Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Blowing Smoke

"Progressive" or otherwise touted to be clever media outlets pushing concern is not a new phenomenon. As we know, NPR is great at this sort of thing.

It is just disappointing every time it happens.

One occurrences of late of this was a few items in Charles M Blow's piece for the New York Times, titled "Yes, All Men".

Let's just roll out the numbers and facts directly from his article: (Assume US if not specified)

  • Intimate partner violence - 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced intimate-partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. However, some national violence studies show that up to 70 percent of women have at some point experienced violence from an intimate partner.
  • Percentage of murders due to intimate partner violence - Violence by intimate partners accounts for between 40 percent and 70 percent of all murders of women.
  • Child Brides - 64 million girls worldwide are child brides; 46 percent of women ages 20 to 24 in South Asia and 41 percent in West and Central Africa report that they married before the age of 18. 
  • FGM - 140 million girls and women in the world have suffered female genital mutilation/cutting. 
  • Sexual harassment in schools - 83 percent of girls 12 to 16 have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
  • Higher HIV transmission risk - Women are already two to four times more likely than men to become infected with H.I.V. during intercourse.
  • Nonconsensual sex is injurious - Rape increases the risks because of limited condom use and physical injuries.
  • Percentage of HIV infections due to intimate partner violence - Percentage of 11.8 percent of new H.I.V. infections in the previous year among women 20 or older were attributed to intimate-partner violence.

Let's look at these items again, but let's bucket them first:

Serious issues:

  • Intimate partner violence
  • Sexual harassment in schools
Serious issues relying on Islam or similarly backwards cultures for life:
  • Child Brides 
  • FGM 
Grisly reminders of awful realities that greatly impact women:
  • Higher HIV transmission risk
  • Nonconsensual sex is injurious
Statistical bullshit:
  • Percentage of murders due to intimate partner violence
  • Percentage of HIV infections due to intimate partner violence
Let's focus on the last two just to see where we go wrong when talking up feminism "by the numbers".

Nonsense Percentages

The two datapoints touted are thus - the percentage of deaths and  the percentage of infections of women that are due to intimate partner violence.

The problem is, what should these percentages be?

The perpetrators of 35% to 70% of all murders of women are current or former partners. Is this number alone supposed to be alarming? 

Given that in a given year some number of women will be murdered, what percentage of murders should be the blame of a perfect stranger

Switching to HIV infections, let's assume that a woman will contract HIV this year. According to the data, 12% of infections are due to intimate partner violence. But let's look at the big picture.

The potential causes of new infection for an adult woman:
  • A blood transfusion
  • An ignorant partner
  • Sharing needles
  • A malicious partner (rape or other intentional infection - intimate partner violence)
  • A malicious stranger (rape or other intentional infection)
  • Other causes
Having no control over the absolute number of infected, what cause or causes would should make up the majority of infections? Are we hoping that ignorance and neglect always eclipses the purposefully evil?

It may sound strange, but it may be the world we should hope to live in would be one where from the perspective of percentages, intimate partner violence would make up the vast majority of all violent assault and murder.

Imagine two worlds - one where most violent assault is caused by jealous partners enacting a sadistic revenge, and the other that is more prone for motives to be more frequently aligned with paltry sums of money, boredom or randomly directed madness. Which is actually preferable?

Rounded out reasoning

Near the conclusion of the article, Blow writes:
“The U.S. has a larger gender gap than 22 other countries including Germany, Ireland, Nicaragua and Cuba, according to a World Economic Forum report ... [that] rates 136 countries on gender equality, and factors in four categories: economic opportunity, educational attainment, health and political empowerment.”
The CNN piece covers the article:
Why wasn't the U.S. even close to the top? While the country scores high on economic opportunity and education for women, it scores poorly on political empowerment.
Yes, Cuba apparently scored higher than the United States in a rating that included political empowerment.

How is political empowerment scored?

Seemingly only by checking the genitals of politicians. The United States actually wouldn't have scored as high as it did if people like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Susana Martínez did not exist. Which is rather humorous as there is surely a New York Times columnist that would say that these three politicians do not represent women. Where is Maureen Dowd when you need her?

Back to the subject at hand - the report.

What Blow leaves out is that the only G8 countries that managed to score higher than the United States are Canada and Germany. This matters a great deal more than scoring worse than South Africa, Lesotho and Nicaragua. Those that tuned in for a look at "everyday" statistics already know that the "gender equality" of these countries loses some of its meaning after considering the frequency of the murder of women.

Blow also ignores that countries with "progressive" policies like longer maternity leave often have a larger gender wage gap.

Blow again quotes his son:
"It’s very important for everyone to be a feminist."

Now, what else is important?

Sunday, June 1, 2014


There is another statistic floating around.

How many women are killed by a specific group of people over a specific time period.

Let's add some context to these numbers.

First, a direct comparison of gender violence - in South Africa, 3 women every day are killed.

Which may not seem high, until one understands that South Africa is only about a fifth of the total population of the United States.

Another statistic - 18 black males are killed every day  ("Black males accounted for about 52% (or 6,800) of the nearly 13,000 male homicide victims in 2005")

There are 90 suicides a day (70 of them men)

And about 22 veterans commit suicide every day. (Men and women)

What's this all mean?

Does it mean we should not be concerned about the three women that will be killed tomorrow by their current or former partners?

No, it simply means we need to understand why people feel the "three a day" statistic is particularly alarming. The number itself is a pointless measure. It could be one per day, it could be ten a day. Most people would at all notice large changes in this statistic.

What men and women do see when they mention this statistic is not really any substantive claim of what these numbers ought to be, but how their own interactions with others have the potential to escalate to injury or death.

The statistics are not false, just a reflection of one's focus and state of mind. What is lost in this "per day" statistic is what is actually "everyday".

What is everyday is abuse of all forms - verbal, physical and emotional abuse.

What is everyday is distress of all forms - fear, hatred, regret, paranoia.

This perspective - violence born out of misogynistic hatred is ignored everyday. Male entitlement and sexual dominance is excused or condoned everyday through daily cat calls, butt slaps and suggestive humor.

To add insult to injury, misogyny is again ignored when it goes as far as to kill three women a day in a serious betrayal of trust - violence from a partner.

Misogyny kills. Debate over, right?

Of course, much of this does not resonate as much as some people would like it to among an ever-present band of critics, skeptics, "trolls", "men's rights activists" and other argumentative types. Why?

Each group has their own reasons for being disagreeable, but perhaps some numbers can illustrate some facts.

Start at the beginning - adults tend to hit boys more than girls (1 2). Further, around 1 in 6 boys may be victims of sexual abuse. Later, as adolescents, boys abuse one another at alarming frequency.

Then comes the transition to adulthood. Marked not only by age, but also by having rounded the bases with a woman. But not just any woman - this aspect is important. The woman in this phase is thought by many feminists as an object of sexual desire, however the woman is perhaps more an object of social status.

The importance of this status perhaps is most obvious when a "hot" female teacher beds a boy in her class. Instead of being a statutory rape like any other, it is often viewed as the teacher blessing the boy with respect for a lifetime. The signal is that the boy may be a prodigy - in this case, the law exists just to insult the maturity and charisma of the young go-getter. The view is that the boy has hit a home run so far that the beta males had to be killjoys and made it illegal.

In adulthood, the messed up priorities and violence still rule the day. This time, as careers. 12% of males between 25 and 34 are veterans. Additionally, we pay men to wear badges and point guns at the bad men closer to home. While these men are paid to maintain law and order, it often does not work out that way.

Men with less exciting roles have the privilege of playing the trendy macho game of "Safety Harnesses are for Cowards" at work.

Thankfully enough males behave well enough so most of the population can enjoy watching men die on television in relative peace.

Within all this, occasionally men manage to surprise us in their capacity for evil. At this point, we have a moment of clarity and realize that male problem solving is fundamentally broken.

The internet at large, being always the enraptured audience of anything particularly gruesome, is eager to dissect. (This post is no exception)

Enter the Saviors

Many line up with answers. If not answering directly the problem of male violence, answering to how one is allowed to react to the discussion.

One such post of late is from Phil Plait, calling out the defensiveness of males participating in the #YesAllWomen hashtag, which spawned shortly after the UCSB tragedy.

A short book could be written that would address all the falsehoods. For example, it is ridiculous to call a 4chan-like "incel" forum a "men's rights" forum. Conflating the two is a silly and insulting distraction. If you want to see what a collection of "men's rights activists" looks like, watch this video of one meetup at the University of Ottawa.

Instead, let's look at one statement Plait says of the "everyday misogyny" that is a good stand-in for his perspective on the matter.

Plait writes:

"We need to change the way we talk to boys in our culture as well as change the way we treat women."

Now, a very polite reading of this could result it in meaning we need to address all the issues with male problem solving in a realistic manner.

However one cannot be faulted in rolling their eyes and thinking that this is just another lecturing all-American platitude. Who we lecturing? Boys. Who are we treating differently? Women.

Let's add it to the scrap heap of other phrases:
  • "Just say no to drugs"
  • "It's cool to stay in school"
  • "Never hit a woman"
All statements contain a hint of truth and the spice necessary to change culture. But ultimately when things get a bit too real this moralistic nonsense is abusive in its own way.

One of the most disappointing aspects of this conga line of preaching is that it comes often from male "scientists" that are usually obligated to bring the data when discussing their field of expertise.

Once the topic is feminism or the social sciences, everyone leaves their numbers and thinking cap at home and wishes us all to listen to anecdotes on Twitter until the tears arrive. We're to think that frequently and collectively paying this penance is somehow going to help us discover solutions.

The happy coincidence is Phil Plait maintains a blog under the header "Bad Astronomy". Perhaps this is a good segue into a blog titled "Absolutely Terrible Feminism".

The mystery is really how we are going to change the way we talk to boys.

For when did we start talking to boys?

Maybe the conversation with boys starts with birth. 

"Do you want to be circumcised, Johnny? Remember, silence is consent."

We listen so well to men's needs.

Fear is everyday.

Violence is everyday.

Click-bait concern is everyday.

Understanding is not.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Embedding Tweets

Some people do not quite understand the "Embed Tweet" feature on Twitter. Nor do they understand the public nature of the content they post on Twitter.

Here is an example of tweets existing outside of both Twitter and Storify. It's a wonder how this works. Technology is great.

Consider this a public service announcement.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Are false rape allegations rare or rampant?

When it comes to statistics about rape, there is one very popular dogma among those concerned about justice in our legal system.

It is the idea that false allegations of rape are either rare or rampant. Since "rare" seems to be winning, let's start there as a baseline.

The idea shows up in numerous places, on Twitter:

And in numerous articles:

In the period of the review, there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape and 111,891 for domestic violence. During the same period there were 35 prosecutions for making false allegations of rape, six for making false allegation of domestic violence and three for making false allegations of both rape and domestic violence.

Even BuzzFeed has picked up on it. (Belated trigger warning: it's BuzzFeed...)

Despite one of their own doing a decent job of speaking to these statistics, he narrative is popular on FreeThoughtBlogs as well. Zvan has written several posts on the subject.

And the idea is most recently cited by "A Million Gods":

False rape allegations are relatively rare. In the UK the Crown Prosecution Service between 2011 to 2012 prosecuted around 5400 rapes and 35 false accusations.

Even Jason T, a man falsely accused of rape, keeps a "6%" number in his pocket when the issue of false allegations comes up:

it’s more grievously harmful to name the person on the off chance that they fall into the ~6% of false rape claims than it is to screw up that person’s chances at harassing or raping even more people.

And of course, the godfather, PZ Myers, also likes to drop the same statistics:
Isn’t it fascinating how many men are absolutely certain that most rape accusations are completely false, that it’s just wicked women conspiring to bring men down? Yet when you look at the numbers, you know that data that skeptics are supposed to care about, the frequency of false rape accusations is low, about 6-8%.
Let's get something straight very quickly.

All rape statistics are bad. Always.

It makes no sense whatsoever to look at these numbers and make a determination about how likely people are to lie about rape. 

Let's investigate some facts that inform what we think about "false allegations".

1. Rape is underreported

Estimates of underreporting vary. It's difficult to measure what people do not want you to measure. However it seems like an educated assumption is that there is some number of victims that have enough evidence to bring a conviction in court that simply do not choose to tell anyone.

Let's say we see a shift in circumstances and some number of these people do come forward. What does this do with the "false allegation" rates that are always cited? 

They drop. However if real numbers of false allegations did not drop, the true risk of being a victim of a false allegation would have not changed. Funny how that works.

2. "Guilty" is not always guilty

Any view of reality that relies on the criminal justice system not making mistakes is just broken. 

The truth is that a conviction does not always mean that a crime occurred nor does it always mean the person in jail is actually guilty of said crime.

This is particularly evident in the United States which makes a habit of executing a lot of people and then wondering if several of the judgments were actually based on reliable and complete information.

3. Measures of false reports do not encompass all false reports

Let's say a charge of sexual assault fails to arrive at a conviction. Does this mean the accusation was false? No.

Imagine for a moment that someone accused O.J. Simpson of a crime. If it happens that Simpson is found not guilty, does the criminal justice system then prosecutes the accusers for bearing false witness?

The following scenarios are possible:
  • The victim of the crime is telling the truth and the perpetrator is convicted
  • The victim of the crime is telling the truth and the perpetrator is not convicted
  • The "victim" is lying and an innocent person is convicted
  • The "victim" is lying and an innocent person is found not guilty
  • The "victim" is lying and an innocent person is convicted. Later, "victim" charged with false report.
  • The "victim" is lying and an innocent person is found not guilty. Later, "victim" charged with false report.
Notice that there are two cases where the victim is lying but is not proven to be a liar. In criminal justice metrics, this is not counted as a "false report".

One can easily imagine that not every false accusation will invert itself as an charges targeted at the reporter. The allegations, if plausible enough, can simply remain as the victim's testimony. That is, not everyone that is lying are found to be liars as the system does not exist to prove that events did or did not happen. The system simply exists to judge the likely guilt of the accused.

4. Not all allegations are reports

Three words are generally used interchangeably:
  • Allegation
  • Accusation
  • Report
The English language in this case is painful. Statistics used generally follow reports. That is, allegations that are documented in a police report.

The trouble is that people are easily accused of a crime without the justice system as we typically understand it being involved at all.

In this age, allegations are gathered not only by police, but also by:
  • Schools
  • Employers
  • Bloggers
  • Social networks
For those keeping track, the Atheism+/FreeThoughtBlogs cabal of ne'er-do-wells have themselves been party to allegations against of sexual assault leveled against several people. 

Some names that come to mind:
  • Michael (Anonymous victim, no corroborating witnesses accounts)
  • Ben (SciAm and Slate took down articles containing obvious factual errors, more details in question)
  • Christie (Accusations proven false)
What do these names have in common? No police reports. 

Are the allegations true or false?

It is difficult to say, however it would be very stupid to suggest that the allegations are somehow more likely to be true given that the "false report" rate is low in some Crown Prosecution Service study.

That would be akin to saying that some accusation of murder made on Twitter is plausible because the NYPD does not actually prosecute many people for filing false murder claims. It's just completely different data.

Let's move away for a moment from the world of primarily online allegations. There is more to the world than blogs.

An illustrative example of where allegations are often handled is perhaps an incident at Sarah Lawrence college.

The allegation made to both police and the school was that a young black man had raped a young white lesbian woman. The woman did report the incident to all relevant authorities in a timely manner and evidence was gathered.

The suspect was arrested, but later released as there was said to be inconsistencies in the accounts meant there was not enough evidence to prosecute. One could assume that this does not qualify as a "false report" at this stage as far as crime statistics are concerned.

The story becomes stranger as even though the police have decided to not move further with the case, the pair are put in front of a tribunal at the college. The administration assures students that the campus is a safe space. Unsatisfied with the messaging and the speed of justice, the accuser writes an "Open Letter to Dean Green". A poem includes phrases "tying nooses", "hanging your boys up" and "legs stop twitching".

When both the suspect and the Dean are black, these are not the right words to choose.

The resolution of this incident is not key to what one needs to witness - the justice system that received the most focus was the one at the college level.

Colleges, employers and similar organizations are able to do several things:
  1. Keep more secrets than the justice system
  2. Make decisions without knowing all details
  3. Use punishments that are injurious - but so injurious as to be extremely cruel if misapplied
  4. Move very quickly - the goal of the institution is largely to save face
  5. Place the "secrecy problem" on the accused - challenging punishment would make allegations more public
Given these factors, it's easy to imagine a lot of instances of sexual misconduct being entirely handled outside the justice system. As institutions grow in power, this option becomes more attractive.

Even allegations of serious sexual assault could avoid referrals to the police if there is the willingness to institute policies concerning conduct that are more sensitive than the law of the land. The only thing that the investigators would perhaps really need to hear was an admission that unwanted communication of a sexual nature happened.

5. Eight percent is not "low"

Assume for a moment that the other problems with the data do not exist and allow us to run with the numbers cited by PZ Myers and Jason.

The authorities of the land stand at the podium and state:

"We've crunched the numbers and it turns out that 6-8% of rape allegations are demonstrably false. Not insufficient evidence, not of questionable guilt, not failure to reach a conviction -- simply false. In these cases, the most heinous crime committed was the filing of the report."
A citizen concerned with rights, identifying as feminist or not, would be outraged at this discovery.

Are police coercing victims to recant their stories? Which gender is more likely to file a false report? Is the justice system operating a victim-blaming boys club or are they laughing in the face of men that claim to be raped by women?

Instead of the number coming up as a frightening statistic, it is most often provided as a number somehow "proving" that the "men's rights activists" are exaggerating how pervasive false rape allegations are.

It is true that one can find in the expanse of the internet some people that believe that nearly every charge of rape is completely bogus. Presumably these people think that a lot of people in jail are innocent. It is difficult to have a conversation with these people.

Occasionally a light shines on the data as the social justice crowd realizes that the false report metric could be due to coercion by the authorities.

However the soundbite arrived on by the social justice warriors is not quite:
"It's difficult to arrive at conclusions based on rape statistics. Underreporting is rife, the authorities may be fudging data. Something must be done!"
Instead it more closely follows:

"What if that all 'false reports' are due to the authorities coercing victims into retracting their stories? That would mean feminism's critics are even more wrong!"

Somewhere along the line we've lost our minds.

Compromised numbers, compromised behavior

The numbers on rape. They're bogus. That's something that is clear.

Let's now examine the stereotypes, behaviors and fears that people that actually put credence in the numbers actually harbor.

It turns out PZ Myers himself was the victim of a false rape accusation:

Wait…she listened, & all she took from it was 1 or 2 sentences which she then misinterprets to mean I’m forever denying the possibility that a woman might make a false accusation? Nonsense. I’ve been threatened with a false rape accusation, one that could have totally destroyed my career.
I took it very seriously and moved quickly to provide evidence that it was false.
But of course we have to accept the personal testimony of women’s experiences. In that case, it would have been totally injust to simply say, “oh, she’s a woman, therefore she’s lying”. Most rape accusations are not false, so a priori dismissals are inappropriate, and if that woman had gone to the authorities (she didn’t, because I immediately brought in witnesses to make her effort futile) I would sure as hell hope they’d treat both of our positions with equal seriousness.

The interesting thing here is that we have two men, Jason and PZ, both apparently falsely accused of rape while simultaneously reminding everyone that this almost never happens. The conclusion is based on bad data, and even if the data was good eight percent would be a travesty -- so how exactly this is is reconciled with their existence is a mystery.

Cognitive dissonance, perhaps?

This mentality has followed Myers for quite some time, as he shares in 2010:

I won’t meet privately with students either — I always keep my office door wide open, and when I’m working with students in the lab, I find excuses to move out and let them work on their own if it turns into a one-on-one event. I just can’t afford the risk.
I was also subject to accusations of harassment, once upon a time. A female student came into my lab when I was alone, unhappy about an exam grade, and openly threatened me — by going public with a story about a completely nonexistent sexual encounter right there.
Zoom, I was right out the door at that instant; asked a female grad student in the lab next door to sit with the student for a bit, and went straight to the chair of the department to explain the situation. I had to work fast, because I knew that if it turned into a he-said-she-said story, it wouldn’t matter that she was lying, it could get dragged out into an investigation that would easily destroy my career, no matter that I was innocent.
I was in a total panic, knowing full well how damaging that kind of accusation can be. Fortunately, I’d done the right thing by blowing it all wide open at the first hint of a threat, and getting witnesses on the spot.

And he has gone as far as to document his approach to an accusation:

How I responded to that instance is just part of a protocol for how people should work together. Here’s what I do:
  • I don’t harass women, or anyone for that matter.
  • I maintain complete transparency. Not only do I not harass women, but any accusation that I do founders on the implausibility of the circumstance.
  • I deal with any potential situation by defusing it immediately. Not arguing, not protesting my innocence, not begging the person to refrain from hurting my reputation, but going straight to departmental authorities and explaining the situation. Again, transparency: the slander isn’t going to stick.
  • I bring in witnesses, preferably women too, who can testify to my innocence. And I don’t just mean people who will say I’m a nice guy, but witnesses to the incident who can describe all the details of the event.
  • I keep myself protected against false claims, which also means that I’m keeping my students protected from any harm. We all work just fine together, with nothing to hide.
  • I don’t sexually harass my students or colleagues. Period.
Not only is my reputation spotless, and honestly so, but there’s no way to even realistically bring such a charge against me. And of course the great majority of my interactions with students bear no risk of any such problems — we can trust each other. But then, there are always people like those slimy ones, that minority of nasty untrustworthy liars commenting on Radford’s thread, who are happy to distort and make false accusations, and I deal with them in the same way that I did that earlier incident: with transparency and honesty and frank admission of what actually happened. I don’t deny that such unpleasant people exist, especially when so many of them are already populating that thread and the existence of contemptible liars is so apparent. But when one has no interest in harassing people, it turns out to be relatively easy to maintain one’s integrity — I don’t have years of stalkerish behavior and complaints and administrative disciplinary actions to make excuses for, unlike some people.

Myers maintains his viewpoint is somehow consistent. 

Myers goes to great lengths to create a world wherein the allegation made against him was out of the blue - Myers is well liked by his female coworkers, and Myers does not have a documented history of harassment. The assumption here is that Myers has data that the rest of us do not, that would show us his attributes are more saintly than others that have faced charges of rape. 

Presumably we're to believe Myers over his accusers, as Myers has a binders full of women that would come to his defense. Also, PZ Myers also pays his taxes on time. 

It makes one wonder if Myers' politics is simply a ploy to immunize himself from false rape allegations.

In the same thread, Myers admits the accuser did not face any sort of penalty:

It is the only time that has happened in 25 years of teaching. And it didn’t go far at all: ten minutes of worry, and then the student recanted and apologized.
She wasn’t punished, except for the fact that she did fail the course…but that was going to happen anyway.

Funny that Myers' accuser is not tracked within the percentages that Myers loves to cite.

But it gets even stranger - as Myers also mistrusts women at conferences:

Except…I was really surprised the first time a woman at a conference offered me her hotel key. I know I’m not personally attractive or otherwise appealing in any physical way, and it was simply that eroticism of intellectual stimulation, as you mentioned, and the impulse to indulge in a fleeting crush. You know speakers get a little edge from that position when I’m getting sexual opportunities!
It felt like cheating, didn’t actually represent my ideal (all of my physical relationships have also been serious emotional relationships), and just generally seemed like something we might all regret when the first brief flush of enthusiasm wore off. So I’ve always gently turned down those offers.
I don’t want to give the impression that I turn them down, so everybody else ought to, too. I’m really just saying that there’s some weird primate psychology going on, and we ought to be wary of it.
As for numbers, it doesn’t happen at every conference, it’s probably happened to me 8? 10? times? Thereabouts. A couple of times a year.
I suspect it’s much more common for younger, handsomer speakers who aren’t geeky bearded weirdos. And I would imagine most of them would also turn down the offers, but I don’t know — maybe I’m a horrible weirdo in another way too.

Why is what PZ Myers has to say on this subject important?

Is PZ Myers an awful person for saying these things?

No, PZ Myers is not an awful person. 

This is important because PZ Myers is simply average. Normal. Much of what Myers says is simply taken for granted in academic and professional environments. 

Where the hypocrisy arises is that PZ Myers also represents a very specific type of social justice warrior. 

People like Myers are a large part of why rape cases that show up in the media very quickly turn into battles within groups online. 

On one side, there are those peddling the "believe survivors" and "rape culture" slogans, that ultimately believe that it's insulting victims to show anything but overwhelming sympathy and trust. This is the gang most excited about false rape allegations being deemed "rare"

On the other side, there are those that would go as far as to view every accusation with the assumption that the "victim" is using the legal system for money or revenge. This is the gang most excited about false rape allegations being deemed "rampant".

The issue becomes especially troublesome when social justice warriors like PZ Myers are themselves are primary sources of sexual assault allegations. An anonymous email goes to an energetic social justice warrior and immediately it appears on a blog or Tumblr post. This is seen largely as an effort to "give a voice to the victims". The overall effort is to purge evildoers without a conscience from their respective communities.

Perhaps it a coping mechanism - these men view themselves as unquestionably the "good guys" in the reality they've created only because they've been so viciously accused of being one of the "bad guys". The "weird primate psychology" is that these people then feel compelled to frequently prove to their peers that they are their betters. It's as if they cannot again be the accused if they are now frequently the accusers.

The Adam and Eve of social justice warrior

Let's say there are two archetypes of social justice warrior. Or, if you prefer, tropes. Also, let's just use the gender binary. Adam and Eve. Hopefully they can distill what we've seen over the past few years in this various "progressive" movements in support of "intersectionality".

First, Eve. Eve is the typical well-educated, well-intentioned woman that rightly believes that there is a lot of work left to do when it comes to gender equality. 

Eve talks big about "feminism" as an all-encompassing social project. Viewing the growing "men's rights" movement as obvious adversaries to feminism's goals, Eve will go as far as to say that "feminism" will do more to solve racism than its critics.

The problems occur when Eve loses a handle on where we're going in regards to objectification. Or porn. Or physical assault. Or Islam. And things get particularly uncomfortable when Eve's own stated politics collide with her risk assessments.

More relevant to this post is the subject of Adam.

Adam, in this case, may be an individual like PZ Myers.

Adam is well-educated and looking to make an impact. He is keenly aware that men have an easier time of landing high paying careers. He is also cognizant of the fact that a lot of violent crime is committed by men. Despite many advances, he still understands the many ways that women have it rough in modern society.

On his platform, Adam is ready and willing to be a terrific ally for "feminism". Adam understands that key to empowerment is being heard, and works to bring many women's voices to the table. Adam also knows that if women are going to be a part of the future, they will need representation in the science and technology fields that will dominate in the coming years.

The problem is that Adam also exists in the real world.

Pulled aside from gender politics, placed in an environment with only beer and other males, Adam describes his own approach to keeping the cushy job the patriarchy gifted him with.

Here the real grenade is thrown down. Here it is openly admitted that women are entirely capable of being selfish, amoral, mentally unstable, prone to regret and not in control of their sexual desires.

It is soon clear that Adam's behavior is such that he must believe that his family stands more risk to be injured by rumor than physical assault.

Adam slowly outlines his strategy to staying alive within our "gender equitable" workplaces. Build credibility with several women that one is disinterested in. Establish an identity within the brand of feminism that feels most frequently violated. Minimize the number of closed door meetings with women - "the broads" will talk and you don't want to be hear gossip or be gossip. Finally, deflect attention towards men that are already in the process of being blackballed.

It's like blending in as a "true American" while secretly reading a lot of Marx.

The offspring of this Adam and Eve duo is ill-concealed fear. The stereotypical case in the modern political arena might be the bandwagon activists that talk big about how prison sentences are not the same as rehabilitation yet do not wish to live anywhere near ex-cons. NIMBY.

Paint by numbers

The moral of the story again, of course, is that all rape statistics are bad

Just stop citing these figures in attempts to either elevate or destroy someone's story. What is the point? Instead, view the data for what it is - only a piece of the puzzle. Each allegation of serious crime needs to be viewed on its own merits instead of being prejudged by questionable data.

Finally, let's ignore the social justice dudebros that like to feign concern about rape culture while citing this bad data and claiming they are one of the scarce unicorns with a real story of a false allegation.

As you know, it does not matter how they dress it up, their behavior is still based on man's baser assumption that they have been unable to shake:

"Bitches be crazy".

If they believed otherwise, they'd behave otherwise.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mostly Residing in Crazytown

Suey Park and one of her social justice sidekicks are at it again. This time, in an article on Time's website.

Much has been said about Suey Park's antics. Some of the best summaries have been written by Joslyn Stevens and Juliet Shen.

At this point, there is no point in trying to go further down the rabbit hole of putting a lot of thought into what Suey Park has to say. Intelligent people by now have hopefully had an opportunity to read Stevens' and Shen's perspectives and put them in context of Suey's own words. (1 2 3)

However there are a few things that stand out as weird about the TIME article.

First, the focus on the word mainstream and the desire to be treated like adults:

Young Asian American women, with little institutional power, are not supposed to be this loud.  [...] Our age and appearance have led to us being infantilized
Our role in mainstream media is the perpetual race commentator — unable to exist in a way that isn’t reactionary and defensive to whiteness. We were only heard when we responded to a beloved white man.
The irony is that we want complexity, we want nuance, we want critical representations of race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, and more. But we reject the idea of representation being our end goal. We will not mute who we are in order to be accepted into the mainstream. If our liberation is dependent on getting our oppressors to humanize us, then we have already lost.

Suey & co seemingly want to be a play a part of the "mainstream" in terms of popularity, but view themselves as being distinct from it. Also, they are sick of being treated like children.

The bio is especially weird:
Suey Park (@suey_park) is a writer and activist currently living in Chicago. Eunsong Kim (@clepsydras) is a writer, researcher and educator mostly residing in San Diego.

Wait, what does this mean?

"Currently living"?

"Mostly residing"?

If an editor at TIME wrote this bio, they should be ashamed. If the authors of the piece wrote this bio, then we should not be surprised.

The language is that of hipster activism.

For some reason the authors wish us to be certain that their existence in a city is completely tentative. Commitment to a place and community is so passé.

While they present pointless details like hyperactive teenagers that love to use every opportunity to mention they are in a relationship, these intrepid social justice warriors wish everyone to accept them as adults.

Luckily in the real world, no one gets extra points for being a nomadic warrior of pointless "activism". A few hundred years ago, people like this would conceivably be regarded as wandering prophets offering forgiveness and a new moral philosophy.

The only difference is now the charlatans do not even bother expounding their values when given the chance. They are tired, they have anxiety problems and they do not feel like you deserve to have them enacting the labor that would allow you to hear the good word.

You were born a sinner, you may always be a sinner.

In "social justice activist" philosophy, as popularized by Twitter, Tumblr, and "Atheism+", nobody has a moral obligation to educate their neighbors.

Moreover, nobody has an obligation to be a neighbor.

You cannot fault the activists, however. You wouldn't want to be stuck in a patriarchal cisheteronormative colonialist home owners association, would you? They would hold discussions about landscaping without even as much as a trigger warning. The oppression would never end. So very mainstream.

And people may be married and conforming to traditional gender roles. How could one breathe?

Instead it is simpler to bathe in the privilege afforded only to young people in western nations, the privilege of not having to answer to anybody while somehow remaining able to pay the bills. The greatest privilege of all may be the ability to ignore most everyone in your "meatspace" life and never having start with someone as they are. You can simply let them find you if or when they happen to mind-meld with your political opinions online.

So repent, sinner.

How does one repent?

Look it up on Google, shitlord!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fact checking David Futrelle

The title refers to a one David Futrelle, but the rest of the content could just as well be fact checking any shallow "feminist" sources over the last few days. Fact checking Futrelle, SJW reddit mods, and of course, oolon.

Let's get started with a brief history of events.

Chapter 1:

  1. A person (let's call her "B") tweets a series of provocative statements.
  2. B has a conversation with a another college student, "D" from now on, about colonialism.
  3. B & D have a completely unproductive, sarcastic exchange
  4. B posts screencap on Twitter, along with D's LinkedIn profile.
  5. This exchange is spread around Twitter
  6. D's LinkedIn profile happens to disappear completely.
  7. B claims victory on Twitter, despite D's school apparently being silent on the matter
  8. B's tweets of this nature capture the attention of many critics. (See article here)

Chapter 2:

  1. Some unknown person writes a post on the /r/MensRights subreddit, claiming to be a student in B's class
  2. The reddit post author claims that B said some ridiculous things during class
    • Some statements implying circumcision was funny (B did not say this - read on) 
    • Some statements implying homeless white males do not deserve help (B did not say this - read on)
  3. The reddit post author links to several tweets made by B and provides commentary
  4. The reddit post author asks the readers of the subreddit if he/she should be "worried" or "concerned" about B's behavior.
  5. Several subreddit readers provide "advice" that is absolutely creepy, obsessive, and vengeful
    • Similar to "write it all down, you can use it to destroy her career later"
  6. The creepy advice garners the attention of the anti-MRA subreddits and SJWs all over Twitter
  7. Several individuals are accused of participating in "doxxing" B
  8. B changes her Twitter account to being protected 
  9. B changes her Twitter handle
  10. The reddit author makes a comment that makes his story about being a classmate seem spurious
  11. Some brilliant allies proceed to reveal new name as part of their Atheism+ BlockBot campaigning

The last item in that story might be the most depressing. Having Atheism+ on your side is like having a band of mercenaries that work for free, only to show up on the battlefield armed with some plastic spoons that they are destined to injure themselves with.

Perhaps the most well-read example of the "feminist" perspective on this matter will be the article written by David Futrelle, on his site named ManBoobz:

No long post today. Instead, I urge you to go over to the AgainstMensRights subreddit to read about how several long time Men’s Rights Redditors have doxxed and harassed a college student, with one of the regulars gleefully setting forth a plan to stalk her and ruin her life and another seeming to suggest he might want to pay her a visit to “debate” her.

The thread (which remained up for many hours) has now been scrubbed by the Men’s Rights mods — I got these screenshots from u/Aceyjuan and u/TraceyMorganFreeman’s respective timelines – but as of right now none of the doxxers have been banned from the subreddit, or from Reddit itself.
The “crimes” of the woman in question? According to her main stalker — who has apparently been harassing her for months — she’s tweeted comments like “white men are like the gum on the bottom of my shoe” and “Jared Leto looks like the kind if guy that gives you herpes.”
Yep. Apparently the second-worst evil misandrist comment she made was … a joke about Jared Leto. For these comments, apparently she deserves to have her life ruined.
Here’s the thing: If you don’t like someone’s comments online, you are certainly well within your rights to quote them and point out why you don’t like what they said. That’s kind of the point of this blog. But it’s one thing to point out these comments, and another thing entirely to track down their identity and stalk them in real life. It’s another thing to whip up a virtual mob against them.

The rest of Futrelle's post is diverges into a never-ending drama between him and his opponents, so that has been edited for length. Rest assured Futrelle wants you to believe this is just another episode in a history of obsessive MRA behavior.

What's missing from this picture? 

A number of things.

Context - notice that the first chapter is completely missing from Futrelle's recounting of the story. It's just gone.

The bit where B leaked a private IM conversation and tweeted a link to a LinkedIn profile. As far as the readers of Futrelle's blog are concerned, it did not happen. They are operating with a completely different version of reality, with a different list of heroes and villains.

But who needs context, anyways?

Facts - Futrelle claims that someone had "tracked down [B]'s identity". When did this happen?

The reddit post that Futrelle gets his information from lists some key details.

The datapoints revealed were:
  • Location (State)
  • School
  • Full name
And it's true - these details were out in the open.

How did this happen? The information was in B's Twitter bio. As soon as anyone shared a tweet link, the tweet author was supposedly "doxxed".

The first name and last name of B's Twitter bio was a completely plausible given name and surname. Unless B was actually operating under a pen name and the reddit post revealed a true name, the reddit post did not reveal any information that was not immediately available to someone who took a quick glimpse at what B had to say via her public Twitter profile.

However no one has yet claimed that B did not have her real, true, full name in her Twitter bio along with statements about her connection to her home state and college.

So to run with this definition of "doxxing", if you are a self-published author of online content and someone you disagree with links to you, that then must qualify as being "doxxed".

If "doxxing" is maintained to be a strictly factual revelation of details previously unknown, it would appear the only fact "leaked" was that B actually was a real person in a real place and did in fact attend classes.

Did anyone have doubt this?

Where we are now is that reddit (or at least the "controversial" subreddits) have apparently banned linking to Twitter. The basis of this is that reddit has strict rules about linking to Facebook.

The difference, of course, is that Twitter has more in common with Tumblr than Facebook. Whatever rationale that applies to Twitter must also apply to Tumblr, Blogger, Wordpress... the security models and information sharing mechanisms are practically identical.

Yet it is difficult to circumstance that would cause reddit will to block linking to these sites as a general rule. The thinking must be that more words somehow maps to more necessary responsibility for those words.

The crime that the reddit author did commit was publishing a fabricated story to an audience of people that were unsympathetic towards B's cause. To what extent this storytelling and embellishment whipped up additional rage is unknown, but is unquestionably unethical.

Let it be known - making up stuff about someone in order to cause drama is wrong. It's still wrong even if you write for FreeThoughtBlogs. A lot of people forget that.

Consistency - Futrelle writes:

If you don’t like someone’s comments online, you are certainly well within your rights to quote them and point out why you don’t like what they said. That’s kind of the point of this blog. But it’s one thing to point out these comments, and another thing entirely to track down their identity and stalk them in real life. It’s another thing to whip up a virtual mob against them.

Futrelle is so oblivious and hypocritical. Futrelle admits that his blog does the very same thing that the /r/MensRights posters did, except when Futrelle does it it is "quoting" instead of "tracking down" people. What logic is this?

As for virtual mobs, does donglegate not count? What about accusing an acquaintance of sexual harassment based on false rumors? What about publishing a name of a man before you know for sure?

What about accusing a mentally ill friend of being a sexual predator?

Finally, what about taking down someone's LinkedIn profile and then making a fuss when events force you to take down your own Twitter profile?

There is still another layer of the consistency puzzle - the word safety.

Why do Twitter social justice warriors make their accounts protected accounts?

Mostly because they are embarrassed, but the reason cited will be "safety".

The humorous part of this claim is how obviously false this desire for safety really is.

This is the quick and easy five-step program to Twitter "safety":

  1. Make your account protected
    • Optional: Rename your account for additional security
  2. Continuously tweet within your "secret" account about the evildoers that are "harassing" you
  3. Your followers will even more engaged than before!
    • Their public replies will conveniently reveal:
      • When you are making baseless allegations
      • When you are leading a report & block brigade
      • When you are carrying on a racist or sexist joke train
  4. Consistently ask your followers to report & block specific Twitter users
  5. Engage with the Atheism+ BlockBot brigade. They'll elevate your profile by tweeting your new account details while gleefully libeling old enemies.
    • This kind of undermines Step 1, but you knew Step 1 was a charade
  6. Bring your account back online and claim to be a brave activist

The important part: Never ask the supposed evildoers to redact information or correct articles.

The evildoers might actually do it, and then where is your social justice hero story?

Every hero needs a story!

Preferably a fantasy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Publicly shame your family

There are certain people one does not want to meet on the internet.

Bhaswati might be one of them.

She tweeted:

The conversation quoted, presumably in a private IM exchange, is the following:

<context cut out>
David: I also focused on postcolonial studies 
David: It's amazing how everything went so downhill after we left. 100 more years of colonialism would have malfunctioning countries like Zimbabwe and India actually okay. 
Bhaswati: I know! After a hundred years, you could have murdered the rest of my ancestors. Awesome! 
David: Of course we wouldn't have. We still needed the expendable military manpower obviously.

We don't have the full context of the chat, but it's rather entertaining to think this exchange is what now qualifies as one that you immediately publish to Twitter to name and shame. (Who needs context?)

All it takes is one sarcastic reply to a sarcastic comment and voila, you have enough to go on to link the person's details and label them evil.

Nobody needed any more context than what was given, as the target already qualified as an elitist oppressor:

Yikes. Is it possible that social justice warriors hate the educated elite more than the Republicans are said to?

The school apparently did not respond but nonetheless the Google-bomb was effective:

When pressed on the matter, social justice warriors insist they are consistent in their treatment of people:

Given this magnifying glass on what David-at-Harvard said in what he likely expected was a private conversation, let's imagine for a moment that SJWs actually played this ballgame consistently.

Enter Grimalkin:

Grimalkin, for those that don't know, may indeed be the same Grimalkin that posts over in the Atheism Plus forums. She seems to like Jen M, hates the HRC and loves f-bombs. (Update: It was mentioned by a kind anonymous person that A+ Grimalkin is actually @Grrmalkin. In this case, @GrimalkinRN is innocent of all A+ related charges, and her impact at this point seems limited to being one of Bhaswati's Twitter pals)

Grimalkin's social justice problem right now is her grandmother. Many of us closely following social justice can be forgiven for being confused as to why Grimalkin did not drop a direct link to her grandmother's Facebook profile.

That is how things are done on Twitter, is it not?

But not to focus on this one example - this is just one small indicator of a much wider problem.

Why aren't people publicly shaming their family members on social media?

Why is the target of a shaming merely a passing acquaintance?

Nobody is actually fighting the real "oppressive" actors in their lives. Despite it being the weak sort of social justice "activism" that is ultimately accessible, it would actually be personally and professionally costly.

If it were to come to openly discussing a high school teacher, a college professor, a condescending aunt or uncle, an ultraconservative mother, things might be real. Or they may get real, real fast.

It is much easier to pick fights with a random student at Harvard, as one can be so narcissistic as to believe their privilege is entirely stolen and undeserved. As a rule, white people at Harvard cannot have stores that would cast themselves in a sympathetic light.

It is also simple to wage war on shallow offenses on late night comedy television or take pictures of strangers in public places. Or focus on whether or not rape jokes are or are not acceptable.

Here is a grand challenge to people who think "name and shame" works - actually go name and shame someone!

And by "someone" we don't mean some pop culture icon that Tumblr is preoccupied with. Nobody needs another dissection of Macklemore.

Get out there and shame someone you know. Are your cousins being bullied into patriarchal marriage arrangements by their traditionalist parents? Did your father say something homophobic at the dinner table? Is your mother being a poor role model? Did your brother join the army?

Shame them all. Tweet LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, call their employers, write a tell-all book and most importantly start a hashtag.

It might actually change society at large. If everybody stood a chance of becoming a minor celebrity at the hands of their own family members, it's a sure thing that behavior would change at a rapid pace.

Alas, don't expect too much from this "shame your family" revolution. If it were to happen, many questions would need to be resolved.

Shaming your family does not pay the rent.