Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rebecca Watson delenda est [update]

[edit: if you per chance could, make sure to tweet this to Rebecca Twatson. For some reason, I can't seem to quite find her on twitter anymore. Can't imagine what caused that.
[edit 2: bwahahaha ]
Ok, I can confirm that the Rebecca in question is indeed Rebecca Watson. So, here's the full story:

Rebecca was given at some point in time moderator privileges on JREF's forums. Thereafter, she either created a sock account or used an old sock account and got caught. So, she was suspended from their boards for about a month.

When the suspension lifted, for some unexplained to me reason, her account reactivated with administration privileges which she immediately used to ban people she didn't like, and then post information on it. Such as I'm aware, the pictures she posted redacted their personal information. Alas, I cannot get access to the original pictures so I think we should take the board's administration team's word that they were redacted.

Screen captures first of admin explaining.

Then screen captures of her talking about it before the admins were able to reverse her shenanigans.

This is what happens to people who cross Rebecca Twatson when she is in a position to exact punishment.  Is what happened to Stef McGraw really that surprising?

Here's are pictures of her she posted in her last foray being given the heave-ho.

You decide if it's her or not. But this is the person being paid to show up at atheist events and lecture you on how you should act.  If that does it for you, you're welcome to it. I'll politely decline the offer.

Here's what happens if you start pointing out their hypocrisy.  But hey, they're confident they're right, so quoting themselves to themselves shouldn't bother them, huh?  Wrong - it is not acceptable to refute Jennifer McCreight by an authority on Jennifer McCreight known as Jennifer McCreight. Fucking cowards.


Anonymous said...

Can't read the pics, they're too small.

Justicar said...

Right click and select "open picture". I'll reload them differently so that they'll do that on mouse click though. Thanks for telling me.

Anonymous said...

Mmm ... interesting ... The problem I see is how to stop this tribe mentality around her now that she has managed to conflate her position with women rights, feminists in this case, the radicals one are know for very agressive rants on internet and don't give up easy. But, as an advice when you make a more complete case you could make a post on re RichardDawkins dot net forum.

Anonymous said...

Justicar said...

Thank you, nonny!
(I don't hang out on JREF's forum for obvious reasons)

But, this might be amusing to watch!

I'll put it in this post though. I would credit you, but I don't know "crediting anonymous" would look on a google search.

Sinead said...

Wow that's mental.

I was going to post asking if she could have been an immature teen in 08 but turns out she's like 30... I really am terrible at guessing ages of people.

I had assumed she was about 20. That makes the whole crazyness even more crazy

SouthernGeologist said...

I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about Watson prior to this, though I did suspect a bit of immaturity on her part given the reports on her behavior during the recent panel and her insistence on calling out an audience member during a speech. But this...this is beyond the pale and worse, indicates a pattern. How in the hell can you do something like that and NOT expect to be banned? That is extremely fucking immature. EXTREMELY. Remember the comment ERV made with an analogy to being given the black belt too early? If this is the case, I don't think she should get the black belt. Ever. Maybe I'm wrong, but in my opinion someone who has not grown up by their late 20s/early 30s is probably not going to, ever, barring some major change in their life that leads to a personality reversal.

I apologize in advance, I've kept this as clean as I feel is reasonably possible. I hope I haven't crossed too many lines.

Justicar said...

Southern Geologist:
Yes, please make sure you keep your content here clean; I'm delicate and easily fraught with disapproval. =^_^=

One thing a lot of people are not taking into account is the fact she's not a teenager. She's like 30 years old and should be more mature than this. Add to that her "degree" in communications, and she should be quite adept at being able to get across a message.

I therefore take it that a scripted video, a scripted speech is written with all of that taken into account. Look how she's managed to get other people to make her claims for her, then she denounces that as not being what she meant.

Only to then write a letter to Dawkins saying the shit she said she wasn't saying.

When I was a kid, that kind of thing got me backhanded!

SouthernGeologist said...

I'll keep it clean if you mean that in the sense of not flaming you or other people who comment here. If you mean in the sense of eliminating cuss words, well...given the material you write about here that may be a bit of a tall order. I'll do my best.

I agree with you that people aren't taking her age into account, but frankly, I didn't take her age into account previously because it never occurred to me that someone thirty years old could behave this childishly. I'm twenty three going on twenty four and I find the behavior on JREF and at the conference (the speech, that is) incomprehensibly bad. Perhaps THAT is why they're taking her age into account.

Speaking of childishness...I do not agree with the idea that she made up the Elevator Guy story. Here's why:

First of all, while it may have gained her some attention the reality is that Elevatorgate wouldn't have been anywhere near as massive as it has become if it was not for Dawkins' comment offending people. That really blew this sky-high because Dawkins is...well...Dawkins! She would have received some criticism but probably not received anywhere near enough positive attention to bother with it if it wasn't for that. Why bother? unless Dawkins owed her a favor. (That's a funny thought, isn't it?)

However, that is not my main point of contention. Here is the thrust of my argument: Elevator Guy's proposal is rather ambiguous. As I mentioned over on ERV it sounds very much like he could have been a shy guy who was just looking to make a friend, and she misinterpreted his remarks. I may be wrong, but this interpretation is as valid as any other and it is a common one among sane people. If she wanted to falsify an attention grabbing story to gain pity and influence she could have told the story in a manner that would have made him into a much less (potentially) sympathetic character. For example, she could easily have described him as drunk and using language that made it much more clear that he was propositioning her for sex. He could have leaned in upon her in a threatening manner while making his request. Any number of details could be thrown in since no one else was there and very few people would have questioned it. People had been drinking in the bar until 4 AM and had plenty of time to get well toasted, after all. There is nothing about that version of the narrative that would seem unbelievable to your average person.

Is it possible that she would have gotten a very slight edge in terms of realism by making Elevator Guy seem less objectively threatening and opening up the possibility that she had misinterpreted his actions? Well, sure. At the cost of making her reaction more controversial. She has little to gain by using this method. More importantly, it takes an evil genius or a (formal) fiction writer to put that kind of thought and nuance into a made up story. I do not know of her having a past as a professional writer of any sort, certainly not as a (formal) fiction writer, and to be quite frank, I do not think that her string of immature behavior fits into the profile of a manipulative mastermind that could concoct such a plan and think it through so thoroughly. I'm not saying that she's stupid, I simply won't buy into the idea that she is that much of a genius without some supporting evidence to contradict what is apparently a very long-standing childish attitude.


Justicar said...

SG: I have no issues at all with robust, even colorful language.

Her age isn't important except to the extent that she talks about maturity and all that jazz.

I'm not saying EG is made up. He might exist. I'm just saying there's no reason that leads me to think he does exist.

The fact that it wasn't an issue until Dawkins came on the scene doesn't disturb that. EG may have just been an example to make a point. Now that Dawkins is involved, she can't really say "just hypothetical, guys". This is generating too much money for her. That it's believable is merely a recognition that when one makes an example, it shouldn't be too absurd to be accepted. =P

Remember, she's a communications major. Her training is in crafting a message that gets her point across. Plus, she has every incentive to keep being the victim: it's how she makes her living. This kind of thing pays her bills.

Again, I'm not saying she made it up necessarily. I'm saying I'm unconvinced, and she's not helping matters by refusing to ID anything about the guy. He's a potential threat and she chose to warn no one about him? When asked anything about him, she says she doesn't need to answer that question because PZ already took care of it? But, a student writes an "I don't agree" on her own blog, and this person can be identified publicly by name and then berated. She can point out a blogger to everyone, but not EG?

I'm dubious.

SouthernGeologist said...

I almost hate to deploy this argument (too cruel), but, uh, Sarah Palin was a communications major. Is it possible that She pretends to be a moron in order to gain sympathy (and votes) from morons? Sure, but I highly doubt this is the case.

By the same token, I think it's possible that Watson came up with a parable to express a point, but I still hold to the idea that it would have made a better parable if the guy actually seemed like an objective threat of some sort. I don't think that a story involving a guy who seemed drunk and horny would have seemed absurd. Chick at conference filled with nerdy men gets hit on by drunk, somewhat aggressive guy is hardly headline news. At the very least the language used could have been more direct as men do frequently proposition women with ridiculously direct language without prior conversation. (You'll know one when you see him. He will be walking down the street with a large red hand-print permanently etched onto his face. =P)

I know, I know, communications majors learn about subtlety where necessary, but my instincts* tell me that it still takes someone extremely clever to use a parable that leaves him or herself open to criticism for misinterpretation simply because it is slightly more believable than a story which leaves the author morally in the clear as the victim.

I do agree that it seems suspicious when she refuses to answer questions and in particular when she uses PZ as a human shield, but I do think other interpretations of this suspicious behavior prevent themselves. For example, she may have realized by the time she made the video that the guy was NOT actually a threat and simply left her feeling creeped out for that period of time. If this is the case, she would have no reason to warn people about his appearance or give his name because she would be wrecking his life without cause. There could also be legal concerns there (not just moral ones) if he filed a lawsuit over it, but I'm pretty sure suing over a YouTube video would be a mess.

I also think this 'realized she was wrong' interpretation fits well for the rest of the story: Why won't she give any information? Why does she hide behind PZ? Why did she make this an issue at the conference? Well, hell, as big as this has gotten she would certainly put herself in a bind if she came out and admitted "Yes, I was wrong, this guy was not hitting on me. He just wanted to be friends and I misunderstood him." As you noted, she has way too much money (and public attention) invested in this to admit that she fucked up. If she did, by gawd, there might even be calls for reparations to Elevator Guy! In particular if she had named names given the added humiliation that would cause. It would certainly cause a mess in the feminist blogosphere what with PZ and all the writers needing to apologize for insisting that people were misogynists for interpretating EG's behavior differently when...THEY WERE RIGHT! I doubt she wants to lose money, credibility, and harm her comrades because she wrongly believed she was being hit on.

*To get back to the instincts issue, I think that we're not going to reach an agreement on this matter simply because we're both operating off of our instincts and making inferences based on the available evidence and happen to be reaching different conclusions. it's fun to exchange ideas, however.

Justicar said...

So, if I can point to someone with a communications degree who is very, very good at it, would I then have an argument equally as valid as your Palin one?

There is no reason to suppose that Palin's ineptitude maps onto Twatson's; they are distinct people whose abilities aren't constraining on the other.

In other words, it's entirely possible for Palin to be an idiot and Twatson not in the same way it's entirely possible to have incompetent quack doctors and competent doctors.

I do not deny that you're right. And we are both clear that we're operating on indeterminate facts. But I think I have a slight edge in my estimation: I'm not having to assume anything on the evidence before us. There's no evidence this guy even existed, and I am therefore in justified declining to accept that he did.

It works in every other field of life; this one should be no different.

SouthernGeologist said...

I'm not saying that Palin's ineptitude maps onto Watson (or vice versa for someone brilliant), I'm merely suggesting that a communications degree is not an indication of skill in and of itself and that other things must be considered to get a fuller picture of an individual. I simply used the best possible illustration of this point. It relates to the earlier argument I made that Watson, while not an idiot, does not strike me as ingenious enough to come up with a parable that leaves her open to criticism just to seem a bit more realistic.

That said, I do realize that my argument is open to criticism; she is a certainly a good writer (in terms of style, at least) and does an excellent job making her ideas sound reasonable. Perhaps she does a better job translating her ideas writing skills to speech (or YouTube) than I give her credit for. Good writers aren't always good speakers (speaking, no pun intended, from experience!) but I don't know enough about her YouTube content to judge. For that matter, a moral parable doesn't need to tell as extreme of a tale as an attention getting story does.

In any case, you're right that you're justified in thinking he does not exist. I presented an argument and you're free to reject it. Oh well, I had some fun presenting my argument and your replies indicate that you didn't find the process too terribly tedious. Let's leave it here. :)

Justicar said...

Oh, okay. Then I misunderstood.

Yes, it's possible I'm giving her too much credit.

I don't want to give you the wrong impression about anything. I am quite happy you've chosen to put what you think on the line. It's food for thought. I can't say you're wrong, and I can't say that I'm right, or that I'm wrong. I simply lack adequate information to decide the truth.

So, I have two options that seem to me to be the appropriate course: admit ignorance, and withhold provisional assent.

bluharmony said...

Any new developments guys, since I last left?

Justicar said...

Check the front page of my blog!

Anonymous said...

What's funny is... she runs a site called Skepchick... and last time I checked, chick was a perjorative term for a female.

Or at least that's what the feminazi's keep telling us.

AlekNovy said...

Also, in a blog post I wrote that was critical of twatson, I started out the post saying something like "So get this, a chick called Rebbecca Watson" - or something along those lines.

A bunch of feminazis landed on it, telling me I hate all women on planet earth and my mother, because I used the word "chick" to refer to Watson :D But she calls herself that. That's her official username.

Walter Ego said...

I am a JREF forum member and basically what happened is that Watson was suspended for using a sock puppet and then banned for abusing her admin privileges (which she accidentally received because of a software glitch) which she used to ban an "arch enemy" on the forum and other assorted "mischief". The relevant JREF links:

Watson's spin on her banning:

Panagiotes Koutelidakes said...

One could possibly call it a modern-day academic parable (or allegory, if you prefer).

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