Tunderf00t, a very new addition to the Free Thought Blogs stable of ponies, unicorns, Atheists and Skeptics, is being a dick.
He has taken the position that all this talk and all this consternation about sexual harassment strategies at conferences is not important and sexual harassment at these venues is not an issue. Fine. He’s wrong, but he is certainly entitled to think that as long as his credibility isn’t that important to him. (I say this last bit because he’s basing his arguments on invective and flourish and not reason, which makes him look kinda like an idiot. I also don’t feel a need to counter his “calm and rational” arguments here because his post was obviously written with only a glancing reference to all the prior writing on this topic. Perhaps if he spends the time to catch up to the rest of us I’ll take the time to address what he has to say.)
At the same that he’s made a poorly executed and incorrect, and rather breathless argument, he’s chosen to place it in an obnoxious frame. He’s made it clear that the only venue for discussion, really, is YouTube, where his gazillion admiring fans can listen to him, and that “the conference scene” isn’t really important. What he is missing here is this: YouTube, where you make the video and everyone else listens, is not a dialog and the vlogger doesn’t really learn much from the experience. Conferences are where people get together face to face and talk to each other in various venues, from the formal (scheduled events) to the less formal (at the bar, lounge, etc.). In this context people come to appreciate and understand other people’s ideas. Most people I know who go to conferences come away from them transformed, or reset, or inspired, or something. Tunderf00t, apparently, has not had that experience (or he would not so denigrate the venue as worthless). Rather, he goes to conferences and chews on a woman’s leg. (If you don’t know, don’t ask…)
In his epically awful blog post on the topic, he chose to use a graphic from the web site of a famous skeptical artist, Amy Roth. He took a copyrighted graphic of her work without permission, and when he was asked to take it down his response was very disrespectful.
Hey, Thunderf00t, I want you to go right now and apologize to Amy. That was uncalled for. You do not get to decide the rules of intellectual property (really, who the fuck do you think you are?). Also, just so you know, the opinions expressed in this blog post were here in my head already, but I had decided to avoid this fight for now because as usual things were being handled well by my colleages, andI have some other commitments. But then you dissed my friend. I know, I know, it is not rational, and it is emotional, for me to decide to tell you off because of a personal connection. In your mind this makes me a lesser person. In my mind it requires the aforementioned apology and you can kiss my ass. If you don’t get that, then you are hopeless.
And now a word from Huxley:
And now back to the post:
Thunderf00t’s argument is ignorant and wrong and made in a mean spirited unproductive way that has lost him in one fell swoop a large number of potential allies. You’ve got to be on drugs to fuck up that badly in one hour’s time.
Anyway, this may be the worst part of it all: There is no way that Thunderf00t could have not known two facts that were at hand at the time he joined Frethougthblogs.com: 1) That the present issue, about sexual harassment and such, was very much part of the current dialog and 2) that the majority opinion at FTB.com, while not homogeneous, is that we take these things seriously. This does not mean that Tunderf00t should not have joined our network. It doesn’t even (necessarily) mean that he should not have been asked to join our network. But it does mean that producing such a poorly thought out dickhead piece of crap blog post which explicitly brings into question everyone’s motivations and intelligence can only be taken in one way: As a very purposeful slap in the face. A person who had any sense of collegiate or any social intelligence would have waited at least a week. A person who wasn’t most comfortable being the dickhead in the room would have let enough time to pass for there to be a “hello how are you” or two amongst us before putting up a post that arguably could make everyone regret we know him.
I still welcome Thhunderf00t to Freethoughtblogs.com. But not as a colleague. I don’t have that much of a problem being on the same network as people with whom I disagree even strongly. I am, after all, blogging at scienceblogs.com and that is a tradition there. But until I see some sincere apologies and some real thought put into the logic of his augments which will necessarily result in a certain degree of backtracking, forgetabout the Mr. Niceguy thing.