Some of you may have already seen the joint statement Richard Dawkins and Ophelia Benson released:
Disagreement is inevitable, but bullying and harassment are not. If we want secularism and atheism to gain respect, we have to be able to disagree with each other without trying to destroy each other. In other words we have to be able to manage disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults, as opposed to brawling like enraged children who need a nap. It should go without saying, but this means no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people’s appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.
My fellow SINner Damion thinks it is “pretty uncontroversial“, but I have to disagree with him. You just can’t expect everyone to grab their hands and sing Kumbaya, when one side of the table has engaged in and promoted bullying just for disagreements. What I mean to say: I’m calling Ophelia Benson’s bullshit. Before I take any word that comes from her, she needs to make amends: does she still think we’re having a white supremacist movement? You don’t get to liken my activism to Nazis and then expect I’ll be all hug-y when you issue a statement. I seriously want to know if Ophelia Benson still thinks that calling to the boycott of Dawkins’ books is managing “disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults”. I want to know if she still condones the way Rebecca Watson bullied Stef McGraw and got her to shut down her blog. What part of that is not “trying to destroy the other”? Remember Michael Payton, whose job was put at jeopardy just because Benson and her pals couldn’t figure out a tweet and thought he had a different opinion? That’s pretty destroying, if you ask me. Does Benson still think that people should be put on jail just because someone else claims they’re rapists but fails to provide any shred of evidence whatsoever (and no, a testimony is not evidence). Does she think Michael Shermer and Ben Radford should be in jail, although there’s no evidence against any of them, and none have been convicted? Does Ophelia Benson think Schrödinger’s Rapist and the Bechdel test are legitimate ways to approach reality, gender related issues and social conventions? How is that any different from “attacking people’s sex and appearance”? Does Ophelia Benson approve of Paul Zachary Myers‘ dishonest tactic of banning rational commenters to further the victim card? Isn’t such tactic the something proper of “enraged children”? Is underplaying Richard Dawkins’ sex assault a way to “manage disagreement ethically”? Is asking for coffee (in an elevator, and taking a “No” for an answer) a legitimate exercise of free speech? Or should we expect to keep having this paramount human right and civil liberty distorted? Is comparing such a First World ‘problem’ with FGM under Islamic societies no longer a carte blanche for bullying? And last, but not least: when will my fellow SINners bullied by Benson and her ilk get a proper apology? I’m talking specifically about Maria Maltseva, Staks Rosch and Damion Reinhardt. Or should they just forget every single attack made from Benson’s side just because she issued a statement? I don’t know about you, but I think all these issues (and the list is longer, if you should know) should be addressed and Ophelia Benson owes a hell lot of people a heartfelt apology. Her joint statement means nothing -it’s not even a bad joke- before that.