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Old 1st June 2012, 06:28 PM   #1
bpesta22
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Sexual harassment at TAM?!

So, what is everyone wearing? I'm posting this here (I just posted it as a reply to Kyles blog on FTB) because I think it is a social issue (and I like attention and crave validation...etc):

Hi Kyles!

My question to the ladies: Is there any place (with men present) where you feel safe and non-harassed? I imagine– all else equal– the base rate for crossed-the-line harassment at TAM would be much lower than at most other similarly sized conferences.

Is there something unique about TAM (compared to other skeptical conferences, or conferences in general) that makes it stick out as unsafe?

If not, it seems like a take my ball and go home mentality (driven by blog-politics more than genuine concern that TAM is uniquely unsafe). Unless TAM is worse than average, I think this is unfair.

Men are ultimately pigs. We make (often awkward) advances on women. Sometimes the advances are successful, and so we advance even more on the variable ratio schedule of reinforcement. Do ladies deserve this? No. Should they tolerate it (in those cases where the advance is unwelcome), Probably not. But, reason will not prevail here, even given we’re supposedly all skeptics.

Scotus has considered these issues in the context of work settings:

“The prohibition of harassment on the basis of sex requires neither asexuality nor androgyny in the workplace; it forbids only behavior so objectively offensive as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment.”

“The Court in Faragher stresses that hostile environment claims under Title VII should not be used to enforce a general code of civility for the workplace.”

I wonder if many of the claimed examples of harassment fail the three-pronged test the court uses to determine whether harassment has crossed the line:

1. It must be offensive (to the victim and a reasonable person in the same environment as the victim)

2. It must be sex based

All the examples I’ve read to date easily meet the above two criteria, but I think they fail on the third:

3. The behavior must be so severe or pervasive that it poisoned the work (conference) environment.

Creepy guy asking about coffee– even in the confines of an elevator– doesn’t seem to rise to this standard (at least imo). A single instance of “let’s ****” doesn’t cross the line either. Is it possible people are being hypersensitive?

Also, if an organization has an effective policy in place (which presumably the JREF now has) and the victim knew about the policy, but failed to use it, the organization is simply not liable for the harassment. Sure, consequences follow from reporting acts like these, but without specific details, how can an organization react appropriately (or be blamed for not acting)?

bpesta (JREF # 34!)
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Old 1st June 2012, 08:01 PM   #2
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Almost attended one of these things once. So glad I didn't. My senior class manages to run less contentious, less politicized reunions.


ETA: and here's a link to the blog entry: http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2012...jref/#comments

Near the end there's a link to Rebecca Watson's blog. She writes about what seems like her favorite topic: Rebecca Watson.

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Old 1st June 2012, 08:02 PM   #3
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If nobody acts stupid, perhaps this will be a non-problem. It really should be.......
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Old 1st June 2012, 08:39 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
If nobody acts stupid, perhaps this will be a non-problem. It really should be.......
You want every single person in a group of over 1000 to not act stupid, for the duration of an entire four-day weekend?

Right...
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Old 1st June 2012, 08:52 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
So, what is everyone wearing? I'm posting this here (I just posted it as a reply to Kyles blog on FTB) because I think it is a social issue (and I like attention and crave validation...etc):

Hi Kyles!

My question to the ladies: Is there any place (with men present) where you feel safe and non-harassed?
Sure.

Quote:
I imagine– all else equal– the base rate for crossed-the-line harassment at TAM would be much lower than at most other similarly sized conferences.
Not so much.

Quote:
Is there something unique about TAM (compared to other skeptical conferences, or conferences in general) that makes it stick out as unsafe?
Movement of goal posts. We've gone from 'anywhere' to 'TAM' to 'conferences'. And yes - the disproportionate number of single women compared to the number of single men.

Quote:
If not, it seems like a take my ball and go home mentality (driven by blog-politics more than genuine concern that TAM is uniquely unsafe). Unless TAM is worse than average, I think this is unfair.
But it's not 'if not'. It is so.

Quote:
Men are ultimately pigs. We make (often awkward) advances on women. Sometimes the advances are successful, and so we advance even more on the variable ratio schedule of reinforcement. Do ladies deserve this? No. Should they tolerate it (in those cases where the advance is unwelcome), Probably not. But, reason will not prevail here, even given we’re supposedly all skeptics.
This *is* reason. This isn't about the coffee thing, which did not take place at TAM anyway.

Quote:
Scotus has considered these issues in the context of work settings:

“The prohibition of harassment on the basis of sex requires neither asexuality nor androgyny in the workplace; it forbids only behavior so objectively offensive as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment.”

“The Court in Faragher stresses that hostile environment claims under Title VII should not be used to enforce a general code of civility for the workplace.”

I wonder if many of the claimed examples of harassment fail the three-pronged test the court uses to determine whether harassment has crossed the line:

1. It must be offensive (to the victim and a reasonable person in the same environment as the victim)

2. It must be sex based

All the examples I’ve read to date easily meet the above two criteria, but I think they fail on the third:

3. The behavior must be so severe or pervasive that it poisoned the work (conference) environment.
I'd say you haven't been reading many examples...

Quote:
Creepy guy asking about coffee– even in the confines of an elevator– doesn’t seem to rise to this standard (at least imo). A single instance of “let’s ****” doesn’t cross the line either. Is it possible people are being hypersensitive?
Still wasn't at TAM - still wasn't what was being talked about.

Quote:
Also, if an organization has an effective policy in place (which presumably the JREF now has) and the victim knew about the policy, but failed to use it, the organization is simply not liable for the harassment. Sure, consequences follow from reporting acts like these, but without specific details, how can an organization react appropriately (or be blamed for not acting)?

bpesta (JREF # 34!)
No. I'll be specific on the timeline.

A guy at the speaker reception was hassling some women.

These women told a volunteer, who went to figure out who it was and what was happening.

The volunteer found the guy, and he was drunk, and he wasn't supposed to be at the reception anyway as he didn't have permission.

The volunteer and DJ kicked the guy out.

***

The system that was in place was used. People who were considered to be in authority were told. DJ says that he was not told about the harassment angle, and that he only knew he kicked out a drunk person who wasn't supposed to be there. This is what people are debating, and it isn't the only thing. It's just the only person who has come forward in public with a definite complaint that has a timeline and a trail.

Rebecca, on the other hand, is not really referring to this incident. What happened with THAT was she said, in an interview with some publication that she thought the freethinking world was a 'safe space', meaning that skeptics and critical thinkers are, like you believe, less likely to grope, assault, manipulate, coerce, etc, etc, etc than other groups. She said that this turned out to be untrue.

DJ then gave that interview as an example of why he believes the percentage of female registrants is down - because, essentially, Rebecca scared them off.

THAT is why she isn't coming.
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Old 1st June 2012, 08:55 PM   #6
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Ii'd come, if I could afford it....
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:08 PM   #7
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I don't really understand the first parts of your post, but are you asserting that TAM is more unsafe for a woman (in terms of probability of being harassed) than any other similar place?

I do think you have to compare apples to apples here (TAM is different from, say, a book club at your local library). I don't think it's moving the goal posts because it's a national / international social event, in another city, with like-minded people (and probably alcohol). Surely, hooking up is on the minds of more than a few?

Men hit on women, sometimes awkwardly, sometimes while drunk. That doesn't seem like harassment.

The fact that this stuff didn't happen at TAM sort of illustrates the point. I can't speak for DJ, but perhaps he thinks the offenses didn't cross the line? Reasonable people can disagree on what constitutes harassment.

A drunk guy hassling a women is only jref's problem if they knew about it and failed to act.

I just think feminists equate "unwelcome" with "harassment". I don't think that's fair. Suppose elevator guy were George Clooney. Would we have had this scandal?

All jmo as a privileged white boy!
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by RemieV View Post
Rebecca, on the other hand, is not really referring to this incident. What happened with THAT was she said, in an interview with some publication that she thought the freethinking world was a 'safe space', meaning that skeptics and critical thinkers are, like you believe, less likely to grope, assault, manipulate, coerce, etc, etc, etc than other groups. She said that this turned out to be untrue.

DJ then gave that interview as an example of why he believes the percentage of female registrants is down - because, essentially, Rebecca scared them off.

THAT is why she isn't coming.
It's kind of funny, actually:

1. Skeptic blogosphere notes underrepresentive female attendance at conferences and searches for an explanation
2. In response, Female Skeptic A mentions some things that make her uneasy at conferences
3. Skeptic blogosphere decides Female Skeptic A's comments are why females are underrepresented.

"Why aren't there more women active in the skeptical movement (or whichever term you prefer to describe it with)" is a question that was being asked for years before Rebecca said "don't hit me up in elevators".
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
It's kind of funny, actually:

1. Skeptic blogosphere notes underrepresentive female attendance at conferences and searches for an explanation
2. In response, Female Skeptic A mentions some things that make her uneasy at conferences
3. Skeptic blogosphere decides Female Skeptic A's comments are why females are underrepresented.

"Why aren't there more women active in the skeptical movement (or whichever term you prefer to describe it with)" is a question that was being asked for years before Rebecca said "don't hit me up in elevators".
That's not what happened in this instance...

DJ said, in the comments of the blog, that the number of female registrants for TAM was down from last year. He was asked why he thinks that is. He said that he thinks that women who have attended, and he said Rebecca Watson in particular as an example, have frightened everyone off.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:20 PM   #10
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I've never been groped at TAM.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:20 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
"Why aren't there more women active in the skeptical movement (or whichever term you prefer to describe it with)" is a question that was being asked for years before Rebecca said "don't hit me up in elevators".
My guess is estrogen versus testosterone, though I am happy to be proved wrong.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
I don't really understand the first parts of your post, but are you asserting that TAM is more unsafe for a woman (in terms of probability of being harassed) than any other similar place?

I do think you have to compare apples to apples here (TAM is different from, say, a book club at your local library). I don't think it's moving the goal posts because it's a national / international social event, in another city, with like-minded people (and probably alcohol). Surely, hooking up is on the minds of more than a few?

Men hit on women, sometimes awkwardly, sometimes while drunk. That doesn't seem like harassment.

The fact that this stuff didn't happen at TAM sort of illustrates the point. I can't speak for DJ, but perhaps he thinks the offenses didn't cross the line? Reasonable people can disagree on what constitutes harassment.

A drunk guy hassling a women is only jref's problem if they knew about it and failed to act.

I just think feminists equate "unwelcome" with "harassment". I don't think that's fair. Suppose elevator guy were George Clooney. Would we have had this scandal?

All jmo as a privileged white boy!
There's no reason to keep bringing up the elevator thing. That is not, in any way whatsoever, the issue at hand.

The problems that the women of the blogosphere are talking about RIGHT NOW (I don't mean that they have talked about ever) are, again, groping, assault, coercion, manipulation of situations, etc, etc.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:22 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
I've never been groped at TAM.
How soon you forget We still have Paris.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:25 PM   #14
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I haven't followed all 10,000 posts on this, so I might be missing current examples of actual harassment. Could you share --without even naming names-- an example of something that happened that you think meets the standard for harassment?

For example, someone at FTB was recently upset because she got a business card from a potential client-- as it turns out, it was a soft-core ? porn picture of him and his wife, with an invitation to swing.

Crude and creepy, but not harassment, as I interpret scotus (and if the standard you guys are talking about is different from scotus', then perhaps call it something else?).
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:29 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
I don't really understand the first parts of your post, but are you asserting that TAM is more unsafe for a woman (in terms of probability of being harassed) than any other similar place?
I would say its at least a fair assessment. The response to the "Rebecca thing" was rather brutal IMO, and I distinctly recall several people insisting that they planned to intentionally create situations where they were alone with women and proposition them...I don't know why, to "teach the women a lesson" I guess.

Considering that nothing really groundbreaking happens at these conferences (i.e., there's no new information released or announcements made for the first time of emergent importance to skepticism), it seems to me the overarching motivation for attending them is to engage with the community - to meet other like-minded people and so forth. It's up to each person to evaluate risk-reward when these things are subjective. If someone reads that people are planning on deliberately "harrassing" women in such a manner and a person knows she would be bothered by such behavior, isn't the correct thing to do to quietly exclude herself rather than allow herself to be put in that position and be judged for reacting negatively?
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:31 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
I haven't followed all 10,000 posts on this, so I might be missing current examples of actual harassment. Could you share --without even naming names-- an example of something that happened that you think meets the standard for harassment?

For example, someone at FTB was recently upset because she got a business card from a potential client-- as it turns out, it was a soft-core ? porn picture of him and his wife, with an invitation to swing.

Crude and creepy, but not harassment, as I interpret scotus (and if the standard you guys are talking about is different from scotus', then perhaps call it something else?).
The card was a nude photo. I haven't heard a great explanation of why that doesn't count as harassment.

Sure, I can give an example. A guy went around shoving his tongue in several women's mouths with no warning or reason.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:32 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
I would say its at least a fair assessment. The response to the "Rebecca thing" was rather brutal IMO, and I distinctly recall several people insisting that they planned to intentionally create situations where they were alone with women and proposition them...I don't know why, to "teach the women a lesson" I guess.

Considering that nothing really groundbreaking happens at these conferences (i.e., there's no new information released or announcements made for the first time of emergent importance to skepticism), it seems to me the overarching motivation for attending them is to engage with the community - to meet other like-minded people and so forth. It's up to each person to evaluate risk-reward when these things are subjective. If someone reads that people are planning on deliberately "harrassing" women in such a manner and a person knows she would be bothered by such behavior, isn't the correct thing to do to quietly exclude herself rather than allow herself to be put in that position and be judged for reacting negatively?
Well, she ain't doing it quietly. But agreed.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:34 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by RemieV View Post
Well, she ain't doing it quietly. But agreed.
Well, referring to the women allegedly "scared away" by Rebecca's posts.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:35 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
I would say its at least a fair assessment. The response to the "Rebecca thing" was rather brutal IMO, and I distinctly recall several people insisting that they planned to intentionally create situations where they were alone with women and proposition them...I don't know why, to "teach the women a lesson" I guess.

Considering that nothing really groundbreaking happens at these conferences (i.e., there's no new information released or announcements made for the first time of emergent importance to skepticism), it seems to me the overarching motivation for attending them is to engage with the community - to meet other like-minded people and so forth. It's up to each person to evaluate risk-reward when these things are subjective. If someone reads that people are planning on deliberately "harrassing" women in such a manner and a person knows she would be bothered by such behavior, isn't the correct thing to do to quietly exclude herself rather than allow herself to be put in that position and be judged for reacting negatively?
I think the whole purpose of TAM is to have fun (I bet you could learn more about skepticism by reading the forums here than by attending TAM). Sometimes that involves sex (sometimes even with another partner present!).

If there is a conspiracy to harass women as a payback for Rebecca, then I concede the point, though it does illustrate how (reasonable) people can come to different conclusions as to what does / does not constitute harassment.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:35 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
How soon you forget We still have Paris.
Damn you!!! You weren't supposed to say anything.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:37 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by RemieV View Post
DJ then gave that interview as an example of why he believes the percentage of female registrants is down - because, essentially, Rebecca scared them off.

THAT is why she isn't coming.
DJ also said that he's received emails from women claiming to have heard that JREF supports child trafficking and objectification of women; I have no idea what the source of those rumors is but he seemed to think them traceable to statements by Rebecca and others. If that's true (that is, if Rebecca et al.'s comments about safety at TAM are the source of those rumors) then it seems that DJ wasn't entirely off in characterizing at least some of those statements as "misinformation," though Rebecca homed in on his inclusion of general harassment while ignoring those other things.

It just seems to me that both sides need to back off a bit here and remember that they're supposed to be on the same team. DJ obviously needs to retract his statement (if he hasn't already) that there has never been a reported incident of harassment at TAM, as we've reliable evidence that there has been. But Rebecca might be just a little bit more charitable in her interpretation of his statements, too; I didn't take him to be "gaslighting" anyone, and certainly not denying what happened, but simply saying that he didn't recall being aware at the time that the guy was harassing women specifically as opposed to being drunk, obnoxious, and uninvited to the private reception.

Eh... the whole thing just reaffirms once again why I stopped going to TAM years ago. The skeptic "community" is its own worst enemy.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:37 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by RemieV View Post
The card was a nude photo. I haven't heard a great explanation of why that doesn't count as harassment.

Sure, I can give an example. A guy went around shoving his tongue in several women's mouths with no warning or reason.
That seems like assault, though I am not a lawyer. Clearly unacceptable. But, I still think the burden's on the feminist to show that this type of behavior is more likely at TAM (or, is now more likely based on DJ's comments). Otherwise, it's political masturbation, power struggles, and taking balls home (sorry if that creates a bad visual...).
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:40 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post

If there is a conspiracy to harass women as a payback for Rebecca, then I concede the point, though it does illustrate how (reasonable) people can come to different conclusions as to what does / does not constitute harassment.
Indeed it does, but then the month-long elevator thread illustrated it as well.

Things like "what the courts would consider harrassment" aren't really relevant because nobody ever mentioned or proposed legal action; people just asked folks not to do certain things to them.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:44 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by RemieV View Post
The card was a nude photo. I haven't heard a great explanation of why that doesn't count as harassment.
My understanding is the card showed her boobs, but he was behind her, and thus his peen was hidden. As a 1 time incident, though sex based and offensive, I can't see how it was severe or pervasive enough to cross the line.

That said, attempting to french kiss random strangers...that crosses the line in my book.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:44 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
I haven't followed all 10,000 posts on this, so I might be missing current examples of actual harassment. Could you share --without even naming names-- an example of something that happened that you think meets the standard for harassment?

For example, someone at FTB was recently upset because she got a business card from a potential client-- as it turns out, it was a soft-core ? porn picture of him and his wife, with an invitation to swing.

Crude and creepy, but not harassment, as I interpret scotus (and if the standard you guys are talking about is different from scotus', then perhaps call it something else?).
If by 'scotus', you are talking about the Supreme Court, your attempts to stretch 'hostile work environment' into social settings, and spin it, isn't working.

If a person does not consent to being touched in an manner that *they* find offensive, that is the crime of battery, plain and simple.

There is no 'so objectively offensive as to alter' or 'a reasonable person in the same circumstances' test to it.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:48 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by crimresearch View Post
If by 'scotus', you are talking about the Supreme Court, your attempts to stretch 'hostile work environment' into social settings, and spin it, isn't working.

If a person does not consent to being touched in an manner that *they* find offensive, that is the crime of battery, plain and simple.

There is no 'so objectively offensive as to alter' or 'a reasonable person in the sme circumstances' test to it.
That's certainly not true. Even common-law civil battery works on a reasonable person standard, not a subjective-individual standard (that is, the touching has to be objectively unreasonable, not simply "in a manner that *they* find offensive"). Without checking the MPC or state laws, I'm quite confident that the standard for criminal battery must be even higher.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:49 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Indeed it does, but then the month-long elevator thread illustrated it as well.

Things like "what the courts would consider harrassment" aren't really relevant because nobody ever mentioned or proposed legal action; people just asked folks not to do certain things to them.
But, my point is unwelcome does not equal harassment. Just because you found this guy's advance unwelcome doesn't mean you are being harassed. I think SCOTUS is definitely relevant here, because they wrestled with these same issues. There has to be an element of severity or pervasiveness, otherwise--imho--calling it harassment is hypersensitive and perhaps a mechanism to garner attention to facilitate advancement in the community.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:54 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by bpesta22
Men are ultimately pigs. We make (often awkward) advances on women. Sometimes the advances are successful, and so we advance even more on the variable ratio schedule of reinforcement. Do ladies deserve this? No. Should they tolerate it (in those cases where the advance is unwelcome), Probably not. But, reason will not prevail here, even given we’re supposedly all skeptics.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:55 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by JamesDillon View Post
DJ also said that he's received emails from women claiming to have heard that JREF supports child trafficking and objectification of women; I have no idea what the source of those rumors is but he seemed to think them traceable to statements by Rebecca and others. If that's true (that is, if Rebecca et al.'s comments about safety at TAM are the source of those rumors) then it seems that DJ wasn't entirely off in characterizing at least some of those statements as "misinformation," though Rebecca homed in on his inclusion of general harassment while ignoring those other things.

It just seems to me that both sides need to back off a bit here and remember that they're supposed to be on the same team. DJ obviously needs to retract his statement (if he hasn't already) that there has never been a reported incident of harassment at TAM, as we've reliable evidence that there has been. But Rebecca might be just a little bit more charitable in her interpretation of his statements, too; I didn't take him to be "gaslighting" anyone, and certainly not denying what happened, but simply saying that he didn't recall being aware at the time of that the guy was harassing women specifically as opposed to being drunk, obnoxious, and uninvited to the private reception.

Eh... the whole thing just reaffirms once again why I stopped going to TAM years ago. The skeptic "community" is its own worst enemy.
See, the thing is you have to read every single thing out there in order to undo the crazy knot and get past the fluff everyone likes to lead with in order to call the other side unreasonable.

The child trafficking thing is in reference to TAM speaker Lawrence Krauss, who defended his friend Jeffrey Epstein when Epstein was accused of having sex with underage girls who were prostitutes. They crossed countries, so this is also an example of sex trafficking.

Full article here: http://skepchick.org/2011/04/lawrenc...ts-everywhere/

Krauss defended Epstein right before TAM last year, and a lot of people were het up and said that the JREF should uninvite Krauss. They didn't. Therefore, some people in the comments of various blogs on the interwebs said that because the JREF was doing this, they were essentially condoning child sex trafficking. I know, somewhat difficult to follow.

I should add that the blog writers are not the ones who said this - it was a series of commenters. Now, that is far enough removed ("Because you have this guy who said this one thing about this other guy who is in trouble about this other thing") that I don't really see the issue. But it was a bad comparison to draw right then - because it made it seem like the JREF was saying that all complaints by women amounted to that level of rumor because the words were in the same thread of comments as the one where he said that Rebecca was in part responsible and said it was because of her quote to USA Today. You see the problem? Rebecca's quote wasn't about Krauss or child sex trafficking, but DJ put that (a total conflation) in the same category as Rebecca saying she didn't think the freethinking conferences were a 'safe space' for women.

Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
That seems like assault, though I am not a lawyer. Clearly unacceptable. But, I still think the burden's on the feminist to show that this type of behavior is more likely at TAM (or, is now more likely based on DJ's comments). Otherwise, it's political masturbation, power struggles, and taking balls home (sorry if that creates a bad visual...).
No, bpesta, that's what the issue is about - that organizers should be making it LESS LIKELY than anywhere else by installing clear policies that give instructions about what to do and who to go to if something does happen.

Here is the TAM Code of Conduct in full (from last year):

Quote:
We want TAM Las Vegas 2011 to be a welcoming experience for everyone who attends . . .

Please respect your fellow attendees by not disparaging them based on unfair grounds such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability; and by not making uninvited sexual comments toward others.

If someone asks you to leave them alone or to otherwise stop a behavior that is directed toward them, please do so. Continued unwanted behavior directed toward another person is harassment. People who harass others or cause multiple complaints of disrespectful behavior may be required to leave without a refund.

Problems can be reported to TAM staff or volunteers who will bring it to the attention of JREF management. A warning will be given when appropriate, but there will be zero tolerance for violence, physical intimidation, and unwanted intentional physical contact.

Let’s make TAM fun for everyone!
You see where the line of command got screwed up in the example I gave. Women at the speaker's reception were groped by some guy. They told a volunteer - just as the Code of Conduct says they should - and that volunteer apparently didn't tell DJ, and the guy was kicked out for a totally different reason. The line of communication failed.

Now, what the women who are taking issue want is a policy more along the lines of this one:

http://skepticampohio.com/anti-harassment-policy

Note this part particularly:

Quote:
We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Explicit sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue.
^ That is why the naked photo was a big deal. It was at THAT event.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:56 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by crimresearch View Post
If by 'scotus', you are talking about the Supreme Court, your attempts to stretch 'hostile work environment' into social settings, and spin it, isn't working.

If a person does not consent to being touched in an manner that *they* find offensive, that is the crime of battery, plain and simple.

There is no 'so objectively offensive as to alter' or 'a reasonable person in the same circumstances' test to it.
I disagree. It's offensive only if it's subjectively offensive to the victim (unlike the George Clooney example, she'd have to testify that she didn't like it), and objectively offensive to a reasonable person in the same environment.

If I touch your elbow-- even if that's unwelcome-- while asking you out, that's not harassment (nor battery), even if you reject my advances. Doing this while touching your ass, or trying to french kiss you would cross the line, I submit... Claiming otherwise seems hypersensitive.

This is precisely why I think SCOTUS' take on this is relevant. They have a mechanism for determining what is hypersensitive and what crosses the line. It seems utterly reasonable. Why not use it here?

I am in an argumentative mood. Not trying to be a phallic symbol, and am always happy to concede points when people show me how I have erred.
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Old 1st June 2012, 09:58 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Tsukasa Buddha View Post
I love the smell of internalised sexism in the morning.
I have only anecdotal evidence to back up my claim, but what men say when women are not present confirms (hopefully not in a biased way) my statement.

Curious as to whether other men have the same experience?
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Old 1st June 2012, 10:00 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
But, my point is unwelcome does not equal harassment. Just because you found this guy's advance unwelcome doesn't mean you are being harassed. I think SCOTUS is definitely relevant here, because they wrestled with these same issues. There has to be an element of severity or pervasiveness, otherwise--imho--calling it harassment is hypersensitive and perhaps a mechanism to garner attention to facilitate advancement in the community.
It's so weird that I'm on this side of the debate this time. I NEVER am. Times they are a-changing.

Rebecca did not call the elevator incident harassment. She said, and I quote, "Guys, don't do that," and in context it meant "After I have just given a talk about how I do not want to be approached based on sexuality when I'm in a professional setting, and I have additionally said that I am going up to bed, don't hit on me. Bad timing, y'all."

It was the fallout FROM THAT that became harassment - and yes, I was around when the Tweets started flying in from people who thought this was such a little thing to even bring up that they wanted to crowd into the elevators and carry around coffee pots and ask if women wanted to come to their rooms. Like, "Oh, so you think that was SO BAD, HUH? Let's do it FIFTY ZILLION TIMES AND CACKLE ABOUT IT."

In my view, this is a very tiny thing that got blown massively out of proportion. The guy was lacking in social skills, and I don't see that as a feminist issue because I can see it happening to a male speaker just as easily - which is, again, why that is not the subject of this conversation.
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Old 1st June 2012, 10:04 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by RemieV View Post
See, the thing is you have to read every single thing out there in order to undo the crazy knot and get past the fluff everyone likes to lead with in order to call the other side unreasonable.

The child trafficking thing is in reference to TAM speaker Lawrence Krauss, who defended his friend Jeffrey Epstein when Epstein was accused of having sex with underage girls who were prostitutes. They crossed countries, so this is also an example of sex trafficking.

Full article here: http://skepchick.org/2011/04/lawrenc...ts-everywhere/

Krauss defended Epstein right before TAM last year, and a lot of people were het up and said that the JREF should uninvite Krauss. They didn't. Therefore, some people in the comments of various blogs on the interwebs said that because the JREF was doing this, they were essentially condoning child sex trafficking. I know, somewhat difficult to follow.

I should add that the blog writers are not the ones who said this - it was a series of commenters. Now, that is far enough removed ("Because you have this guy who said this one thing about this other guy who is in trouble about this other thing") that I don't really see the issue. But it was a bad comparison to draw right then - because it made it seem like the JREF was saying that all complaints by women amounted to that level of rumor because the words were in the same thread of comments as the one where he said that Rebecca was in part responsible and said it was because of her quote to USA Today. You see the problem? Rebecca's quote wasn't about Krauss or child sex trafficking, but DJ put that (a total conflation) in the same category as Rebecca saying she didn't think the freethinking conferences were a 'safe space' for women.



No, bpesta, that's what the issue is about - that organizers should be making it LESS LIKELY than anywhere else by installing clear policies that give instructions about what to do and who to go to if something does happen.

Here is the TAM Code of Conduct in full (from last year):



You see where the line of command got screwed up in the example I gave. Women at the speaker's reception were groped by some guy. They told a volunteer - just as the Code of Conduct says they should - and that volunteer apparently didn't tell DJ, and the guy was kicked out for a totally different reason. The line of communication failed.

Now, what the women who are taking issue want is a policy more along the lines of this one:

http://skepticampohio.com/anti-harassment-policy

Note this part particularly:



^ That is why the naked photo was a big deal. It was at THAT event.
Getting tired, but is the complaint that you wanted the drunk guy's bouncing to be vetted as an act of sexual harassment versus just general drunkenness? That seems petty in that as soon as agents of the JREF knew about the nuisance, he was booted.

I argue it's already less likely ladies will be harassed at TAM by virtue of the company that skeptics keep. I am betting on the null hypothesis. I therefore think the burden's on you to show that TAM is more dangerous than average. Otherwise, I still submit fear over going to TAM is hypersensitive, estrogen laced, attention grabbing politics.

And, I submit a single photo of boobs is not harassment. It's crude and creepy, but does not cross the line anymore than does watching a woman breastfeed a child (assuming the child is not like, 18 or something).
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Old 1st June 2012, 10:08 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by RemieV View Post
See, the thing is you have to read every single thing out there in order to undo the crazy knot and get past the fluff everyone likes to lead with in order to call the other side unreasonable.

The child trafficking thing is in reference to TAM speaker Lawrence Krauss, who defended his friend Jeffrey Epstein when Epstein was accused of having sex with underage girls who were prostitutes. They crossed countries, so this is also an example of sex trafficking.

Full article here: http://skepchick.org/2011/04/lawrenc...ts-everywhere/

Krauss defended Epstein right before TAM last year, and a lot of people were het up and said that the JREF should uninvite Krauss. They didn't. Therefore, some people in the comments of various blogs on the interwebs said that because the JREF was doing this, they were essentially condoning child sex trafficking. I know, somewhat difficult to follow.

I should add that the blog writers are not the ones who said this - it was a series of commenters. Now, that is far enough removed ("Because you have this guy who said this one thing about this other guy who is in trouble about this other thing") that I don't really see the issue. But it was a bad comparison to draw right then - because it made it seem like the JREF was saying that all complaints by women amounted to that level of rumor because the words were in the same thread of comments as the one where he said that Rebecca was in part responsible and said it was because of her quote to USA Today. You see the problem? Rebecca's quote wasn't about Krauss or child sex trafficking, but DJ put that (a total conflation) in the same category as Rebecca saying she didn't think the freethinking conferences were a 'safe space' for women.
Fair enough-- and you're right, I certainly don't follow any of this that closely any more, though I do vaguely remember the Krauss thing now that you mention it. But this all kind of shows the big dysfunctional family that organized skepticism has become, where nothing is ever really forgotten and years-old arguments get brought up every time some new disagreement breaks out. If there is widespread sexual harassment going on at TAM, I can't imagine that the majority of attendees, including the JREF administration, would not want to take whatever steps need to be taken to eliminate it. In fact, everyone seems to agree that DJ took exactly the right steps in ejecting the guy last year, regardless of whether he was aware that the guy's behavior was targeting women specifically. So I just can't help thinking that cooperation on this issue wouldn't have been so hard to achieve without yet another internecine meltdown.
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Old 1st June 2012, 10:11 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by RemieV View Post
It's so weird that I'm on this side of the debate this time. I NEVER am. Times they are a-changing.

Rebecca did not call the elevator incident harassment. She said, and I quote, "Guys, don't do that," and in context it meant "After I have just given a talk about how I do not want to be approached based on sexuality when I'm in a professional setting, and I have additionally said that I am going up to bed, don't hit on me. Bad timing, y'all."

It was the fallout FROM THAT that became harassment - and yes, I was around when the Tweets started flying in from people who thought this was such a little thing to even bring up that they wanted to crowd into the elevators and carry around coffee pots and ask if women wanted to come to their rooms. Like, "Oh, so you think that was SO BAD, HUH? Let's do it FIFTY ZILLION TIMES AND CACKLE ABOUT IT."

In my view, this is a very tiny thing that got blown massively out of proportion. The guy was lacking in social skills, and I don't see that as a feminist issue because I can see it happening to a male speaker just as easily - which is, again, why that is not the subject of this conversation.
I agree re blown out of proportion, but I submit-- and my opinion matters not on this beat to death topic-- that her reaction was hypersensitive. So too were the threats of male retaliation.

But having a creepy dude (who doesn't know he's creepy) ask you out on an elevator: we are indeed blessed if that's currently your most pressing issue. It's not harassment; it's not uncommon; it's a non-event for any moderately attractive lady. Claiming otherwise reeks of attention-neediness (again, ajimpmo).
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Old 1st June 2012, 10:12 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
Getting tired, but is the complaint that you wanted the drunk guy's bouncing to be vetted as an act of sexual harassment versus just general drunkenness? That seems petty in that as soon as agents of the JREF knew about the nuisance, he was booted.

I argue it's already less likely ladies will be harassed at TAM by virtue of the company that skeptics keep. I am betting on the null hypothesis. I therefore think the burden's on you to show that TAM is more dangerous than average. Otherwise, I still submit fear over going to TAM is hypersensitive, estrogen laced, attention grabbing politics.

And, I submit a single photo of boobs is not harassment. It's crude and creepy, but does not cross the line anymore than does watching a woman breastfeed a child (assuming the child is not like, 18 or something).
bpesta - srsly, are you reading anything I'm typing or should I just let it go at this point? Because it seems like you didn't understand what I said at all.

1) The problem with the guy being thrown out not being marked down as harassment was that DJ said, in many remarks, that since installing the Code of Conduct, no one had reported any type of harassment. That is incorrect - they had. The failure in communication was on the JREF's part - and DJ has also said in comments that had he known the nature of the complaints, he would have thrown the guy out of TAM entirely (not just that one event) and informed the police if the women had wanted it that way. Well, at the point at which it was reported to a volunteer (which is what the Code of Conduct says to do) the onus was on the JREF to enforce their own rules.

2) Whether or not it's less likely to be harassed at TAM than at a biker bar is irrelevant. The idea is that, as skeptics and critical thinkers, we SHOULD have a better understanding of the issues surrounding harassment and, if that understanding does not seem to be universal throughout the community (and again - from the reported experiences, it is not UNIVERSAL), then a policy needs to be in place that better defines the processes by which to achieve that type of community.

3) It was harassment because the couple had signed the Code of Conduct agreement for that gathering, which states, in the quote that I showed you, that sexual imagery is not permitted. This wasn't a case of confusion, or not knowing where the line was. They were told where the line was, and they crossed it anyway.
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Old 1st June 2012, 10:15 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
I agree re blown out of proportion, but I submit-- and my opinion matters not on this beat to death topic-- that her reaction was hypersensitive. So too were the threats of male retaliation.

But having a creepy dude (who doesn't know he's creepy) ask you out on an elevator: we are indeed blessed if that's currently your most pressing issue. It's not harassment; it's not uncommon; it's a non-event for any moderately attractive lady. Claiming otherwise reeks of attention-neediness (again, ajimpmo).
bpesta, again, the reading comprehension thing. Are you really that tired?

The guy who asked her out in the elevator was at her talk, wherein she said specifically that she does not like being approached based on sexuality when she is at a conference in a professional capacity. Again, this is not a matter of "I didn't know any better, derrrrrrrrr." He was told where the line was, and he crossed it. And EVEN THEN, there was no hypersensitive reaction. What Rebecca did was reiterate, in a Youtube video, the words "Guys, don't do that." How is that a hypersensitive reaction? Don't add the content that followed - just with that, how is that hypersensitive?
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Old 1st June 2012, 10:17 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by JamesDillon View Post
That's certainly not true. Even common-law civil battery works on a reasonable person standard, not a subjective-individual standard (that is, the touching has to be objectively unreasonable, not simply "in a manner that *they* find offensive"). Without checking the MPC or state laws, I'm quite confident that the standard for criminal battery must be even higher.
If a complainant alleges an unwanted/non-consensual and deliberate touching and claims to have been offended, those are the elements, not whether or not some other person might have enjoyed being touched.

Obviously there will be a general component of reasonableness, but not the specific test for sexual harassment quoted above.

Quote:
The 2011 Florida Statutes
Title XLVI
CRIMES
Chapter 784
ASSAULT; BATTERY; CULPABLE NEGLIGENCE
784.03 Battery; felony battery.—

(1)(a) The offense of battery occurs when a person:
1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
The accused doesn't get to be the arbiter of whether or not consent was given, or whether or not the victim was offended, any more than they do in the case of allegations of rape.

Quote:
In both criminal and civil law, a battery is the intentional touching of, or application of force to, the body of another person, in a harmful or offensive manner, and without consent.
http://injury.findlaw.com/torts-and-...ry-basics.html
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Old 1st June 2012, 10:18 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by JamesDillon View Post
Fair enough-- and you're right, I certainly don't follow any of this that closely any more, though I do vaguely remember the Krauss thing now that you mention it. But this all kind of shows the big dysfunctional family that organized skepticism has become, where nothing is ever really forgotten and years-old arguments get brought up every time some new disagreement breaks out. If there is widespread sexual harassment going on at TAM, I can't imagine that the majority of attendees, including the JREF administration, would not want to take whatever steps need to be taken to eliminate it. In fact, everyone seems to agree that DJ took exactly the right steps in ejecting the guy last year, regardless of whether he was aware that the guy's behavior was targeting women specifically. So I just can't help thinking that cooperation on this issue wouldn't have been so hard to achieve without yet another internecine meltdown.
Agreed. The problem, however, as I'm hearing it, is that when confronted with an uncomfortable truth - Rebecca's words in the USA Today interview about the freethinking world not being a 'safe space' - DJ did not respond with "Tell me more about why you feel that way, and if TAM is included in the grouping." He responded with "Saying things like this in public drives away attendees."

Maybe I am where I usually am. On no one's side. It's lonely, y'all. Tell me someone will join me here.
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Old 1st June 2012, 10:19 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by bpesta22 View Post
But, my point is unwelcome does not equal harassment. Just because you found this guy's advance unwelcome doesn't mean you are being harassed. I think SCOTUS is definitely relevant here, because they wrestled with these same issues. There has to be an element of severity or pervasiveness, otherwise--imho--calling it harassment is hypersensitive and perhaps a mechanism to garner attention to facilitate advancement in the community.
It may well be such a mechanism; perhaps the reporter feels that "unwelcome" doesn't sufficiently convey how she felt in total about a certain situation. To a lot of people being propositioned under certain circumstances can constitute more than a mere simple annoyance.
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