EllenBeth Wachs

My Cats are My Gods

Archive for March 2013

Yes, I’m going there. Dongles, Disagreement and Disproportionate Derision

with 220 comments

I have been hesitating to write this blog post for various reasons. Amazingly enough, there are still a few people not familiar with Donglegate.  Which means in the secular community, many won’t be familiar with an incident arising out out Donglegate.  I have read that I am being referred to as a casualty of friendly fire.   The impetus of my finally writing about this was a comment PZ Myers made on a blog post Jason Thibeault wrote yesterday. More on that later. First the background. For those of you familiar with the story, you won’t need the following summary.

Adria Richards, a self-described developer evangelist, was at a tech conference sitting in the audience for a presentation.   Two men were seated behind her and talking using technical language (dongles and forking)  that allegedly  morphed  into a juvenile sexual joke overheard by Richards.   She  stood up, turned around and took three pictures of them.   She then tweeted the pictures to her thirteen thousand followers with the conference hashtag. She made a second tweet then asking for conference organizers to do something. Conference organizers removed the men, talked to them, one denied that some comments were sexual, admitted one was and apologized profusely. They were allowed back into the conference and that would have been the end of it BUT THE INTERNET EXPLODED.

Adria Richard’s company was besieged by DDOS attacks by Anonymous. One of the men was fired. Adria began receiving horrid rape and death threats. Adria got fired. And I commented on a blog post PZ Myers did about this titled, “Adria Richards did everything exactly right” and I disagreed with him. And got vilified, insulted, abused and disabused of the notion that what you think you know sometimes just isn’t quite what it seems.

I, of course, knew that the blog had a certain reputation for not suffering fools lightly. I know PZ, himself, promotes it as a “rude blog.”  I wasn’t aware of how abusive it gets. I have been an avid supporter and defender of the so-called FTBullies and have paid a high price in the form of vicious ridicule and mockery by members of the slymepit. I cannot claim innocence as I have certainly thrown my own share of knives without knowing the full story some of the time, hell, maybe all the time. I don’t know anymore.  I am doing what I need to in order to make myself right.

Full disclosure. I have met PZ several times. He actually spoke for me at the Humanists of Florida conference last September.  I consider him a friend and an ally.  So, imagine my shock and dismay upon voicing what seemed to be a mild disagreement on this thread of already close to three hundred comments the  nasty reception I received.

So, let me start by saying, I never heard of Adria Richards prior to this incident.  I am aware of the reputation the tech industry has for rampant sexism.  I consider myself a feminist. I am also a retired attorney.  When I was practicing, I actually handled a sexual harassment lawsuit.  I represented a plaintiff in a claim against Circuit City in a sexual harassment case claiming a hostile environment and was successful in obtaining a settlement for her. I was a sole practitioner two years out of law school facing one of the best law firms in Philadelphia.  I have also been falsely accused of a crimes and had it plastered all over the internet and been shamed for something I didn’t do.   I commented about this coming from a mindset of maybe knowing a thing or two about sexual harassment AND that people have the right to the presumption of innocence.  We  should not turn them over to the people with the pitchforks and torches.

I didn’t find Adria Richards’ tweeting the event a proper method of reporting.  Neither did a lot of people. PZ obviously did. That is his right. His commenters agreed with him That is their right. Chris Clarke explained that I got it “catastrophically wrong”  As I am a woman, a feminist and a retired lawyer, couldn’t this be described as “mansplaining?”  Meh, not important to me, or this post.  I like Chris a lot. I happen to disagree with him. What this post is about is the manner in which my disagreement was handled.  I come into the thread after the commenters have tangled with someone named Matthew Best. He also does not agree that Adria did everything exactly right. He faced a blistering attack of insults and his positions were grossly misrepresented.  I am not going to post all of his comments and responses.   I recognize the mistakes I made commenting though some were naivete and some were simply my style misinterpreted in a thread I wasn’t known.  This thread is closing in on two thousand comments. It may be hard to follow simply due to the massive volume of comments and the fact that I am leaving a great  many out.  If you want to wade through the miasma, feel free. I suggest you take a valium or a swig of scotch first. It’s not for delicate sensibilities. What is, or should be, apparent is the abuse that was heaped upon me and the blatant misrepresentation of my character that got casually thrown at me as easily as a used tissue gets tossed.

Let’s get to the most pertinent point of his blog post – PZ states on his blog regarding Adria Richards tweeting the picture of the two men-

This was a measured response. It wasn’t a blast of anger, it was a request that the conference enforce its code of conduct. It disrupted the meeting less than a couple of chattering smart-asses did. This is exactly what we should want people to do: polite confrontation through appropriate channels.

I stumble into the thread at comment 284. Now, I have skimmed over the comments and seen what has transpired thus far and it has been heated but not overly outrageous. first comment thumper to me david porter David Porter calls into question the need to eviscerate people and whether the abuse wrought outweighs the benefit gained. Me comment 341 JAL- to me pz-blame the woman I am now going to have some comments out of order simply so that you can see which comment the person is responding to. 353 blitzgal says Im implying she deserves it response to blitzgal Blitzgal response to my response I am utterly confused by this as I haven’t made that many comments and certainly haven’t stated any intentions. My response- Blitzgal- kreskin me-commenting answering PZ glass houses And, going the glass house path didn’t work because apparently these expert troll bashers know exactly when and where to draw the line and never slip up.  Except when they do. And then I really step in it.I defend Matthew. defend MB I immediately get called a “chill girl.” JAL- chill girl lol at chill girl I n response to my glass house question PZ comes in and says I asked the wrong question. PZ wrong question My response to PZ presuming guilt Then I get two comments (well 3 actually but the third is just trying to prove to me how terrible Matthew is) in a row slamming me. Caine and JAL And here is where I become an apologist for misogynist behavior. nerd calls me apologist and now we have Caine rewriting history and totally distorting and misrepresenting what I said about what occurred at my conference. Caine rewrites history JAL then comes in to back Caine up despite the fact that she has the facts wrong and knows nothing about me but I want the presumption of innocence to attach to people. How awful. JAL seconds Caine I then get asked if Pharyngula looks like a courtroom. Well of course not. This was an angry lynch mob. pharyngula a courtroom Enough with the screencapping- I am simply going to copy and paste.

Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls
22 March 2013 at 5:06 pm (UTC -5)

 FFS, now I’m an apologist for misogynist behavior? Are you fucking kidding? And I’m getting called a “dumbfuck

Yep, that’s what comes when you essentially keep blaming the victim. How you would have handled it is irrelevant; a non-sequitur. So, quit telling us about how you work. Or rather, don’t for the women.489

kate_waters
22 March 2013 at 5:16 pm (UTC -5)

 EllenBeth:

I really don’t think you’re in any position to tell ANYONE how to act “properly”. I am familiar with your version of “proper” and it’s fucking gross. I don’t think any woman here would want to have anything to do with any conference where you were in charge of anything, even if it were just hiring the caterer. You’re just plain ol’ icky.

JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness
22 March 2013 at 5:19 pm (UTC -5)

 #484 EllenBeth Wachs

So Nerd, do you think being abusive to me is helpful to the discussion?  You’re the one derailing the discussion to complain about how Adria reported the incident. And you clearly don’t know what the word in bold means. How dare you, especially after that triggering shit Best pulled to us that word against us when we’ve treated you fairly based on the crap you posted. Do you think misrepresenting who I am and what I stand for is appropriate? Didn’t happen. We only have your words to go on, the proof is in the pudding as they say.

kate_waters
22 March 2013 at 5:38 pm (UTC -5)

 EllenBeth:

Fuck right the fuck off you fucking fuck. Go organize a “d00dbro” friendly conference somewhere far away, would you? I’m sure there’s thousands of douchecanoes who would welcome your toxic brand of “rationality”.

I don’t even want to go on posting more of these. There’s really no point. I am looking at this thread and forgot just how many vicious, angry comments there were and I am not even close to getting through them. They continued to savage me for hours after I left the thread. I have already taken all day to write this. What was my point in doing so? I wanted to point out how easy it is to get misrepresented and misquoted and mischaracterized over minor points of disagreement. IS IT WORTH IT?? I don’t understand the feeling of glory one could get from being that abusive to another person. I got called their enemy. Why? Because I said she should not have tweeted the picture? And yes, I also came at this from the perspective of a conference organizer. You see, I can look at this from many angles, not just one.  I think the key is, can you put yourselves in her shoes AND the shoes of the men?  I did. Matthew Best did. A lot of others in the general community did. That is what was lacking from most of the commenters in that thread. They had tunnel-vision. SUPPOSE THEY WERE INNOCENT?? What if she got it wrong?  We know she didn’t, but that is irrelevant. The poignant question is, what if she had gotten it wrong? And THAT is why her tweeting this is a mistake. Just because I think so does not make me a rape- apologist, misogynistic, victim-blaming, chill girl and if you think so there is something deeply flawed in your logic. I left that thread bewildered, raw and with my head spinning. I was caught between the Scylla and Charybdis.  So, I left the internet for a week.  Well, that’s not accurate. I didn’t interact publicly on the internet.  I didn’t tweet nor facebook for the most part except to extend some apologies I felt were due.  I read history; not American history, but deeeep rifts history. My reaction to all of this is basically the same as when I left that thread, “What the actual fuck?” So back to the reason for this post.  I was planning on writing it. I didn’t know what would spur me on. As I stated earlier, it was this comment from PZ yesterday on Jason’s blog post about defamation not being dissent.

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.

PZ was very fortunate he was able to do that. But it isn’t actually his responsibility to prove his innocence. As I brought up on the Adria Richard’s thread. We work from a presumption of innocence and THAT is where I came from. I have been falsely accused myself. I wasn’t accused of rape but it was equally, if not more, horrific in the public’s perception. It came across that I was being accused of being a pedophile. How does one go about proving you haven’t made sexual noises in your own bedroom?   I have a lunatic stalker running around the internet calling me a “kid fucker”  because a rogue sheriff used his clout to publicly shame me into silence.

Yes, the slymepitters have done some terrible things. I’m pretty sure they know that and own that. Photoshopping people is not legitimate criticism. It’s just mockery and mean. Spreading false stories and misinformation, that’s damaging. I saw it happen to me within minutes by overzealous commenters.  So if they were that wrong about me, who else are they wrong about?  Who are you wrong about? I left that thread hitting the reset button pretty much on everybody. If you haven’t personally wronged me, consider yourself safe. Even if you have, I have looked at what my role might have been. Multiple people have received apologies already.

Does the sheer magnitude of the awfulness overwhelm the benefit?

Oh and there always has to be a t-shirt

IMG_0422

Edit 4/2/2013 PZ has posted a response to this blog.  I am disappointed, to say the least, that one of the commenters is “Doubling Down” and continuing to misrepresent me and my positions.

Nerd-doubles down

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Written by EllenBeth Wachs

March 31, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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we hunted the mammoth

94a

Over on PUAhate.com, a fellow named Virgil challenges the widely held manosphere notion that women start losing their appeal once they hit their early 20s. According to him, the real turning point comes at the ripe old age of 25 or so. Why? Let’s let him explain — and in the process demonstrate how to use the word “c*ntathlon” in a sentence.

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Written by EllenBeth Wachs

March 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

When they call you a Cougar…

with 5 comments

cougar

Cougar, I knew the word to mean an older woman that was interested in sex (generally with no strings attached) with men usually substantially younger.   I had looked at the word “cougar” as neutral. I didn’t view it as a good or bad thing. I thought it was a rather empowering attitude a woman could take as men have been doing this same thing with no repercussions to their reputation.

In a conversation with some friends, I learned that it is actually rather seen as quite demeaning to women. Men can look upon cougars as desperate and easy lays. “It originally referred to an undesirable older woman, one who, like the wild cat, preyed on the weak and defenseless”.  It was deemed a very sexist term. In searching for the etymology of the word I learned that it could be traced back to a Canadian  hockey team, The Vancouver Canucks, who used the term and referred to their groupies in an unflattering light.

Urban dictionary defines it as

An older woman who frequents clubs in order to score with a much younger man. The cougar can be anyone from an overly surgically altered wind tunnel victim, to an absolute sad and bloated old horn-meister, to a real hottie or milf. Cougars are gaining in popularity — particularly the true hotties — as young men find not only a sexual high, but many times a chick with her shit together.

 

So, guys, next time you start to refer to a woman as a Cougar, just don’t do that.

 

Written by EllenBeth Wachs

March 6, 2013 at 2:19 am

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Magical Harassment Fairies aka Dead Nazis

with 17 comments

Trigger Warning for blatant Godwinning

It seems all roads of the current atheist/feminist controversy lead back to Justin Vacula. He recorded a youtube video in which he made the statement that

And I really think that if you’re going to be on the internet, you’re going to be talking a big game, you’re going to be saying really nasty things about people–calling people “sexist”, calling people “misogynsist”–instead of approaching the situation in a different manner and being charitable and saying, “Well, maybe what you have to say there could have been reframed differently.”

In his video, he uses screen captures of some of my tweets but fails to give any context to them.It is a very dishonest tactic at worst, but using the principle of charity, it is a disingenuous tactic at best.

The tweet he uses was the end result of one those magical harassment fairies that appeared out of nowhere. The second tweet shown in the video was actually a REtweet of Vacula’s own tweet. Notice the MT in the tweet. That stands for modified tweet. I have never used the phrase “lolwut”  This stemmed from a dialogue with a person using the name John Brown that did appear out of nowhere to harasstweet  me that I should “stop using the term darkies” and asking me “why was I such a racist”  He neglects to show my tweet that I was illustrating a point.

ellenbeth14vaculajohnbrownrapisttweet

I find it interesting that he claims the feminists that are receiving tweets such as this are talking a “big game”  The “big game” I was talking? I actually linked to a post on the infamous slymepit that referred to black people as “darkies”

slymepittercallingpeopledarkies

For this, I was rewarded with heaps of abuse from John Brown that continue unabated and referred to, of course, as a “professional victim.”

john brownjohnbrownellenbethwachsstopattingmejohnbrownellenbethhateswomen johnbrownellenbethrenee

ellenbethcruisingthepitellenbeth25

Was John Brown the actual slymepitter that referred to people as “darkies?” Is that why he is so upset with me? Well, no, he isn’t. The slymepit constantly refers to Freethought Blogs as a hivemind. The fact is that the slymepit exhibits this behavior very clearly in this exchange about me and started a twenty plus page attack on my character with no care or reference to fact or truth.   They want to make you out to be a terrible person but when or if you try to fight back against their abuse, you get labelled a professional victim.

And then THIS harassment fairy appeared out of nowhere

andycummins

Apparently, someone holding a grudge that I blocked him on facebook thinks it’s a good idea to track me down on twitter and harasstweet me to remind me that I think he is a harasser.  What is really interesting about this particular tweet is that I would never block someone for holding a political or world view.  I would certainly never block someone for saying atheism isn’t a political movement because I agree that it isn’t. I absolutely will block someone for abusive language and that is more likely what got him the boot.  Now before you respond and say he didn’t appear out of thin air, that I had previous interaction with him, I will say yes, that is correct. My last interaction with him made it quite clear to him that I wanted nothing further to do with him, though, which he plainly acknowledges.

If these aren’t clear enough magical harassment fairies, let me provide these examples –

himmlersghost mengele

rommel

What is a feminist echo chamber? One has to wonder. You only have to look as far as Freethought Blogs to find differing viewpoints. I am aware that Greta Christina and Taslima Nasreen vary greatly in their feminist thought.

As the person behind these tweets is clearly a fan of the slymepit, will members of the slymepit please step forward to openly denounce these?

Edit- On 3/5/2013, John Brown and I reached an understanding and both apologized for what transpired. He issued a video apology which I have posted below.

Written by EllenBeth Wachs

March 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm

My Life as An Atheist Activist or “False Idols Fall” Part 1

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FireShot Screen Capture #011 - 'Atheists of Florida Official Arrested I TheLedger_com' - www_theledger_com_article_20110303_NEWS_110309893

Two years ago today, I opened my front door to see a SWAT team standing there. What was my crime? Sending public records requests to the Evangelical Sheriff on a mission from god demanding records relating to his illegal transfer of taxpayer property to eight local churches. For this egregious conduct, over a dozen sheriff’s deputies were dispatched with a crime scene van to my residence.  They came with guns drawn and a purpose other than arresting me.  It was to send a message to the impertinent atheists to mind our business. My house was searched for hours and left in shambles.  What was the basis of the search warrant? Well, I will let an old friend speak to that.

…Gow Fields, the mayor of Lakeland, as well as Ann Gibson, the legal affairs coordinator for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office should be duly ashamed of themselves. I would be remiss if I did not include Stacy Butterfield, a board member of the homeowners association in the subdivision where EllenBeth lives, and who is also the Director of Financing and Accounting for the Board of County Commissioners.1 These three clowns based the warrant for her arrest on an “impression” that she was a licensed attorney. An impression connotes that they never even bothered to ask. It is quite likely that their failure to properly investigate a situation before making an arrest was some sort of convoluted “sin first then ask forgiveness” trick.

Of course, this whole situation is all about timing. It is highly unlikely that EllenBeth was arrested just days before she and the Atheists of Florida were to enter into the disposition*2 phase of a suit being brought against the City of Lakeland for its practice of beginning their city commission meetings with sectarian prayers. Add to this the already existing animosity that was generated by the Atheists of Florida having brought a previous suit*3 against the Polk County Sheriff’s Office due to Sheriff Grady Judd giving sports equipment that had been in use at the county jail to area churches.

But wait, it gets even more inbred. Gow Fields, Lakeland’s Mayor, is married to Kay Fields, who is the Polk County Board Chairwoman.*4 In what can only be described as an infantile temper tantrum and an act of pure vindictiveness, the combined efforts of both of the Fields, Gibson, Butterfield and Grady resulted in the Florida State Attorney*5 arresting EllenBeth on a trumped up, disingenuous, completely bogus and un-indictable charge

I was not to be silenced. I made this apparent through multiple media outlets and interviews.  When this became a public relations nightmare and it became clear that many persuasive opinions were coming out against him such as the The Ledger, respected legal scholar Jonathon Turley and the local legal writer Kemp Brinson,  the sheriff upped the ante and sent his posse after me once more. In May of 2011, I again opened the door to sheriffs’ deputies. I was dragged away, thrown in the back of a car and taken straight to solitary confinement. No phone call, no rights read, Constitution be damned. It was not until I met with my attorney that I learned  the outrageous allegation being levied against me. If you can’t win on a level playing field, brand your opponent a pedophile and teach her a harsh lesson. I spent almost a week in solitary confinement without my MS medications.

What was my so-called crime? It was based upon a report that my next-door-neighbor’s child had heard some sound purported to be of a sexual nature coming from within my house some 48 days prior to my arrest.

I am going to leave out a lot of background and quite a bit of the story as it is tedious and not necessary for the purpose of this post. If you are interested in further details about the tangled web of government and church in Polk County follow link here which explains PUP or Polk under Prayer.

Image

The outrage that occurred after my first arrest couldn’t begin to compare to the noise that reverberated at the sheer ridiculousness of the second charge  instituted against me and the blatant power play in effect. The pushback was immediate and harsh. The Ledger came out with an editorial chastising the State Attorney and once again, Jonathon Turley chimed in with a snarky blog post I’ll Have What She’s Having, a reference to an  infamous line from the movie When Harry Met Sally.

At the time of my first arrest I had been asked to become president of the state Humanist organization based upon my prior activism and ability to generate excitement within the community. I offered to withdraw my name from consideration but was told that I was supported enthusiastically.  I made the same offer after the second arrest, as well, with the same result.  I  later learned that I was elected almost unanimously to the position with just one person abstaining.

Support from within the atheist community was heart-warming.  Fundraising was initiated to help with my legal expenses and petitions started on my behalf. Letters of support poured in from around the world.  Also at that time, I was serving as vice-president of Atheists of Florida and their Legal Affairs Coordinator. The board was fully supportive in defending my efforts and helping defray legal expenses and recognized the arrests were in retaliation for my church/state activism done on the organization’s behalf and at the behest.

I had known from the beginning of my activism that I wouldn’t always be well-received.  I was well-known in the community prior to these events due to my very vocal advocacy on behalf of the absolute separation of church and state. I was lead plaintiff in ground-breaking litigation against the City challenging their practice of opening every meeting with Christian prayers using an Equal Protection claim as well as the usual church/state argument. I did educational outreach about the Christmas myths. I went to speak to the school board because they moved the christian prayer prior to the start of the meeting and, by so doing,  teaching the children it is okay to flout the constitution to keep the christian privilege intact.  The president of Atheists of Florida was arrested at that meeting.  The initial newspaper account  stated,

As Bartow police dragged the president of Atheists of Florida out of the Polk County School District auditorium before Tuesday’s School Board meeting, he yelled, “Prayer has no place in government! Prayer has no place in government!”

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Winston Churchill

I was there. At no time did John yell this but this has become fact in the repetition of this event.  You don’t have to take my word for it. There is an audiotape of the whole episode.  I have learned all too often over the past  two years that truth is relative to the person and facts don’t matter when there is bias involved.

What I didn’t expect was the bitterness, push-back and hatred I would end up receiving from other atheists and self-proclaimed humanists.  I received a few snarky comments from atheists here and there telling me that I was a bad representative for the face of atheism.  It seems that if it is on the internet, even atheists will believe it to be true. The first real problem I encountered was in the form of an atheist man showing up on a Facebook thread that was promoting a petition that had been started on my behalf. He made sure to tag me in his comment which let me know that I was a vile disgusting person that belonged in jail.  Looking back, I should have seen his obsession that day, or rather over a period of three days and over seven hundred comments later. But, as they say, hindsight is twenty/twenty.

When the charges against me were dismissed, there was a huge outpouring of solidarity within the atheist movement. I had never sought “martyr” status and would gladly turn it back in but people were hailing me as a hero for the cause.  How quickly things can change.

Stay Tuned for Part Two – “The Shove off the Pedestal”

*1 Stacy Butterfield has since run for and won the office of The Clerk of Courts which oversees all Polk County court activity including all criminal and civil cases that are filed.

*2. There is no such thing as a “disposition” phase. My arrest came immediately prior to my deposition being taken in the Lakeland prayer lawsuit

*3. There was no previous suit against the sheriff for the transfer of county property. There was litigation threatened.  I was still gathering the public records thus the arrest.

*4 Kay Fields was actually Chair of the Polk County School Board

*5 It was not the “Florida state attorney.” Florida has a State Attorney General.  Each county has its own State Attorney. It was a Polk County Asst. State Attorney, Brad Copley, that approved the arrest warrant He also happens to work closely with Judd.

Written by EllenBeth Wachs

March 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

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Check with Homeland Security for the feminist threat level before you set foot in WIS

we hunted the mammoth

I’ve seen some strange and paranoid comments on Men’s Rights hate site A Voice for Men, but this recent comment may be the strangest and paranoidest I’ve ever seen. In the comments to a post outing one of the protesters at the Warren Farrell talk at the University of Toronto, a commenter called Redfield is worried that Canada has now become some sort of death trap for men. Because of all the feminism.

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Written by EllenBeth Wachs

March 3, 2013 at 1:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized