In response to this masterpiece:
I said on Twitter that Michael Nugent defends rapists. I didn’t say he defends rape. I said that he defends (some) people who are rapists, I meant something fairly specific by this: Michael Nugent continues to provide a safe haven for people who perpetuate rape culture. People who trivialise rape. People who use the threat of rape as an instrument for silencing women. People who vociferously claim that sex with someone whose judgment is impaired by alcohol or youth is not rape. Nugent does not condemn people who espouse such opinions in the comments on his blog. He equivocates, pretending this means he isn’t taking a position.
I expect Nugent despises some or all of these opinions. But he doesn’t condemn them. This is not an issue on which one can be apolitical. Refusing to comment or pick a side; refusing to condemn hateful comments; calling for the abused to engage in dialog with their abusers… These are political statements and failure to condemn them is tacit endorsement of a deeply unfair and horrible status quo. This is what I mean when I say that Michael Nugent defends rapists. It’s what I always meant. I stand by it. I didn’t apologise for that and I don’t apologise for it now.
I’ll get to what I did apologise for later, First, I’ll address a tiny portion of Nugent’s ~3000 words of self-indulgent claptrap.
I’ll begin by saying that nothing I said was in any way representative of anything PZ Myers said, Michael can’t understand this. He used his conversation with me - and his misunderstanding of what I was apologising for - in an attempt to somehow shame PZ into apologising for something he said. We don’t speak for each other and my apology for one thing shouldn’t be seen as a reason for PZ to apologise for something else.
Latsot, a pseudonymous occasional guest blogger at FreeThought Blogs, has withdrawn and apologised for their repeated allegation that I defend rapists, saying that they had intended to convey something else.
I didn’t say that I intended to convey something else. See above for what I intended to convey. See below for what I apologised for.
This might be a positive first step in trying to reverse the demonisation of some atheists by PZ Myers and others, which has resulted in increasingly serious allegations being casually made as if they were an acceptable part of normal discourse.
Michael, you may not use an apology I made to imply a change in stance of anyone other than me. As you’ll see, you shouldn’t use it to imply a change in my stance, either. If you think other people are making serious allegations against you, take it up with them. It has nothing to do with me and what I say has nothing to do with them.
There’s a long part of Michael's post where he quotes some things I said interspersed with calls to “[some time later]” in which he removes things that were said, for some reason. The reason certainly can’t be edits for brevity. He says it’s difficult to reconstruct Twitter conversations into a linear thread. He’s right. Others might call it cherry picking but I’m more generous.
This part ends with me explaining my point, which was the point I was making all along:
Because the point is a little more subtle than you’ll admit. Being complicit in rape culture is making a haven for rapists. I think you are defending people who happen (probably) to be rapists. If that sounds like I’m backtracking, I’m not. I think – and no doubt I could have been clearer – that you defend the actions of people who either rape or apologise for rape when you dismiss evidence of rape and when you encourage people who do the same. I think that it is a moral imperative to take a stand on this issue and hyperskepticism is at best a cop out. This is what I’ve been trying to say. Most of the time I’ve been replying to what other people have said, so the message will be fragmented at best. I hope this is a little clearer.
I daresay Michael didn’t see much of my earlier conversation with others and indeed believed that this was a new argument. But as you can see, I made it clear that this is what I meant all along, even if I was unclear earlier even though the discussion spanned several conversations, not all of which Michael was necessarily privy to. I thought this would clear the matter up. I wasn’t making the simplistic and wrong claim that Michael advocates rape and I told him so.
But this wasn’t good enough for Michael. He was only concerned with trying to intimidate me into withdrawing statements he misinterpreted in the first place.
I did withdraw them. Not because I was intimidated but because I didn’t mean what he continued to think and claim that I meant. In that sense, it was a not-pology: sorry you thought that’s what I what I said. Sorry if I came across that way. But what I said stands.
Michael, I didn’t apologise for what you seem to think I apologised for. I apologised for being unclear. I don’t think I implied that you endorse rape but if I did, I’m sorry. But what I didn’t apologise for still stands.
Then Michael included a conversation we had about his cat. It was dying and I felt sorry for it and for Michael. I still do. I’m appalled that he included this exchange in his post. It had nothing to do with what we were talking about and he presumably only included it to make me seem contrite for whatever it is he mistakenly thinks I apologised for.
The second part of Michaels post was about what he considers my ‘new’ argument. Which was actually what I was saying all along. I’ll skip the passive-aggressive parts where possible (it’s not easy):
I will now address your rephrased intended allegation, which is not that I defend rapists, but that in your opinion, my actions seem to perpetuate rape culture and are very problematic.
This allegation is vague and impossible to respond to in its current format.
I daresay that a statement made in chunks of 140 characters was indeed vague. I’d have thought the appropriate response would be to seek clarification rather than to write a long blog post about what you assumed I was saying. But as we’ll all see, I apparently don’t know what I’m talking about.
I will assume that it is related to your previous opinions that I don’t take a stand against rape culture, that I clearly don’t understand how much rape hurts people, that I dismiss evidence of rape, that I have defended someone you strongly suspect is a rapist, and that I am defending people who happen (probably) to be rapists.
I said those things. There’s quite a lot of context missing, but I stand by them. Let’s get to Michael’s measured response:
To put them in perspective, the most common advice that I am getting from people who actually know me, including women and including rape victims and including lifelong social justice activists, is that I am out of my mind to be even giving you the credibility of responding to you.
Some of my best friends….
Michael, it’s an astounding piece of arrogance to think your responding to me somehow lends me credibility. Authority is not a very good basis for an argument.
Seriously, Latsot, I really have to emphasise this. You have no idea how bizarre your allegations seem to people who actually know me, who actively campaign for social justice, and who do not share the particular worldview that has shaped your public allegations about me.
I’m sure that many of my opinions seem bizarre to people who don’t share them. I’ve been told that my opinion that women ought to be treated with respect are bizarre. I’ve been bewilderingly called racist and threatened with death for celebrating Christmas while being atheist. I’ve been threatened with death for suggesting that the terms ’Muslim’ and ‘Islamist’ referred to different sorts of people. None of these opinions make any sense at all. What was your point again?
I’ll start with your general opinion that I don’t take a stand against rape culture.
You provide a long quote, which is pretty reasonable. But you’ve also stressed (which seems at odds with what you’ve said here) that allegations of rape ought to be handled by the police with the clear implication that if the victim didn’t go to the police, the credibility of the argument is reduced.
Firstly, you say that I clearly don’t understand how much rape hurts people. The only response I will give to that is that you don’t know what you are talking about.
A brilliant argument. Of course, that statement of mine was not made out of the blue but as part of an ongoing argument with someone who wasn’t you. But why listen to me? Apparently I don’t know what I’m talking about. And you know what? I’ve never been raped. I know people who have been, but I certainly don’t understand how much rape can hurt people.
Secondly, you say that I dismiss evidence of rape. Actually, I don’t dismiss evidence of rape. I take evidence of rape very seriously.
Providing evidence is defined the way you choose. You seem to wilfully make the mistake that evidence of rape is necessarily how a police force would reckon it. If so, which police force? One in Ireland? In England? In Pakistan? Credibility of a rape allegation is not increased by reporting it to the authorities. Evidence of a rape is not more credible if authorities endorse it or less so if they dismiss it. Evidence is still evidence outside a police investigation or court of law.
See above. I don’t think my suspicions are more important than due process and I have never said so. We’re not talking about convicting anyone here, we’re talking about whether we believe a rape happened. I strongly expect it did, but I have no case to bring to court. I don’t think anyone should be imprisoned without appropriate due process but I wouldn’t want to leave a vulnerable person alone with someone I suspected of being a predator. This point has been made to you many times: there are different standards of evidence for different situations. Like many others, you choose to hide behind legal definitions when nobody has even suggested invoking a legal system. I find that stance sickening and you should be ashamed of yourself for holding it.
Who are these people?
Example: people who have sex with others who are impaired by alcohol. That’s rape. Lots of people commenting at your place have argued otherwise and claimed to have had sex with people with impaired judgement. Those people are rapists. In any case, it’s not up to me to tell the police. It’s not my decision. But I certainly don’t have to tolerate those people or their views in a space I own and police. I consider such tolerance tacit endorsement.
Latsot’s withdrawal and apology is a positive first step in trying to reverse the demonisation of some atheists by PZ Myers and others, which has resulted in increasingly serious allegations being casually made as if they were an acceptable part of normal discourse.
I hope you now understand that I didn’t apologise for what you thought I apologised for. I didn’t mean to suggest that you endorse rape and I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear about that. But I still wholeheartedly think that you provide something of a safe haven for rapists and misogynists; that you insist on sometimes inappropriate standards of evidence regarding the credibility of rape allegations; and especially that you are determined above all to tell everyone else how they should think.
What PZ chooses to say and do has absolutely nothing to do with me and vice versa. Stroppily using our argument as a bat to hit him with is rather pathetic. Not quite as pathetic as using our conversation about your poorly cat to make me appear humbled and contrite, though.