Tuesday, 26 June 2012

"It's such a non-issue..."

...that we all have to comment on it.

Hi guys, welcome to Orygyn!

I have no excuse, I've just been lazy. Thunderf00t, who probably needs no introduction at this stage, has come under fire for a blog post he wrote about the policy at various skeptic conferences regarding harassment. I'm only going to briefly touch on this as I have a greater point to make, but he criticises what he sees to be excessive reactions to women who are, or feel, harassed at conferences as treating everyone like children, making the point that "we reserve the right to kick you out" should be adequate protection. Critics have slammed his lack of understanding of the issue saying that he doesn't know how rife the problem is at these conferences. I'll link thunderf00t's post and 1 critic's reply below.


I will say right now that I don't know much about the issue myself and I don't have much of an interest in it. However, I think thunderf00t's line, as long as it is properly enforced, is enough. If there is obvious harassment, the staff should pick up on it and discipline the harasser appropriately. If needs be, they can be escorted out and/or banned from further conferences of a similar nature. Where this harassment isn't obvious to an outsider, this next part is for attendees who may be at risk from harassment. In this instance, you need to report it to the staff. It really doesn't matter how much of a problem harassment is, you just provide enough security to deal with the anticipated level of harassment, and enforce the existing rule that if you don't play nice, you're gone.

Having said that, what I'm more interested in is the claim that the 2nd above article makes that Rebecca Watson's "Elevatorgate" incident initiated this increased security approach. I respectfully disagree. In the video clip that started "Elevatorgate", Rebecca talks about her experiences at the World Atheist Convention in Dublin last year, when she was alone with a man who asked her to have coffee with him. Below is the video, and her description of the incident starts at 4:30.


My take on what she said is that there is nothing about this incident to warrant increasing security at future conferences, but make no mistake, it was the reaction to the video which is more likely to have produced this result. Yes, perhaps Rebecca overreacted to the situation, and it was just a poorly timed, poorly situated request for an innocent discussion over coffee, but PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins had to comment on it, and, of course, so many "skeptics" followed suit. Here's a word of advice. If something's such a non-issue, don't comment on it. This could all have been avoided if the response to Rebecca's discomfort was "meh, she's overreacting, now let's all just get on with our lives". If you just had to get involved with Elevatorgate, YOU are to blame for any security over-provisions, not Rebecca. At the very least, I expect you to admit your role in it.

First Elevatorgate, then the NY drink-size ban, and now the aftermath of Elevatorgate. It really pisses me off when people turn a non-issue into an issue just by saying in the thousands that it's a non-issue. If you think that way, leave the discussion to the people who think it is an issue. It's not rocket science.


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