#WhiteGenocide is Utter Bullshit

rainbow_puke_hitler_by_naigora49-d31znyiOf late I’ve been wrangling with a few white supremacist loons on Twitter from the nonsense-hashtag #Whitegenocide, all thanks to my friend there @Seculawyer who seems to have been sparring with them for a while. Supposedly, according to these lunatics, we’re currently in the middle of some sort of ‘white genocide’. I mean, just take a look at their absurd website HERE.

In a moment of delicious irony they kept trying to guess my race, as a means to dismiss me based on pure racial stereotype, but couldn’t get it right. For the record, I’m Caucasian, at least as much as any mongrel Brit can claim to be anything.

Now, personally, I’m not aware of any Caucasian targeting death camps anywhere and somehow the wholesale slaughter of white people has escaped global attention in a world of satellite imagery, drone strikes and where – while challenged – western, white-dominated countries that would take exception to such mass slaughter still exist.

Oh, but that’s not the definition of ‘genocide’ that they mean. Never mind that the OED confirms that genocide is:

“The deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.”

No, they use a fallacy of redefinition, transparently using ‘genocide’ to yank on people’s emotions and fears, and instead what they mean is a legalistic definition, found in one of their ‘memes’, here:

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As I say, the reason for doing this is transparent and obvious. They’re cashing in on the emotional appear and fearmongering effect of the word ‘genocide’ and then using this as a backtrack from that obvious hyperbole, despite it no longer meaning actual genocide.

Still, let’s play along.

Even if we go along with their shenanigans, none of this is happening either. All of these points are subsidiary to the destruction of a nation or ethnicity.

  • Is there any targeted killing of white people that would destroy them? No.
  • Is there any targeted bodily or mental harm that would destroy them? No.
  • Is anyone inflicting on white people conditions (famine, lack of medical care for example) that would destroy them? No.
  • Is anyone deliberately sterilising or separating white men and women, forcing abortions on whites only? No.
  • Is anyone taking away white children and giving them to people of other ethnicities to eradicate ‘whiteness’? No.

The one place you might have a case in the modern world might be the current despotism in Zimbabwe and the ethnic cleansing – not genocide – of white farmers there. Even then, this is more a result of propaganda and blaming, stirring up the mob, than explicit policy. It’s still bad and doesn’t get enough international attention, but genocide it ain’t.

So what does their ridiculous site offer up as examples of ‘white genocide’?

Well you can go and look for yourself, but this is where it all gets a bit more complicated and interesting.

While nothing they show is indicative of ‘white genocide’, much of it does come down to levels of hypocrisy over racism going on in the world and provocative and nonsensical statements around race and other issues of inequality. The febrile atmosphere around racial issues – most especially in the US – is feeding dangerously into these people’s delusions and their sense of being persecuted and wronged.

There is racism against whites, albeit not that powerful or widespread, and every time someone (like Bahar Mustapha) claims that they ‘can’t be racist against white people’ it fuels the paranoia of these nutters.

Every time special consideration is given to Islam within the school or legal systems, these idiots see justification for their racism (never mind that Islam isn’t a race).

When ‘diversity quotas’ and positive discrimination, both of which are indeed horribly racist, are excused or gain traction, genuine white supremacists feel validated.

It doesn’t matter that these people are fringe loons, they’ve reached a sort of parasitic alliance with their counterpart lunatics on the other side. When a social justice warrior does something insane related to race, genuine white supremacists get validation and feel vindicated. When white supremacists say or do something equally insane on their side, the SJW element can point at them as ‘part of the problem’ and to justify their own extremism.

It’s an arms race of lunacy and it’s no good for anyone. It also serves as a great example of why identity politics creates huge problems in a way genuine egalitarianism and secular, fair culture does not.

There’s likely more genetic difference between me and another Caucasian than there is between me and a member of another race on the basis of race, racial differences are minuscule and insignificant. It only has the power to create divisions where you regard it as important, and that is the dangerous area in white neo-nazi lunatics and Social Justice Warriors meet.

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The Trouble With Vegans

dinocard4Vegans and vegetarians will tell you all kinds of nonsense to try and convince you that their way is not only the best way, but the only way. The arguments can take many forms from ethical and environmental to health and even some rather esoteric spiritual ones – which we obviously scorn on this blog.

I was given a link to a supposed 101 Reasons to Go Vegetarian and, frankly, a lot of them are a whole load of crap. So here comes the skepticism.

Before the skepticism though, it’s worth noting a few things that are true. Raising meat does take a lot of resources and we do eat too much of it. Animals are often raised in horrible conditions. These things – and others – all happen for reasons though. Some of them good, some of them pragmatic, some of them purely commercial.

So, on with the reasons…

01. Every year in the UK we feed our livestock enough food to feed 250,000,000 people while in the world 30,000,000 people die of starvation.
Animals eat things we don’t – like grass. It’s simplistic and idiotic to think that somehow simply because we stopped raising animals (which would lead to them all being killed off anyway) that food distribution issues would change. The reason that people are starving is a combination of cost and distribution – not meat. We make enough food for everyone already – more than enough.

02. 20 vegetarians can live off the land required by one meat eater.
If you can call it living, but seriously, that depends on the land. We can use land for raising livestock that we can’t use for raising crops. This is especially true of sheep and goats. The sea, also, isn’t too great for raising plant crops. There’s also the fact that plants are seasonal while animal flesh can be harvested at any time of year as is needed. This is also forgetting crop rotation and leaving the land fallow from time to time.

03. Every 3 seconds a child dies of starvation somewhere in the world
See 1.

04. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 10% it would free 12,000,000 tons of grain—enough to feed 60,000,000 people (the population of Great Britain).
05. If all Americans became vegetarian, it would free enough grain to feed 600,000,000 people (the population of India).
See 1.

06. Intensification in animal farming has displaced 1,000,000’s of people from their traditional lands—eg. indigenous people in south & central america, native americans in north america & crofters in Great Britain — this is continuing today.
This is an argument against inhumane business practices and large scale agricultural corporation, not against raising meet. Indigenous people raised animals themselves.

07. People displaced from their lands into cities succumb to dietary deficiency, diseases, parasites & opportunistic diseases
This has nothing to do with vegetarianism, but displacement of populations and lack of efficiency in food distribution.

08. In third world countries 1 in 10 babies die before their first birthday.
This has nothing to do with vegetarianism. Interestingly though, malnutrition and developmental disorders in very young children have been lessened by as little as a spoonful of meat every day.

09. The UK imports £46,000,000 worth of grain from third world countries to feed our livestock.
See 1.

10. Due to overgrazing 850,000,000 people live on land threatened by desertification & over 230,000,000 already live on land so severely desertified that they are unable to sustain their existence & face imminent starvation.
Overfarming land will do the same thing. Properly managed, the presence of animals will fertilise soil. Sometimes in crop rotation animals are allowed to graze when the field is not being otherwise used for just this reason.

11. 1,000,000,000 people in the west gorging on meat & dairy leave 1,000,000,000 to waste away & 3,500,000,000 teeter on the brink.
See 1.

12. If they continue to clear American forests to raise cattle at the present rate, in 50 years there will be none left.
Mismanagement isn’t an argument for vegetarianism.

13. 1 acre yields 165 lbs of beef or 20,000 lbs of potatoes.
It’s just not that simple. See earlier comments about crop rotation, spoilage etc. Also farming plant crops takes more in the way of pesticides, fertiliser and agricultural equipment than people think. It’s not as clean as people like to think. You also get nutrients from meat you can’t get from veg – and vice versa.

14. 8/10 of cultivated land in the UK is used to grow food for animals (14,732,000 hectares).
Still not an argument for vegetarianism.

15. It takes 16lbs of high protein soya to produce 1 lb of beef.
This is not an argument for vegetarianism.

16. Since 1945 in the UK we have lost 95% of flower meadows, 50% of ancient woodlands, 40% of heathlands, 50% of wet lands & 224,000 km of hedgerows all due to animal farming.
Not just animal farming. Much of our landscape since medieval deforestation has been shaped by animal grazing. Ironically, that includes heath and meadows. Animal fields used to be bounded by hedgerows as well, that’s nothing to do with animal farming.

17. Pressure on land due to meat farming leads to soil erosion 6billion tons/year in the USA.
See previous comments about underestimating the impact of plant farming.

18. If everyone went vegetarian up to 90% of land used for animal farming could be taken out of production & used to replant woodlands, leisure activities etc.
Again, animals can be raised on land unsuitable for farming. We’d be creating more pressure for crops and it’s extremely unlikely that this land would be allowed to revert to wilderness in any case. Much more likely it would be used for housing and development especially as its currently in private hands.

19. 25% of Central america’s forests have been destroyed for cattle grazing since 1960.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

20. Between 1966-1983 38% of the Amazon rain forest was destroyed for cattle grazing.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

21. 90% of cattle ranches established on cleared forest land go bankrupt in less than 8 years as the land becomes barren due to nutrient loss & overgrazing.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

22. Overgrazing by cattle is destroying the land & increasing desertification, nearly 430 million acres in the USA alone has suffered a 25-50% reduction in yield since first grazed.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

23. An inch of topsoil takes 200-1000 years to develop—yet in the USA they have lost around 1/3 of their prime topsoil in 200 years (around 7 inches) due to animal farming.
And other forms of farming, cash crops etc. Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

24. Land will be lost due to rises in sea level due to global warming due to animal farming.
Attaching global warming to animal farming is… interesting. Agriculture does contribute, but industrialisation is the big problem. Ironically, a hotter, drier future will better suit raising animals than crops. Petrochemicals and derivatives used to raise crops contribute a huge amount to global warming. We can do without them, but organic farming is 1/3rd less efficient.

25. The destruction of the rainforest by cattle farmers is destroying the lungs of the planet & reducing the worlds capacity to replenish our oxygen supply.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

26. The 1,300,000,000 cattle in the world emit 60,000,000 tons of methane per year (methane is a greenhouse gas & leads to global warming).
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

27. Burning of forests, grasslands & agricultural waste associated with animal farming releases 50-100,000,000 tons of methane per year.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

28. Combining these figures, 25% of methane emissions are due to animal farming (not including the billions of sheep, pigs & poultry so the real figure is much higher).
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

29. Fertilizer used to grow crops to feed to animals releases nitrous oxide — thought to account for 6% of the greenhouse effect.
And the same with food crops. Which you would propose to increase.

30. Fertilizer, weedkiller & pesticides sprayed on crops enter the atmosphere creating a noxious carcinogenic cocktail.
This is an argument against vegetable crops.

31. CFCs are released into the air from refrigeration units used to store decomposing flesh (meat), milk & butter—CFCs are destroy the ozone layer.
CFCs have been eliminated in some countries and are scheduled to be phased out virtually completely by 2020. We took action on CFCs far more effectively than we did on global warming.

32. Ammonia from animal urine also pollutes the atmosphere.
Ammonia’s also a great fertiliser. Good luck feeding the world without fertiliser.

33. CO2 is released by burning oil & petrol in lorries, ships, abattoirs, dairies, factories etc. associated with meat & dairy production.
And with vegetable farming.

34. Emissions from large chemical plants which produce fertilizer, weedkiller & other agricultural chemicals are also poisoning our air.
And these are used in vegetable farming.

35. 25 gallons of water to produce 1lb of wheat & 2500 gallons to produce 1lb of meat.
In neither case is it ‘used’, but rather cycled. Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

36. UK farm animals produce 200,000,000 tonnes of slurry (liquid excrement) every year, the majority of which ends up in our rivers.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism. Slurry is a great potential energy source and source of fertiliser. Which you need for growing crops.

37. Bloody waste water from abattoirs ends up in our rivers.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

38. In the USA every second humans produce 12,000 lbs of effluent while farmed animals produce 250,000 lbs.
See fertiliser and fuel above.

39. Nitrates & pesticides used on crops grown to feed livestock end up in our rivers.
And the same thing happens when they’re used on crops to feed humans.

40. Meat & dairy farming uses 70 litres of water per day per animal in the UK or 159,250,000,000 litres per year in total.
Cycles water, doesn’t use it.

41. The water used to produce 10 lbs of steak is equivalent to the average consumption of water for an entire household for an entire year.
Cycled.

42. Depletion of groundwater reserves to grow crops for animals & to supply abattoirs will lead to greater water shortages.
Water is also needed for food crops.

43. Aquifers (stores of underground water) in the San Joaquin valley in the USA are being drained at the rate of 500,000,000,000 gallons/year to produce meat.
Food crops still need water too.

44. 18% of all agricultural land in the world is irrigated & as global warming increases (partly due to animal farming) it will cost $200,000,000 to keep these systems going.
And animals can be raised on non-arable land.

45. The water used to produce a 1000 lb beef steer is enough to float a Destroyer battleship.
Cycled.

46. The liquid waste from the various parts of the meat & dairy industry flow into the rivers & from there into the seas polluting them & encouraging huge algal blooms to grow .
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism. Algae is a potential food and fuel source.

47. To produce 1 calorie of energy from meat takes 60 calories of petrol, whereas growing grains & legumes to directly feed people produces 20 calories for each calorie of fuel used ( thats 1200 times more efficient).
As covered earlier, producing and shipping crops is not as efficient as you think.

48. Meat & dairy farming uses billions of gallons of oil to run tractors, fuel ships & lorries (to move animal feed & animals), pump billions of gallons of water to irrigate fields & run slaughterhouses, power refrigeration units to prevent the corpses from decomposing & to power sewage plants to clean up some of the pollution produced.
So do food crops.

49. Cattle convert only 6% of their energy intake (mainly grains & soya) into flesh, the remaining 94% is wasted as heat, movement (which is why they keep many animals in very close confinement), hair, bones, faeces etc.
These bald statistics are not an argument one way or the other and fail to take in the whole argument.

50. 1lb of beef takes 1 gallon of petrol to produce.
Stop taking your cattle drag racing.

51. A family of four eating beef for a year uses enough petrol to run a car for 6 months (obviously depending on how far you drive!).
So many of these are rephrasings of the same argument I think the writer must have been short of the 101.

52. If the full ecological cost of meat was passed onto the consumer the price would be quadrupled (at least).
This would be true of most foods.

53. The EC spends o100,000,000’s to subsidise animal production resulting in lakes of unwanted milk & mountains of unwanted meat & butter. This money could be better spent encouraging organic fruit, vegetable & grain production.
Then we’d have mountains of those instead, which we already do anyway. Subsidies and overproduction are a different problem. Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

54. In the USA in 1979 145,000,000 tons of crops were fed to cattle resulting in only 21million tons of animal bodies the cost of the wasted crops was $20,000,000,000.
Wasted? What were the cattle worth?

55. Between 1950 & 1985 grain production in Europe & the USA increased massively but 2/3 was fed to animals.
And nobody in those countries is starving. Redistribution is a separate issue.

56. 70% of all grain is fed to animals.
And 99.9% of grass (excluding wheatgrass) is fed to animals rather than humans. So what?

57. Eating vast quantities of animal flesh, eggs, milk & butter is a luxury that most of the planet can not afford.
Economically speaking this would be an argument for increasing supply to meat demand. It also fails to note that many poor families will raise pigs on waste or chickens that can scratch around on non-arable land for important protein and micronutrients.

58. Fishing with drift (and other modern) nets weakens & destroys ecosystems by indiscriminately killing billions of sea creatures & disrupting the sea bed.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

59. Fishermen’s nets kill 10 times as many other animals as the fish they are hoping to catch.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

60. Fish caught in nets die an agonising slow death of suffocation.
It’s unclear how fish – and other ‘lower’ organisms experience pain. Conversely, drowning or suffocation is meant to be one of the more pleasant ways to go in  humans.

61. Each year 15,000,000,000 land animals are slaughtered for food & an unknown but much larger number of sea creatures (including 1000’s of dolphins caught accidentally)
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

62. Chickens are crammed into battery cages with upto 3 other birds, they are unable to even spread their wings & many can not even stand up
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism. It is unfortunate and horrible but efficiency and cost are controlled by factory farming conditions.

63. Unwanted male chicks (because they can’t lay eggs) are gassed or pulped while their sisters go to the battery sheds
See above.

64. Chicks are debeaked without anaesthetic to prevent them injuring each other in the unnaturally confined conditions they are kept in—this is equivalent to having your fingernails pulled out without anaesthetic
See above.

65. Modern farming methods using growth hormones & artificial lighting mean that many chickens out grow their bones, resulting in fractured & broken legs
See above.

66. Sows are kept tethered in stalls 1.3 x 1 metre on concrete or slatted floors—they can not even turn around
See above.

67. Poultry raised for meat are kept in windowless broiler sheds, with around 20-30,000 in each shed, they live in an area of 10-20 cm square—fighting due to overcrowding is common & like battery hens they commonly suffer from supperating bed sores
These are all the same argument.

68. Broilersheds are artificially lit 23 hours a day to produce rapid growth
This too.

69. Animals travel between farms & to slaughter in overcrowded transporters with no food or water—resulting in stress, injuries & deaths—legal requirements are widely ignored
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

70. 95% of poultry suffer injuries before being killed & 30% suffer broken bones.
Many of these stats seem to come from dubious sources, even so, these are the demands of a burgeoning ~8billion world population.

71. Problems with stunning practices mean that many animals have their throats slit while still conscious (around 6% of cattle or 200,000 per year) & are then dipped in tanks of scalding water (to loosen feathers, bristles etc.) again while fully conscious.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

72. 4000 animals die spurting their blood out every minute in a British slaughterhouse.
This is not an argument.

73. Calf leather comes from animals killed at just 2 weeks old.
So, it’s not wasted. Good.

74. Cows were fed on the ground up remains of other cows & sheep—the result is thought to be BSE (mad cow disease) in the USA cattle are fed partly on recycled plastic pellets.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

75. Cows only give milk for 10 months after they have a calf—so they are routinely artificially inseminated (ie. mechanically raped) to keep them pregnant & milking—their calves are taken away (usually at 12 hours old) for meat or export to veal crates.
‘Mechanically raped’ shoots any credibility this list might have had in the head. Veal is an issue, but one with a few practical solutions (pink veal etc).

76. Cows would naturally live upto 20 years but are slaughtered after 5-7 years when their milk production begins to fall.
End milk farming and they’d ALL be killed. Its economics and its nasty but… 8 billion.

77. In the UK animals are killed by first being stunned with electricity or a captive bolt gun (ie. a bolt is fired into their heads) before having their throats slit & being plunged into boiling water—all this happens on a production line with the animals being hung upside down from a moving conveyor belt—this is factory farming.
And it’s more humane than halal and other forms of similar slaughtering. Again, this isn’t really an argument for vegetarianism, it’s a description.

78. “Animals are those unfortunate slaves & victims of the most brutal part of mankind”—John Stewart Mill (philosopher).
Slaves? Hyperbole. As a utilitarian Mill would almost certainly accept the need to raise animals for food but wish to limit the suffering.

79. Veal calves are confined in stalls in the dark, unable to move & are fed on pigs blood, chocolate & dried milk (we are drinking the rich fresh milk of their mothers).
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

80. Cows naturally produce 5 litres of milk per day for their calves—under the intensified systems of modern farming they produce 25-40 litres per day — resulting in swollen & inflamed udders—at this rate they are soon worn out.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

81. Large areas of land are under monoculture to grow crops to feed to animals—these areas are wildlife deserts supporting fewer & fewer species.
Food crops are also grown in monocultures.

82. Vegetarians have a 20% lower rate of mortality from all causes (ie. they live longer & don’t get sick as often).
Comparing vegetarians to the general public is not a valid comparison. Anyone who takes a particular interest in their diet – as most don’t – will be healthier than the average. An omnivorous diet is the most natural and healthiest for humans with everything in moderation. Veganism in particular is actively dangerous for pre-adolescents and can cause developmental problems – especially in the nervous system. The kinds of supplements used to compensate for lacks in vegan diets require a chemical industry with a lot of wastage and pollution. They’re also much less efficient at delivering nutrients than meat.

83. Meat is full of traces of antibiotics, hormones, toxins produced by stress & pesticide residues that become concentrated from all the crops they have eaten.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

84. Fish contain heavy metals & other pollutants -many of which originated on farms.
Argument against mismanagement and greed is not an argument for vegetarianism.

85. The world health organisation recommends a diet low in saturated fat, sugar, salt & with plenty of fibre—exactly what you get on a vegan/vegetarian diet.
They don’t recommend cutting out meat.

86. Farmed animals contain upto 50% saturated fat in their bodies.
Not all saturated fat is bad and we need some.

87. Vegetarians have 24% reduced risk of getting heart disease & Vegans a 57% reduction (heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK accounting for 50% of deaths).
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

88. Obesity is rare in vegetarians, obesity is related to many diseases.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

89. Vegans & vegetarians have lower blood pressure & cholesterol levels—high levels are associated with heart disease, strokes & kidney failure.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

90. Vegetarians have a 50% reduced risk of dying of diabetes.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

91. Vegetarians have a 40% reduced level of cancer than the general population thought to be because they have a higher intake of vitamins A,C & E.
See previous comment about bad comparisons. It is irresponsible to suggest that vitamins are a magical cancer cure.

92. Vegetarians have a reduced risk of developing gall & kidney stones.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

93. 80% of food poisoning is due to infected meat (faeces, bacteria etc.) after all meat is decomposing flesh—most of the rest is due to salmonella in eggs.
You can also get food poisoning from vegetables. Not just flesh. ‘Decomposing flesh’ is a sensationalist way to talk about meat. Regardless, we’re evolved to eat it.

94. Osteoporosis due to calcium loss from bones is mainly due to the sulphur content in meat & casein protein in milk that cause calcium to be lost in the urine—the countries with the highest meat & dairy consumption are those with the highest levels of brittle bones.
See previous comment about bad comparisons. Milk does not drain calcium from your bones and it’s one of the most efficient ways to ingest milk. This is dangerous disinfo.

95. 50% of people do not have the enzyme to digest milk properly & milk allergy is related to asthma & eczema.
Those of us who do, evolved it as a survival strategy. Allergies of all kinds are related to asthma and eczema. Mould spores used to trigger mine.

96. Meat eaters have double the rate of Alzheimers disease as Vegans & Vegetarians—some people also think that Parkinsons disease is also linked to meat eating.
Due to BSE, which is an argument against mismanagement and greed, not an argument for vegetarianism.

97. Egg yolk is a dense concentration of saturated fat & the white is high in albumin protein associated with leaching calcium into your urine. Butter is 80% saturated fat, cream is 40% saturated fat & cheese is 25-40% saturated fat.
You need some and some forms are not as unhealthy as we were lead to believe. Eggs are a great source of protein and chickens can be raised on very little.

98. Meat eaters are two and a half times more likely to get bowel cancer than Vegetarians.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

99. The cling film used to wrap meat in supermarkets & butchers contains chemicals linked to falling sperm counts in men.
Which is why they’ve been phased out. A larger source appears to be the contraceptive pill in women – amongst others.

100. Chinese people (living mainly on a vegetarian diet) consume 20% more calories than Americans but Americans are 20% fatter.
See previous comment about bad comparisons.

101. Of 2,100,000 deaths in the USA in 1987, 1,500,000 were related to diet (ie. meat & dairy).
See previous comment about bad comparisons. ‘Diet’ is not equal to ‘meat and dairy’.

Some of the propaganda here is obvious, where the mask slips. We do need to reduce meat intake and increase vegetable intake. We do need to farm more responsibly and control pollution, but we also need to feed the entire world and if you think you can do that by going vegetarian, you’re very much mistaken. To be completely healthy humans – omnivores with sharp teeth, mid length intestines and a need for fats, protein and micronutrients – we need to eat some meat. Just less.

Skeptical About Misogyny

2010-02-28-sexist-pig

Context is everything.

This Slate article from last year by Rebecca Watson is doing the rounds again and is being treated as gospel by some people. The issues and problems raised in and by the article are relevant to various things going on at the moment in various spheres I’m involved in. Some of the tactics are reminiscent of the rhetoric around the government porn ban, similar groups of radical feminists and other disruptive influences are trying to use the same sort of arguments and tactics in nerd/geek/gaming culture and this is worrisome.

I’ve been horribly mean about Watson in the past, not because she’s a woman but because she seems to me to be a dishonest opportunist. Still, I’ll try and keep this relatively level-headed and civil to make the necessary points.

So using quotes from the article as prompts…

When I first started finding a large audience on my skepticism website, on my podcast, and on YouTube, I wasn’t terribly bothered by the occasional rape threat, sexist slur, or insult about my looks. There was something downright amusing about a creationist calling me a cunt while praying that I’d find the love of Jesus. The threats were coming from outside of my community. Outside of my safe space.

At this point in Watson’s career she was properly focussed on skepticism and atheism. These were the things she presented and these were the things that were attacked. Some of it by trolls, some of it by people who genuinely opposed her – probably from the religious and woo communities. We all get this, we skeptics, the death threats, the sexual threats, the rape threats. We get told we’re going to burn in hell forever, or that people will beat us up. Muslims threaten to behead us. It’s not like this is limited to skeptics either. Post an opinion, any opinion, on a political forum and see the abuse you get. Identify yourself as gay, bisexual, transexual, black, Asian, whatever and someone is going to use that to try and attack you. Basically, the rule is, if you say something somewhere on the internet someone is going to take loud and obnoxious issue with it. Show a weakness, someone is going to troll you.

It wasn’t until I started talking about feminism to skeptics that I realized I didn’t have a safe space.

Why would a safe space to be a skeptic and atheist necessarily be a safe space to talk about feminism? Why would someone like Watson think that skepticism wouldn’t also be extended to her ideological beliefs about gender? I wouldn’t expect a knitting circle to necessarily share my views about free expression when it comes to pornography so why would someone expect a skeptic space to be automatically welcoming and accepting to feminism? Why would Watson think that her ideological faith wouldn’t be examined by skeptics in the same way that religion, political extremism or homeopathy is?

I felt we were doing important work: making a better, more rational world and protecting people from being taken advantage of. At conventions, skeptic speakers and the audience were mostly male, but I figured that was something we could balance out with a bit of hard work and good PR.

There’s a whole bunch of factors as to why there’s a fairly big gender gap but this is at a societal level more than at a conference or group level. Still, despite that The Amazing Meeting had gotten up to a creditable 40% female attendance rate off their own backs. The first sentence is a little ironic, since that is how many of Watson’s dissenters feel about her and those like her, like Atheism+ etc. We feel we’re trying to make a better, more rational world and protect people from being exploited – by the ideas Watson et al are promoting and the scaremongering they’re engaged in. The irony is that Watson et al screwed up what had been vast improvements in gender parity, 180 degrees from what she claimed to want.

Then women started telling me stories about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough to never return. At first, I wasn’t able to fully understand their feelings as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. 

As a skeptic, she should know that claims are not evidence. There’s no reporting of these alleged incidents, no evidence, so how can we accept them as true? If it was so bad why haven’t there been any significant reports of such since and why was there only one at one TAM and none at the following two TAMs? (Or since, IIRC). How would this compare with the general community outside conferences?

Why would you expect anyone, let alone skeptics, to take action on nothing but hearsay and rumour?

I started checking out the social media profiles of the people sending me these messages, and learned that they were often adults who were active in the skeptic and atheist communities. They were reading the same blogs as I was and attending the same events. These were “my people,” and they were the worst.

Individuals are not the community, Youtube is a trolltastic pit of scum and these claims are also not substantiated. We’re supposed to simply nod our heads and agree and if you don’t, apparently you’re excusing and encouraging abuse. ‘With us or against us’ (false dilemma).

Thinking the solution was to educate the community, I started giving talks about the areas where feminism and skepticism overlap. I encouraged audiences to get involved with issues like ending FGM, fighting the anti-woman pseudoscience of the religious right, and aiding those branded as “witches” in rural African villages.

And these are, indeed, areas of overlap and things that skeptics rightly oppose but the issue for skeptics is not that these are anti-woman, but that they are bullshit. That it’s anti-woman bullshit is just a nice bonus reason to fight it. However, that doesn’t mean feminism is free of bullshit or immune to skepticism just because it shares some goals and causes.

As I got to the elevator, a man who I had not yet spoken with directly broke away from the group and joined me. As the doors closed, he said to me, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting. Would you like to come back to my hotel room for coffee?” I politely declined and got off the elevator when it hit my floor.

Oh noes.

Unsurprisingly, this met with a collective eyeroll by the majority of the atheist community as being utterly inconsequential. No-one is disputing that it may have made Watson feel uncomfortable, rather they are disputing that it was anything even approaching an actual problem. The collective response was largely ‘so what?’ and thus the ‘wars’ started. Watson etc got more entrenched and ended up showing what has been seen as their ‘true colours’ in wanting to clamp down on social interactions, ‘sanitise’ debates, not be questioned, not be asked for evidence and it all seemed rather too familiar to people who are used to arguing with the religious faithful.

It began to look very much like dogma, irrationality and faith.

Question it? You’re a misogynist. Dawkins weighed in and while I don’t agree that X being worse than Y makes Y acceptable, when Y is nothing at all the man has a point. The response? Racism ‘What do you know, you’re white?’ Sexism ‘What do you know, you’re male?’ Ageism ‘What do you know, you’re old?’ slurs, hatred and the kind of thing Watson herself has described as being terrible when it happens to her and par for the course from the faithful.

It exposed a certain wing of skepticism that was not at all skeptical towards radical feminist beliefs and had no problem being prejudiced towards the rest of ‘their’ community. Understandably, this pissed a lot of people off and the well publicised drama drew trolls like flies to a particularly delicious cowpat.

Dawkins’ seal of approval only encouraged the haters. My YouTube page and many of my videos were flooded with rape “jokes,” threats, objectifying insults, and slurs. A few individuals sent me hundreds of messages, promising to never leave me alone. My Wikipedia page was vandalized. Graphic photos of dead bodies were posted to my Facebook page.

Why is Watson presuming this is ‘her community’ rather than ‘sick individuals’ or trolls? She made herself a target, identified the things that would wind her up and the trolls struck. Having been attacked by trolls before she should know better. I’ve seen many of the anonymous threats etc myself, I was active at the time. They’re so obviously trolling (at least the vast majority of them) I can’t see how anyone would think otherwise. The more articulate objections have been ignored or had mud flung at them, rather than being engaged with, which also fuelled frustration. When a demand for evidence is treated as a personal attack by someone claiming to be a skeptic, something has gone very wrong.

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Whatever you think about this Tweet, it’s fairly obviously a joke (albeit in poor taste) but then the skeptic/atheist community often uses mocking, jokes and disrespect as a tool in debate and argumentation. Watson’s position equating being asked for coffee to harassment or abuse was ripe for satire, not all of it well executed.

Given that Watson’s reaction to the ‘Elevator incident’ had been so utterly disproportionate to what actually happened, maybe what followed was predictable.

The organizers of the conference, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF)—the organization started by the person who first introduced me to skepticism—allowed the man to attend the conference and did nothing to reassure me. I attended anyway and never went anywhere alone. This past year I finally stopped attending TAM when the organizers blamed me and other harassed women in our community for driving women away by talking about our harassment.

To a (bad) jokey tweet that’s another overreaction and, given Watson’s history with the elevator, a certain amount of ‘She’s crying wolf’ seems perfectly understandable. Why would they bar someone over a bad joke? Since there were already mechanisms in place to deal with problems at the meeting why would they feel a need to reinforce or change them (especially since there hadn’t been any harassment reports)? Other than economic issues the only identifiable reason there might be less women from one conference to the next is the scaremongering Watson et al have engaged in. This annoyed and angered organisers because it worked against all they had been managing to do to bring more women to conference, something sabotaged – ironically – by ‘feminists’.

Other skeptical organizations have been more compassionate. Center for Inquiry (the umbrella organization for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), American Atheists, and several humanist organizations have enacted anti-harassment policies for their conferences. But still, there are leaders in the skepticism community who refuse to accept that there is a problem, and those who play the “both sides are wrong” game, insinuating that “misogynist” is just as bad an insult as “cunt.”

I’d argue it’s worse. Admittedly I’m British and we use fucking swearing like fucking punctuation but still. One is simply an obscenity, the other is a direct attack on someone’s conduct, being and character. An unfounded accusation of misogyny (and frankly, that word gets tossed around far too liberally) is far worse than calling someone a cock or a cunt.

Anti-harassment policies are a problem because:
a) They’re unnecessary – the law of the land and a conference’s reserved right to toss people out for any reason already cover the issue.
b) They’re overreaching – anti-harassment policies have become trojan censorship policies, they’re trying to police normal, healthy, of age human behaviour and they’re trying to be extended beyond the reach of the conference itself.
c) They’re ripe for abuse, especially in the context of RadFem ideas about burden of proof and presumption of guilt.

Thunderf00t on Youtube tackles some of these issues head on.

Of course, being against these unnecessary and potentially dangerous harassment policies has been mischaracterised as being pro-harassment, something that’s now happening in tech and geek communities. One can be both against genuine acts of harassment, and against dangerously overreaching harassment policies at the same time.

Meanwhile, other skeptical women are being bullied out of the spotlight and even out of their homes. My fellow writer on Skepchick, Amy Davis Roth, moved after her home address was posted on a forum dedicated to hating feminist skeptics. In September, blogger Greta Christina wrote that “when I open my mouth to talk about anything more controversial than Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster recipes or Six More Atheists Who Are Totally Awesome, I can expect a barrage of hatred, abuse, humiliation, death threats, rape threats, and more.” And Jen McCreight stopped blogging and accepting speaking engagements altogether. “I wake up every morning to abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I’m a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt (just to name a few),” she wrote. “I just can’t take it anymore.”

I’m not a participant at the Slymepit but I know people who are and it’s about far more than ‘hating on feminists’. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander and the community as a whole is ruthless with bad ideas, nonsense ideology and faith beliefs. RadFem ideas are no exception and nor should they be. Demanding they be treated with some level of extra respect is not so far removed from anti-blasphemy rules.

I’m not completely au fait with the accusations of ‘Doxing’ but there’s been plenty of that on all sides.

Trolls are going to troll and there’s little we can do about it while still maintaining a free internet. Presuming these threats and slurs are meaningful or anything more than simple trolling is disingenuous. Of course, it supports their contentions to take the trolls seriously, so they’re not actually motivated to identify incidences of trolling.

I know that this article will only rile up the sexist skeptics. I’ll hear about how I’m a slut who deserves whatever I get, about how I’m a liar who made everything up, about how I’ve overreacted, and about how I should just ignore the trolls and they’ll go away. I’ve written this article anyway, because I strongly believe that the goals of skeptics are good ones, like strengthening science education, protecting consumers, and deepening our knowledge of human psychology. Those goals will never be met if we continue to fester as a middling subculture that not only ignores social issues but is actively antagonistic toward progressive thought.

Kafkatrap. If this riles you up, you must be sexist. Oh, it couldn’t possibly be that you disagree or find things to object to. No, it must just be that you’re sexist.

Yes Rebecca, you are going to be trolled – and I’m sure you were. We all are, pretty much constantly, if we have any profile and we speak up about anything. This is not a special plight of women. It’s damn near universal on the internet. Women get it worse – in some quarters – simply because being a woman is a big red flag that ragging on you about it and using sexist insults is very likely to get a reaction.

Watson did overreact.

Yes, the best way to deal with trolls is indeed to ignore them. Take them seriously, write articles like this, you just feed them and you get more and worse.

Atheism and skepticism is concerned with atheism and skepticism. That sometimes crosses over with other goals but the more extra goals and beliefs you include the more you whittle down that community and make it less effective. It’s not ‘progressive thought’ or feminism per se that the wider skeptic community is hostile to, it’s the same things it has always been hostile to. Fallacious reasoning, poor research, lack of evidence and faith beliefs.

For some reason, some people, take that as an attack

I Knew the Discovery Channel Shooter

james-lee-and-signI’ve always been worried by crazies and fanatics. What really cemented for me that we should oppose and speak up against these kinds of ideas was my experience with James Lee, known as the Discovery Channel Shooter (even though he didn’t shoot anyone).

James was very active on tribe.net as was I for some time, some years ago. Primarily I was involved in the political and skeptical tribes but despite the presence of people like me, tribe.net was always pretty overrun with conspiracy theorists, religious nutters and other people deeply entrenched in ‘woo’.

James didn’t particularly stand out from the other crazies at the time but, looking back, I can see some warning signs that separated him from the other kooks and nutballs on the site. Things that might help others differentiate the genuinely dangerous or at-risk from the trolls, Poes and harmless crazies.

I often wish I’d put more effort into getting through to him, into debunking the nonsense he and others spread there. I see it now, still, all across social media and bullshit spreads much faster than truth or sober thinking. It’s made me treat so many different peculiarities and crazy ideas much more seriously – at least in terms of the harm they can do.

Here’s what – from memory – separated James from the others:

  1. James’ obsession was singular. While his concerns were environmentalist and extreme the object of his obsession was the Discovery Channel. This made little sense to anyone who talked to him. They weren’t ‘evil’ in his mindset, the problem that he had was that they weren’t doing enough to tackle and promote environmental concerns. He became utterly fixated on them to the exclusion of all others.
  2. James took his actions into ‘real life’. James wasn’t just a ranting voice on the internet. He tried to organise other people and got more desperate when nobody really followed his lead – despite having his believers and enablers on tribe.net and elsewhere. He picketed their building, he made the transition from shouting and ranting online (everywhere he could) to ‘doing something’.
  3. James wouldn’t engage. Anything beyond his obsession didn’t seem to exist for him. We would ignore feedback that went beyond the bounds of his beef with Discovery Channel and would angrily and emotionally react to anyone not in agreement with him on that singular focus. He did, however, pay attention to positive feedback which he did get from other crazy – if less crazy – people and peacemakers.

I don’t think we can afford to ignore or tease people like this online. I think they must be confronted with dissenting views and, if necessary, reported and dealt with legally or psychologically as happened with Dave Mabus. Their obsessions and peculiarities are amusing only so long as they don’t tip over the edge and encouraging or enabling them can do just that.

There aren’t ‘two sides’ of equal worth to every story and as skeptics we need to publicly oppose and debunk everything from homeopathy and anti-vax nonsense to religion and 9/11 conspiracies. They’re literally and figuratively poisoning political and social discussion and advancement and they’re leading to tragedies like James Lee.

His actions have been branded those of a terrorist. He was mentally ill. He needed help, he needed to be taken seriously, he needed someone to talk sense and get through to him. He didn’t deserve to be shot.