by one of the victims of priestly rape — his views are characterized as “obscene”.

    What a nasty little man.

    The thread starts condemning a man who makes excuses for rapists.

    This is what Cath said.

    Yeah, well, usually I’m 100% with the “no-one ever deserves to be raped” line. And also 100% opposed to torture. But rape and torture apologists really make that position hard to sustain. F*ck that sh*thead sideways with a rusty knife. (Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*)

    There was no threat of violence against women. There is no laughing about rape. There is anger that a known blowhard would dismiss the suffering of rape victims for the sake of his church’s hierarchy. There was no joking about how if a woman is being raped, she should stop fighting and enjoy it.

    Many of the people here from the top on down are disgusting.

  69. Janine

    The second paragraph and the last sentence after This is what Cath said. should not have been blockquoted.

  70. gillt

    I second Zoe. The second comment was an analysis of a lie being promulgated on this blog by Intersection toadies.

    The pharyngula commmenter, Paul, seems to be stating that he thinks the motivation behind making it seem like Myers was saying something he didn’t say was simply to get a rise from Sheril…to fan the flames. It worked!

    Again, the second quote from Paul was not expressing his views of Sheril but referencing what Intersection commenters were trying to pin on Myers. But it’s only obvious when you include the rest of the quote Sheril left out.

    “At least they provided a link this time, I suppose. I need to stop reading there again, for the sake of my health.”

  71. Sorbet

    I agree that one commenter should not be held up as an indictment of PZ Myers or Seed. However it is a little disturbing that nobody in that thread called out the commenter right after he commented.

  72. John Kwok

    @ Lurker -

    Like Penfold, you aren’t interested in addressing the substance of this thread. All you care about is to attack the commentator – yours truly – who supports Sheril Kirshenbaum’s view. But that’s okay by me. Why? You’re demonstrating to anyone unfamiliar with Pharyngula the type of commentary that one can – and does – expect to see there. In other words, you are, by your very own words, supporting Sheril’s contention that many of the comments posted at Pharyngula are a poor reflection on “…Seed, science bloggin and science broadly.”

    P. S. If you haven’t heard already, the camera demand was a joke and one that several close friends of mine spotted immediately. Moreover, I did tell PZ Myers and Ken Miller this, separately, in private communication. The same is true with respect to Facebook (though here, PZ deserves a lot of the blame, since he started it via his absurd comments about me that were posted over at Facebook).

  73. Michael

    Check out dailykos.com some time.

    This stuff is very mild compared to the expletive filled rants over there…

    And the rusty knife allusion wasn’t a threat, but appeared to be more of a wish or dream.

    I’m not defending the comments, but geez, people, it’s the frakking internet. If the blog offends thee, then don’t read it. That’s exactly what I do. Comments like that are pure dreck, but hardly constitute a real threat. The real problem I see is that the moderators [assuming they exist] don’t take this stuff off ASAP. All sorts of folks post all over the interent, and if you are the easily offended type you are better off just not reading any posts.

  74. John Kwok

    @ Sorbet,

    Thanks for making the most intelligent statement I have read here from anyone supportive of PZ and Pharyngula. I agree. Those posting at Pharyngula should have condemned the poster immediately.

  75. Brownian

    Like Penfold, you have your “blinders” on. Do you honestly think that if these comments were made “…somewhat sparsely, and only sometimes by regulars…” that Sheril would devote an entire Intersection blog thread to it?

    Given that posts here denouncing Pharyngula seem to attract the most attention (both from Pharyngulites and denizens of the Intersection, whatever they’re called, I dunno: Interds?), yeah. I have no doubt she would.

    It’s pretty hard for even Sheryl to strengthen interest in science unless she can get people to read her posts. But quoting juicy bits from the blogger you all love to hate sure seems to do the trick.

  76. Brownian

    Oops, I apologise for spelling Sheril’s name incorrectly in the above comment.

  77. Brownian

    Janine, please stop confusing the issue with comments by PZ Myers condemning such language. Can’t you see we’re busy strengthening public interest in science? I mean, Kwok’s already pulled out his dictionary (signed by Frank McCourt, of course) to pen a complaint to SEED. We’ve got the crowd all worked up. Don’t let all this effort go to waste.

  78. Paul

    The pharyngula commmenter, Paul, seems to be stating that he thinks the motivation behind making it seem like Myers was saying something he didn’t say was simply to get a rise from Sheril…to fan the flames. It worked!

    I don’t “think”, it’s bloody obvious as a matter of record. Here’s the entire post they linked to:

    sandi: Are you kidding me? The Intersection is a veritable clown car filled with rejects from any blog with standards of discourse.

    It is so much better there. There is NO SWEARING.

    Oh, and by the way, fuck their sorry, appeasing, milque-toast bullshit. Fuck them all sideways with a rusty fucking knife*.

    * This particular post to be whined about on the Colgate Twins blog around mid-2011.

    Any context for my comment in the original post is available in the “Value of Science Blogs?” post. The short version is that bilbo both admitted he trolls on The Intersection, and provided a list of “quotes” from Pharyngula showing how terrible it is. Not only did nobody in that thread actually check if the quotes were legitimate (if they had tried replacing asterisks with the proper words, several would not show up in Pharyngula search history because they were deliberately altered), people even started making up stories about poor treatment (one person went from “I have never posted on Pharyngula” to “I posted once and they told me to get raped”. The commenters were thoroughly dishonest with how they treated both real and fabricated quotes, and as far as I can tell it was merely because they wanted to make Myers look bad. They consistently accused people of making light of telling people to be raped, when the only comments really being defended were of the “go f*** yourself” variety.

    In short, I think my characterization was apt, but it was not meant in any way to reflect badly on Kirshenbaum. It was solely directed at the commenters and their poor, dishonest behavior. I have issues with Kirshenbaum’s behavior, but mostly in the realm of omission. Bad words are verboten, but intellectual dishonesty is par for the course here. That’s something I disagree with. But arguing against bad faith representations or quote-mining is not rape apologetics, and that’s all I’ve done on The Intersection in the past couple days. And it is horribly deceptive of her to frame Pharyngula as “treating rape as a joke or game”. If anything, the people who have been making a game out of it through posturing, lies, and deception are her loyal Intersection commenters.

  79. John Kwok

    @ Michael -

    I would like to think that anyone posting at the Discover and ScienceBlogs science blogs would hold him or herself to a much higher standard than what often transpires at DailyKos. Just because the level of discourse over there is much more coarse doesn’t mean that we can’t criticize the excesses seen at Pharyngula and elsewhere.

  80. Carlie

    However it is a little disturbing that nobody in that thread called out the commenter right after he commented.

    Being that I’m one of the commenters who is fast on the trigger finger to jump all over people who actually DO use threatening terms/concepts/phrases on Pharyngula, I can easily explain why I didn’t in this case.

    Because I understand context, and I understand references, and I took the time to read all of this dreck, and it was crystal clear that it was a reference specifically to the comments on this blog about that exact sentence. It would be crystal clear to anyone who spent 5 minutes or so looking at what went on.

    In fact, Sorbet, I think that it’s a little disturbing that YOU didn’t call out hen3ry at 66 for the comment about the Narnia kids. That’s the kind of offhand comment that at least a few people at Pharyngula would call out as inappropriate, even though his post is defending the same point and they are on the same side. I’m surprised that you would complain about not calling people out on rape comments but not do so yourself.

  81. Carlie

    Sorbet, were you talking about Cath (in the post Janine linked to) or the one Sheril quoted in the OP? I was responding as if it was the latter, not the former, so if there’s any confusion that’s the issue.

  82. Sorbet

    @Janine, then why not object in the thread in question right after the comment? In fact you will find a few commenters who are fully supportive of PZ and Pharyngula condemning that comment much later (for example #374). But I think someone should have done that sooner.

    In any case, that this comment should be used by Kirshenbaum to heap scorn on PZ or Seed is inappropriate and is misplaced blame. PZ has no obligation to trawl through every comment on his blog; that he does not delete a particular comment does not mean he automatically endorses it, but it does mean that he supports freedom of speech.

  83. Sorbet

    @Carlie, I had not seen the comment by henry earlier. That comment is more weird than anything else but refers to fictional characters; however note that the inclusion of Mickey Mouse makes it rather obviously funny and harmless. And I was talking about the comment thread quoted by Kirshenbaum.

  84. Carlie

    Sorbet – you just described exactly why the comment by Cath wasn’t noticed for awhile; not everyone reads a thread carefully before commenting. Also, some people are more prone to call out comment issues than others; it does take time and energy to do so. And some people who are fast to do so are otherwise engaged and don’t read the thread for awhile, or miss it the first time they read it, and so forth.

    The quotes by Janine are to the initial use of the phrase; the one Sheril quoted was from yesterday in response to all of the discussion here.

  85. John Kwok

    @ Brownian -

    I’ve actually pulled out my autographed books by Carl Zimmer, E. O. Wilson, and especially, Stephen Jay Gould (No need to pull out those signed by Frank, though I will say that I once played a practical joke on Gould which benefitted Frank and his third wife, a publicist, who once appeared on a panel with Gould.).

  86. Feynmaniac

    I’d like to complain about recent comments made here by one ‘bilbo’.

    On this thread he made the following comments:

    We can request that religious believers be brutally killed and/or violently sexually abused all we want, because they’re religious, and that maks it justified.

    If people believe the flood myth, they should be physically assulated

    These guys were right: sodoomy and rape are both appropriate and HILARIOUS!!!

    I’m sorry but bilbo is wrong. Rape is not hilarious. This clearly goes against The Intersection comments policy. I would like to therefore see bilbo banned from here.

  87. I’m currently driving to TX and Chris is in the air. We will review comments here when possible.

  88. Brownian

    I’m currently driving to TX and Chris is in the air. We will review comments here when possible.

    That’s no excuse. See John Kwok’s Stuyvesant alumnus-worthy comment #35.

  89. Kilgore

    Wow. Although Sheril’s point in making this post is a very valid one, it looks like the comments have again devolved into “if you post at blog XXX, you’re an idiot” nonsense. I never usually post on these kinds of threads for that reason, but a couple of things:

    1.) The “context” of the reference to Sheril and friends getting raped with a knife doesn’t excuse the content of the comment. “I’m kidding” is not an excusable context for an equivalent of “someone take a rusty knife and simulate sex with it by stabbing these people repeatedly in the vagina.” I’m sorry, guys. Try as you might, using such rhetoric as a “joke” is no excuse.

    2.) The “previous thread” that everyone is whining about was full of intellectual dishonesty and falsifications on an embarrasing level on both “sides” of the discussion – if you could even call it that. The truth of the matter is that yes, there is a disturbing track record on the Pharyngula comment threads of trivializing rape, sexual assault, and death as “jokes” which is in direct violation of Seed Media’s Policy guidelines. Pharyngula has some great content in what PZ posts, but the comments are often a cesspool of such trivialized violence. If people want to write Seed Media about this and get some action going, I think they have a very solid case.

    3.) I missed the part where Sheril blamed everyone who has ever commented or looked at Pharyngula for a single comment, as some of you act like she has. She hasn’t. The primary blame is on the commenter who requested implicitly that she and others be violently raped. The rest of the blame is on PZ for not catching this and removing it – as it clearly violates the terms and conditions of Seed Media. In fact, if you’re a commenter at Pharyngula, you should probably be pretty ashamed that someone has trivialized rape to the point where it’s a “joke,” to use how several of you have put it in defense. There’s a reason why those kinds of comments get more attention than the good stuff that gets written on Pharyngula otherwise. It’s simple, guys: don’t try to defend it.

    Of course, what I’ve written won’t change anything – it’ll only bring more immaturity, most likely. Anyway, I just wanted to get the above off my chest. It disgusts me more than you can imagine to see presumed science advocates using veiled suggestions of rape to attack those they disagree with, just as much as it does to see well-known scientists letting such drivel stand and seeing others try so hard and frnatically to defend it here.

    It’s shameful.

  90. Anthony McCarthy

    If other bloggers or commentators on blogs want to slam Seed, ScienceBlogs, PZ (or any other blogger), or commentator, THEY’RE EXERCISING THEIR FREE SPEECH RIGHTS!

    I’m always so interested in how the most tough, trash talkers are the first to get up on their free speech pedestal as soon as someone calls them on it.

  91. Peter

    I don’t know what’s more disturbing: the original comment calling for Sheril to be raped or the commenters since who have tried to defend it.

    Get off your tribal horses, guys. It’s OK to decry this rhetoric while not sacrificing your love for Pharyngula one bit. Consider my letter to Seed Media written. This kind of foolishness needs to be stopped.

  92. Petra

    Rape is not a joke. Ever. No amount of context involving “I’m kidding!!!” makes it acceptable, nor does it exclude it from standards of decency outlined by a blog’s host.

    If PZ doesn’t remove this filth, there needs to be a groundswell directed at Seed Media to ensure it gets removed. PZ’s a good blogger and great person, but he needs to get his comments under control. This is not an isolated occurrence.

  93. second opinion

    I wonder if any of the commentators here is aware that the public is even less interested in this cyberwar between two self proclaimed scienceblogs and its commentators than in the new girlfriend of Cher’s ex-husband.

    Imho running Pharyngula under sciencblogs.com is like selling vibrators at Toy’r Us. And admittedly vibrators are toys.

  94. Anthony McCarthy

    “Rape is not a joke or game…”

    As though there is any right-minded individual who would disagree, but then proceed that,
    BB @32

    If someone removes comments or bans commentators from their blog, in other words they restrict comments, and they leave up things like this, people are within their rights to assume the remark isn’t unacceptable to the blogger.

    I would imagine PZ might, might be unhappy that someone said that on his blog. My guess would be that he’s afraid of being called an old fuddy duddy (euphemism) for ruining the great fun of his community.

    I asked him if he’d consider going all science, all the time for several weeks as an experiment so the nature of his blog community could be determined, he refused flat.

  95. Carlie

    The truth of the matter is that yes, there is a disturbing track record on the Pharyngula comment threads of trivializing rape, sexual assault, and death as “jokes”

    Citation needed. Also needed is the sample size comparison to the over 975,000 total comments on Pharyngula.

  96. Bernard Bumner

    John,
    Ignore it if you will, but I challenge you to withdraw and apologise for your earlier comment comparing me to someone who very actually did trivialize rape. I have done no such thing. Your comparison was unfair, uncalled for, and offensive.

    I wonder whether you are capable of really taking that moral high ground you so covert.

    “I remember it because I wasn’t aware that one could be punished as harshly as Antoine was for making what did seem like a silly, throwaway, remark.”

    Really? I cannot imagine perceiving such a vile and glib outburst as a “silly, throwaway, remark” at any point since I first became aware of what rape is. I am no apologist for rapists, or minimize of the awfulness of rape.

    “So I understand completely Sheril’s sentiment and raison d’etre for starting this Intesection blog thread, and not only do I understand it, but I endorse it wholeheartedly.”

    I do not. Because the central premise is based on a fiction. It is manufactured controversy, with its entire foundations based on poorly constructed evidence, consisting of decontextualised and bastardised quotes.

    Nobody has joked about rape.

    You have yet to provide a single example to substantiate even that crumb of an allegation.

  97. Skeptical Skeptic

    If PZ doesn’t remove this filth, there needs to be a groundswell directed at Seed Media to ensure it gets removed. PZ’s a good blogger and great person, but he needs to get his comments under control. This is not an isolated occurrence.

    I agree fully. I can tolerate plenty of anger and ridicule, but calling for the violent raping of another person crosses a line that should never be crossed. Calling it a joke doesn’t fix things, either. And, as Petra said, this isn’t the only time such nonsense has been bandied about in Pharyngula’s comment threads.

    I respect PZ’s auuthority to let comments go unmoderated on his blog. But they’ve reached a point in their tone and tenor where silence is not an opinion anymore. I will not sit down and shut up when others are calling for the rape of bloggers/commenters. My email is going to Seed Media, and I encourage everyone else to, also. I’d email webmaster@scienceblogs.com. Does anyone know Adam Bly’s email?

    Enough is enough.

  98. Anthony McCarthy

    Nobody has joked about rape.

    Who cares if it was or wasn’t a “joke”? It was disgusting, especially considering one of the themes of this blog.

    Focusing on whether or not the offensive comment was supposed to be a joke is a diversion.

  99. gillt

    Yes, Sheril left a telling part of Paul’s comment (and surrounding comments) out of her quote that would have put it in better context.

    Isn’t it obvious by now to the owners of this blog that if you want to indict the pharyngula community along with PZ Myers you don’t do it by quoting one or two fragmentary bits and pieces of dialog in the comments section. Pretend your readers are smart and have higher standards than that.

    And I find it extremely weird that both CM and MK have not only an odd penchant for quoting comments on other people’s blogs, but struggle mightily with accuracy.

  100. Brownian

    If other bloggers or commentators on blogs want to slam Seed, ScienceBlogs, PZ (or any other blogger), or commentator, THEY’RE EXERCISING THEIR FREE SPEECH RIGHTS!

    As are we when we claim YOU AND THEY ARE WRONG AND MERELY MANUFACTURING A FALSE CONTROVERSY TO GIVE YOURSELVES AN IMPRESSION OF RELEVANCE.

    I’m always so interested in how the most tough, trash talkers are the first to get up on their free speech pedestal as soon as someone calls them on it.

    Boy, I’ve been to this blog no more than three or four times in the past year and I’m amazed at how little your reading comprehension and thinking skills have improved over that time, Anthony. No wonder you prefer to hang out here where no one’s gonna challenge you on anything.

  101. Sorbet

    Carlie, I am one person. But in the case of that comment it took dozens of others before someone noticed it. IMHO I found it a little strange that nobody did it earlier. In any case, unlike Sheril I am not indicting either Myers or his commenters and I certainly don’t think PZ should be obligated to remove that comment. If someone finds it offensive he or she should stop reading Pharyngula. It’s like saying TV channels are obligated not to air NC-17 rated movies. If you really think they are offensive, you have all the power in the world to turn off the TV or change to a different channel.

  102. Paul

    The truth of the matter is that yes, there is a disturbing track record on the Pharyngula comment threads of trivializing rape, sexual assault, and death as “jokes”

    Citation, please. That is a very serious accusation, and the only thing provided thus far was a long list of bad words and people telling others to go f*** themselves.

  103. Bernard Bumner

    “I’m kidding” is not an excusable context for an equivalent of “someone take a rusty knife and simulate sex with it by stabbing these people repeatedly in the vagina.” I’m sorry, guys. Try as you might, using such rhetoric as a “joke” is no excuse.”

    It wasn’t a joke. It was clearly posted to see whether or not it would – as per a long list of pervious comments – be taken out of context and posted here to support the fatuous claim that Pharyngula was a nest of rape apologists. To pretend anything else is simply dishonest.

    “The truth of the matter is that yes, there is a disturbing track record on the Pharyngula comment threads of trivializing rape, sexual assault, and death as “jokes”…”

    This is simply untrue. It is a lie.

    “The primary blame is on the commenter who requested implicitly that she and others be violently raped.”

    This did not happen. Moreover, taken in the context of the comments on both this thread and its predecessor, it is very clear that there is a claim (tacitly endorsed by Sheril, and actively espoused by commenters such as yourself) that Pharyngula is a haven for those promoting sexual violence.

    “It disgusts me more than you can imagine to see presumed science advocates using veiled suggestions of rape to attack those they disagree with, just as much as it does to see well-known scientists letting such drivel stand and seeing others try so hard and frnatically to defend it here.”

    It disgusts me to see lies and slander bandied about, whilst in the process trivialising the very thing that those argumenters are claiming to care so deeply about.

    “It’s shameful.”

    Dishonesty is shameful.

    “I don’t know what’s more disturbing: the original comment calling for Sheril to be raped or the commenters since who have tried to defend it.”

    I don’t know what’s more disturbing: the outright lie that anyone ever called for Sheril to be raped or the group delusion by which that lie has been perpetuated.

  104. Anthony McCarthy

    YOU AND THEY ARE WRONG AND MERELY MANUFACTURING A FALSE CONTROVERSY TO GIVE YOURSELVES AN IMPRESSION OF RELEVANCE.

    Oh, I’m sorry. But I didn’t realize that PZ’s fan club were the arbiters of relevancy.

    Considering what PZ’s fan boy wished on the owners and commentators of this blog, if they or we want to discuss it, we’re within our rights to do it.

    Brownian, you might be amazed that I don’t value your opinion or your demonstrated reasoning ability. Or that I don’t expect to find much of either with any value among the fans of PZ.

  105. Zoe

    Oh, seriously, guys, that comment did not trivialize rape, or make a joke out of it. To wit: Calling somebody a bastard doesn’t mean that you don’t believe their parents were married.

    (THIS jokes about rape. And it’s kind of catchy – oh, and it trivializes abortion. And was banned in England – of course.)

  106. Seminatrix

    sandi: Are you kidding me? The Intersection is a veritable clown car filled with rejects from any blog with standards of discourse.

    It is so much better there. There is NO SWEARING.

    Oh, and by the way, fuck their sorry, appeasing, milque-toast bullshit. Fuck them all sideways with a rusty fucking knife*.

    * This particular post to be whined about on the Colgate Twins blog around mid-2011.

    There is no amount of context in the above, quoted post – no amount of sarcasm, no amount of “joking” (and yes, that has been used already as a defense of this quote), nothing based on source – that makes suggesting the rape of Sheril or anyone else appropriate or makes controversy “manufactured.”

    Sheril has a right to speak up when someone suggests that she should be violently raped, whether that suggestion is made in jest or not. Making such statements in jest or to “prove a point” is precisely the problem here.

    I’m astounded people will try to stand up in defense of this filth. This, my friends, is the tribalism of Pharyngula exemplified. Do yourselves a favor, guys, and stop conflating defense of this comment with a defense of Pharyngula (or attacks on this comment as an attack on Pharyngula). I’m not a fan of Pharyngula, but it’s too good of a place to let crap like this get spewed across it. Grow up a bit and see this for yourselves, or you’re part of the problem.

  107. Anthony McCarthy

    that comment did not trivialize rape, or make a joke out of it. Zoe

    I’d imagine that someone who’s been raped would have a more developed idea of whether or not it trivialized the crime of rape than your typical blog blatherer.

  108. Seminatrix

    Oh, seriously, guys, that comment did not trivialize rape, or make a joke out of it.

    “Fuck them all sideways with a rusty fucking knife.”

    Perhaps you’d like to explain for us, Zoe, what secret meaning this threat possesses?

  109. Seminatrix

    It’s like saying TV channels are obligated not to air NC-17 rated movies. If you really think they are offensive, you have all the power in the world to turn off the TV or change to a different channel.

    Usually, Sorbet, if Sheril gets offended at violence being referenced on the TV, it’s not referenced in a personal nature directly at her. Bad example.

    This was a direct reuqest to see Sheril raped, hyperbolic or not. It breaks Seed Media’s comment policy. This is a relevant issue. Those of us who know victims of rape and sexual violence realize that such language is not trivial.

  110. Skeptic

    This blog has simply degenerated into an ocean of bile, dead-horse flogging, herd behavior, issue-dodging, fake outrage, shameless self-promotion and name-calling. Gone are the days with Scienceblogs when this outfit actually had something substantial to say about science and policy. I think a few years down the line we will hold up this blog and others as shining examples of how science blogs disintegrated and ceased to be of value.

  111. Milton C.

    I hardly think Sheril’s outrage is “fake,” Skeptic. And if you’re going to decry name-calling and bile herd-behavior, you had best take the intellectually honest course and make that a two-way street, my friend – or you become the very exemplar of herd behavior.

  112. Wowbagger

    Repost from the other thread; I didn’t realise another had appeared.

    Actual threats of violence – even on the internet – are crimes. If what we Pharyngula posters are doing what you say we’re doing then, using your rationale, we are committing crimes by writing what we write.

    So, which of you here has the courage of your convictions?

    Who’s going to go down to the nearest police station with a laptop and insist a detective navigate to the Pharyngula page in question so you can point out where the full comment, in context, with the unbowdlerized version of ‘f***ed with a rusty knife’ appears and demand that they prosecute the poster for making threats of sexual violence?

    Bilbo? Philip Jr? Seminatrix? Vyspyr? I mean, if it’s as a big a deal as you’re continuing to make it then surely you have a public duty to do something about it.

    Or is it that you know you’re making a pathetic, intellectually dishonest mountain out of what is, at absolute worst, the kind of distasteful (to some) hyperbolic language that is in no way suggesting an actual act but is instead the direct result of the anonymous, at-a-distance communication that the internet provides and that, if you went anywhere near a law enforcement officer with this you’d become as much of a laughing-stock to them as you already are to the rest of the internet community?

  113. Anthony McCarthy

    This blog has simply degenerated into an ocean of bile, dead-horse flogging, herd behavior, issue-dodging, fake outrage, shameless self-promotion …… Skeptic

    Well, Skeptic, why don’t you simply take Sorbet’s advice and change channels? I thought that “skeptics” by preference favored the most elegantly simple solutions to problems.

  114. Polly-O

    Wait wait wait. Someone implies that Sheril and others should be raped with a rusty knife, and people get on here to defend it and try to sweep it under the rug as nothing? How despicable. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, indeed.

    Sheril has every right to be disgusted and outraged when someone makes such a violent threat in her direction, no matter the context. And you people should be ashamed for trying to pretend that it’s nothing. Those of us with experience in sex crimes know much, much better than to trivialize this kind of excrement.

    Seed should know about this, and do something to correct it.

  115. Zoe

    Anthony:

    “I’d imagine that someone who’s been raped would have a more developed idea of whether or not it trivialized the crime of rape than your typical blog blatherer.”

    Er, how do you know I wasn’t sexually assaulted myself? If I was (you’ve got a 1 in 8 shot of that being true) then my opinion would be just as authoritative as Sheril’s on this issue. But clearly that’s really stupid. Every human being on earth, and women in particular, is a potential target for sexual violence. As much as anything, that makes each and every one of us “qualified” to have a developed idea on the issue, if we should but choose to think about it.

  116. Sorbet

    Seminatrix, the emphasis was on the word “offensive”, whether the insult is personal or not. I don’t doubt that the comment was personally offensive and completely uncalled for, but I am criticizing what I see as an indictment of Myers for not deleting the comment. And really, I am pretty sure it was not a “direct request to see Sheril raped”. That’s hyperbole on your part. Check comment #389 for the context. Not defending the commenter, but he was responding to a rather specific slew of comments on another post here. It’s an oversimplification at the least to say that he issued a “direct request” for someone to be raped.

  117. Seminatrix

    Bilbo? Philip Jr? Seminatrix? Vyspyr? I mean, if it’s as a big a deal as you’re continuing to make it then surely you have a public duty to do something about it.

    I, for one, already have. We’ll see what comes of it.

    (By the way, let me point out that Wowbagger is likely so angry because he is actually guilty of posting similar rubbish on past Pharyngula comment threads, all “in jest.”)

    Or is it that you know you’re making a pathetic, intellectually dishonest mountain out of what is, at absolute worst, the kind of distasteful (to some) hyperbolic language that is in no way suggesting an actual act

    Explain for us, wowbagger:

    1.) How you know this suggests an actual act. Are you the person who posted this? Can you read his mind? Seeing as how you called it “anonymous,” i’ll just conclude that you’re making an assumption as to motivation. And even if your assumption is right, it is of no consequence. Using rape as a joke or hyperbole is the problem we’re decrying.

    2.) You said that “fuck them all sideways with a rusty fucking knife” is only distateful “to some.”

    To whom is it not distasteful? I’m curious.

  118. Skeptic

    Actually unlike most commenters here that’s what I have been doing until now, and that’s what I am going to wisely do now. Adios!

  119. Seminatrix

    Seminatrix, the emphasis was on the word “offensive”, whether the insult is personal or not. I don’t doubt that the comment was personally offensive and completely uncalled for, but I am criticizing what I see as an indictment of Myers for not deleting the comment.

    I think it paints PZ in a bad light, seeing as what we know of Seed Media’s policy about what one can let be posted on their blog. Is it solely his fault? No.

    And really, I am pretty sure it was not a “direct request to see Sheril raped”. That’s hyperbole on your part. Check comment #389 for the context

    That may very well be hyperbolic. But how do we know? So far those backing Pz have claimed the following about the comment….

    1.) this is not a direct threat
    2.) this is a joke
    3.) this is, in no way, a joke
    4.) how dare you call this a joke?
    5.) people were annoying before this comment was made. (I assume this is meant to justify the comment somehow?)
    6.) this doesn’t refer to rape
    7.) this is hyperbole
    8.) this is OK because it’s anonymous

    The bottom line is that no one knows what motivations went into the comment, other than the fact that the context (to me) suggests that it was made in some kind of horrible attempt at jest. And, of course, part of the point of Sheril’s post was that she gets this but knows that rape should not be used in jest, as hyperbole, or as a joke.

    ESPECIALLY when Seed Media’s policy forbids such.

  120. Bob S.

    Verbal personal threats of physical violence are unacceptable and certainly not a joking matter.

    PZ Meyers in person is very polite, mild mannered and pleasant. He is correct that not all blogs need to be the same. His blog does offer much that is of value. I believe that he can run his blog in a manner which is, as he describes it: “… the gladiatorial arena of the science blogosphere, and we don’t restrict attendance to the prissy ol’ patricians — everyone likes a good bloody rhetorical battle now and then.” while still policing it to control verbal threats of violent personal attack. A blog can be rowdy, without being verbally abusive. Not all of the problems originate on PZ’s blog, although I do think that getting PZ on board would be a major step in resolving this issue.

    The nature of some of these attacks make women feel particularly unwelcome. Science has historically been a profession that frequently worked to exclude women. Some of this exclusion has been by overt acts of discrimination, some in forms of being made to feel as if one doesn’t belong.

    Feeling that one’s comments may leave one subject to threats of violent attack is not conducive to free speech or active participation. It certainly creates an atmosphere that does not lend itself to “strengthening public interest in science and improving public understanding of science around the world.”

    Seed Media has a responsibility to make Science Blogs a venue where everyone feels free to express their opinion on scientific matters in a spirit of open dialogue.

    That was a very measured response to this situation (which is, contrary to the opinion of some, a serious matter to science blogging as a whole), and I thought I’d repost it.

  121. Wowbagger

    Polly-O wrote:Sheril has every right to be disgusted and outraged when someone makes such a violent threat in her direction, no matter the context.

    Threats are crimes, Polly-O. If you believe what was written is a genuine threat then please present your evidence to law enforcement authorities so they may take action. However, be prepared to be responded to unkindly, with something along the lines of ‘Are you f***ing kiding me?’

    Seminatrix wrote:

    I, for one, already have. We’ll see what comes of it.

    The police, Seminatrix. Not Seed Media. If you are confident that what’s written on Pharyngula constitutes a genuine threat then you are being derelict in your public duty by not reporting it. What are you afraid of? Being laughed at even more than you have been already? For having someone open a dictionary in front of you to the page where ‘hyperbole’ is defined?

    By the way, let me point out that Wowbagger is likely so angry because he is actually guilty of posting similar rubbish on past Pharyngula comment threads, all “in jest.”

    Really? Please link to where I’ve threatened anyone with any act of violence. Go on, I dare you – heck I double-dog dare you. Or do you lack the courage to do this as well? It wouldn’t surprise me.

    To whom is it not distasteful? I’m curious.

    For starters, anyone who’s read the entire the comment in context. Are you unable, or just unwilling?

  122. Seminatrix

    Define the context for us, in detail, then, Wowbagger. Display to us what nullifes this as an offensive, personal attack on Sheril regarding suggestions and intimations of rape.

  123. Anthony McCarthy

    Er, how do you know I wasn’t sexually assaulted myself? Zoe

    Well, Zoe, how do you know I wasn’t?

    If you want to associate yourself with the lower end of PZ’s fan base, I guess you wouldn’t fall within those who have a more developed concept of the issue.

  124. Brownian

    How you know this suggests an actual act. Are you the person who posted this? Can you read his mind?

    Mind reading isn’t necessary. Understanding English is. “F*** you!” or “f*** them!” is a term of derision in English rather than an expression of intent. If the commenter had said “They should be f***ed…” or “I would like to f*** them…” you’d have a case.

    Now, criticising that comment for invoking violent, rape imagery is not at all inappropriate. Claiming it’s some sort of veiled threat is just dishonest.

    Define the context for us, in detail, then, Wowbagger.

    If I say or write, “F*** you!” is that a threat of unwanted sexual contact?

    If I say or write, “F*** you and the horse you rode in on!” is that a threat of unwanted sexual contact with a dollop of bestiality for good measure?

  125. Schaffaeri

    Some you here defending PZs right to let comments go unmoderated are indeed letting your defense of PZ take the form of the defense of suggestions of rape. I’m a devoted Pharyngulite and a staunch defender of free speech, but I’m not going to try so hard to pretend that this (and other comments plastered frequently on Pharyngula) are not what they seem: overt, personal invectives that trivialize rape and sexual violence by making them jokes.

    Pharyngula is one of the only decent communities of outspoken nonbelievers out there, and it sickens me to see this filth not only posted on the site but defended here by my fellow community members. Sheril, this is one Pharyngulite that disagrees with almost all of what you write, but I’m not afraid to disparage the comment made against you and apologize for belonging to an online community that posts and defends such nonsense.

    There is a point where the culture war ceases to be game, and this point would be it.

  126. TB

    I fully agree with @71 Sorbet, but not necessarily with everything said in @83 Sorbet.

    Not a joke, not funny, would be good if PZ showed some disapproval which would give his commentors some direction without infringing on their free speech.

    Then maybe more people would have spoken up against it there.

  127. Philip Jr.

    Mind reading isn’t necessary. Understanding English is. “F*** you!” or “f*** them!” is a term of derision in English rather than an expression of intent. If the commenter had said “They should be f***ed…” or “I would like to f*** them…” you’d have a case.

    “f*** them all sideways with a rusty knife” is an imperative sentence, which implies command, a decree. You’ve got a flimsy argument.

    Viewed out of context, this is a veiled threat. Viewed in context, it’s rape used as a joke. Neither is appropriate nor defensible, and both violate Seed Media’s policy.

  128. Zoe

    A threat of violence: I’m going to come over there right now and bash your stupid skull in. (The threat perception requires that the speaker’s credible – that they can and will do this.)

    An incitement to violence: I will pay the person who bashes [X]‘s stupid skull in by tomorrow night $5,000. (Again, the threat perception requires that the speaker’s credibility extends to them believably doing this.)

    Hyperbole: I wish somebody would bash all the stupid commenters on that blog repeatedly over the head with a rolling pin.

    Nobody was threated with rape; a group of people was told to go screw themselves. Please choose which of the three options above that statement is consistent with. Take your time.

  129. Slowly But Surly

    And what do we expect of yet another unmoderated comment page? I stopped reading unmoderated newsgroups for the same reason; the give voice to all the little Mussolini’s out there.

    I also stopped visiting PZ Meyers site after he flipped my ‘bozo-bit’ with his stupid communion wafer stunt. Good way to reach out to the people you want to educate eh!

    Anyhow, if one goes looking for morons, you’ll find ‘em. I stopped looking a while ago and my quality of life has much improved. Chris & Sheril must be made of stronger stuff than I am! Keep up the good work.

    Randy

  130. Philip Jr.

    If the commenter had said “They should be f***ed…” or “I would like to f*** them…” you’d have a case

    Not to mention there are more than a few “______ should die”s and “This f-up here should be (insert sexually-explicit/violent comment here)”s on Pharyngula already. Jokes or not, these violate policy and are references to violence.

  131. Wowbagger

    Seminatrix,

    No problemo. Had you read for comprehension (or at least attempted to grasp beyond the crayon-drawn straw-arguments presented by your mob-leaders) you’d have noticed the original complaints were all about people having written variations on ‘go f*** yourself‘, the context demonstrates that it is yet another comment where a person is asked to perform an act on themselves.

    So, with context, I’ve shown that that it’s not what you say it is – unless, of course, you or one of your cronies can demonstrate that the statement explicitly described the act of rape – that is, the act described could only be performed by someone upon someone else without the latter’s consent, as opposed to that someone performing it on themselves – which would hardly be ‘rape’, would it?

    Or are you claiming there is such a crime as ‘suggesting uncomfortable acts of masturbation’? If so, talk to the police.

  132. Brownian

    “f*** them all sideways with a rusty knife” is an imperative sentence, which implies command, a decree. You’ve got a flimsy argument.

    Viewed out of context, this is a veiled threat. Viewed in context, it’s rape used as a joke. Neither is appropriate nor defensible, and both violate Seed Media’s policy.

    Alright, Philip Jr. I see your point. While I don’t agree that it’s any sort of veiled threat (as you said, out of context), I’m no longer going to try to argue that the language used is defensible or appropriate.

  133. Paul

    Not a joke, not funny, would be good if PZ showed some disapproval which would give his commentors some direction without infringing on their free speech.

    FFS, read 76 in this thread.

    Nobody is speaking out about the example Sheril linked since it’s obviously referencing the “Value of Science Blogs” thread in a sardonic manner (painfully, painfully obvious in context). There is no implied (real) violence towards anyone, nor any condoning of violence. The statement made was used and abused and misused for hundreds of posts in the “Value of Science Blogs” thread. So the troll used it as bait to get some attention. We try not to feed obvious trolls, unless they’re actually making threats.

  134. Feynmaniac

    I would also like to complain about comments made by Seminatrix on this thread.

    The razor blade sodomy comment got ignored because it was directed at an “annoying libertarian,” and thus it was absolutely fine.

    Wishing that someone you disagree with would have violating, psychologically-tormenting, physically-brutal sex crimes performed on them with sharp, rough objects is a totally appropriate response when you’re annoyed.

    No, that’s not an appropriate response ever!!!! I know many victims who would be appalled by such a suggestion.

    This, in addition to bilbo’s comments @#87, clearly violates Discover’s comment policy. To be consistent, anyone who wrote to Seed Media Group needs to write to Discover and complain about the comments appearing on The Intersection.

  135. Bob S.

    “f*** them all sideways with a rusty knife” is an imperative sentence, which implies command, a decree…Viewed out of context, this is a veiled threat. Viewed in context, it’s rape used as a joke. Neither is appropriate nor defensible, and both violate Seed Media’s policy.

    Good post, and what this is really all about. (And, I’ll add, good to see Brownian agree on the more clear-cut parts of this.) The true argument should be about what PZ/Seed’s role is in keeping these kinds of things out. That’s a valid point from Sheril as a blogger, I think.

  136. J. J. Ramsey

    Seminatrix: “Perhaps you’d like to explain for us, Zoe, what secret meaning this threat possesses?”

    I think the idea is that the intended audience of the comment is supposed to realize that it is an echo of a previous comment where the context made clear that it wasn’t a threat. Trouble is, no one looking at that comment cold could be expected to recognize that echo, and even if one did, the comment that offended SK lacked the “Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*” bit, and without that bit, it’s just vile.

  137. Seminatrix

    I’ll agree on that point, J.J. I was over the line myself declaring this a “direct threat.” It’s likely hyperbolic….but who knows? Philip Jr. said it best – regardless of context and/or intent, this is rape trivialized as a joke or overstatement, which (for those of us close to victims or rape) it does not need to be used as.

    Furtherermore, it violates Seed Media’s policy, and should be removed. If PZ won’t do it, Seed Media should, seeing their terms of use. Otherwise, Seed Media should greatly alter their terms if they’re going to let this kind of thing be a common occurrence on their blogs….which, in one form or another, it is on Pharyngula.

  138. Wowbagger

    As already noted, all previous comments were suggestions to perform an act on oneself. Using that context (there’s that bothersome word again), this – unless you can demonstrate the author intended otherwise – is simply another suggestion of the same kind.

    How is suggesting an uncomfortable act of masturbation a threat? How is it in any way related to rape, which is the act of a person against another?

  139. Anthony McCarthy

    The focus on what whether or not the offensive statement is a joke, or hyperbole or other literary device is an obvious dodge.

    The person who made the comment was obviously aware of this blog and its writers, they could be reasonably assumed to know about the often stated theme of ending the silence over the violent crime of rape, and if that boy didn’t then PZ certainly should have known what that involved.

    S.K. has been open about the attack on her. It’s public knowledge. It’s most reasonable to assume that the comment was made and not removed by people who could reasonably be expected to understand how it would be taken.

  140. Seminatrix

    Again, wowbagger, saying that “f*** them all sideways with a rusty knife” is a HUGE stretch. Similarly, there are mroe than a few comments like this on Pharyngula that deviate from the old “do _______ to yourself canard.”

    You’re trying awfully hard to make this comment be what you’d like it to be. Not a smart move.

  141. Seminatrix

    “”implies doing so to oneself” should be put before “is a HUGE stetch” above. Doh.

  142. Brownian

    The true argument should be about what PZ/Seed’s role is in keeping these kinds of things out. That’s a valid point from Sheril as a blogger, I think.

    Well, the clear-cut component of this is that it’s offensive and inappropriate language. But that’s not Sheril’s point. Sheril’s point is that it’s a veiled threat, which even Philip Jr.’s comment notes isn’t true unless read out of context.

    I am a big proponent of free speech, however, this thread crosses the line by advocating sexual and physical violence.

    To be sure, such language is a problem, and as noted in comment 76 here by Janine, PZ has condemned the use of such language.

    But to use this as a whetstone upon which to grind one’s axe against PZ by removing context so as to be able to claim it’s a threat displays a serious lack of integrity which is a much more serious threat to science and science blogging than foul and offensive language.

    (And, since it’s fair to claim without citations or links that this is not an isolated incident on Pharyngula, I will also note that this is not the first time CM & SK have displayed such a lack of integrity, most recently and notably in their description of Crackergate in Unscientific America in which they conveniently omitted the story of Webster Cook, the impetus for PZ’s communion wafer desecration.)

  143. Bob S.

    “f*** them all sideways with a rusty f***ing knife” is an imperative. It is read as “(You) f*** them all sideways with a rusty f***ing knife.” Without any other context revealing otherwise, this is how such statements are taken in basic English. There is nothing else in that post that suggests anything different, thus it should be (and was) taken as an imperative by Sheril and others.

    You’re way overreaching here, wowbagger. Your perception is no substitute for how the comment presents itself. At least argue something defensible.

  144. Bob S.

    But to use this as a whetstone upon which to grind one’s axe against PZ by removing context so as to be able to claim it’s a threat displays a serious lack of integrity which is a much more serious threat to science and science blogging than foul and offensive language

    I didn’t see Sheril use the comment in question as a full-on indictment against PZ. She decried the comment first, and then stated that PZs silence on it creates the perception to the focus of the comment (her) that it is acceptable – not that she knows what he thinks about it. This perception, in her mind, reflects badly on Pharyngula and Seed, seeing Seed’s stated purpose and terms/conditions.

    We could argue either side about this all day, because it’s an argument about Sheril’s motivations, and we’re not Sheril. My opinion is that you’re trying to bit too hard to see the oak tree in front of you in a dark woods as Sasquatch and not considering all motivations equally. (Bad analogy? probably so.)

  145. Wowbagger

    You’re trying awfully hard to make this comment be what you’d like it to be. Not a smart move.

    Irony meter go boom. What a shame you and your fallacy-of-the-appeal-to-emotion-obsessed pals didn’t think of that 600 (or so) comments ago.

    That’s where context comes into it. I’m on Pharyngula most days; I know the commenters there and I know that they’re no more attempting to incite, or justifying the incitement of, violence of any kind – sexual or otherwise – against anyone than you or any of the regulars here. If you read the threads people had linked to you’d realise that.

    Attempting to besmirch them by claiming otherwise is far more repellent and morally questionable than anything that’s been written over there.

  146. Bob S.

    That’s where context comes into it. I’m on Pharyngula most days; I know the commenters there and I know that they’re no more attempting to incite, or justifying the incitement of, violence of any kind – sexual or otherwise – against anyone than you or any of the regulars here.

    So, every time someone makes a statement such as the one in question here, you know its true motivations without asking? Wow – I wish I had your telepathic capacity. And speaking of logical fallacies, your appeal to authority, in that you’re more of an expert on Pharyngula commenters so your simple opinion on motivation and intent is the correct one, is pretty shabby in and of itself.

    Sheril acknowledged that this is using rape as a joke. If you can’t see the worthlessness and disgusting nature of that, you’re missing the point. (Or will you goalpost-shift again to the old “that’s not what that means!” argument? You’re changing arguments against people here so frequently it’s impossible to tell what you mean. There’s probably a good reason for that: you seem to be grasping frantically at defensible points to make this all go away. Panic on.)

  147. Pope Maledict DCLXVI

    `natrix,

    since you evidently have such poor comprehension, the context is pretty much the whole of the previous train wreck thread, where the original rusty knife comment has been repeatedly miscited by posters, pulling it completely out of context:

    (a) as evidence of a literal threat of violence (NO: the author explicitly stated the phrase was metaphorical, but the good-natured posters at this blog here removed that part of the quote).
    (b) as evidence that PZ permits such language to stand on Pharyngula (again NO: as pointed out post 76 above by Janine, PZ explicitly slammed down on the kind of language being used).

    Seems pretty clear from 500+ comments that it has now become an Internet meme: hence, the second comment linked to by Sheril above, which is rather more objectionable.

    Note that the author of this second comment is not the same person as the first (the original rusty knife, you might say) – but several people earlier in this thread seem to be unclear at ascribing authorship of what comment to whom. In any case, the post is just as hyperbolic but is inflammatory, since it would be naïve to assume that the commenters here are not scrutinizing current threads on Pharyngula for any evidence of threats being condoned. Which would be hypocritical indeed if off-colour posts being made here are not being held to the same standard, as Carlie pointed out above at post 81.

    Philip

  148. Brownian

    We could argue either side about this all day, because it’s an argument about Sheril’s motivations, and we’re not Sheril.

    No, we’re not. However, I note that the motivation of the commenter in making the comment in question doesn’t seem to matter one whit, so why does Sheril get a pass because we can’t see into her brain and only have her words to go by?

    My opinion is that you’re trying to bit too hard to see the oak tree in front of you in a dark woods as Sasquatch and not considering all motivations equally.

    Maybe so. I’ll consider this, and think whether I need to argue on this subject any longer.

  149. J. J. Ramsey

    Brownian: “I will also note that this is not the first time CM & SK have displayed such a lack of integrity, most recently and notably in their description of Crackergate in Unscientific America in which they conveniently omitted the story of Webster Cook, the impetus for PZ’s communion wafer desecration.”

    In my copy of Unscientific America, the first paragraph on Crackergate (in Chapter 8) describes what happened to Webster Cook in a fair amount of detail.

  150. J. J. Ramsey

    Errm, the above should read “(in Chapter 8 )”, not “(in Chapter 8)”

  151. Wowbagger

    Bob S. wrote:“f*** them all sideways with a rusty f***ing knife” is an imperative. It is read as “(You) f*** them all sideways with a rusty f***ing knife.” Without any other context revealing otherwise, this is how such statements are taken in basic English. There is nothing else in that post that suggests anything different, thus it should be (and was) taken as an imperative by Sheril and others.

    Only if you’re being willfully disingenuous.

    Take the expression ‘f*** you’, used (more or less) to mean ‘I don’t agree with what you’ve said’. Is it an imperative? When someone says that in a bar are they suggestion to all the other patrons that they should indeed ‘f***’ the person it was delivered to?

    If you want to add emphasis, you can be descriptively hyperbolic – ‘f*** you and the horse you rode in on’. If someone says this, is it an imperative? Are they suggesting to everyone within earshot that they should commit rape (on the person) and bestiality (on the horse he/she rode in on)?

    So, if we want to direct this toward multiple recipients, we’d use the plural – ‘f*** them’ instead of ‘f*** you’. Then, we’d add the hyperbolic for emphasis; in this example ‘sideways with a rusty knife’. You get the expression ‘f*** them all sideways with a rusty knife’.

    Bob, if you can demonstrate that this is any more an imperative than ‘f*** you and the horse you rode in on’ then yes, it should be taken seriously. But if you can’t – and, considering what I suspect is the extremely small number of report case of large numbers of bar patrons sexually assaulting horses, that’s going to be the case – you should stop insisting that it is.

    You’re way overreaching here, wowbagger. Your perception is no substitute for how the comment presents itself. At least argue something defensible.

    That’s some good advice, Bob S. Why don’t you take it?

  152. Carlie

    Sheril acknowledged that this is using rape as a joke.

    First, she didn’t “acknowledge” anything. Acknowledging means admitting to something you know to be true, generally something that one is personally responsible for. What she did was to make an assertion, and an incorrect one at that.

    Second, this isn’t using rape as a joke. It’s using a bizarrely misconstrued interpretation of a comment as a joke.

  153. Bob S.

    I note that the motivation of the commenter in making the comment in question doesn’t seem to matter one whit, so why does Sheril get a pass because we can’t see into her brain and only have her words to go by

    The commenter’s words make it clear: “f*** them all sideways with a rusty f***ing knife.” I don’t know his/her motivation, either, although the context of the post leads me to think this is some horrible, pathetic attempt at a joke and, as multiple people have stated, using a reference to rape as a joke is unacceptable by any standards.

    I can’t see into that commenter’s brain, either. But I don’t see any other evidence to defend/nullify the use of a rape reference whatsoever, as well.

  154. Bob S.

    (NO: the author explicitly stated the phrase was metaphorical, but the good-natured posters at this blog here removed that part of the quote).

    And that part would be……? I see something (the last line) that could be implictly taken as metaphorical, but absolutely nothing in that linked comment explicitly says “this is metaphorical, by the way.”

    Also, even if this is metaphorical (which I don’t argue against you on, actually), the comment is a trivialization of the very real threat and crime of rape and sexual abuse (of which some of have clearly stated know/are victims of)…and it blatantly violates Seed’s terms and conditions, as many, many Pharyngula comments have before it. Something being “metaphorical” does not excuse it from being sexually-explicit, violent, or abusive.

  155. Philip Jr.

    Also, even if this is metaphorical (which I don’t argue against you on, actually), the comment is a trivialization of the very real threat and crime of rape and sexual abuse (of which some of have clearly stated know/are victims of)…and it blatantly violates Seed’s terms and conditions, as many, many Pharyngula comments have before it. Something being “metaphorical” does not excuse it from being sexually-explicit, violent, or abusive.

    Which, of course, is the argument against virtually every reference to rape, sodomy, violence, death, and sexual abuse that has appeared on Pharyngula. If it’s “joking” or “just metaphorical,” it still violates Seed policy and makes some extreme confusion exist between what Seed says about their blogs and what they will allow

    Which is our entire point.

  156. Vyspyr

    Which, of course, is the argument against virtually every reference to rape, sodomy, violence, death, and sexual abuse that has appeared on Pharyngula. If it’s “joking” or “just metaphorical,” it still violates Seed policy and makes some extreme confusion exist between what Seed says about their blogs and what they will allow

    Which is our entire point.

    …which is why Seed Media is getting letters and emails from more than several of us. I’d like to see an explanation of how Seed can have its terms and conditions while allowing one of its most popular blogs to reference knife-raping, violent deaths, and general sexual abuse on a frequent basis, hyperbolic or not.

  157. Bob S.

    this isn’t using rape as a joke. It’s using a bizarrely misconstrued interpretation of a comment as a joke.

    The correct interpretation is…….? (And, please tell us how you know so clearly.)

  158. TB

    @ 134. Paul

    I agree with you about trolls. However, that comment in 76 seems to be from a year ago, according to its link. Good for him to say it then, maybe PeeZee should say something again.

  159. Wowbagger

    It’s an argument from context, Bob S. – not from authority. People suggesting other people should perform uncomfortable acts of masturbation aren’t uncommon; actual threats – you know, where the words actually indicate an intent to harm – on the other hand, are non-existent.

    You can go there and read that for yourself. That’s not particularly authoritarian, is it?

    Sheril acknowledged that this is using rape as a joke. If you can’t see the worthlessness and disgusting nature of that, you’re missing the point. (Or will you goalpost-shift again to the old “that’s not what that means!” argument?

    As old as the argument might be, it’s only slightly less old than the inability of anyone here to refute it, because no-one has demonstrated how suggesting an uncomfortable act of masturbation = rape. Until you’ve managed to do that it is intellectually dishonest of you to keep claiming that it is. Not that I expect that will stop any of you, of course.

    Again, like anyone else who thinks that this is an actual threat or incitement to violence, take it to the police. If they’re what you say they are, they’re crimes and need to be reported. Have the courage of your convictions and serve the public good.

    Or, if you’re just posturing, stop with that line of argument. You don’t like PZ’s policy regarding language and hyperbole? Fine, say that and be done with it.

  160. Stu

    Okidoki, as the person who wrote the damned thing, let me clear a few things up here.

    - At the base, the statement is “f*** them”. This term is universally understood not to be an imperative (I am simply flabbergasted that someone actually tried to make that point). It is a simple, crude derogatory expression.

    - The comment I responded to was discussing the pearl-clutching here. Anyone following the discussion and interested in what it was about (rather than just clicking the link provided by the fainting-couch brigade, reading three sentences and getting the vapors) would know that it was a direct reference to the the earlier comment using the same imagery, which was such a source of hand-wringing in the earlier thread here. Most of the regular commenters here PARTICIPATED IN THAT VERY THREAD. To all of a sudden pretend to be unaware of that context is pathetic. Pathetic. You should all be ashamed of yourself.

    - Knowing how much out-of-context quoting goes on here, I threw in a bonus hint that my comment would be whined about on this blog (I was wrong about when, though). How on Earth can a sentient being read that and not realize, between it and the comment I responded to, heck, half the damned thread even, the context?

    - Rape and sexual abuse might be theoretically possible with a rusty knife, but sideways? Can someone draw me a picture? Getting offended at something that’s physically impossible? Seriously?

    Sheril: this post, this thread, and as of late this blog can now be directly linked as a shining example of intellectual dishonesty. But of course, nobody cares — the only way to get a decent number of hits is to stir up Pharyngula-related controversy, and it is obvious that you will ride this pony until it drops. Understandable, but don’t be surprised when you become an even bigger laughing stock than you are already along the way.

  161. Paul

    …which is why Seed Media is getting letters and emails from more than several of us. I’d like to see an explanation of how Seed can have its terms and conditions while allowing one of its most popular blogs to reference knife-raping, violent deaths, and general sexual abuse on a frequent basis, hyperbolic or not.

    And we ask how the same can be tolerated on a Discover Blog. There have been 2 threads full of that tripe in as many days.

    Nobody has quantified “frequent”, either. Repeating a fabrication doesn’t make it true, no matter how many spectators your angry, impassioned speech manages to convince. So far there has been one example of what you are decrying, and several examples of telling people to “go f*** themselves” which have nothing to do with “knife-raping, violent deaths, and general sexual abuse”. I don’t expect you to retract the claim, though, based on the general dishonesty making the claim in the first place shows.

  162. Pope Maledict DCLXVI

    Bob S.,

    are you not being somewhat obtuse? I think it’s been made very clear (and the comment has actually been quoted several times in full on THIS blog) that the original rusty knife line was followed by this, quote “(Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*)” unquote. And yes, in the cherry-picking that went on in the previous thread, that phrase was omitted.

    As you noted, I am not making a larger argument about whether such language is a trivialisation of rape – which I would agree would be deplorable. I am just pointing out that the way the comment has been used on this blog has largely been a gross misrepresentation, and the term is now being deliberately and mischievously re-used to fan the flames higher.

    Just as much as I deplore the later comment on Pharyngula (whose author incorrectly anticipated that it would take a year and a half to be discussed here, instead of a matter of hours), I also deplore the level of dishonest representation of certain posters here, which is just as notoriously inflaming the issue.

    Philip

  163. Anthony McCarthy

    As always, when the subject is PZ’s blog, the contortions his fan base go through, making the most absurd and irrational excuses for a straightforward instance of intentional offensiveness is enlightening.

    And these are the folks who love to tell everyone what paragons of enlightenment and reason they are.

  164. Wowbagger

    Anthony McCarthy wrote: As always, when the subject is PZ’s blog, the contortions his fan base go through, making the most absurd and irrational excuses for a straightforward instance of intentional offensiveness is enlightening.

    Except that no-one’s saying it wasn’t intentionally offensive – what I’ve said has been quoted and I’m quite happy to admit I was being very offensive and have no regrets for doing so – they’re saying it wasn’t either a threat or an indication of wanting to see serious harm come to anyone.

    Offensiveness is one issue; threats are another.

    And these are the folks who love to tell everyone what paragons of enlightenment and reason they are.

    Why can’t one be that and enjoy swearing? I fail to see how they are mutually exclusive; in fact, it would seem that prudity, censorship and self-repression are the very opposite of enlightenment and reason.

  165. J. J. Ramsey

    Stu: “Rape and sexual abuse might be theoretically possible with a rusty knife, but sideways?”

    One can easily interpret you as speaking of moving the knife sideways as one penetrates, which is quite physically possible and no doubt more painful than I want to imagine.

    Look, if had written something like “Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*,” as Cath did, you might have had a defensible position. As it stands, you wrote a post that taken on its own is pretty vile and isn’t salvaged simply because it indirectly quotes a post where someone let out frustrations against rape and torture apologists. You screwed up. Own up to it and stop mansplaining.

  166. Stu

    Wait, what? Anthony, nobody is disputing that it is a straightforward instance of intentional offensiveness. It was offensive, and it was meant to be offensive. We’re disputing that it is an actual incitement to rape or violence. Nobody in their right mind would see it that way. Hell, like I said before, what I said is physically impossible. It is downright disturbing to see people here try to make it out to be that; the bloggers in an obvious play for page views, and the commenters… well, I can’t really tell. To get back at Pharyngula for being banned there seems most common.

  167. TB

    During the presidential election campaign, some pretty over the top rhetoric was used at campaign rallies – to the point that the lines began to blur between campaign rhetoric and actual threat.

    I certainly recall John McCain specifically correcting a woman in the audience who said Obama was an Arab, with the implication that Obama was practically a terrorist.

    McCain spoke up because the rhetoric started to get out of hand and he didn’t want to be held responsible if someone was inspired to act on that rhetoric.

    So, while the commentor over on that other blog may not have been endorsing actual action, we don’t know that either way. Could have been a troll, could have been a bad joke, could have been a sick individual.

    Anyway you slice it, the comment was tasteless and wrong. I could care less about the excuse of context.

  168. Stu

    One can easily interpret you as speaking of moving the knife sideways as one penetrates, which is quite physically possible and no doubt more painful than I want to imagine.

    What the hell? Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?

    And *I* am the sick one?

    As it stands, you wrote a post that taken on its own is pretty vile

    And which was, very, very, very, very, very, very obviously, not to be taken on its own. That you insist on doing so is intellectually dishonest and quite frankly disturbing.

    let out frustrations against rape and torture apologists.

    Oh stop it. Just stop it. “Rape and torture apologists”? You expect to be taken seriously after that?

  169. Wowbagger

    TB, look 7 comments up at (currently) #161. Stu – the person who wrote the comment – has explained it and his intent in writing it. We don’t need to hypothesise any further.

  170. Paul

    So, while the commentor over on that other blog may not have been endorsing actual action, we don’t know that either way. Could have been a troll, could have been a bad joke, could have been a sick individual.

    Uh, he’s posted here a couple times. It was also clear through context to anyone who was participating on Pharyngula or The Intersection the past couple days (See: almost everyone on this thread complaining about it).

    Nobody is saying the comment isn’t rude, tasteless, or offensive, either.

  171. Stu

    TB: so you are saying that if someone on the street yells “f*** you” at you, you immediately flee the scene and report that person to the police, afraid that that person or someone else present heeding the “imperative” would rape you?

  172. TB

    @170 Wowbagger

    I don’t know Stu from – ahem – Adam. I’m not demanding that he be banned, but I sure don’t have to trust him or his excuses.

    He’s demonstrated that he’s willing to be that offensive, well this is what that gets him.

    What he doesn’t seem to realize is that he failed to be offensive in the way he intended. A clever person may have been able to pull a remark like that off, but he didn’t.

  173. hen3ry

    141. Seminatrix Says:
    March 11th, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Again, wowbagger, saying that “f*** them all sideways with a rusty knife” is a HUGE stretch. Similarly, there are mroe than a few comments like this on Pharyngula that deviate from the old “do _______ to yourself canard.”

    1) You say that there are “more than a few” of these comments. Fine, find me 8 from stories on the front page. ~1% sounds about right from the pit of depravity that you are painting Pharyngula to be.

    2) Would you take “F*ck them all” to be an imperative to rape? Again, this needs context. We are not talking about orders from a military commander, but a semi-anonymous commenter. If this is not, as I suspect, an expression of disgust with the group being referred to, why exactly not?

    3) Let us now be more emphatic with our expression of disgust: “F*ck them all, sideways!” We have added an extra dose of unreality to the affair. Is it possible to f*ck someone sideways? How would this be achieved? Can this really be a command?

    4) Finally, let us add even more emphasis: “F*ck them all sideways, with a rusty knife.” Again, all we are doing here, is taking an expression of disgust with a group of people, and adding emphasis. I may personally disagree with rape (and I do. Except of fictional characters, especially the children from the Narnia books.) but that is not what is being presented. Especially as the poster acknowledged that the people here may well complain about his phrasing. You might say that you have all been trolled, and most masterfully. Perhaps now is the time to stop feeding all the trolls.

    Now, you may deplore the changing patterns of slang and grammar that lead to the confusion here between an expression of disgust and a command to sexually molest (and I most heartily do), but that is no reason to automatically assume the worst of any situation. It could also be that I am wrong about the whole situation, and this comment is indeed a request that everyone posting at this blog be sexually molested (but still, sideways? What are the mechanics behind that?) in which case I condemn it utterly. However, let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater, as it were, and immediately spring to the assumption that anything that may even possibly be taken in a bad light be taken in the worst light possible. Let this storm in a teacup settle down. Take the evening off, go for a walk, eat some chips. Have a steam tank. Relax.

  174. TB

    @ 172 Stu

    Yes Stu, only a coward recognizes a potential threat and “flees” or is “afraid.”

    I understand what you’re trying to imply and I don’t have to prove anything to you.

    I’ll say here what I said in the other thread: It was a tasteless and inappropriate comment to make, and defending your comment doesn’t make you tough or a hero. Alternatively, you could man up and acknowledge that.

  175. J. J. Ramsey

    Stu: “And which was, very, very, very, very, very, very obviously, not to be taken on its own.”

    Stu, SK can’t read your mind, and she may not have even read through all 500 comments of the thread to which you referred, or remembered the comment that quoted Cath’s defensible comment.

    Stu: “‘Rape and torture apologists’?”

    Stu, you can’t even recognize a phrase from the post that you indirectly quoted, which was indeed letting out frustrations against such apologists, just as I said. Yet you complain about SK not being able to understand your more indirect references?

  176. Pope Maledict DCLXVI

    Stu,

    since you’re posting here at the moment, if I were you I’d clearly want to apologise to Sheril for the bad impression those remarks gave, as well as to those here who are unaware of the context – but not to those who are deliberately pretending to ignore it.

    As for those who raised this current issue, by e-mailing SK to bring the comment to her attention: I’m inclined to think that action was just as inflammatory, much as the comment by Stu was offensive and thoughtless.

    Philip

  177. Anthony McCarthy

    Stu, @167, But PZ, himself has said that I wasn’t banned, though I don’t have any interest in going over that again, as I have had to point out to him and his more adoring fans, I always said from the beginning that if he did ban me from HIS blog he would be entirely within his rights. I’ve never complained about it.

    At any rate, unless he has done it since I looked at the links, he hasn’t deleted the comment or banned the clever boys who said those things.

    The only thing I’ve accused PZ of here was that he was possibly afraid of being called a “fuddy duddy” by his fan base. You can see above.

  178. Anthony McCarthy

    It’s also pretty funny how upset the boys seem to be that they can’t cut loose on every blog. You’d think they didn’t have sufficient vocabulary when they can’t make recourse to naughty words.

    Maybe if you just said “jicket” like I do on such occasions.

  179. Stu

    TB:

    What he doesn’t seem to realize is that he failed to be offensive in the way he intended. A clever person may have been able to pull a remark like that off, but he didn’t.

    First of all, you have not the faintest glimmer of an iota of an inkling of what my intentions were with posting it, whether it be troll bait, expressing frustration with the dishonesty here both now and in the past, satire or anything else.

    Second of all, nice condescension there. I dare say that directly disparaging my intelligence is far more offensive than my generic, hyperbolic version of “sod them”, and no amount of pearl-clutching about naughty words can change that.

    It was a tasteless and inappropriate comment to make

    At no point have I said that it was not offensive; it was intended that way. Other than that, who died and made you the final arbiter of what constitutes “tasteless” and “inappropriate”?

    J.J.:

    Stu, SK can’t read your mind, and she may not have even read through all 500 comments of the thread to which you referred

    That it was in reference to something was blindingly obvious, as I have previously explained. Just reading my comment and going off half-cocked in an obvious ploy for pagehits is as low as blogging goes.

    By the way — I apologize, I thought you were referring to the Pharyngulites here as “rape apologists”.

    Pope:

    if I were you I’d clearly want to apologise to Sheril for the bad impression those remarks gave, as well as to those here who are unaware of the context

    Are you seriously suggesting I apologize to people for their laziness and/or lack of reading comprehension? How on Earth can anyone read that comment and not realize that there is context? I refer to another comment, I refer to another blog… what do these people need? Blinking 72pt hyperlinks?

    Anthony:

    It’s also pretty funny how upset the boys seem to be that they can’t cut loose on every blog. You’d think they didn’t have sufficient vocabulary when they can’t make recourse to naughty words.

    I would like to congratulate you on the most vapid comment yet. I am upset about the rampant dishonesty here, and I am quite capable of curbing the salty language to protect your fragile little souls, thank you very much.

  180. Wowbagger

    Anthony McCarthy wrote: It’s also pretty funny how upset the boys seem to be that they can’t cut loose on every blog. You’d think they didn’t have sufficient vocabulary when they can’t make recourse to naughty words.

    I take issue with both the misogyny and inaccuracy of that, Anthony. The women of Pharyngula aren’t the delicate little flowers you seem to think they should be and are quite capable of matching any of the males in bar-room language.

    And as for lacking sufficient vocabulary…feel free to re-read my comments here and on the previous thread and observe how often I’ve used ‘naughty words’ outside of the appropriate context – and perhaps dwell upon what the expression ‘horses for courses’ might mean and how it may be applied in this situation.

    Or you could simply stop generalising and quote the people you feel this applies to. You’ll save on both tar and brush-wear that way.

  181. Sven DiMilo
  182. Wowbagger

    Sven, that’s terrible. That comment can only mean one thing: you’re inciting people to literally visit the people who post here and violently smear their heads with faeces. You’re despicable.

  183. JS

    Sven, that’s terrible. That comment can only mean one thing: you’re inciting people to literally visit the people who post here and violently smear their heads with faeces. You’re despicable.

    I agree with Wowbagger. It’s staggering that adults, in this day and age, could actively encourage fecal assault, then lamely try to excuse it as a “joke.” Coprocrania is no joke. Ever.

  184. TB

    Stu: ” … directly disparaging my intelligence is far more offensive …”

    Oh, this is rich! Now Stu is the victim here!

    He tried to be cleverly offensive but he only managed to be – at best – crass, and he’s too naive to understand his failure.

    What a whiner!

  185. Pope Maledict DCLXVI

    Stu,

    I’m just saying that whether you meant the words to cause offence or not, others have used them to that end. You don’t have to apologise for that, but if it were me I would not be that comfortable posting on this blog with uttering something in the way of an apology. That’s all…

    Regards, Philip

  186. Pope Maledict DCLXVI

    D’oh. Last sentence in the previous post: with without.

    And with that, I’m off.

    PML

  187. Anthony McCarthy

    Wowbagger, the only ones I’ve read whining about the policy on crude language have boy names. I have no doubt that the girls in PZ’s fan club are as prone to the same level of discourse.

    Stu, the day I worry about you insulting me will not come.

  188. J. J. Ramsey

    Stu: “That it was in reference to something was blindingly obvious,”

    You were the first one on the Pharyngula thread in question to mention vileness with a rusty knife. Before that, there were comments grumbling about the Intersection without much detail, let alone a reference to the thread to which you were trying to refer.

    Also, the reason Cath’s comment was defensible was (1) because Cath wanted to wish horrible things on the sort of people who enable horrible things, not merely science bloggers who might be wrong or foolish about certain issues and (2) because Cath stepped back from that wish for horrible things and recognized just how scary that wish was. You lacked both those things, and as a result, you just looked nasty.

  189. Seminatrix

    1) You say that there are “more than a few” of these comments. Fine, find me 8 from stories on the front page. ~1% sounds about right from the pit of depravity that you are painting Pharyngula to be.

    Pharyngula has a “front page?” What?

    2) Would you take “F*ck them all” to be an imperative to rape? Again, this needs context. We are not talking about orders from a military commander, but a semi-anonymous commenter. If this is not, as I suspect, an expression of disgust with the group being referred to, why exactly not?

    But we are talking about basic grammar. and in basic grammar, that is an imperative – not a suggestion of self-mutilation, as Wowbagger and others so vehemently hold wihtout evidence to support them.

    3) Let us now be more emphatic with our expression of disgust: “F*ck them all, sideways!” We have added an extra dose of unreality to the affair. Is it possible to f*ck someone sideways? How would this be achieved? Can this really be a command?

    See above.

    4) Finally, let us add even more emphasis: “F*ck them all sideways, with a rusty knife.” Again, all we are doing here, is taking an expression of disgust with a group of people, and adding emphasis. I may personally disagree with rape (and I do. Except of fictional characters, especially the children from the Narnia books.) but that is not what is being presented. Especially as the poster acknowledged that the people here may well complain about his phrasing. You might say that you have all been trolled, and most masterfully. Perhaps now is the time to stop feeding all the trolls.

    See above….unless you have an alternate definition of what suggestions of a person getting a rusty knife rammed vigorously up their vagina is. If it’s the latter, I’d like to know so I can stop so apparently confusing such language with rape (where oh where would I get such an idea?!)

    Now, you may deplore the changing patterns of slang and grammar that lead to the confusion here between an expression of disgust and a command to sexually molest (and I most heartily do), but that is no reason to automatically assume the worst of any situation.

    Again – the alternate definition of getting “f***ed with a knife” that everyone from Pharyngula (but no one else) seems to grasp but be unable to explain would be nice.

    It could also be that I am wrong about the whole situation, and this comment is indeed a request that everyone posting at this blog be sexually molested (but still, sideways? What are the mechanics behind that?) in which case I condemn it utterly.

    The comment is veiled threat of rape used as a joke – which, of course, is the purpose of this post. It’s disgusting either way.

    However, let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater, as it were, and immediately spring to the assumption that anything that may even possibly be taken in a bad light be taken in the worst light possible. Let this storm in a teacup settle down. Take the evening off, go for a walk, eat some chips. Have a steam tank. Relax.

    No, let’s not just turn a blind eye to people using rape as the source of a few hearty guffaws/a way to attack those they disagree with/a joke/a sincere threat/whatever the characterization of the moment you and your friends would like to use to wish this situation away is.

    Those of us who are personal victims of rape/have loved ones as victims know precisely why using rape in such a context is pathetic, disgraceful, and cause for us to stand up against it…not take your advice and get a good chuckle out of it and ignore it further.

  190. Seminatrix

    Anyone following the discussion and interested in what it was about (rather than just clicking the link provided by the fainting-couch brigade, reading three sentences and getting the vapors) would know that it was a direct reference to the the earlier comment using the same imagery

    Actually, for someone like myself (or Sheril, apparently) who read the post, this magical link to some aforementioned quote was not apparent for the following reasons:

    1.) You never quoted the original post, nor referred to it.

    2.) There was otherwise no context in the post (nor in the rest of the thread within which it was posted) to refer us to this magical quote.

    3.) You took an existing quote and redirected it entirely towards Sheril et al.

    4.) When one looks up posts that refer to a person being savaged, by themselves or otherwise, with various objects in a sexually-explicit nature, we easily get over 100 references from Pharyngula. Each by its very nature violates Seed’s content policy. There are far more than 2 examples of people wishing aloud for the sexual assault of individuals on Pharyngula.

    Of course, this belies the point that you’re owning up to suggesting that Sheril be raped (albeit indirectly) but actually defending your use of it – not backing down. That’s utterly pathetic, and you’re apparently immune to reason.

  191. Bob S.

    Cath’s comment wasn’t defensible as much as Stu’s reincarnation of Cath’s quote is. (I’ll note that Stu took an existing comment and redirected it completely to Sheril et al., so his argument really doesn’t add up).

    Why? Because metaphorical or not, both violate Seed’s policy. Both use rape as a good source of guffaws – they trivialize it as a joke.

    And Stu, like all (but one) Pharyngulites before him, is defending the use of rape imagery, directed at an individual, as acceptable blog language, with nothing wrong with it at all.

    And that’s our problem. Rape is not a lgiht-hearted source of jokes. It’s an intellectual cop-out, and evidence of moral bankruptcy. Grow up…or at least won up and apologize, don’t own up and defend.

  192. Carlie

    Because metaphorical or not, both violate Seed’s policy. Both use rape as a good source of guffaws – they trivialize it as a joke.

    Do you have any idea what you’re talking about??? Cath’s comment was not “trivializing it as a joke” – it was an expression of honest, raw frustration about the kind of person who is an ACTUAL RAPE APOLOGIST. Lest you forget where it came from, it came from a post about Bill Donohue making excuses for ACTUAL RAPISTS, and was directed specifically towards people LIKE HIM, and Cath immediately framed that sentiment as the wrong type of idea that it was, but used it as an example of the bad ideas that actual rape apologists like Donohue can drive decent people to. What on earth is wrong with you, thinking that Cath was “using rape as a good source of guffaws”?????

  193. Fratteriga

    For the record, I’m a PZ Myers devotee (to use the faithiest language). I don’t like this blog (The Intersection) at all.

    But I find this situation as equally pathetic as Sheril does.

    Stu’s “defense” of the situation is poor, has no rational legs to stand on, and he should take the intellectually honest route and own up for what he said and apologize (rather than defend), and then this whole situation will move on. I’ll note that, as much as I like Pharyngula and what it represents, the comments section of that blog is the one sole blemish it has (and a very embarrassing one at that). Most comments are OK, but there is far too much of this kind of drivel on there that overshadows the redeemable stuff (and even gets cheered on/award with Mollies), and Seed Media would be justified in taking action to either remove these comments or force PZ to adhere more closely to its terms and conditions. Those terms are clear-cut, and there’s really no argument that these kinds of comments don’t violate them egregiously.

    Let me also just state that Wowbagger, Stu, et al. do not in any way represent the intellectual level of those who read and frequent Pharyngula. They’re doing the entire community over there a huge disservice by letting their tribalism blind them to a point where they’ll defend imagery involving the violent rape of Sheril just to attempt to bolster their “side.”

    A line has been crossed that should never be crossed for those who cherish reason and logic, and you guys have not only crossed it – you’re trying to defend it. You’d do well to back off and defend what is defensible – not this trash.

    (My .02, anyway. I’m sure this bring the flames from my fellow Pharyngulites. So be it. i won’t let my morals lapse just because I’ve got a culture war to fight like these clowns.)

  194. Seminatrix

    Lest you forget where it came from, it came from a post about Bill Donohue making excuses for ACTUAL RAPISTS, and was directed specifically towards people LIKE HIM

    Like this changes anything? Rape for rapists? You tell me how that’s justified, and also tell me how it jives with Seed Media’s terms and conditions.

    (That’s not rhetorical. I want an answer. You may contiinue to use all-caps to attempt to inject more relevancy into your rape defense)

  195. Stu

    This is absolutely unhinged. If you call that “rape imagery”, there is something seriously wrong with you. For example, if I were to say “f*** them in the ear”, you take that as me advocating actual ear penetration?

    I mean, you guys have a point if there wasn’t a “sideways” on it. But it does. Which by any rational standard makes it crass, vulgar, offensive, insensitive, and oh, HYPERBOLE. Or satire, since it was a reference. Which any child would understand. Or both. If you don’t see that you are dense as a post, lying, or both.

    Also,

    1. I was quoted out of context. A simple click shows you that.
    2. I was directly replying to someone. If you’re too lazy to even scroll up, well, that’s your problem.
    3. There are females on Pharyngula.
    4. Some have even been raped.
    5. They pounce on rape imagery.
    6. None of them came even close to taking offense.
    7. Because they understand context.

    And no, I’m not a victim for being called less-than-clever. Of course not. Nonetheless, it is direct disparagement of a person (and a completely clueless type at that), rather than a vulgar dismissal.

    Any of you thinking that what I said condones, let alone approves or encourages rape in any way shape or form should A) take lessons in basic anatomy and B) get your head examined. YOU are the ones taking this to rape, thereby demeaning actual rape or threats of rape. YOU are the ones with minds sufficiently in the gutter that you can actually think of ways to make sideways knife-rape work (again, what the hell). YOU are the ones with your mind in the gutter, and no amount of “we don’t use naughty words” veneer fools anyone.

    You are sickening, and projecting.

  196. John Kwok

    @ Bernard (@ 97) -

    What exactly should I apologize for? Observing how serious Antoine’s bosses took his glib comment, and recognizing that it wasn’t glib nor something that should have been said on air? Apologize for misinterpreting Sheril’s remarks, when she decided finally to write about it here after receiving complaints from others about the ongoing mischief over at Pharyngula?

    You’re still absolutely clueless. Am glad Skeptical Skeptic (@ 98) stated not only the obvious, but also want needs to be done. Again if PZ can’t – or won’t – police his blog, then maybe SEED Media should take it away from him.

  197. Carlie

    Like this changes anything?

    Yes. Bob S.’s contention was that that Cath made the comment for “guffaws” and a trivial “rape joke”. Looking at the actual comment and the actual thread it was in shows that he is entirely wrong.

    Rape for rapists? You tell me how that’s justified

    It isn’t, which is why Cath his/herself specifically said that such people make her want to say such things, but that s/he would not do so. And then, to add even more clarification onto that, several other commenters along with PZ reiterated in the exact same thread that yes, that would be an unacceptable thing to do. Your continuing refusal to acknowledge this would make me doubt your social intelligence if I wasn’t already convinced that you’re being disingenuous on purpose.

  198. Gaythia

    @Stu Most of us who strongly object to the phrasing which was (according to what I read in #161) apparently yours, are not people who are concerned about curbing “salty language”.

    You appear to be remarkably uninformed about issues of sexual violence against women.

    You are astonishingly unaware of how this imagery, directed at a specific woman goes well beyond simply tasteless and inappropriate.

    I believe that there is no way that this can be excused as having anything to do with intentions of troll bait, frustration with dishonesty on this blog or anything else.

    I strongly recommend that you go online and start to educate yourself as to the serious of sexual violence and why many of us women find the imagery of rape and knives to be extremely offensive and certainly no joking matter.

    You can start here: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/world/africa/07congo.html

    A lengthy, complete and very contrite letter of apology should be your next order of business.

  199. Stu

    You appear to be remarkably uninformed about issues of sexual violence against women.

    Not at all, thank you very much. If my other comment makes it out of moderation, you’ll see that several women on that very thread were victims of sexual violence and took no offense to my comment whatsoever.

    What they are taking offense to is THIS, this equating a hyperbolic comment with sexual violence, thereby trivializing the actual issue. They take offense with you. Do you understand? Is this hard to grasp? It is the equivalent of someone saying “f*** Israeli settlements, in the ear” and coming back with the vapors and quacking about the holocaust.

    It. Trivializes. The. Issue.

    Form. Over. Content.

    You are astonishingly unaware of how this imagery, directed at a specific woman goes well beyond simply tasteless and inappropriate.

    You are astonishingly bad at reading comprehension. My comment was directed not specifically at Sheril, but at Chris, Sheril and most of the commenters here. If at all, I would be advocating taking one little rusty knife and taking on all of you. Again, if that seems like a realistic image to you, seek professional help.

    A lengthy, complete and very contrite letter of apology should be your next order of business.

    Funny, coming from someone who either did not read my comment or failed to comprehend it. A lengthy, complete and very contrite letter of apology for doing either should be your next order of business.

    And no, don’t deflect with “that still does not make your comment okay”. You just misrepresented what I said completely. You did so out of carelessness, stupidity or outright perfidy. Until you address which one it was, and apologize for it, you have no standing in this conversation whatsoever.

  200. JS

    J.J. Ramsey, #166:

    One can easily interpret you as speaking of moving the knife sideways as one penetrates, which is quite physically possible and no doubt more painful than I want to imagine.

    What’s your damage Heather?

  201. Passerby

    -I cannot see how the tone of commentary contributes to this goal

    Sheril, you are again missing the forest for the trees. This is one comment among thousands on PZ Myers’s blog. I too find it extremely deplorable and wish someone had condemned it earlier. But if you really think that one or even a few comments on Pharyngula destroy Seed’s goal of promoting public understanding of science, you need to provide evidence. Pray tell us how, ON BALANCE, does the promotion of science by Pharyngula get completely and irrevocably damaged by the harm done to this promotion by such occasional comments. Again, you cannot let emotion blind your perspective and pass blanket judgements.

  202. Deepak Shetty

    @Philip@156 @Vyspyr@157
    Unsurprisingly both of you’ll are unable to read the entire Terms and Conditions

    We have no responsibility or control over the content, frequency or any other aspect of Submissions by our users, and we cannot be held liable for any such Submissions. We have the right, but not the obligation, in our sole discretion, to pre-screen, refuse, edit, move or remove any Submission in any Venue. We are not responsible for screening, monitoring or verifying any Submissions (subject to the “Copyrights and Copyright Agent” paragraph below), although we reserve the right to do so.
    http://scienceblogs.com/main/terms/

  203. Deepak Shetty

    @Seminatrix

    Like this changes anything? Rape for rapists? You tell me how that’s justified

    It isn’t.
    But to avoid being called a hypocrite , since you take so much offense at comments directed towards Bill Donohue, please provide your honest appraisal of Bill Donohue and what terms may be used to appropriately describe him in the matter of his defense of the Irish Catholic priests. Please note that we arent talking about empty profane words but actual actions of child abuse.
    Please also provide explanations as to why Sheril and her ilk , who believe that Rape is not a Joke or a game, do not soundly condemn people like Bill Donohue.

  204. JS

    Deepak Shetty:

    We have no responsibility or control over the content, frequency or any other aspect of Submissions by our users, and we cannot be held liable for any such Submissions. We have the right, but not the obligation, in our sole discretion, to pre-screen, refuse, edit, move or remove any Submission in any Venue. We are not responsible for screening, monitoring or verifying any Submissions (subject to the “Copyrights and Copyright Agent” paragraph below), although we reserve the right to do so.

    Pwned.

  205. johnq

    I’ve never paid any attention to the comments section on this blog or the other blog, but followed the link over there and then decided to see what the comment thread here looked like.

    From the perspective of someone who has absolutely no axe to grind: you all need to get a life. I mean everyone, on both sites and on both sides of the issue. The discourse is just embarrassing, or at least it’s embarrassing to me, as someone who probably has views in common with most of the people who post here and over there. I’d call it sophomoric if I weren’t worried about triggering a thousand posts arguing about whether I’d been overly insulting to sophomores.

    A commenter on the other site wrote something offensive, apparently because he’s a jerk or in an attempt to be deliberately provocative, or both. One of the authors of this site took offense. Ordinarily I’d say that taking offense at offensive internet postings is about as pointless an exercise as I can imagine, but in this case there’s apparently a personal history that makes her reaction understandable.

    Everything else written here is a waste of perfectly good pixels, and if I were on the anti-science team I’d be awfully tempted to point to this thread as Exhibit A in support of an argument that the pro-science side is populated mainly by self-righteous twits.

    I’m sure I’ll hear that if I don’t like this kind of stuff I don’t need to read it. Having already wasted more of my life on this than I care to justify, I’ll now take that advice, whether it’s given or not.

  206. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Oh well. In any normal rational discussion that would settle things.

    But this is the intersection.

  207. Stu

    In any rational discussion, my previous comments would not be stuck “In moderation”.

  208. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Well there’s that

  209. Stu

    Can we go over to Pharyngula, where comments are, oh, I dunno, NOT CENSORED? This is an open invitation to all.

  210. Carlie

    Can we go over to Pharyngula, where comments are, oh, I dunno, NOT CENSORED? This is an open invitation to all.

    But Stu, then they wouldn’t get all the page hits here. Not that I’m insinuating that they occasionally post about Pharyngula with the idea that it might increase their visit totals or anything.

  211. TB

    @198 and 200

    I’m not advocating banning, but – Pfft. That paragraph in no way contradicts the the previous, it simply lays out their legal liability, especially in the event that they are unaware that someone might have posted a submission that is “unlawful, harmful, harassing, threatening, abusive, hateful, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, profane, vulgar, indecent, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable, or that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability, violate any third party’s rights of privacy or publicity or otherwise violate any applicable law or right. ”

    That phrase “reserve the right to do so” should have given you a clue.

    But hey, feel free to declare victory and run away!

  212. hen3ry

    190. Seminatrix Says:
    March 11th, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    1) You say that there are “more than a few” of these comments. Fine, find me 8 from stories on the front page. ~1% sounds about right from the pit of depravity that you are painting Pharyngula to be.

    Pharyngula has a “front page?” What?

    Yes, everything that is immediately presented on http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/, as opposed to http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/index.php?page=2, or anything on the subsequent pages. Are you being deliberately stupid here?

    2) Would you take “F*ck them all” to be an imperative to rape? Again, this needs context. We are not talking about orders from a military commander, but a semi-anonymous commenter. If this is not, as I suspect, an expression of disgust with the group being referred to, why exactly not?

    But we are talking about basic grammar. and in basic grammar, that is an imperative – not a suggestion of self-mutilation, as Wowbagger and others so vehemently hold wihtout evidence to support them.

    Did I say anything about self-mutilation? Where? Again, this is starting to move into trolling territory.
    Now, yes, you can claim that it is an imperative. But to do so, you have to ignore general usage to such an extent as to persuade me that you are living in a small and slightly stuffy grey box, with a heavily filtered internet connection. I would argue that general usage of the term “F*ck them all” is an expression of anger and disgust. See here, here, and in the modern usage section here. You have shown no sign anywhere of even considering this usage, choosing to harp on about “basic grammar”.

    Now, again for the slow: If I say: “F*ck you”, I am insulting you. (But only for the purposes of this explanation). This is the commonly accepted definition of this term, I believe, and arguments to the contrary will require much evidence to persuade me. Now, it is a terrible thing that something, which taken literally is an imperative to presumably forced intercourse, has passed into common usage as an insult, and I quite agree that we should deplore this practise, but that is not what you are doing. You are ignoring customary usage, and very widespread customary usage, to complain, not about the abhorrence of customary usage (which it is), but that you believe that Stu means this literally, and that there is no other interpretation of his words possible. This is an interpretation that I must disagree with, before English loses all of its charm, and we are reduced to mere new-speak.

    (I do not condone the use of rape as an insult, or in any other way, but I also do not condone placing the worst possible interpretation on commonly used phrases in order to start a witch hunt, and the mangling of English that accompanies such an activity. F*ck is a very versatile word, and has grown to mean many many things, above and beyond the basic act of hitting things, or perhaps plowing.)

  213. Bernard Bumner

    “What exactly should I apologize for?”

    Now, now, John. Someone with your education should have no trouble reading for comprehension.

    You should apologise for equating me with someone who actually did trivialize rape. I have not. I do not.

    Are you a moral coward?

  214. Anthony McCarthy

    @202, It’s PZ’s decision what he’ll allow to stay on his blog, what is there is the result of his decision. He has excluded comments and commentators so he doesn’t allow entirely free comment. As it’s his blog that’s his right – I won’t go into Seed policy, though what I’m saying here applies to whoever there decides these things. But since those are his policies, that makes him responsible for publishing what people put there. He doesn’t suddenly get to throw up his hands and declare himself uninvolved. Anyone who knows his banning policy and sees that he keeps the comments that are the topic of this post is more than entitled to observe that those comments aren’t beyond the limits he has set. The dodge that it’s really his community who make those decisions is a dodge, he also made that “rule”, if it’s still his policy, he would also be responsible for any change in it.

    As to whether or not someone should “let emotion blind your perspective and pass blanket judgements” due to these comments. First, the greater expenditure of emotion would be from PZ’s fan club who get pretty hysterical when their hero and his blog are critiqued. Not to mention the general level of frat boy bonding through derision, scorn, etc. to actual hatred, which is the general level of discourse there.. So, focusing on the “emotions” of S.K. and those of us who support her position is one in the series of dodges on PZ’s behalf. How often has PZ or his community NOT let their hatred of religion rule their judgement? I’d imagine far less than half the time.

    As to the science of Pharyngula, last summer in a discussion here that included PZ, I challenged him to go all-science, all the time for a number of weeks to test the scientific interest of those who read his blog. It would be temporary, it wasn’t a demand that he give up his usual tone and subject choice to see if he really is the great promoter of science he’s reputed to be. Well, PZ, the voice of science refused to consider running the experiment. Flat. In no uncertain terms. He wouldn’t even run a test on his own blog.

  215. Anthony McCarthy

    Just read down the comment thread at PZ’s, the attacks on people who comment here are pretty funny.

    With some real exceptions, reason and science are not in evidence. It’s kiddie time, in the logic department.

  216. Stu:

    3. There are females on Pharyngula.
    4. Some have even been raped.
    5. They pounce on rape imagery.
    6. None of them came even close to taking offense.

    See the “Not my Nigel!” section of Feminism 101. And in this case, Stu, you’re “Nigel.” Just because some women–especially those who see you on their side–condone what you are doing doesn’t make it right.

  217. Disturbed and Disgusted

    Like several others who have posted to this thread, I’m a longtime Pharyngula reader who doesn’t like Chris or Sheril. I even used to be a pretty frequent poster on Pharyngula a couple of years ago….until this trend of using violent imagery and even rape to describe dissenting commenters began en masse. I still read Pharyngula (and love it!), but I’ve stopped commenting altogether, like, as I’ve noticed, several others who have posted to this thread. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

    Unfortunately, the commenting community at Pharyngula has been dragged down into the depths of uselessness by the actions of a few, hateful ideologues who frequently quash discussion threads by the use of rape imagery, references to sexual violence, and yes – even death, occasionally. The rote defense is always “I was just kidding!”, as if that wishes away the violent rhetoric.

    The problem is that there those of us on Pharyngula who enjoy being able to deconstruct the arguments of creationists, apologists, and even Chris and Sheril using logic and reason, while these few have decided to let rhetoric reign over reason and substance. They ruin the site and turn it into (I can’t believe I’m quoting McCarthy…) “frat boy bonding.” This example of “stu” directing rape imagery at a narrowly-defined group (including Sheril, an advocate for women’s rights) is just another example in a long history of such junk on Pharyngula, but this goes farther by crossing a personal line that was, really, inevitable once this language became a trend. It’s sickening.

    The few posters that I’ve been referencing are, no surprise, some of the same ones commenting here and trying so desperately to defend the use of such language. They are tribal groupthink at its unthinking worst. I offer whatever apology is needed to Sheril and others from those of us in the Pharyngula community who do not align ourselves with this petty lunacy – there are those of us who don’t agree with you, but also don’t need to tap into hate and primitive emotion to do so.

    I used to laugh when I heard Chris, Sheril, and others describe “New Atheists” as tribal groupthinkers. Now, seeing the ones that represent us here, their characterization was right on the mark. I’m sorry for doubting you.

  218. Anthony McCarthy

    D&D, happy to be of disreputable service.

  219. Milton C.

    Fratterriga, D and D, and others are helping to restore my faith in Pharyngula readers. I was beginning to think the belligerent defenders of rape imagery we’ve been seeing were a representative sample….

  220. Carlie

    .until this trend of using violent imagery and even rape to describe dissenting commenters began en masse.

    Citation needed.

    who frequently quash discussion threads by the use of rape imagery, references to sexual violence, and yes – even death, occasionally.

    Citations needed.

    is just another example in a long history of such junk on Pharyngula,

    Citations needed.

  221. hen3ry

    So, why did my last post not make it through moderation? I can edit it, if needs be, but not without knowing what exactly made it so objectionable. I see nothing in the comments policy that I violated, so a little guidance here would be very helpful.

  222. Milton C.

    hen3ry, it’s likely the fact that Chris/Sheril are both presumably in travel mode. Most of my comments have been held up in long moderation, too, with nothing “objectionable” in them.

  223. bilbo

    So, why did my last post not make it through moderation? I can edit it, if needs be, but not without knowing what exactly made it so objectionable. I see nothing in the comments policy that I violated, so a little guidance here would be very helpful.

    It’s still in moderation, most likely. That’s what happens when bloggers care enough about content to monitor what goes through and what doesn’t….’specially on a comment thread about rape.

  224. Philip Jr.

    Fratteriga, D&D, Schaffaeri, etc.

    The silent Pharyngula majority, perhaps? I’ve always wondered what people think of the commenting commnity there outside of the 100-200 repeat offenders.

  225. John Kwok

    @ Bernard (@ 213) -

    Sorry, no apologies are in order. You still seem interested in trying to defend the indefensible, that is the ridiculous conduct that’s still occurring over at Pharyngula. If you had written what Disturbed and Disgusted (@ 216) has written, then I might reconsider.

    @ Everyone -

    Just noticed this as a breaking news headline:

    A man in Atlanta, GA was arrested for posting over on YouTube on February 28th a video of himself urging that Elton John should be killed:

    http://music.msn.com/music/article.aspx?news=487661&gt1=28102

    While I won’t equate that man’s act with the comments over at Pharyngula, I think it is quite clear that SEED Media needs to do something to PZ Myers and Pharyngula. IMHO a mere slap on the wrist would be a most unsatisfactory response.

  226. Stu

    Guys, when you start sock-puppetry to troll a thread to 500 posts, it helps to be not completely obvious.

    Just a friendly tip. Goodbye.

  227. Linda

    It disgusts me that so many seem to be intolerant, small-minded and insecure within themselves to rant on with such hate and anger. The world is a big wonderous place of beauty… try some.

  228. Anthony McCarthy

    About sockpuppets, there’s only one I know of for certain and he’s a big fan of PZ’s, that’s the case isn’t it, sorbet?

  229. Sorbet

    Hahaha! That’s one of the biggest jokes I have heard in a long, long time. Thanks for the laugh Anthony. Considering that I have read PZ’s blog about three times in the last two months (I stopped reading it regularly about a year ago since while I did enjoy his posts, I thought they were getting too repetitive and monotonous), what you say must be resoundingly true! Good luck with your other delusions.

  230. Anthony McCarthy

    I meant here, skept…. uh, “Sorbet”.

  231. hen3ry

    Well, I retract any previous statements that may be seen as a complaint about the moderation here.

    On to other things, I see most of the commenters, such as the inestimable Comrade McCarthy, have moved to the happy back-patting stage, content that they are entirely right about their view that Pharyngula is nothing but an open sewer, carrying nothing but filth hither and thither, and apparently commenters and PZ alike deserve jail time (although that may be another of Comrade Kwoks little jokes. I don’t know.) Now, I know that my previous comment was delayed, but this was explained to you before: Please make sure about your accusations before you make them. A fairly advanced level of English may be required, and I understand that as Americans you will probably have a disadvantage here, as it is my belief that very few of you were taught Latin at school. Still, we all have our crosses to bear.

  232. Sorbet

    Haha! Another good one!

  233. negentropyeater

    John Kwow #225

    While I won’t equate that man’s act with the comments over at Pharyngula

    Why are you mentioning it then ?

  234. John Kwok

    negentropyeater -

    If someone can be arrested for posting a video of himself stating that Elton John should be killed, then SEED Media needs to act swiftly and harshly against PZ Myers and Pharyngula for the sad fact that someone suggested that Sheril Kirshenbaum should be raped, and that she, Chris Mooney and others should be killed (even if that was meant as a joke).

    I have pointed this out to several people at SEED Media, including, I think, Adam Bly, and I hope they respond accordingly in a similar fashion (And no, not by arresting PZ or those responding at Pharyngula, but instead, by inflicting the harshest penalty possible that they can do at both PZ and Pharyngula.).

    I am a firm believer in freedom of speech, but free speech has its limits. You don’t scream “Fire” in a crowded theater when there isn’t any sign of fire. Nor should anyone tolerate the mere mention of raping and killing someone online, even if it’s meant to be funny.

    John

  235. Paul

    Why are you mentioning it then ?

    Perhaps Ken Miller stopped answering his emails, and he’s picked up a correspondence with Glenn Beck?

  236. John Kwok

    @ Paul -

    I strongly doubt I would ever waste my time corresponding with Glenn Beck, even if I find myself agreeing with some of his views. As for Ken Miller, he’s most certainly a friend, and I don’t have time (nor does he) to write to him constantly (or to reply, etc.).

  237. negentropyeater

    It does look as if the paranioa has reached a climax with John Kwok’s latest remark.

    I wonder if someone will be able to beat him ?

  238. negentropyeater

    @John Kwok,

    so you are afterall, equating the guy posting a video with death threats to Elton John with PZ letting a stupid joke through on his blog.

    I think Paul mentionned Glenn Beck because he’s also paranoid.

  239. negentropyeater

    @John Kwok,

    so you are afterall equating the guy posting a video with death threats to Elton John with PZ letting a stupid comment through on his blog !

    btw I think Paul mentionned Glenn Beck because you’re both paranoid.

  240. Anthony McCarthy

    hen3ry, I’ve had several comments held up in moderation on this thread. I’ve had comments disallowed on this blog. What’s that someone was saying about paranoia?

    Keep it short, those seem to get through faster.

  241. Anthony McCarthy

    As to the insults from PZ’s boys and girls, do your worst, I don’t care.

  242. negentropyeater

    @John Kwok,

    so you are afterall equating the guy posting a video of himself stating that Elton John should be killed with PZ letting a stupid comment through on his blog !

    You don’t think, for a second, that the decision to arrest that guy was made considering the context of why and how he posted that video with death threats ?

    When you read the whole story, you understand quickly that the guy is a dangerous loon.

    And that’s who you are equating with PZ.

    btw I think Paul mentionned Glenn Beck because you’re both paranoid.

    And you’re both disgraceful human beings.

  243. Paul

    so you are afterall equating the guy posting a video of himself stating that Elton John should be killed with PZ letting a stupid comment through on not removing a sardonic comment from his blog

    Don’t forget that it’s obvious PZ isn’t even reading the comment threads right now, he’s just hit and run posting between events at the atheist convention in Australia.

    btw I think Paul mentionned Glenn Beck because you’re both paranoid.

    Specifically, it’s because of the “I’m not equating these situations, but they sure look similar to me” rhetoric. It’s Beck’s bread and butter.

  244. Paul

    Testing? I had a post that didn’t even go to “waiting for moderation”. Checking if something unobtrusive gets through.

  245. negentropyeater

    I’m sorry for the repetition, but I hit the “submit comment” and no message came back. So I posted it again. And again. And finally all three messages appeared with the “awaiting moderation”. Now I see they all have gone through.

  246. J. J. Ramsey

    I would not equate Stu with the guy who threatened Elton John, but I would consider him yet another contributor to what Zuska calls “gender smog” on her blog: all the dumb, little niggling bits of thoughtless sexism that individually seem small but mount up and make for a world that ends up being far too lopsided for women. (Or to mix up my metaphors, no one raindrop ever blames itself for the flood.) Humor where one fantasizes about rape being used to put someone down is a part of that smog. Worse, gender smog tends to come from people who don’t think of themselves as sexist, and are simply reflecting and thereby reinforcing some screwed-up societal norms.

  247. John Kwok

    @ negentropyeater -

    If I was equating that YouTube nut with PZ and Pharyngula, then I’d call for the arrest of PZ and his online fan club. I said quite clearly at the outset that I’m not. But I do think that Seed Media Group must deal harshly with PZ Myers and with Pharyngula, and if this means a permanent expulsion from Science Blogs, then so be it.

  248. John Kwok

    @ Anthony -

    Let the Pharyngulites whine and moan all they want. Who cares? All semblance of reasonable discourse left Pharyngula a long time ago. The current display of Pharyngulite lunacy should give any rational observor some reason to pause and to wonder why Seed Media Group is still allowing PZ Myers to blog there.

  249. Stu

    little niggling bits of thoughtless sexism

    I included Chris. I included you. Sexism?

    You’re not even trying anymore. Absolutely pathetic.

  250. Anthony McCarthy

    Oh, so Stu included the yucks provoking idea of raping a man with a rusty knife, sideways, as well as a woman so that makes it all better. Kings of comedy, all.

  251. J. J. Ramsey

    Stu, there’s a comment on a post of Zuska’s on why the “but men fear rape too” response doesn’t cut it. Trouble is, rape is more of an issue for women than it is for men. Also, if you think that the sexist dynamics from “jocular” rape threats toward women don’t spillover when similar threats are directed at men, why are men on the receiving end referred to as a certain derogatory word for women beginning with “b”? There is a whole heap of undertones that you invoke when you use rape imagery, whether you like it or not. Look up “rape culture” on the Feminism 101 blog.

  252. negentropyeater

    @John Kwok 248,

    how relevant is the fact that a dangerous loon issuing death threats has been arrested with the fact that you think PZ should be expelled by SEED from Scienceblogs ?

    Don’t you think this makes it obvious that you just have an axe to grind with PZ and that you are willing to spin this thing completely out of context just to satisfy your hate ?

  253. JeffreyD

    Hmmm, I find it fascinating that this blog is filled with Pharyngula haters. Wonder what most of them have in c0mmon. Ah, I see – banned from Pharyngula for a variety of reasons, mostly mopery.

    Is tone truly that important to all of you? Do you truly equate words with reality, not understanding the difference? Are you all Paulin xtians believing the thought is the same as the deed? (As George Carlin pointed out, under that theory, if you wake up and decide to go downtown and commit a mortal sin, save your carfare, you have already done it.) Are you not ashamed of jumping at shadows, listening to lies and half truths from those forcibly ejected from Pharyngula? Do you have such contempt for freedom and such love of control that you have people seriously suggesting PZ be punished and Pharyngula destroyed? Are you that frightened, that sad, that helpless? Freedom must suck for many of you – no control and no controller. Well, use the freedom you have, if you do not like Pharyngula, do not read it. Allow others the freedom of association they wish and do something useful with any outrage you have against life and those with whom you disagree. Useful meaning things like working at a homeless shelter, escorting women to abortion clinics, working on the suicide and troubled hotline.

    Policing the speech of others is not your right, especially when it takes place in other than your face. Those who have been expelled have the right to say stupid things about Pharyngula, and about me for that matter, but the greater world has the right to ignore them. And those of you who have never been on Pharyngula, but accept the views of those who have been expelled, do you not have a duty to make up your own mind? Do you not have a duty to find out why they were banned?

    Sad, sad.

  254. Carlie

    You know, J.J., there has been an awful lot of conversation about rape culture and the use of certain terms and phrases and how that all works on one blog.. .let’s see, what’s it called, baryngula, smaryngula,… oh yeah, Pharyngula. It might do you a bit of good to go on over there and check out what happens any time someone brings up that particular word-beginning-with-b or, in fact, anyone who actually tries to actually use rape as a joke. I’m still amazed that you’re being so obtuse over this particular comment, which was made solely as an internal reference to this set of threads.

  255. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie, we’ve already seen what happens when Pharyngula regulars try to use rape as a joke. All too often, it gets tolerated. The fact that you sometimes come to your senses and give rape “humor” the contempt it deserves doesn’t change that. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter that Stu meant it as some internal reference. He (1) did a poor job of pointing to that reference, and (2) stripped what he had indirectly quoted of the very words that made his source material defensible. Stop playing the “Not my Nigel” game on Stu’s behalf. It’s not helping and just drags you down into the muck.

  256. John Kwok

    @ Jeffrey D. -

    It’s a pity you’ve ignored the thougthful comments of Disturbed and Disgusted (@ 218), who claims to be a regular Pharyngula reader. Just for your benefit, I am posting these concluding comments:

    “The problem is that there those of us on Pharyngula who enjoy being able to deconstruct the arguments of creationists, apologists, and even Chris and Sheril using logic and reason, while these few have decided to let rhetoric reign over reason and substance. They ruin the site and turn it into (I can’t believe I’m quoting McCarthy…) ‘frat boy bonding.’ This example of ‘stu’ directing rape imagery at a narrowly-defined group (including Sheril, an advocate for women’s rights) is just another example in a long history of such junk on Pharyngula, but this goes farther by crossing a personal line that was, really, inevitable once this language became a trend. It’s sickening.”

    “The few posters that I’ve been referencing are, no surprise, some of the same ones commenting here and trying so desperately to defend the use of such language. They are tribal groupthink at its unthinking worst. I offer whatever apology is needed to Sheril and others from those of us in the Pharyngula community who do not align ourselves with this petty lunacy – there are those of us who don’t agree with you, but also don’t need to tap into hate and primitive emotion to do so.”

    “I used to laugh when I heard Chris, Sheril, and others describe ‘New Atheists’ as tribal groupthinkers. Now, seeing the ones that represent us here, their characterization was right on the mark. I’m sorry for doubting you.”

    I hope senior members of SEED Media Group have read Disturbed and Disgusted’s comments, since they provide the best reasons why Pharyngula should be terminated at Science Blogs.

    Just like other fanatical Pharyngulites posting here, you seem more obsessed with the fact that among those who have been most critical of Pharyngula just happen to be those of us who have been banned. But we haven’t been the only ones, and frankly, Disturbed and Disgusted isn’t the only loyal Pharyngulite who has been posting substantial negative comments about what does pass for typical “reasonable” discourse daily over at Pharyngula.

    Keeping Pharyngula at SEED Media Groups’s Science Blogs is now, most definitely, contrary to its stated mission as Sheril Kirshenbaum, herself, has noted. If Seed Media ignores our valid complaints, then Seed Media has only itself to blame if Science Blogs is no longer regarded as a credible online site of science blogging.

  257. John Kwok

    @ negentropyeater -

    Your latest comment (@ 253) merely demonstrates that you are as delusional as Jeffrey D. (@ 254). I will be the first one to acknowledge that PZ Myers does have some excellent blog entries from time to time, primarily when he discusses only science. Unfortunately, Pharyngula has become over time an intellectual cesspool and has outlived its usefulness. But it has done so because of PZ’s online antics, of which this was an early and quite important example:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/09/ken_miller_creationist.php

    What transpired between PZ and myself could have been predicted based on PZ’s over the top critique of Ken Miller’s religious views, which Myers passed judgement on back in September 2006.

    So if you want to accuse me of having an “axe to grind” with PZ, then you should be aware that it started long before he decided to play “Survivor: Pharyngula”.

    But seriously, do you really think I would want to waste my time commenting on yours, your fellow Pharyngulites, and PZ’s ongoing daily diet of contemptible, often irrational, nonsense? YOu must be joking. I can assure you that I have substantially better things to do with my time.

    However, enough is enough. I am utterly sickened and disgusted with the depths of depravity shown over at Pharyngula and now, even here, by those of you who condone Stu’s abysmal advocacy of raping Sheril and then killing her, Chris and others (probably myself included). It’s time to pull the plug on Pharyngula now, and I urge Seed Media Group to do it immediately.

  258. Carlie

    J.J., you keep throwing around assertions without data, and now you’re moving the goalposts. So we “sometimes” come to our senses? What is “sometimes” compared to “all too often”? What are the numbers? What is the actual percentage of times that it gets tolerated, and what is the percentage for which it gets knocked down? A general perusal of other science blogs can come up with just as many specific references to such offensive terms and ideas as you’ve all come up with here, and on blogs that have a much smaller total number of comments. Why not go after them instead? Or in addition to? Or is it, at the base, simply a personal vendetta against PZ using any ammunition you can dig out of the mud?

    As for Stu’s reference, he did a fine job of referring to the context within the thread and thread conversation it was written in, for the people who he expected to be reading it. There are all kinds of statements that make total sense within the conversation it’s in, but not when they are cherry-picked out and washed of all surrounding information.

  259. John Kwok

    @ Carlie -

    What Stu did was absolutely dumb and reprehensible and I have yet to read any sincere apology from him for those remarks. But at this point even an apology from him is insufficient. PZ Myers and Pharyngula have to be punished, and it’s now time for Science Blogs to pull the plug on Pharyngula. As I have noted earlier, freedom of speech doesn’t give you the absolute right to yell “Fire” in a crowded theater when there is no proof of fire occurring.

    J. J. R. is correct:

    “Stop playing the ‘Not my Nigel’ game on Stu’s behalf. It’s not helping and just drags you down into the muck.”

  260. Lurker

    -As for Ken Miller, he’s most certainly a friend, and I don’t have time (nor does he) to write to him constantly (or to reply, etc.).

    Maybe that’s why PZ once told me that he had asked Miller about you and Miller emphatically said that you don’t speak for him and that he doesn’t know you too well. I suppose you will only respond to this by saying that PZ told a bare-faced lie.

  261. John Kwok

    @ Lurker -

    And more than once Ken has acknowledged and thanked me for our friendship. But I’m not going to start splitting hairs.

  262. John Kwok

    @ Lurker -

    Moreover, it has been years since I had any professional scientific duties, and none of them would have meant spending a lot of time talking to or e-mailing Ken. We’re both busy, and I’ll contact him when the need arises (and vice versa).

    Anyway I do know Ken isn’t fond of PZ Myers, since he reminded me that PZ had called him a creationist as I have noted before (@ 258).

  263. Carlie

    PZ Myers and Pharyngula have to be punished, and it’s now time for Science Blogs to pull the plug on Pharyngula.

    And do you think that’s also true for every other science blog that engages in such speech, more often than PZ does and even in original postings (not just comments by random readers)? You’re going to be very busy trying to get all of that done. You’ll probably need a camera or something.

  264. Anthony McCarthy

    —- Don’t you think this makes it obvious that you just have an axe to grind with PZ and that you are willing to spin this thing completely out of context just to satisfy your hate ? negentropyeater

    You might have a leg to stand on if PZ and his community didn’t have so many axes to grind and so often spin things so completely out of context just to satisfy their hate. As you can see on the comment thread that is the topic of this post.

    PZ’s Playgroup complaining about people with axes to grind. And on The Intersection. I’ve got to go lie down, this level of irony is exhausting.

  265. JeffreyD

    Got the (non) answer I expected. Kwok, I AM sorry you were hurt so deeply by being banned, the only reason I can see for this crusade. PZ and company MUST be punished? Frank would be disappointed in you. I cannot imagine a reason to return here as there is too much hatred exhibited, so any further comments to me can just be unwritten.

  266. John Kwok

    @ Anthony -

    It’s also hysterically funny to see Lurker comment about my relationship to Ken as though that was far more important than the substantially more serious incident of someone threatening to rape Sheril and then to kill her, Chris, and others (presumably both you and me) over at Pharyngula, even if he was kidding (which I frankly find hard to believe since he hasn’t apologized for it yet). Since Lurker can’t comment credibly about Stu’s abysmal behavior at Pharyngula, he feels the need to attack instead one of the accusers (yours truly). How pathetic.

  267. John Kwok

    @ Carlie -

    You’re miring yourself deeper into the muck. Pharyngula is by far the worst when it comes to the behavior you’ve described. Maybe if it was shut down, it might send a signal elsewhere that such behavior isn’t tolerable.

  268. John Kwok

    @ Lurker -

    Judging from your latest example of breathtaking inanity, it should be obvious to anyone who is really rational that you’re not interested at all in condemning those who would post online – even if it was meant as a joke – that others ought to be raped and killed. If you think your question to me about Ken Miller is far more important than Stu’s abysmal post at Pharyngula, then you’re not mildly delusional, but in dire need of some immediate psychological counseling.

  269. John Kwok

    @ Jeffrey D. -

    Too bad what Disturbed and Disgusted wrote hasn’t quite registered with you. You’re just as delusional as Lurker has demonstratedly lately here.

    As for Frank, I know he would strongly approve of my ongoing defense of Sheril, recognizing the utter stupidity, insensitivity and depravity exhibited by you, Stu and other unrepentant Pharyngulites posting here who seem unwilling to condemn Stu’s behavior. Instead, all you are doing is merely providing those of us who disapprove more and more reasons why Pharyngula needs to be shut down immediately.

  270. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie:

    J.J., you keep throwing around assertions without data, and now you’re moving the goalposts. So we “sometimes” come to our senses? What is “sometimes” compared to “all too often”? What are the numbers? What is the actual percentage of times that it gets tolerated, and what is the percentage for which it gets knocked down?

    All right, Carlie, I’ll amend that, then. There have been several instances of Pharyngula regulars using sexually violent imagery, and at least one instance where a Pharyngula commenter has not only made a rape joke without being slapped down, but is being defended by Pharyngula regular members for making it.

  271. Jennifer B. Phillips

    As I have noted earlier, freedom of speech doesn’t give you the absolute right to yell “Fire” in a crowded theater when there is no proof of fire occurring.

    You should think about this statement really, really carefully, John. This is a true statement indeed, but perhaps not in the way you believe it to be.

  272. Michael

    I see Kwok still hasn’t recovered from the folks at Pharyngula not taking him as seriously as he thinks he deserves. After all, Kwok is a graduate of the most famous high school nobody outside of New York City has ever heard of, so he should get respect…and a camera.

  273. Gaythia

    Progress can not be made towards addressing the issues raised above by Sheril if this discussion devolves into a vendetta between the the two blogs.

    My own comments above were made after wading through a considerable number of the comments at the original post on Pharyngula. I read both Pharyngula and The Intersection. I am in agreement with many of the comments at #218, although I would say that I like, but sometimes disagree with Sheril, Chris and PZ. I chose to direct my comment at #199 specifically at comment #161. The statements made and questions asked, right there, regarding the original phrasing, including: “Can someone draw me a picture? …Getting offended at something that’s physically impossible? Seriously?”; in my opinion, demonstrate extreme ignorance.

    Ignorance is cured by education. The mission of Science blogs involves science education. The goals of the blogs at Discover are similar.

    As I emphasized above at comment #10: “PZ Meyers in person is very polite, mild mannered and pleasant. He is correct that not all blogs need to be the same. His blog does offer much that is of value. I believe that he can run his blog in a manner which is, as he describes it: “… the gladiatorial arena of the science blogosphere, and we don’t restrict attendance to the prissy ol’ patricians — everyone likes a good bloody rhetorical battle now and then.” while still policing it to control verbal threats of violent personal attack. A blog can be rowdy, without being verbally abusive. Not all of the problems originate on PZ’s blog, although I do think that getting PZ on board would be a major step in resolving this issue.”

    Strengthening public interest in science and improving public understanding of science around the world is a worthy goal.

  274. Anthony McCarthy

    Gaythia, would it be acceptable to ScienceBloggers to wish that various titles of books be vandalized? How about laboratories sabotaged? How about scientific meetings disrupted?

    I wouldn’t advocate any of those, assuming the laboratory wasn’t engaged in some active malign purpose, but I’ve got a feeling that if a Science Blogger regularly got things like that posted on their comment boards that something would be done about it.

    Which would tell us a lot about comparative values and concerns.

    If I want to read about science, ScienceBlogs isn’t my first stop.

  275. Gaythia

    @268 I read many excellent blog posts on ScienceBlogs. There are participants there who make wise and useful comments.

    I also believe that various ScienceBlogs are entry points for science information for a number of internet using members of the public, and thus, although some of us may or certainly could rely on other sources for our own process of keeping informed, it is still important to attempt to ensure that this source is a good one.

    Commenters can improve the style and content of their comments over time. People can become more mature. Thoughtfulness is a skill that can be developed. Lessons can be learned.

    There is hope.

  276. Gaythia

    My comment above, of course, is directed at Anthony @269

  277. Gaythia

    Ok, forget the numbering system. My attempt at keeping things on subject by depersonalizing them a bit fail miserably. After it seemed that my mention of one person by name seemed to overly focus attention on that person rather than the overall topic I thought the number system would be better. At least the older comments seem to show some consistency.

    @Everyone: Civilization is always in danger of Collapse, but still possible and extremely worthwhile to maintain.

    books should not be vandalized, blogs do not need to be shut down immediately, wayward commenters can be offered guidance, can make amends and thus need not be banished, and overall, yelling “fire” in a crowded room is to be avoided.

  278. John Kwok

    @ Gaythia -

    There’s hope for Science Blogs when they invite someone as eminent as evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson to host his blog there. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Hagar the Horrible and his online fan club.

  279. John Kwok

    @ Michael (@ 273) -

    Maybe you ought to check with Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States. Why? Two of his key advisors are fellow alumni of my high school; his chief advisor David Axelrod, and Attorney General Eric Holder. And then one of the co-chairs of his Council of Science and Technology advisors is yet another alumnus, MIT biologist Eric Lander, who led one of the teams which successfully sequenced the Human genome.

    And Michael, it seems both Axelrod and I had the same English teacher in high school. Should I tell you who that was?

  280. John Kwok

    @ Gaythia -

    If you think seriously that my “favorite” evolutionary development biologist from Morris, MN would agree with your suggestions, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn, NY that I’d gladly sell you:

    “books should not be vandalized, blogs do not need to be shut down immediately, wayward commenters can be offered guidance, can make amends and thus need not be banished, and overall, yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded room is to be avoided.

  281. John Kwok

    @ Jennifer -

    While I don’t pretend to be an authority on United States Constitutional Law
    (though maybe Michael (@ 273) might wish to quiz fellow Stuyvesant HS alumnus Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States), I believe the United States Supreme Court has ruled that freedom of speech is not an unconditional right, especially with respect to the hypothetical situation I described.

  282. John Kwok

    @ Carlie -

    I think J. J. R.’s comment (@ 271) is an apt assessment of what is still transpiring here at this blog. And no, I don’t need another camera to document such ongoing pathetic stupidity. Nor do I need to “recover” from an online “fall” elsewhere, contrary to Mike’s latest remark replete in its breathtaking inanity (@ 273). I don’t need either one since you, Mike, Lurker, negentropyeater, and the rest of the visiting Pharyngulite horde are doing such a first-rate job demonstrating why Science Blogs needs to shut down its Hagar the Horrible-led Romper Room.

  283. Gaythia

    Science can only flourish in an atmosphere where reason prevails.

    Resorting to name-calling here is highly inappropriate and certainly not conducive to addressing a wrong.

  284. Sandy

    Sure, abuse and coarse language is the norm at Pharyngula, but if a troll-by commenter ever advocates violence/rape/murder then they’re jumped on by the ‘mob’ and relentlessly taken apart (not physically, but that went without saying … didn’t it??).

    John Kwok, I followed the Pharyngula threads discussing you and had a good chuckle at your expense. Blackmail is not a joke or game, ’tis a dirty business.

  285. Anthony McCarthy

    Gaythia, I don’t know if these comments are numbered differently on your computer but on my the comment @269 wasn’t made by me.

    My comment speculating that Seed Media would find it intolerable if someone suggested cutting up books by name with a rusty knife if they regularly appeared in ScienceBlog comment threads. Which amounts to twisted values, as far as I’m concerned. But, then, I find a lot of academics have similarly twisted values like that. I used to as well. But I don’t anymore.

  286. Anthony McCarthy

    Reading over that last comment, it’s written before coffee on the first morning of DST. I’m going to go drink some coffee.

  287. Carlie

    Kwok, is it physically possible for you to ever get through a single comment thread without shoehorning in your high school or who went there?

    JJ – thank you foremending your statement. Accuracy is important, and I’ve gotten really irritated with the loose and sloppy comments about how “often” terms come up on Pharyngula.

  288. John Kwok

    @ Gaythia -

    Whining about “name calling” isn’t constructive either, especially when you seem disinterested in criticizing harshly your fellow Pharyngulites who just don’t get it. Had your comments had the seriousness of purpose and tone tnat Disturbed and Disgusted had stressed (@ 218) two days ago, I would agree with, and even endorse, your remarks. But you seem incapable of understanding that Stu’s outrageous “joke” calling for rape and murder is, regrettably, illustrative of what does pass for “rational” discourse over at Pharyngula.

    Someone else has told me just how courteous and gracious PZ Myers can be in person, and this is an observation from someone who had spoken to him for the very first time. Unfortunately, this isn’t how he comports himself online at Pharyngula, but instead, acts not only as an online “gladiator”, but more often than not, is a sanctimonious bully, a New Atheist zealot who regards himself as morally superior to devoutly religious scientists who can and do behave far more rationally than what we see from him at Pharyngula (I’m not merely referring to Ken Miller. There’s noted planetary scientist Guy Consolmagno, Vatican Astronomer (who is a Jesuit Brother), invertebrate paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris, ecologist Michael Rosenzweig and countless others. Nor do I wish to be seen as a New Atheist bigot, since I have ample admiration and respect for Atheist evolutionary biologist and philosopher Massimo Pigliucci and others like him.

    PZ Myers set the tone for “rational discourse” at Pharyngula years before “CrackerGate” by preaching to his “faithful” that Ken Miller is a creationist. He also emphasized that tone by attacking the Roman Catholic Church whenever it suited him, without, for example, devoting ample time to the bizarre “religious” practices of fanatical Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. By setting such a “tone”, PZ has condone the verbal abuse that is posted often at Pharyngula, creating an online environment suitable for Stu’s abysmal “joke” about rape and murder.

    Regrettably, it is for these reasons that Seed Media Group needs to step in now and to pull the plug on Pharyngula (If PZ wants to revive Pharyngula elsewhere, that’s fine with me. Maybe he might find a better, more politically suitable, home over at DailyKos.). I am advising Seed Media Group to do this now, merely to prevent the possibility that someone may sue successfully both SEED Media and PZ Myers sometime in the future for yet another set of absurd and disgusting online comments from Myers, his online fan club or both. I am not making this recommendation in light of my prior history with Myers and Pharyngula since my own problems pale in comparison with those I’ve cited. Moreover, if that was my reason, then that would be the most selfishly absurd rationale I can think of for trying to shut down Pharyngula.

    Posting a “joke” about rape and murder should be viewed as an intolerable act, period, with no ifs, ands or buts. Terminating Pharyngula’s presence at Science Blogs would be a clarion wake up call to those who think that such a joke is permissible. Biding farewll to Pharyngula is the best, and only, hope Science Blogs has for maintaining its credibility within the scientific blogosphere.

  289. John Kwok

    Some typos, so am reposting this -

    @ Gaythia -

    Whining about “name calling” isn’t constructive either, especially when you appear quite disinterested in criticizing your fellow Pharyngulites who just don’t get it. Had your comments had the seriousness of purpose and tone tnat Disturbed and Disgusted stressed (@ 218) two days ago, I would agree with, and even endorse, your remarks. But you seem incapable of understanding that Stu’s outrageous “joke” calling for rape and murder is, regrettably, illustrative of what occurs daily as “rational” discourse over at Pharyngula.

    Someone else has told me just how courteous and gracious PZ Myers can be in person, and this was an observation from someone who had met him for the very first time. Unfortunately, this isn’t how he comports himself online at Pharyngula. Instead he acts not only as an online “gladiator”, but is, as well, a sanctimonious bully, a New Atheist zealot who regards himself as morally superior to devoutly religious scientists who have demonstrated consistently, far more rational behavior than what we see frequently from him at Pharyngula (I’m not merely referring to Ken Miller. There’s noted planetary scientist Guy Consolmagno, Vatican Astronomer (who is a Jesuit Brother), invertebrate paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris, ecologist Michael Rosenzweig and countless others. Nor do I wish to be seen as a New Atheist bigot, since I have ample admiration and respect for Atheist evolutionary biologist and philosopher Massimo Pigliucci and others like him.).

    PZ Myers set the tone for “rational discourse” at Pharyngula years before “CrackerGate” by preaching to his “faithful” that Ken Miller is a creationist. He also emphasized that tone by attacking the Roman Catholic Church whenever it suited him, without, for example, devoting ample time to the bizarre “religious” practices of fanatical Sunni and Shi’a Muslims and other major worldwide faiths. By setting such a “tone”, PZ has condone the verbal abuse that is posted often at Pharyngula, creating an online environment suitable for Stu’s abysmal “joke” about rape and murder.

    Regrettably, it is for these reasons that Seed Media Group needs to step in now and to pull the plug on Pharyngula (If PZ wants to revive Pharyngula elsewhere, that’s fine with me. Maybe he might find a better, more politically suitable, home over at DailyKos.). I am advising Seed Media Group to do this now, merely to prevent the possibility that someone may sue successfully both SEED Media and PZ Myers sometime in the future for yet another set of absurd and disgusting online comments from Myers, his online fan club or both. I am not making this recommendation due to my prior history with Myers and Pharyngula, since my own problems pale in comparison with those I’ve cited. Moreover, if that was my reason, then that would be the most selfishly absurd rationale I can think of for trying to shut down Pharyngula.

    Posting a “joke” about rape and murder should be viewed as an intolerable act, period, with no ifs, ands or buts. Terminating Pharyngula’s presence at Science Blogs would be a clarion wake up call to those who think such a joke is permissible. Biding farewll to Pharyngula is the best, and only, hope Science Blogs has for maintaining its credibility within the scientific blogosphere.

  290. Gaythia

    Anthony, sorry, I hope that by now you’ve seen my efforts to straighten out the confusion. Sheril must have been doing something asynchronous or reversed about the way that she was reviewing and posting the comments such that the numbers were changing as I wrote.

  291. hen3ry

    So, it has been nearly a whole weekend, and most of you are still stuck in “he made a joke about rape!!11!1Eleventy-One!” mode. Do you even try to either read, or understand what you have read? It is enough to make you lose faith in humanity, that such vacuous self-appointed morality police exist.

    Now, once again, apparently only for the extremely slow:

    Stu modified an common expression of disgust (F**k you), generalized it to a group, and added emphasis. This has somehow morphed in peoples minds into a general command that you all be brutally raped, and your clutching pearls removed. Now, I do not wish for anybody to be brutally raped, or gently raped, or raped in any way, but the violence you are doing to language here demands some response. That some of you should feel the need to appoint yourselves as a committee of internet police and other assorted prodnoses (I’m looking at you, Comrade Kwok), appalls me, especially when done over such trivialities. To try and cover this with the veneer of “what is best for science” is even worse. All of you curtain twitchers and prodnoses should be ashamed at the way you are unable to paint those who try and explain things to you as nothing but “rape-apologists”.

  292. Lurker

    Kwak, when did someone explicitly ask to rape Sheril? Pray explain your refined understanding of the English language to me. Oh yes, and if possible do this without name-dropping or invoking the name of your high school or Ken Miller.

    Your demand that Pharyngula be banned from Seed reminds me of any number of totalitarian regimes of the 20th century and their efforts to ban books and other sources of knowledge and information. Your comment that I did not condemn Stu is a straw man since I did not say anything about Stu in the first place. I did find Paul’s comment made in bad taste but that’s not the point here; using this an excuse for beating your chest and proclaiming your age-old blood feud against PZ Myers by asking him to be banned from Seed is as predictable and abominable as it can get.

  293. Gaythia

    @hen3ry:

    Blogging is a verbal communication medium. A public verbal communication medium.

    Letters are strung together to make words because the word meaning matters. To express frustration, use words that more aptly describe the specific frustrations felt. A general exclamation of frustration, even if crudely expressed, is not the same thing as one directed at a specific individual or group of individuals.

    Violent rape is not a trivial matter. Believing that violent rape imagery could be evoked without generating a negative response demonstrates incredible ignorance. Ignorance of language and how it is used to communicate. Ignorance of sexual violence and its impact, especially on women. Ignorance of history. Ignorance of the audience that may be reading those words.

    ScienceBlogs as hosted by Seed Media is a venue with a particular mission and standards. Many of us do not believe that the language you describe fits that mission or those standards.

    @John Kwok, I believe that education is the cure for ignorance. I do not believe that a blanket condemnation of PZ Myers, his blog or his following is appropriate. I do not believe that name calling facilitates a dialogue on the issues here. I do not think that the issue is one involving only his blog. Although I sincerely doubt that many there would describe me as a “fellow Pharyngulite”, I do frequently read the blog. I believe that many aspects of his blog have merit. I believe that most of the readers there are reasonable people.

    PZ Myers is a college professor. As such, he is actively involved in educating students and facilitating their development of higher level adult thinking patterns. I believe that those skills can be applied to those posting comments to his blog that need this guidance.

    Commenters can improve the style and content of their comments over time. People can become more mature. Thoughtfulness is a skill that can be developed. Lessons can be learned.

    As I said before, I believe that there is hope.

  294. J. J. Ramsey

    @hen3ry:

    When Cath had said the words that Stu later quoted, she–unlike Stu–prefaced them with “Yeah, well, usually I’m 100% with the ‘no-one ever deserves to be raped’ line. And also 100% opposed to torture,” and–again, unline Stu–followed them up with “Umm, but only metaphorically. *Draws self heroically back from cliffedge*.” It was clear that she had recognized what she was talking about as a form of rape and torture, and furthermore understood that without that bit about being metaphorical, she would have said something execrable. The idea that what Stu said was no worse than garden-variety vulgarity doesn’t hold water.

  295. hen3ry

    J.J.

    You also appear to be quite slow. Have I ever talked about Cath, or what she said? No. I am concerned that you have managed to take an expression of disgust, and somehow turn it into a direct threat of rape. Unless you somehow think that “F**k you” is also directly instructing a form of rape, and nothing else, in which case, frankly, you can c**k off. The fact that this is the first time you have addressed this, 295 comments later, is disgusting to me. That you are so keen to condemn people should worry you, and everyone around you. That you feel you can justify it via Cath’s comment, which _is_ clearly hyperbole is no more than I have come to expect after reading this thread. Yes, rape is a terrible thing, and to be abhorred everywhere, but so is the petty-minded bowdlerisation of everything anyone might say for fear of causing offence, especially when falsely applied.

  296. J. J. Ramsey

    hen3ry: “Have I ever talked about Cath, or what she said?”

    Doesn’t matter. Part of Stu’s defense of his own words, and one that has been echoed by other commenters, is that he was making a reference to Cath’s remarks.

    hen3ry: “The fact that this is the first time you have addressed this, 295 comments later, is disgusting to me.”

    Actually, I had already pointed out what made Cath’s comment more defensible than Stu’s, and those comments tie in to what I have been saying to you.

    hen3ry: “That you feel you can justify it via Cath’s comment, which _is_ clearly hyperbole …”

    You miss the point, which was that Cath herself made clear just how extreme and potentially ugly her own sentiments were. She herself made clear that what she said wasn’t just a mere “F**k you.”

  297. John Kwok

    @ Gaythia -

    You are making the assumption that those reading Pharyngula wish to be educated about science. Really? Then why does PZ spend substantially more time making fun of religion than he does in posting about his field, evolutionary devlopmental biology, and other, relevant, aspects of evolutionary bioogy? If Pharyngula is really a means for online “education”, then the message(s) are that religion of any kind is intolerable, and that, really, to accept the fact of biological evolution, then you must be a good New Atheist. If that’s what you have in mind with regards to education, then maybe I should subscribe to the “official” newspapers of the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China and of Vietnam. Surely I could find something worth noting from an educational perspective in either publication.

    None of those visiting from Pharyngula, not even you, unfortunately, seem to take seriously the eloquent, quite astute, observations stated by Disturbed and Disgusted (@ 218). Instead of such a serious discussion, we’ve been treated here to an endless succession of innuendoes, factual distortions, and maybe, even outright lies. I’ve been accused here of making references to my high school alma mater and engaging in “name dropping”, but I have been forced to respond in kind to the ample instances of breathtaking inanity shown by visiting Pharyngulites.

    PZ Myers wants us all to regard the “faith” of New Atheism to be morally superior to Roman Catholic Christianity and other Christian faiths. Much to my amazement, he has not yet indulged in attacking other religions which have been guilty of crimes against humanity, like for example, fanatical Sunni Islam. Instead, we have been treated to an incessant series of attacks on Roman Catholic Christianity, as though Myers was subjected to same kind of abuse and neglect shown by the Roman Catholic Church to Frank McCourt and his family, which is so eloquently recounted in “Angela’s Ashes” (And yet, by the end of his life, Frank – and his surviving brothers – had made “peace” with Roman Catholic Christianity, befriending many priests (and even holding a Roman Catholic memorial service for Frank exactly one month after he died last summer). If Myers is truly honest about the moral “superiority” of New Atheism – and not a hypocrite – then he will ban Stu from posting at Pharyngula again.

    I do appreciate Myers’s honesty in admitting that he endorses a “gladitorial” style of “combat” at Pharyngula. It is a style of “rational” discourse that is better suited for Daily Kos, than for Science Blogs. Am sure he might find that environment far more receptive and conducive for his agenda. It’s truly an online environment that suits most perfectly his unique online personality.

    Respectfully yours,

    John Kwok

  298. John Kwok

    Typos, so am reposting -

    @ Gaythia -

    You are making the assumption that those reading Pharyngula wish to be educated about science. Really? Then why does PZ spend substantially more time making fun of religion than he does in posting about his field, evolutionary devlopmental biology, and other, relevant, aspects of evolutionary biology? If Pharyngula is really an appropriate means for online “education”, then the message(s) are that religion of any kind is intolerable, and that, really, to accept the fact of biological evolution, then one must be a good New Atheist. If that’s what you have in mind with regards to education, then maybe I should subscribe to the “official” newspapers of the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China and of Vietnam. Surely I could find something worth noting from an educational perspective in either publication.

    None of those visiting from Pharyngula, not even you, unfortunately, seem to take seriously the eloquent, quite astute, observations stated by Disturbed and Disgusted (@ 218). Instead of such a serious discussion, we’ve been treated here to an endless succession of innuendoes, factual distortions, and maybe, even outright lies. I’ve been accused here of making references to my high school alma mater and engaging in “name dropping”, but I have been forced to respond in kind to the ample instances of breathtaking inanity shown by visiting Pharyngulites.

    PZ Myers wants us all to regard the “faith” of New Atheism to be morally superior to Roman Catholic Christianity and other Christian faiths. Much to my amazement, he has not yet indulged zealously in attacking other religions which have been guilty of crimes against humanity, like for example, fanatical Sunni Islam. Instead, we have been treated to an incessant series of attacks on Roman Catholic Christianity, as though Myers was subjected to same kind of abuse and neglect shown by the Roman Catholic Church to Frank McCourt and his family, which is so eloquently recounted in “Angela’s Ashes” (And yet, by the end of his life, Frank – and his surviving brothers – had made “peace” with Roman Catholic Christianity, befriending many priests (and even holding a Roman Catholic memorial service for Frank exactly one month after he died last summer).). If Myers is truly honest about the moral “superiority” of New Atheism – and not a hypocrite – then he will ban Stu from posting at Pharyngula again.

    Of course I do appreciate Myers’s honesty in admitting that he endorses a “gladiatorial” style of “combat” at Pharyngula. It is a style of “rational” discourse that is better suited for Daily Kos, than for Science Blogs. Am sure he might find that environment far more receptive and conducive for his agenda. It’s truly an online environment that suits most perfectly his unique online personality.

    Respectfully yours,

    John Kwok

  299. boygenius

    Wow! You guys need to go see PZ’s latest post. He’s totally excusing any and all profanity and abusive language. It’s like he doesn’t even think there is anything wrong with being foul-mouthed or crude. Get this: He’s trying to save face by temporarily censoring all the dirty words on his site, but I’ll bet it’s just a dodge to save his ass from being thrown off of Seed’s SciBlogs.

  300. I think I’m missing something here. So does saying “Fuck you!” imply that I wish the person I am directing the comment at be raped or sexually abused?

    Because, in essence, this comment is simply a colorful request that the target persons get fucked. I know there have been times I screwed up something and said, “I’m fucked” and yet never felt as if I was comparing myself to a rape victim. Though, I have said I’ve been “shafted” at times when I missed out on something I felt I deserved. And when I’ve lost a match in a game, I have said that I was “raped.”

    Does this mean I’m desensitized about rape? Should someone near and dear to me tell me she (or he) was raped, would I, or my ilk, would laugh it off and say, “That’s nothing! Bob owned me so hard on Halo last night, I bathed in Preparation H!”

    It’s not simply a lack of context that’s missing here; there seems to be a significant lack of perspective. I’m sure we all have compared minor inconveniences to horrible events. Well, maybe not all of us, but a significantly sizable portion. It’s the nature of hyperbole.

    I can understand why some people would be sensitive to the concept of rape being trivialized (though, I don’t think that’s the case here). In the same way, I can understand how certain former Vice-Presidential nominees would hate the word “retard” being trivialized. If my mother died of cancer, there is no doubt I’d be sensitive to cancer jokes.

    That said, just because I understand, doesn’t mean I believe it should be censored. I would attempt to respect the feelings of the people sensitive to that kind of humor; but in my safe-haven, with my friends or trusted colleagues, I would, for example, happily suggest that Fergie from Black Eyed Peas get fucked with cancer. And I wouldn’t actually mean a word of it. Mostly.

  301. hen3ry

    Comrade Ramsey,

    Now, you have moved to telepathy, which is an impressive trick. If I know that people are likely to get excited about a statement I am going to make, I may well surround it with warnings appropriate for a far more severe statement. There can be aesthetic benefits in building up to a seemingly very powerful climax, and then having a final reveal to a quite mundane conclusion. Understatement is a useful tool. However, in this case, you seem to have become so overwhelmed by the build-up that you are mistaking the understatement, complete with extra cues as to the magnitude of this understatement, for some kind of terrible declaration, for what else could justify such warnings? I knew you were clueless, but this is getting excessive. Have you no way of comprehending English that does not rely solely upon the literal interpretation?

    Comrade Kwok, when did this become a “catholics are better than you” thread?

    Comrade Gaythia:

    I believe I have expressed my disappointment that words that can also be used to describe violent rape have fallen into general usage as expressions of disgust. This is a terrible thing. However, to hold a witch-hunt, such as that seen here, on the basis of what words used to mean is also a terrible thing. The common usage of words, and therefore their understood meaning, changes over time, and to continue to complain, based upon an outdated understanding of the word, to be betrays inflexibility. I understand that we desire to prevent further misunderstanding, and to avoid further mentions of rape as anything approaching a good thing, but it is a little late for the word “f**k” to be reigned in. Sadly, it appears that this is how language works. People will use the f-word for a whole range of activities and matters far removed from sexual intercourse, whether consented to or otherwise, and this should be recognised.

  302. Stephen Wells

    Inasmuch as the infamous rusty-knife line- the baited hook which you have all bitten down on so heavily- was preceded by “Fuck their bullshit”, I have to ask; did that make anybody think of sexual contact with bullshit? If so- what is wrong with you? If not- stop pretending that the word “fuck”, however decorated, is intrinsically a threat of violent rape.

    When theological maunderings, which are polysyllabic and terribly civil but meaningless, are met with the response “Fuck that noise”- as they have been on Pharyngula- does that make anyone think of sexual contact with noise? How would that even… work?

    As for the argument that “basic grammar” required us to take something as a threat of sexual violence- regardless of context or history- consider this. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland
    From Being Aburden to Their Parents or Country, and
    For Making Them Beneficial to The Public” – 1729, google for complete text online is, by basic grammar, a straightforward call for the Irish to turn to infanticide and cannibalism. Now, does anybody actually think that Swift really was calling for the Irish to become cannibals and eat their children? The text has no other literal meaning. Swift even gives such specific instructions as “Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flay the carcass; the skin of which artificially dressed will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen”. To understand Swift’s point you would have to grasp the concepts of irony, hyperbole, and satire, and to understand the context of his writing.

    Apparently a lot of the audience here are more on the “See Spot Run” level.

  303. Anthony McCarthy

    —- J.J. You also appear to be quite slow. hen3ry

    JJR slow? Methodical and logical is clearly too slow for the acolytes of PZ. I have had my differences with JJ but slow, no.

  304. J. J. Ramsey

    boygenius: “You guys need to go see PZ’s latest post. He’s totally excusing any and all profanity and abusive language.”

    Well, he’s excusing profanity anyway. I notice that he dodges the real issue, which is rape used as a joke. What’s odd is that it wasn’t so long ago that he wrote this:

    Please, people, no threats of violence and rape against Donohue. It’s ugly, and it’s exactly the behavior Donohue tries to excuse when Catholic priests do it; if I were on a radio program, I wouldn’t be making excuses for you guys, I’d plainly condemn even this talking about committing violence and rape.[emphasis added]

    My guess is that he’s talking around the larger problem because if he didn’t, Dr. Isis, Zuska, and a few other bloggers would probably slap him down hard.

  305. J. J. Ramsey

    Oh, sorry, forgot to post the link to the quote from Myers: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/bill_donohue_is_a_vile_and_dis.php#comment-1669344

    Note that Cath’s comment was above his, though he was responding probably less to Cath than to other commenters who didn’t step back from the “cliffedge” as she did.

  306. John Kwok

    @ Stephen Wells -

    You get two bonus points from me this morning:

    1) For quoting Jonathan Swift, who was one of my “father” Frank’s favorite authors (Though I will add too that he liked even more P. G. Wodehouse.)

    2) Made me smile when I saw this:

    “Kwok me sideways with a Leica rangefinder” (Are you sure you really want to wish for this?).

    But all kidding aside, merely quoting from Swift or poking fun at me doesn’t give you a free pass in ignoring the seriousness of Stu’s “joke” (And, regrettably, it seems you don’t if you can transform that “joke” into yet another statement poking fun at me.). Why don’t you grow up please?

  307. John Kwok

    @ Pastor Farm -

    Read carefully Disturbed and Disgusted’s astute commentary (@ 218). He got it, but apparently YOU DON’T!!!

  308. Carlie

    because if he didn’t, Dr. Isis, Zuska, and a few other bloggers would probably slap him down hard.

    J.J., would that be the Isis who agrees with one of her commenters that a cartoon character is a whiny f*ing b*ch and wants to take the ball gag out of science’s mouth and make it her b*ch and doesn’t mind being told to b*ch-slap someone and complains that some commenters whine like a little b*ch? Just checking.

    And I hate repeating myself, but stu did indeed couch his statement in other comments both before and after that firmly seated the context of the statement itself as a reference to the threads on this blog. Just because you’re ignoring them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

  309. Carlie

    And J.J., if you want to say that none of those are comparable to rape, she also seemed not to mind when other commenters said to f* these people and f* yourself.

  310. John Kwok

    @ hen3ry -

    Apparently you missed my observation to Gaythia (@ 290) in which I noted that I have seen far more rational behavior from religiously devout scientists than I have seen from Hagar the Horrible and his zealous band of New Atheist acolytes such as yourself. Just to remind you:

    “…a New Atheist zealot who regards himself as morally superior to devoutly religious scientists who have demonstrated consistently, far more rational behavior than what we see frequently from him at Pharyngula (I’m not merely referring to Ken Miller. There’s noted planetary scientist Guy Consolmagno, Vatican Astronomer (who is a Jesuit Brother), invertebrate paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris, ecologist Michael Rosenzweig and countless others…..”

    You need a course in reading comprehension. I didn’t say that “catholics are better than you”. I implied that some religiously devout scientists display far more rational behavior than anything I have seen from the likes of Hagar (Remember “CrackerGate”?), you, or the other delusional New Atheist fans of his posting here.

    Late in life, my teacher Frank McCourt, though sympathetic to Atheism, expressed a most admirable tolerance toward those who were religiously devout. He often spoke about how emotionally moving and spirtually uplifting it was to attend Jewish, Episcopelian and other Protestant Christian religious ceremonies. Maybe that’s one lesson which you and your fellow New Atheistic fanatics posting here and at Hagar the Horrible’s Romper Room, need to learn with alacrity (BTW, alacrity was one of Frank’s favorite words.).

  311. J. J. Ramsey

    @Carlie: Ah, yes, because nonsensical references to anatomical impossibilities are so similar to talk of forcible sodomy with a foreign object that can tear flesh.

    And if Stu’s context was so obvious, why then ScienceBlogger Razib Khan’s initial reaction to Stu’s comment: “someone leaves an offhand comment about physically & sexually abusing someone and the conversation goes on. am i missing the context? if i am, that’s one sick context.”

    Repeating that Stu’s context was obvious does not make it so.

  312. Carlie

    Ah, yes, because nonsensical references to anatomical impossibilities are so similar to talk of forcible sodomy with a foreign object that can tear flesh.

    Really, J.J? b*slapping is an anatomical impossibility?

    It was obvious to anyone who was following the story, which Razib obviously wasn’t. In any case, right after Razib posted that it was explained, again right there in the same thread.

  313. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie: “b*slapping is an anatomical impossibility?”

    No, but Isis’ bit about the ball gag clearly is.

    Carlie: “It was obvious to anyone who was following the story …”

    … which means that it isn’t obvious. Stu’s comment depended on an allusion that would be (and was) utterly opaque to anyone who hadn’t followed and remembered a couple threads on Pharyngula and The Intersection. Remember, too, that I pointed out above why the context doesn’t even help you that much.

  314. hen3ry

    305. Anthony McCarthy Says:
    March 15th, 2010 at 5:29 am

    —- J.J. You also appear to be quite slow. hen3ry

    JJR slow? Methodical and logical is clearly too slow for the acolytes of PZ. I have had my differences with JJ but slow, no.

    Anyone who has apparently yet to grasp the difference between an expression of disgust and a command to rape is either being deliberately abtuse, or is indeed slow.

    Comrade Kwok, you are now starting to rave. You claim that you implied things, when you just stated them outright. Frankly, I say balls to Frank McCourt, and I have no idea why you feel the urge to namedrop him in nearly every post you make. I have seen “far more rational behaviour” from denizens of 4chan than you demonstrate here, as you wander from topic to topic, pausing only to cling to your one small claim to fame, and gibber about “religious scientists”. I didn’t miss your reference, I considered it to be wildly off-topic, massively self-aggrandising, and generally insane. That you feel the need to repeat most of it leads me to conclude that you are generally bereft of social graces.

  315. John Kwok

    @ Carlie -

    Too bad you’re too dense. At least Razib Khan’s initial response of repudiating Stu’s demented comment was right on the mark. Don’t try to be so evasive. You are merely sinking deeper into the muck.

  316. Stephen Wells

    @315: And without the context of English colonial history in Ireland, Swift’s modest proposal is a horrendous call for mass infanticide and cannibalism. So?

    Are we supposed to put warning labels on all discourse? “CAUTION! This text may have context and history. You may be required to think when reading for comprehension. Irony and figures of speech may occur at any moment.”

  317. John Kwok

    @ Carlie -

    Apparently you still don’t get the excellent, most eloquent, comments made by Disturbed and Disgusted (@ 218), though I am sure you would say that we’re missing the context here, since Disturbed and Disgusted is really a fan of both Chris and Sheril (If that’s so, then why did he say that he isn’t, and yet, acknowledging that he’s concluded that they are absolutely right to comment on “New Atheist tribalism” in their book “Unscientific America”?).

  318. Carlie

    No, but Isis’ bit about the ball gag clearly is.

    To any normal person, f*ing a tiny orafice sideways with a large implement is also. Should he have said “with a giant sequoia” to be more clear? My point is that you’re singling out one person’s scienceblog for behavior that happens on many. If you’re going to treat them differently, then you have to admit that it’s a personal grudge issue.

    … which means that it isn’t obvious. Stu’s comment depended on an allusion that would be (and was) utterly opaque to anyone who hadn’t followed and remembered a couple threads on Pharyngula and The Intersection.

    All it really would have taken was to read that very thread. Is it such an onerous thing to read all of the other text surrounding one particular sentence if one is concerned about what it means? And stu was completely reasonable in thinking that the people who would read that thread were the same ones who were also following the entire debacle, given that there were so many other references to it. Yes, blogs that exist for a long time can sometimes invoke references to things that happened in the past on that same blog, even so far in the past as the day before! It was a current topic, that the general readership could have been expected to be up on. It’s not like he marched up to you on the street and said it.
    The problem is that it was ripped out of its context (including the rest of his own comment) and presented as if it was a single complete statement that stood on its own.

    I am quite tempted to add on a “J., you ignorant slut”, but I’m afraid you wouldn’t get the context.

  319. Anthony McCarthy

    I’d plainly condemn even this talking about committing violence and rape.

    Sort of like he condemned the Danish cartoons because of their potential to incite violence BEFORE he trashed a page from a Quran in his Great Publicity Stunt.

    Some times it seems as if PZ can’t keep up with the necessities of pumping up his community and keeping the spot light on himself. Look at hate-talk radio and Glenn Beck, once you get on that treadmill, you can’t go fast enough.

    I have the feeling there’s a little tiny part of him that wants to be better than that at war with his desire for attention and potential profit.

  320. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie: “To any normal person, f*ing a tiny orafice sideways with a large implement is also.”

    A rusty knife is a large implement?

    Carlie: “All it really would have taken was to read that very thread.”

    That would hardly have helped. See my comment #189.

  321. John Kwok

    @ Carlie -

    But who gives a darn about context? Any Tom, Dick, Jane or Emily stumbling onto Stu’s atrocious comment might conclude that he REALLY DOES want to rape Sheril Kirshenbaum, and then kill her, Chris Mooney, Anthony McCarthy, myself and others – including J. J. R. – who seem to be the only ones making sense here at this thread.

    Do you honestly think most people would care to read what passes for “rational discourse” at the online internet cesspool “moderated” by Hagar the Horrible? Think about that for a while before answering, please.

  322. Carlie

    A rusty knife is a large implement?

    Compared to the size of the orifice? When placed sideways? Yes. This has become even more ridiculous than I thought possible.

  323. John Kwok

    Carlie -

    “…Yes. This has become even more ridiculous than I thought possible.”

    Well said, Carlie, though probably not for the reason(s) you intended. Maybe you should go back to Romper Room if you’re unable to think critically about what J. J. R., Anthony McCarthy, myself, and others have been saying here about Stu’s depraved commentary over at Romper Room.

  324. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie: “Compared to the size of the orifice? When placed sideways? Yes.”

    Knives aren’t necessarily that big. See here: http://www.knife.com/product_p/kb1218.htm

  325. Carlie

    I seriously cannot believe you’re now arguing about the size of knives, but most f*able orifices are not 7 inches in diameter as is the knife you just linked to. Perhaps you’re confused as to the definition of “sideways”? I’m beginning to see the problem; what is hyperbole to anyone else reading it is something you appear to think is squarely within the realm of physical possibility. I think we’re agreeing that making something entirely impossible does take it from the realm of threat to that of obvious hyperbole, but we’re disagreeing on the details on where that line is.

  326. Paul

    Sort of like he condemned the Danish cartoons because of their potential to incite violence BEFORE he trashed a page from a Quran in his Great Publicity Stunt.

    He condemned the Danish cartoons because it was an example of mindlessly perpetuating stereotypes (in his words, “they are more about perpetuating stereotypes of Muslims as bomb-throwing terrorists than seriously illuminating a problem“). The Great Desecration did no such thing.

    But then, you have a demonstrated difficulty with reading, so why would I expect you to know this? I’m only explaining this so the peanut gallery isn’t misled by your blatant lying. Not everyone is acclimated to people so purely partisan that they are willing to completely misrepresent situations simply because they have a grudge (for thinking they were banned? I still don’t get it).

  327. John Kwok

    Paul -

    Hagar the Horrible is blinded by his hatred of Roman Catholic Christianity when others, like Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, have noted daily the crimes against humanity performed by so-called “moderate” Muslims, especially against young girls and women. How come he hasn’t been a more forceful opponent of “moderate” Muslims acting in the name of Allah?

    Unfortunately, J. J. R. made a most valid point, and you’ve missed it.

  328. Carlie

    Oh wait, the total size of the knife you linked to is actually almost 12 inches in diameter, not 7. So there’s that. And if you now link to a swiss army pocketknife, it’s still too big, and you’re really spending way too much time thinking about what bizarre knife/orifice combinations might possibly work.

  329. J. J. Ramsey

    Carlie: “most f*able orifices are not 7 inches in diameter as is the knife you just linked to.”

    The knife is only 7 inches long and looks somewhere north of one inch wide.

    Carlie: “Perhaps you’re confused as to the definition of ‘sideways’?”

    I’d rather not repeat my post #166, since if you think it through, it is pretty gruesome and not the least bit impossible.

  330. Stephen Wells

    JJR, eating babies is also completely practical: your response to Swift’s modest proposal, please? Do you think he was literally advocating cannibalism (the direct reading) or making a point using irony and hyperbole?

  331. John Kwok

    @ Stephen -

    Mentioning Jonathan Swift doesn’t absolve you from not dealing seriously with the seriousness that some of us here do regard Stu’s atrocious “joke”. When will you cease hiding behind your mask of levity and respond in a far more credible manner than you’ve demonstrated here?

  332. Carlie

    Yeah, JJ, that’s my point – you honestly have to think about it to a pretty disturbing level of detail to make such a thing possible, and even then it’s a stretch. To the extent that any average person would look at the statement and take only a fraction of second of thought, it’s an impossibility.

    And what Stephen said.

  333. hen3ry

    Comrade Kwok: So, because the Catholic Church only hides child abusers from the authorities occasionally, and only 4% of priests are paedophiles, we should ignore them totally? Is there some sort of fairness doctrine at work here – numbers abused translating into length of posts?

    Comrade Ramsey: I am continually grateful that I do not share your ability to think up ways to f**k someone sideways with a knife. Frankly, your lack of ability to grasp context, and consider anything but a literal reading (although you will no doubt point to some of your most egregious efforts), is starting to seem far more like a deliberate act of trolling than any actual deficiency on your part.

  334. Guy

    These sick comments only served to make the new atheists look bad and the replies to this post have, for the most part, make them look even worse. Whoever made these comments needs to stop making excuses, apologize and let that be the end of it.

  335. Do to the nature of incoming comments, we have decided to close this thread.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »