because it turns out you just can’t milk a controversy enough…

October 24, 2012 — 6 Comments

troll

One would think that by now talking about Elevatorgate would go way past beating a dead horse and into the territory of savaging the bleached, brittle bones left as its only remains. But you’re severely underestimating the sheer amount of mileage Rebecca Watson is trying to get out of it by writing an article on Slate about her sheer bewilderment as to how sexist and misogynistic the online skeptical community supposedly really is. By the title alone, you’d think that her account about being propositioned in an elevator ending with a “guys, that’s creepy, don’t do that” just threw open the floodgates of rape threats. Really, at this point the cow has been milked until it’s bleeding from its udders and Watson yet again manages to summon the cloak of feminism to do what she does best and deflect the number one criticism of her handling of the affair by enlisting the help of internet trolls who sound as if they were called from the darkest corners of the web to deliver the kind of misogyny you’d expect from a rabid Muslim cleric on Saudi TV.

Rape threats, while horrible, cannot be simply attributed to the skeptical community at large and doing so is either trying to establish guilt by association, or by labeling everyone who can visit a wide open public blog as part of the skeptical movement. I find it very difficult to swallow that with so many skeptics out there submitting their critiques of Watson’s blanket declarations, only the most vitriolic trolling is featured and highlighted, especially since she has a very heavy-handed moderation policy on Skepchick. The trolls aren’t just being fed, they’re given a feast the likes of which would be hard to find outside Valhalla! Every time they strike in response to her claims of widespread misogyny among society in general and skeptics in particular, she raises them on a pedestal and uses their most unhinged threats and sexist smears as supposed examples of the criticism she gets, giving them even more fuel to send her vicious threats. Rinse, repeat, ramp it up, soak up the hits in a disservice to her fellow skeptics, both male and female.

By the end of the day, one would think that the only comments she gets are either from devoted, supportive fans proud of all the fine work she’s doing or threaten her with gang rape on her way from the grocery store with nothing in between. Indeed, the skeptics have been so bad this year that we’re now not allowed to have adult themed calendars as we’re all pigs and don’t know how to be mature about sexuality, we’ll just stare at women and drool because that’s what we were told to do by mass media and a patriarchal society. Seriously, there’s feminism and there’s just going too far and Watson has been doubling down on going to far at every opportunity. Instead of fixing the legitimate problems she complained about and moving on, this has become the year of the Elevatorgate for the skeptical community and the so-called leaders of skeptical groups are now mired in melodramas that happen in bars after skeptic meetups and blog networks. So much for teaching people about science and skeptical inquiry, right? After all, geek drama, angst, and gossip are so much more important and worthy of our time…

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  • Reggie

    I find it very difficult to swallow that with so many skeptics out there submitting their critiques of Watson’s blanket declarations, only the most vitriolic trolling is featured and highlighted, especially since she has a very heavy-handed moderation policy on Skepchick. The trolls aren’t just being fed, they’re given a feast the likes of which would be hard to find outside Valhalla!

    Amen.

    I’ve witnessed at least one rational and civil disagreement submitted by my wife to Watson’s blog never emerge from moderation. Meanwhile, vile posts by obvious trolls were not only approved, but we’re highlighted as being representative of all who disagreed with Watson. Watson seems too smart to mistake the phenomenon of Internet trolling with a pandemic of misogyny, so either she is deluded or she is well aware she is feeding trolls more than fighting for women (and getting lots of attention in the process).

    I’ve tuned out the majority of the Skeptic and atheist “community” and couldn’t be happier for it.

  • http://about.me/renee.hendricks Renee Hendricks

    Quite frankly, I’m surprised Becca didn’t have a link for people to go buy her “rage” t-shirts included within that article. It’s the same exact song and dance over and again for her.

  • Shawn Malenich

    Go take a look around the gaming community for some perspective. People at SEGA (developer Platinum Games actually, SEGA was just the publisher) were inundated by death threats because they agreed to publish a game exclusively for the soon to be released Wii U from Nintendo. Death threats, over a video game. Does that mean Sony and Microsoft console gaming fans have a serious homicide problem among them? I doubt it. It was just a bunch of idiots with access to the internet.

    People get into heated arguments, make threats, and hurl insults in order to defend the gaming platform they think is superior. But how widespread is it, actually? I don’t see people in gang wars at every Gamestop, though the anger on the internet would lead you to believe you should.

    This is what the internet is. It doesn’t excuse the people making threats, but to act as if this is something specific to the skeptic community (or whatever title you feel is appropriate) is done for political reasons. Are their sexists among the skeptic community? I’m sure there are. But the worst people among the ranks seem to be getting cherry picked to advance an agenda.

    The problem isn’t sexists in the skeptic community, the problem is the movie Idiocracy is practically a documentary. Stupid people are everywhere, and they stand out more than everyone around them. Atheists are already hated in this country, why not add sexism into the mix too. Let’s see how many negative stereotypes we can get associated with atheism. Then again—considering the current political climate—maybe branding any atheist who won’t kneel at the alter of the Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers, and that lot; and are assumed to be rapists and hostile toward equal rights for women; will allow us to do something that would once seem unthinkable, infiltrate the Republican party. The conservatives might happily embrace us heathens if they think we treat women like mindless automatons who don’t know what’s for their own good.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket! This is all a diabolically clever ploy to bring down the Judeo-Christian qausi-theocracy in the United States from the inside. See, Rebecca Watson really is a genius.

  • Greg Fish

    Oh, there are rage t-shirts now? Where does one find them?

  • http://about.me/renee.hendricks Renee Hendricks

    Greg – over on Skepchick. Look for the t-shirt with the blue-haired chick and the statement: “Their hate makes me grow stronger”. I really don’t want to put the link out just because it gives her more money, I’m sure.

  • Reggie

    Wait a minute. If hate makes Rebecca Watson grow stronger….then the only way to defeat her and save the planet is….to love her?

    We’re boned.