The Atheist Sex Scandal Part 4

I’ve talked about the facts. I mentioned what accusations and lawsuits have been made in the Catholic Church sex scandal. I’ve discussed the accusations made in the Atheist movement sex scandal. And I’ve talked about how the Catholic Church has responded to the sex scandal. Now it’s time to talk about how atheists have responded to the atheist sex scandal. This is the main post, since the whole point of this series was to talk about how atheists are responding. As a reminder, my next two posts will be as follows: first I will compare how Catholics have responded to how atheists have responded to the sex scandals within their movements, and then I will discuss whether or not I believe atheists are responding to the accusations rationally.
But now onto this post. So how have atheists responded to the accusations of sexual assault and harassment? Rebecca Watson has recorded a good portion of what she has received as a result of saying “guys, don’t do that.” Keep in mind this was a passing comment she made as a result of the harassment she experienced in what is now widely known as “elevator gate”: “The response from male atheists was overwhelming. This is one example:
‘honestly, and i mean HONESTLY.. you deserve to be raped and tortured and killed. swear id laugh if i could’”
Wait? Saying “don’t do that” is deserving of a death threat? I didn’t even find anything about the people who took priests to court getting death threats, and people take their religion very seriously. But Rebecca Watson gets this for mentioning that something’s creepy? That seems a bit extreme. Even Richard Dawkins had to jump on this bandwagon. In response to Watson’s, let me remind you, passing comment, he said:
“Dear Muslima
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so …
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
Right, Dawkins, because Watson made any comments even hinting at the idea that she thought she was treated worse than a woman who had had her genitals mutilated. But then, Dawkins does like to compare different people’s pain and decide whose is more worthy of empathy with little regard for the people behind the pain. Just look at his recent tweets about rape: “’Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think'” No, Dawkins, I think that that is blatant disregard for another humans personal experiences. Regardless of what happened to you, you do not get to tell someone that their pain doesn’t matter because someone else had it worse. That may not be the message that you are intending to send, but it is the one that you are sending.
It’s sad how easy it is to find really vulgar comments in relation to the accusations. I’ve been trying to find some reasonable arguments against the accusations, but I’ve had little luck. Here’s one I found on a Men’s Rights (yeah, I know, not a good place to find reasonable anything) forum: “Is anyone else following this? Fucking incredible. It all started with Karen Stollznow accusing skeptic Ben Radford of the Center of Inquiry of harassment and assault, then a former James Randi Foundation employee Carrie Poppy accused DJ Grothe, the gay liberal atheist president of the JREF, of misogyny and harassment, then the batshit lunatic Jennifer McCreight accused physicist Lawrence Krauss of sex assault/harrassment (she’s since taken down the details after receiving a legal notice from Shermer but you can still piece together the picture from the comments. (What was Krauss’ evil crime? Propositioning a woman for sex (possibly a threesome) while he was on a cruise for skeptics. The horror!), then someone from the Atheism + forum set up a Tumblr to accuse Bill Nye of harassment, THEN last night PZ shitstain Myers himself accused Michael Shermer, editor in chief of Skeptic Magazine, OF SERIAL RAPE” It’s easy to see this person’s bias (at least, I don’t think “shitstain” is anybodies term of endearment). But there’s no argument to counter the claim that these people are harassers, just the basic thought of “but they’re famous and did good things.” And that really is not a good reason to doubt someone’s claim to having been sexually assaulted. Here is a link to a video by the Youtuber Thunderfoot: It is basically his rant about how terrible feminism is and how it’s ruining atheism. He doesn’t even get 30 seconds in before he starts throwing the insults around. This video series by The “Amazing” Atheist is just as bad: Here’s another one where he discusses his views on Watson: These videos are full of insults. They don’t offer thoughtful arguments as to why the people they are arguing against are wrong. Since I used to enjoy both of these vloggers, I can’t help but cringe when I hear their lack of logic and sound reasoning.
For some more negative responses towards the accusers, here are some more links:
And because those are depressing, and because there have been some positive responses as well:
As you can see, there is a lot on this topic.

8 responses to “The Atheist Sex Scandal Part 4

  • D.T. Nova

    The difference between this and the Catholic case is that atheism is not a single centralized organization. Many of the atheist organizations (which are what would be more directly more comparable to the Church than what some popular jerk says on YouTube) actually have been making policy changes in the right direction.


    • hessianwithteeth

      The atheists involved in this issue are part of a centralized group. Most of the people accused are a part of the JREF foundation, and most of those who were harassed either worked for those men at JREF or were hired to speak at TAM. Krauss was the only one accused (well, and Bill Nye, but I hadn’t heard about that accusation until I began this project) that was not part of JREF, but he is a popular speaker involved in the wider atheist movement (that is, the big name atheists who are interested in fighting for atheists being seen in a more positive light by society at large). The reason I brng in the whole atheist movement is because a lot of popular atheists in the wider movement have criticized those who were harassed and supported those who did the harassing. Why do their words matter? Because people listen to them.


  • Kristen Carey

    Very insightful. As an atheist, I more than kind of hate that Richard Dawkins has been taken up as the “poster child” of atheism. Just because someone is very vocal about a topic does not mean he speaks for everyone that shares that one particular world view. Nothing can take away from the tremendous body of scientific work he has produced, but seriously – he is such an ass.


  • The Scrupulous Atheist

    Many of the things I’ve heard surrounding this and especially with atheism+ has been to shut down criticism of any type. I think Richard Carrier is great, but when he declared that you are either “with us or against us” regarding atheism+ even though I agree with him on just about everything else, left me feeling like something was fundamentally wrong. The pairing of atheism with feminism is a problem because not all atheists are feminists and not all feminists are atheists. Atheists just don’t have god beliefs. It just so happens that many atheists are progressive, but not all are. Also, not being offended is a very difficult state to guarantee. I’ve always abided by the mantra “don’t feed the trolls.” This just seems like good advice. Being an atheist doesn’t guarantee anything in terms of beliefs.


    • hessianwithteeth

      I think the biggest problem is the fact that the atheist movement is very much an old boys club. I think atheism+ was meant to make atheism more accessible to women. But even without atheism+, it’s sympathizers would still find themselves supporting these women and those opposed to it would still be saying stupid things. I think atheism+ just makes the divide more obvious.


  • Parker

    Thank you for highlighting this. It’s something that’s always bothered me since “Elevatorgate” became a thing. Atheism is amazing, but like everything in the World, it certainly has a dark side. Likely, with time, this will only get better and better for everyone involved.


  • armondikov

    Thanks for the extensive collection. Seeing it all in one place provides a new perspective on just how bad these people can be.

    I reckon it’s because these particular atheists think that not believing in God automatically makes them “smart”. Therefore they don’t actually employ critical thinking. Sure, they’ll tell themselves little stories about how they use “logic” and “reason” – but the sad fact is that they don’t. They use the words to help attract others; for instance I recall reading a thesis that mentioned that atheist clubs/movements/societies tended to use those terms as sort of flags, they were terms that were used to unite groups rather than refer to actual methods, much in the way people at a Goth club might use “alternative” as a buzzword to identify themselves to each other.

    Their collective “logic”, “reason” and “intelligence” is just like that – nothing but a sartorial choice, and absolutely nothing to do with what is going on in their heads. Unless your argument looks like it was ripped from a Douglas Hofstadter book or had to be typed up in LaTeX, the odds are you’re not actually using logic the thing, only “logic” the buzzword.

    Take Dawkins’ recent one on Downs syndrome, saying that his stance to abort pregnancies that have Downs detected “logically follows” from the pro-choice argument – no it doesn’t, because the pro-choice argument just addresses the legality that the option should be available, it says nothing about whether it is moral to do so or otherwise. You can’t therefore extend this argument into advice about what someone should do. Apparently this is “logic” and “reason” at work… and if you dare challenge that, then you’ll just get a screaming torrent of abuse in return. Are those people seriously so blind to the irony of holding their anti-theistic views and raising one lone man up to a level beyond criticism? And it’s not just the fanboys – the reactions of Dawkins or Harris or Penn Jillette to active criticism isn’t the calm, collected and reasoned responses that they preach. It’s to shout the others down, or play “well you just misunderstood me, that’s your faul!” and leave it at that.

    The other angle to look at when you’re talking about the YouTubers is to look at why they’re famous in the first place. They did it by “pwning” creationists. This is not hard. Refuting NephilmFree’s assertion that the Global Flood fired water so high into the air that it impacted the moon and caused all the craters we see is not an arduous task requiring the brain of Einstein. These guys are simply not as bright as their fans think they are – it’s just an illusion caused by them standing next to such excessively dumb arguments. So is anyone really surprised that when they step outside their comfort zones and attempt to do something original they fail so spectacularly? I’m certainly not (though I admit this statement has serious hindsight bias).

    It’s a bad time to be an atheist, because the people who put themselves out their to “represent” us are such assholes.


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