Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Rex Huppke, the One White Male to Rule Them All.

I am annoyed. The Chicago Tribune put out an opinion piece on August 11 by Rex Huppke that I just stumbled across today. I wanted to respond and went through the process of signing up and in and writing out a response, and then hit publish only to find out that only paid subscribers are permitted to comment on articles. Tribune, why would you lead people to believe they can comment, and go to the trouble of writing a comment, only to tell them at the last stage that they have to pay for your bullshit rag in order to publish their comment?

Anyway, I don't like to invest time in nothing, so I decided to respond to the entire article here. The article is reproduced in full, minus any hyperlinks, and appears in the quote boxes. 

Google bro's diversity memo shows biological failings of white dudes


I've reached a very important conclusion about white men, and I'll get to that soon enough, but first, please repeat after me: Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.

Is your conclusion that white men are perfectly happy throwing other white men under the bus for the sake of mindless virtue signalling? I'm guessing not. 

Anyway, as for freedom from consequences, I’m sure that your tune would change if Damore was a woman who had tweeted or written something that angered a bunch of people who then piled on her on social media demanding she be fired. You wouldn't be lecturing her that her speech is not free from consequences. You'd be saying we need to do something about the culture of abuse and harassment online. 

Say it again. And again. And if you're one of those aggrieved white guys out there harboring the odd misconception that your voice is being unfairly stifled by "political correctness," say it 15 more times, because it just doesn't seem like this concept has sunk in.

If you’re one of those aggrieved feminists out there harboring the odd misconception that your voice is being unfairly stifled by people who disagree with you, or who tell you you suck, or who call you a feminazi, saying it 15 more times. Until you stop having the urge to testify in front of the UN’s Broadband Commission because people who say you suck are silencing you and should be themselves silenced. At least you haven’t been fired, yo. You can keep spouting your unsubstantiated bullshit and all you have to worry about is angry comments full of mean words. 

Consider this week's firing of a white, male Google employee who published a 10-page memo about diversity on an internal company forum. The software engineer used 3,000-or-so wholly unnecessary words to claim that there are fewer women in the tech industry because of "biological causes" and that diversity programs "increase race and gender tensions.”

Why is his whiteness and maleness an issue? Shouldn’t his assertions and arguments be the issue?

who published a 10-page memo about diversity on an internal company forum. The software engineer used 3,000-or-so wholly unnecessary words to claim that there are fewer women in the tech industry because of "biological causes" and that diversity programs "increase race and gender tensions.”

Those words should have been unnecessary, because they essentially replicate the findings of the psychological, neuro and evolutionary science communities and therefore should be common knowledge. Those words should have been unnecessary because they are supported by the evidence. Quillette has a post up with four scientists' responses to the memo, and none of these scientists contradict the bulk of what was presented in the memo. 

In fact, none of Damore's assertions on sex differences are considered controversial in the scientific community. There is some debate as to how large the differences are, and relevant they may be in particular contexts, but no serious debate as to whether or not they exist. 

I myself am very familiar with the work Damore was drawing on, both in terms of sex differences and in terms of the social/moral psychology involved when a given belief or worldview is politicized or moralized and therefore becomes "unquestionable". 

The memo is riddled with sexist stereotypes poorly supported by scientific references that are, at best, dodgy. 

Your Masters in Journalism makes you scientifically literate enough to judge the references used, their chosen instrument/methodology, their detection of and compensation for potential confounds and biases, weighting, replicability, statistical rigor, effect sizes, etc? 

You’re intimately acquainted with the publications this research has been published in, such as the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” or the “British Journal of Guidance and Counselling” or the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” or the “Association for Psychological Science” or the “European Journal of Endocrinology” or the “British Journal of Psychology”? 

I’m guessing you know better than all of the highly educated people who performed and reviewed the research prior to publication. Because journalism is the epitome of scientific literacy. 

You don’t get to just say the research is dodgy. Well, I guess you can just say it, but that doesn’t make it true. 

The only studies I’ve seen that contradict these findings with any sort of attempt at rigor are so methodologically flawed that the methodology was found to have been designed to intentionally avoid detecting sex differences. Such as feminist Daphna Joel’s study that found male and female brains are “a myth” because it was impossible to “type” brains by examination of their structures with a high enough degree of certainty (despite experts being able to accurately sex MRI scans of brains 70-80% of the time—the other 20-30% being the wrong answers and the “I’m not sures” lumped together). 

Researchers criticizing her work fed the morphological facial features of individuals of three species of monkey into her exact methodology, and could only accurately identify the species a given individual 1 to 5% of the time. 
Despite this, Joel's work was widely reported in mainstream media as confirmation that brains are not male- or female-typed, and therefore essentially indistinguishable. Joel has since gone on record in public expressing her astonishment that anyone would be interested in finding and quantifying sex differences, declaring the entire subject "uninteresting", and suggesting that the only reason anyone would look for such differences is to justify discrimination. 

That there are dimensions of human personality and behavior where sex differences are small, or where there is a lot of overlap, does not negate the fact that on a few key metrics men and women tend to be very, very different, and that these differences can and often do influence their preferences and decisions.

And it contains repeated statements that the author is all for diversity, is not sexist and eschews stereotypes — statements proven false by the aforementioned poorly supported sexist stereotypes. 

Well, that would depend on how poorly supported those particular stereotypes are. And they happen to be very well supported across large populations of men and women, and well documented in the literature.

Does this mean that we should discriminate against any individual based on them, at least in terms of employment opportunities? No. And Damore was not arguing that Google should do that, either. He was arguing that Google should be a meritocracy where all individuals are evaluated on things other than their gender, race or other similarly trivial or irrelevant characteristics. 

The reason it’s important to discuss these biological differences is to help us determine whether we are living in a just society that does NOT discriminate. He is quite correct that some of these biological differences will affect people’s interests, preferences and choices as far as occupation and career trajectory.

And here’s an interesting thing, Rex. There’s substantial evidence that it’s not a lack of math ability that keeps women out of tech so much as a surplus of verbal ability. 

A 2013 longitudinal study published in “Psychological Science” found that regardless of sex, individuals with both the high math ability required for STEM AND high verbal ability were significantly less likely to choose STEM careers than individuals who were only high in math ability. Women with high ability in both areas outnumbered men by 70%. Males were more than twice as likely to have only high math ability than females were. When controlled for the correlation of this pattern and the differences in verbal ability in male and female individuals with high math ability, the gender effect was significantly diminished. 

So basically, when men and women can math good AND can talk and write good, they’re more likely to choose careers other than STEM. (Oh, and just FYI, slower verbal development is correlated with prenatal testosterone, though I do think there are things we can do in schools to help boys learn to talk and write as good as girls, such as providing a greater variety of reading assigments.)

The engineer is 28-year-old James Damore — reportedly a graduate of the University of Illinois who grew up in the Chicago suburbs — and his MANifesto also slams Google for not being a friendly place for conservatives, which is odd since conservatives spend a good bit of their time mocking the idea of safe spaces.

"MANifesto." I see what you did there. Bet you thought you were being witty or something. Perhaps Christopher Hitchens was wrong about the gender “funny” gap? Or maybe this is one of those instances of a gender overlap in unfunniness… 

Anyway, Yes, conservatives mock the idea of spaces specifically designed to exclude opposing viewpoints and maintain a safe cocoon for ideological consensus. In that respect, Damore wasn't asking for a "safe space", because he was not asking for other viewpoints to be excluded. He was asking for his viewpoint and the viewpoints of conservatives to no longer be excluded in the ideological "safe space" Google has constructed. 

Not very ironic at all, really. 

He writes: "Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require (sic) for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.”
So the dude who doesn't believe in stereotypes claims conservatives are more conscientious than everyone else. Perfect.

Certain "big five" personality traits correlate heavily with political affiliation. That isn't just "making stuff up", it's well documented in the literature. 

But you being someone who’s intellectually and morally consistent and all, I’m sure you would be just as dismissive and angry if he’d stereotyped liberals as being more open to new things, ideas, experiences, and ways of doing things than conservatives are. 

Wait a minute. Damore actually did say that. Quite clearly. And somehow you didn't take issue with it as negatively stereotyping conservatives, let alone positively stereotyping liberals.

“Well of course liberals are no more openminded regarding change and innovation than conservatives are! That's just a stereotype! Based on dodgy science! Openminded people would never be more likely to align with liberal political ideologies and closed-minded ones with more conservative politics. Stop with these awful stereotypes!” said no pompous, self-congratulatory liberal asshole anywhere.

So you tell me why you didn't criticize his description of right-leaning people as "closed", but only took issue with him describing them as "conscientious"? Perhaps you just don't like the idea that there are positive traits associated with conservatism or that some positive traits don’t correlate with liberalism? 

If you care to read the full memo, you can find it online, though you'll likely sprain an ocular muscle rolling your eyes.

Actually, I found it to be factual, coherent, well-reasoned and well-evidenced. (Well, it was better-evidenced before left leaning editors on Wikipedia began to dismantle the pages he linked to.)

Also, another joke fell flat. The attempt at proper grammar and terminology ruined it, and the hilarious thing is, it’s not even anatomically correct. You don’t sprain muscles, you sprain ligaments

My take — as a white, male who, for whatever reason, is not part of the aggrieved brommunity

Really? You’re not aggrieved? Because this article reads as more of an uninformed, knee-jerk “screed” than Damore’s “MANifesto” could even pretend to. And “brommunity”? Really? This guy strikes you as a “dudebro”? 



James Damore: last seen benching Hooters waitresses, shouting, “work out by day, Joe Rogan Podcast by night, all day!”

 — is that the Google engineer's word barf is insufferable,

Maybe this is part of that gender personality overlap thing. “Insufferable”? Do you need a fainting couch, Rex? Did his arguments give you the vapors? Were you so scandalized that a man could say such at thing that you had the sudden urge to fan yourself and hit him with your reticule? Because I didn’t find his thesis (which is what it was) to be word barf. I certainly didn’t find it insufferable. 

unquestionably insulting to women

I’m a woman. I didn’t find any of it insulting. I found it thoughtful and factual. So did Dr. Debra Soh, a woman of color who writes about the politicization of sex. On the other hand, I find your insistence on taking umbrage on my behalf, and hers, and other women like us, insulting. You don’t know me. You don’t know every woman on the planet. You don’t know what any given woman is going to find insulting. 

Assuming that women as a group would be insulted by this memo is more gender essentialist than anything Damore said. You are literally saying women are so essentially the same we would all react the same way to what was contained in the memo.

(and pretty much any non-white person)

Hmmm. Debra Soh isn’t white. Professor Gad Saad, who would also broadly agree with the memo, is an Arab Jew. 

And frankly, Damore barely mentioned race. Race was only relevant to his memo inasmuch as diversity measures also seek to improve racial diversity at places like Google, and the methods being used—namely, implicit/unconscious bias training—have been shown in the research to not only be ineffective at that, but to have the negative effect of increasing tensions between identifiable groups.

and the epitome of white, male privilege.

If he had any kind of effective “white male privilege” he’d be able to write an uninformed, snarky, completely unsubstantiated screed, even in a distinguished publication like the Chicago Tribune, without being lambasted, smeared and mischaracterized in the mainstream press and then fired. Instead, the opposite happened to our privileged white male dudebro. 

And I’m not even going to blame the fact that you can be this incompetent and wrong and still have a job on “white male privilege”. I’m going to blame it on ideological privilege. The current media, political and corporate culture predominantly supports an ideology that is opposed to the very notion that men and women might have some fundamental differences in personality and preference that are measurable across large populations. 

You know, you guys believe that evolution stopped at the neck. That you are wrong and bordering on batshit insane appears to be immaterial to you. 

And with all that said, he absolutely, without question, had every right in the world to write what he wrote.

Yes he did. So kind of you to make that observation. 

Just like Google had every right to fire his white, male butt for, I assume, violating all manner of company standards and for just being an all-around turd. (I would've fired him just for thinking anyone would want to read a 10-page memo in the first place.)

You know, I just went and did a ctrl-f on your article, and found at least 16 instances of “white male”, “white man”, “white-dude”, "white guy", etc. You sure seem to have a hard on for white guys. Maybe it’s because you suffer from “one good man syndrome” and feel an impulse to bash other men (and thereby distinguish yourself as the one good one), and the only men you’re allowed to bash these days are white? You must have jizzed in your pants when it came out that Damore wasn’t of Pakistani origin.

Be that as it may, Damore has grounds to sue Google under two federal laws and at least one state law. And if I were your boss, I’d fire you for writing an opinion piece on a controversial topic that makes no effort to support said opinion with evidence or reasoning, and that broadly mischaracterizes the topic itself. But alas, I’m not your boss.

There will surely be legal action, and maybe he'll wind up prevailing. But Google was right to can him, and that canning isn't an attempt to curtail his freedom of speech.

No. It was an attempt to keep Google’s workplace ideologically pure, and an attempt to send a very clear warning to anyone else who might have heretical ideas to keep their heads down and their mouths shut rather than offer an opinion, no matter how well reasoned and evidenced, on how to improve the company. It was also a concession to the maniacs in the press who had so vilified and smeared Damore, and so thoroughly misrepresented what he’d said to the public, that Google felt keeping him as an employee would subject the entire company to the same treatment. 

50% of Google employees responding to a poll disagreed with Google’s decision to fire Damore. That doesn’t mean they agree with what was contained in Damore’s memo, mind you. They disagree that him thinking those things, or writing them down and circulating them, was a fireable offence. 

He can say or write whatever he wants. But the things he says and writes might come with consequences, particularly when he's sharing his words on an internal company forum.

He wrote and circulated the memo a month before he was fired. No higher-ups even took him to task for it. He wasn’t fired until after the memo leaked to the public and the press began its spin game. 

If the memo itself didn’t raise a stir until it became public, then perhaps it’s the individual who leaked the memo to the press who should be canned. 

This isn't a First Amendment issue. 

Of course it’s not. Google is not the government. Yet. That doesn’t make it not a free speech issue. Just like pro-life protesters showing women photos of aborted fetuses on the steps of Planned Parenthood isn’t a “right to abortion issue”. Those women going into the clinic still have a right to abortion, right? No matter who is standing on either side of them, and what message they’re conveying via words and imagery, as those women walk up the steps.

Somehow I have the feeling you’d disagree. 

The government isn't interfering with anybody's right to free speech. Still, many white guys have rushed to the Google bro's defense, crying about how put upon they are because they're never allowed to speak their minds.

I’d say being fired for speaking your mind in a perfectly reasonable way, and presenting scientific evidence that is perfectly non-controversial in the scientific community, in response to an official request for feedback on a topic, is kind of the definition of “put upon”. 

Also, has the guy used the word “swole” while I wasn’t looking? Has he asked anyone “do you even lift, bro?”? Has he yelled, “YOLO swag!” out the window of his Camero while driving twice the speed limit through a residential neighborhood? Why do you keep characterizing him as a bro?

If you are a white guy in America, you are not put upon. And if you feel put upon, it's because you can't be bothered to put yourself in another person's shoes for half a minute and try to understand what being put upon actually looks like.

Oh, I know. The privileged white guy narrative is intoxicating to a lot of white guys like you at the top. I mean, it must be very comforting to think that your race and your gender protects you from bad things and gives you an edge over the competition. And it also gives you something to bash the rest of the competition with. “I’m a white guy, and I’m nothing like all those other white guys. They’re BAD. I’m GOOD.”

Anyway, I seem to recall Damore saying something about men being more driven that women in terms of status seeking. What does the white male privilege narrative do for some men other than give them the illusion of high status? I mean, you have all this white male privilege, Rex. It’s almost like inheriting money instead of having to earn it, and as long as the illusion holds, as long as everyone still agrees that the currency is valid, well, you’re sitting pretty, aren’t you? Especially if you can portray yourself as spending your currency on philanthropy and all those other white males are spending theirs on racism and sexism and whining about their lot in life.

If you're griping about political correctness, you're really saying you're annoyed because you can't be flip with your language and say things that might offend other people.

You offend me, Mr. Huppke. Your article offends me. It insults me. If I were a feminist, I’d call it one long “mansplanation” about how I as a woman am supposed to feel, think and behave. Nothing in Damore’s memo stereotyped me personally as thin-skinned, prone to negative emotion, quick to take offence and incapable of handling difficult truths. YOU did that when you declared by some “one good man fiat from on high” that I, as a woman, was unquestionably insulted by his memo. 

The pros and cons and the implementation of diversity programs can and should certainly be discussed openly,

Really. Really? The pros and cons of diversity programs can and should be discussed openly, as long as people who disagree with them are okay with being misrepresented and smeared in the press and then fired. Really sets the tone for an “open discussion”. Or is it only as long as they're not white males? Which would essentially render your opinion invalid. 

but a self-righteous screed that's blind to anyone else's point of view isn't a discussion.

I would challenge anyone to read Damore’s memo and actually defend the idea that it was self-righteous or a screed. Do it. Give it the treatment I’ve given your article. Paragraph by paragraph, even line by line. 

Your diatribe here fits that bill much more aptly. You haven’t provided any evidence for your opinion. You haven’t even told us why you object to his memo, other than “muh stereotypes!” and “white male, reeeeeeeee!” You haven’t refuted any of his arguments other than to say “he’s white and he’s male and he’s a “bro”, therefore he’s wrong.”

It's a white guy mansplaining to female and non-white coworkers how diversity should work,

As a female, I’d rather have his mansplaining than yours. His mansplaining is firmly rooted in the science. Your mansplaining is rooted in the assumption that I and all other women should be offended by reality. 

and the very existence of that kind of thinking is why companies need diversity training.

To get bitches like me in line? The very existence of that kind of thinking? Really? 

Because I think like that, Mr. Huppke. A bisexual working class woman who’s apparently more acquainted with the science than you are. Do you think I need to be reeducated? To what lengths are you willing to go to cram me back into my victim box where I belong?

It's not a liberal or a conservative concept. It's a human concept,

What’s a human concept? That all people are identical? That there are no heritable differences between individuals or groups? That people should be treated as individuals and hired based on merit rather than their membership in a given class of people defined by skin color, or genitalia, or who they like to fuck, or god forbid, whether they use edgy, made-up pronouns? That people should have equal opportunities and the freedom to decide what to do with them, and that sometimes women will choose differently from men? That evolution didn’t stop at the neck? That having a greater interest in people or aesthetics does not make a person, or even a class of people on average, inferior to people who have a greater interest in things or ideas? That equality doesn’t equal sameness? That it takes all sorts? That despite the ways we’re different, we should value each other as humans and judge each other as individuals?

Or is it a human concept that there is only one path to value and self-actualization—the one favored by males? That the idea that people might be born different from each other must mean some have greater value and some have lesser? That we must therefore deny the idea that people are born different and punish anyone who suggests it? Is it a human concept that women are a hive mind, devoid of any opinion that doesn’t originate in our chromosomes or our vaginas, that we all think and feel the same, and that our opinions should first and foremost be that we are insulted by any HINT of a suggestion that we are not identical to men? 

I mean, who's hating or devaluing women here, Mr. Huppke? A guy who acknowledges how they’re different on average from men, places positive value on many of those differences, and recommends that Google can appeal more to women by appealing to those differences? Or someone like you who claims that any suggestion that women aren’t 100% identical to men is an insult to women?

one that only requires the humility to acknowledge that you might not understand what it's like to be another person.

You do realize that not even all white guys are the same, right? I mean, I suppose on some level you have to understand that, since you’re the “one good one”, while the rest are all privileged dudebro assholes. But what makes you an expert on other people’s experiences, Rex? You certainly don’t seem to have one clue as to how a woman like me thinks and feels. And yet you’re the one speaking on behalf of all women. 

Now let me get to the conclusion promised at the beginning of this column. This may prove controversial, but I'm sure my fellow white men will agree that I have every right in the world to share this conclusion, because white-dude thoughts are always worth sharing:

You have every right to say stupid things, sure. But not because you’re a white dude. Because you’re a human being and you live in a country that values freedom of speech. 

Some white men are not biologically suited to writing memos about diversity.

And that white man’s name is apparently Rex Huppke. 

They are too neurotic and tend to perform better in bubbles in which their sense of dominance is reinforced by other neurotic white men. These white men also tend to be overly emotional, particularly when fired for writing diversity memos, and can become hysterical when held accountable.

Um… I would challenge you to watch all the interview footage of James Damore. He comes across as analytical and humble, and quite sanguine about the situation. There’s less hysterical emotionality in all of that footage than in this not quite 900 word article. 

Your position is indefensible, Rex. 

This is not to say I am opposed to diversity in diversity memo writing. This particular subset of white men is capable of working in supporting roles, possibly supplying a company's more biologically qualified women or people of color with printer paper, or perhaps procuring coffee for them while they write sensible diversity memos.

“Sensible” diversity memos that may or may not be backed by the scientific literature. I mean, I’m sure there are women and people of color out there who are perfectly capable of looking at the relevant science and constructing a thesis and list of suggestions that are both fair and workable. I suspect that they’d look a lot like James Damore’s memo. 

Because, and I know this is going to sound weird, Rex, but not all white men think the same. Not all people of color think the same. Not all women think the same. 

Here is a short list of examples of women and people of color who disagree with you, Rex.










But attempts to encourage white men to write diversity memos is clearly social engineering run amok. We must respect the differences in our DNA and the skill sets our biology have clearly predetermined.

Because white and male are excluded from the definition of diversity now. A “diverse” workplace is one that only concerns itself with women and people of color. And it certainly doesn’t concern itself with diversity of thought. That would be blasphemy, wouldn’t it?

Let's stay in our lanes, shall we?


Yeah, no thanks. I’m happy to choose my lane for myself, Mr. Huppke.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Open comment to Liana K

This is the text of a comment I left on Liana Kerzner's video response to me.

I have been informed that the comment is not visible, despite the url linking directly to my comment. Here is what it looks like to me (note the flair "highlighted comment"):



Here is what the exact same url looks like to other people:




Now, I don't know whether my comment, which contained two links, ended up in her spam filter, or whether I'm now blocked from commenting on her channel. But I will put the text of my comment here so everyone can see it:

EDIT: it has come to my attention that a different test comment I left is indeed visible to other people, so the following comment being invisible is almost certainly not due to any nefariousness on the part of Liana K. That being said, I still do want people to see this comment.

First thing: My dog recently died while I was overseas, a horrible situation in which my 14 year old son was mostly left with the burden of dealing with her sudden illness, even more sudden death and the necessity of dealing with her remains, without me here to help him with his grief. And well, she was my dog for 10 years, and I'm also still grieving. Also, two close friends of mine have been diagnosed with cancer in the last week, and one of them has been given a month to live. And despite my best efforts to try to revive my thyroid gland and get it working properly, I'm still finding myself with almost no appetite or energy and needing sleep in the afternoons. But please, don't anyone take this statement as me trying to engage your sympathies. :/ Liana, you did demand an apology from me, as a condition of coming on a radio show I almost certainly wouldn't have even been participating in. It was a requirement you put out, before you would even come to the table and talk with people who are NOT me. Below are some quotes from our exchange: "I was more than willing to talk to you as long as it seemed like you were approaching it in good faith. That was the purpose of the apology. I didn't get it, Allison told me I would not be getting it, and so I didn't think any ensuing conversation would be productive for obvious reasons." Yeah. So in order for you to be willing to talk to BRIAN on an HBR Fireside Chat in which I wouldn't even be present, you demanded an apology FROM ME over my comments about you, comments I made as myself and not as a representative of HBR. You essentially told HBR, "make her apologize, or I won't come on your show. It's either her or me." That's a demand. Not only this, as far as I know you didn't even tell them what I had said about you that required this apology. To my knowledge, THIS is the comment I made for which you were demanding an apology. http://imgur.com/a/b9lc4 Here is what I said about your statements on Lauren's show: "She and I were guests on Lauren Southern's Rebel Media show about a year ago to discuss the Jian Ghomeshi case as well, and her assertions and arguments there were... astoundingly inaccurate and betrayed a stunning ignorance of the criminal justice process and how it's supposed to function. She spoke with confidence and authority while making assertions that were entirely factually inaccurate (such as claiming that in the US, unlike in Canada, the prosecutor acts as a legal representative of the complainant. Uh, no. In the Canadian system, the prosecutor represents the Crown, in the US the prosecutor represents "the people", not the complainant or victim)." Here is what you said in response to that: "And since that Lauren Southern episode is still behind a paywall, people can't see it for themselves. They have to take your word regarding what I said, and you're hardly an impartial judge. You're somewhat misrepresenting the nuance and context of what I was saying, which was that demands by activists for additional advocacy for victims would be redundant. The Crown is pursuing charges on behalf of the accuser. The accuser should not need protection from the Crown. I don't understand why you're picking a fight here. I believe the right verdict was reached based on how the case was tried. There's no disagreement between us here, and yet you're making it sound like there is by throwing out a reference with very little context." Christ sake, even in your defence of what you said, claiming I misrepresented you, you get it wrong. The Crown (or the DA in the US) is pursuing charges on behalf of the people, not the accuser. "I still think you cross the line when you attack a person's characteristics which they cannot control," I apologized in my video for what I said about your voice. I apologized for how I worded the one comment that someone (not you) provided so that I would know what I was supposed to be apologizing for. I clarified that I was not apologizing for saying that half the stuff you say is BS. I uploaded my critique of your appearance on Standoff for two reasons: 1) as a justification for my refusal to apologize for saying half of what you say is BS. MORE than half of what you said in that interview was misinformed, bogus, inaccurate, etc. 2) to demonstrate to people that your suggestion that I was taking you out of context thinking I could get away with it because the video was behind a paywall and people can't check for themselves, was bogus. You made a false accusation (or, I suppose, more appropriately, false insinuation) about me, and I wasn't going to allow that to stand. "and you've said some other choice things about me that weren't just harsh." I won't consider apologizing for them until I know what they are. "They were assumptions about my motivations that you could not possibly know, and your "proof" of your assertions was essentially layman's psychoanalysis. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and your opinion is not evidence." I won't consider apologizing for them until I know what they are. Show me what I said and the context in which I said it, and I will consider it. I asked you in that thread, multiple times, for context regarding the one comment a third party had linked to. I wanted to know where I'd left that comment. What, specifically, was I commenting on. The person who'd made the video was finally kind enough to link it to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJR2XCxs8Ls He'd made it unlisted because it contained more "pwnage" than he was going for with his channel overall, but has recently unlisted it because of this controversy. I would suggest people go give it a listen, and ask themselves whether my comments about your delivery were completely out of line in the context in which I was making them. Now you are perfectly entitled to be as satisfied or dissatisfied with my apology as you wish. And you're perfectly welcome to bring to my attention, in their full context, whatever else I've said about you that you believe is worthy of an apology. But I will not apologize for being right and pointing out how you are wrong. I will not apologize for defending myself against your insinuations regarding dishonesty on my part. I will not apologize for things I have not said (for instance, I won't apologize for calling YOU functionally retarded, because I didn't). And I will not apologize for not apologizing in the exact way you wanted me to apologize. Like it or don't. This is the best you're ever going to get out of me. If I would not demand an apology from someone if the situation were reversed, I will not give them the apology they demand.

Monday, 3 April 2017

To the management of the Plaza Theatre in Calgary


UPDATE: Success! The screening is back on. The Plaza changed its mind. Yay!



https://www.facebook.com/theplazacalgary/posts/10154221115476854


To the management of the Plaza Theatre,

My name is Karen Straughan. I’m a men’s advocate located in Edmonton, and am featured in the movie The Red Pill, which was to be screened at your theatre tomorrow evening. I am told that you’ve changed your mind, in part because of feedback such as this comment written by Felicity Hart on Facebook.


To The Plaza theatre;

As a fan and long time patron, I am concerned at the upcoming rental of your theatre to Father’s Rights Alberta for the screening of The Red Pill. The film claims to be supporting mens rights but is in fact created and promoted by Mens Rights Activist groups, which actively seek to get rid of equal rights for women and minorities, and are considered a hate group by the southern poverty law centre; an organization which tracks hate groups such as soldiers of odin, the kkk and nazi and fascist organizations in North America.

It is deeply concerning that your venue would care more about revenue than the safety of those attending your theatre, and of women in general in Calgary. Not only can I and my friends and family not in good conscience ever attend a venue which supports hate speech, but I know I and other women cannot feel safe in a venue that plays host to men who actively advocate for rape, brutalization, and violence against women (examples of this behaviour can be found on the southern poverty law centre website, or by googling mra abuse, or Paul Elam, who is the main subject of the film you are screening).

While I understand the group is obscure and the theatre may not have known, they are a hate group, and I doubt the theatre would host the KKK or a holocaust denier group.
I encourage you to cancel the screening instead of supporting hate and abuse against women, and look forward to being able to safely attend the theatre in the future if this is the case.

-Thank-you!

I’m writing to you to ask you to reconsider cancelling the screening. I am unsure whether people like Ms. Hart are intentionally lying, or simply repeating falsehoods they’ve read on blogs and elsewhere with the sincere belief that they are true. I must inform you that whatever the case, a great deal of what Ms. Hart says in her comment is simply untrue.

The Southern Poverty Law Center did indeed publish some articles pointing out examples of “misogynistic” content on several websites in what they described as the “manosphere”. However, they were forced to post a clarification after feminists and others took these articles as an official listing of these websites as “hate sites”, and the broader men’s rights community as a “hate group”. They have repeatedly indicated that 1) they made no such claim that these groups are hate groups, nor have they made any such claim in the interim; 2) that websites such as A Voice for Men, despite some objectionable content, highlight very serious issues of injustice and discrimination faced by men and boys. 

“It should be mentioned that the SPLC did not label MRAs as members of a hate movement; nor did our article claim that the grievances they air on their websites – false rape accusations, ruinous divorce settlements and the like – are all without merit. But we did call out specific examples of misogyny and the threat, overt or implicit, of violence.”

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2012/05/15/intelligence-report-article-provokes-fury-among-mens-rights-activists

I have been involved in this movement since 2010, and have spoken at and attended many events hosted by various organizations and groups within the movement. Without exception, the individuals at these events are warm, kind, decent people with genuine concern for fairness and justice. 

During my tenure as a leading voice in the movement, I have seen the movement slandered in social media, on blogs and in the mainstream media, via false associations with mass murderers like Elliot Rodger or white nationalist groups. 

Rodger was described as being influenced by the men’s rights movement by a single, pseudonymous blogger/journalist at The Daily Kos, despite there being no evidence he was even aware of the movement. The rest of the mainstream media took the claim at face value and ran with it. Pretty soon, the claims being made all over social media were that Rodger was an active MRA. While this may be a case of the media being careless with fact-checking, the next example cannot be described as such. 

http://m.dailykos.com/story/2014/05/24/1301671/-Elliot-Roger-Gunman-in-California-Mass-Shooting-was-influenced-by-the-Men-s-Rights-Movement

ABC’s 20/20, in advance of a planned in-depth expose on Paul Elam, published a “teaser article” in which a viciously misogynistic comment glorifying violence was quoted and described as “commonplace” on Elam’s website. The only problem is that the only place on Elam’s website where that comment existed at the time the article was written was in a post where Elam used it as an example of the types of comments that would not be tolerated, wherein he warned readers that any such talk on his site would get the culprit permanently banned. ABC was forced to print a clarification regarding the quoted comment. 

Please note, the only place the authors of the teaser article could have gotten that quote was from an article by Paul Elam describing it and similar comments as completely unacceptable and a bannable offence. That’s not a journalist too busy to fact-check. That’s a journalist engaging in obvious dishonesty. 


When Wild Rose on Campus attempted to hold a screening of The Red Pill in Calgary not long ago, the screening was cancelled amid a media furore over the phrase “feminism is cancer”. A Women’s Studies professor at UofC, Rebecca Sullivan, was invited onto a CBC Calgary news program to “inform” the public about what MRAs are really all about.


Some interesting quotes from her interview:

“[Describing MRAs] ‘If only we could just have sex with whoever and whatever we want, whenever we want, then maybe we wouldn't have to rape you’… They are banking on decent Canadians not understanding what they are saying and we need to understand what is being said.”

I certainly know that when I am arguing in favor of legally protecting boys from genital cutting the way we protect girls, or that we need to deal with the decline in educational attainment for boys, what I really mean is that I want any man who walks by to have the right to have sex with me, right then and there in the dairy section of my local Safeway if he wants to. I know when I’m arguing for shared custody following divorce, or for preserving due process in criminal courts, what I’m really saying is that any and all men deserve the right to sex with my daughter when she’s walking home from the bus stop. 

Professor Sullivan’s claims were so patently ridiculous, it would be jaw-dropping to me if I wasn’t so accustomed to it. And the fact that the interviewer never once challenged Sullivan on any of her outlandish and, frankly, slanderous assertions would have completely annihilated my trust in the mainstream media if I had a single shred of it left. That this woman is considered an “expert” on gender issues, employed by a university to teach this drivel to students is, in all honesty, horrifying to me.

I am a mother of three children, two of them grown and one in his teens. I would never support a movement interested in oppressing or marginalizing my daughter, let alone act as a leader within such a movement. I would never support a movement advocating to take away my own rights. 

You are in a difficult position here, I realize. The men’s rights movement is controversial, and this particular film is controversial because of that. 

But if you are going to cancel a screening of a movie that received three awards, including Best in Festival, at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, a film produced and directed by a feminist woman, I want you to know exactly what you are basing your decision on: lies, ignorance and blatant fear mongering. 

Oh, and just for your information, here is the director/producer discussing the film. Just so you know exactly who has these boycotters in a state of terror:


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/red-pill-director-cassie-jaye-1.4034578

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Update: Rumors of the Badgers' Defeat Have Been Wildly Exaggerated

First, the good news:

The Motion for Summary Dismissal brought by Calgary Expo and The Mary Sue was dismissed by a judge on Friday morning (January 13). This was the case for all four causes of action: injurious falsehood and incitement to breach of contract against The Mary Sue, and injurious falsehood and breach of contract against Calgary Expo.

This case will be going forward, under all four causes of action.

The bad news:

It took a essentially full day in court to hear arguments for and against a Summary Judgment to dismiss the case, which left insufficient time in the schedule to actually hold the trial.

The judge, after having read the Statement of claim, and reviewed the various affidavits (2 submitted by defence to support their Motion, 1 submitted by Alison in response), and having glanced over the Exhibits provided by all parties, understood this would be a complex case to hear in full. As such, he deemed it appropriate to set aside three full days for the trial itself (the trial that SHOULD have happened on the trial dates January 12 and 13). The first opening for a three-day trial is November 28, 29 and 30.

We certainly could have started the trial on the 13th, if we'd chosen to. If we had, we'd be stuck with this judge, and the next two consecutive days he had free were in December. It would have been worth it, for sure, if we were able to have the witnesses we'd flown in from Illinois, Ohio, California and the UK testify that day. However, because Alison is the plaintiff and has the right to be in the courtroom during all testimony, it's highly problematic to have her listen to her witnesses give evidence prior to giving her own.

Alison must be the first to take the stand if we want her testimony to be seen as untainted. Direct and cross examination (then redirect and response) of Alison may take a full day, perhaps longer. And possibly splitting up her testimony between January 13th and December 12th wasn't going to do us any good. At best it's a neutral, at worst, it will weaken the impact of her evidence. However things fell out, the trial wasn't going to be finished on January 13th.

So we opted to adjourn proceedings until November 28th, at which point the case will be heard by a different judge, on three consecutive days.

A new date of August 1 (if I recall correctly) has been set as a final deadline for exchange of documents (such as submitting affidavits, entering evidentiary exhibits, etc). We expect counsel for Calgary Expo and The Mary Sue will attempt to dig through every word any of us has published online to potentially use as evidence that we are, indeed, space lepers who deserved to be expelled from the Expo.

They also attempted to prejudice the court by requesting a publication ban on the contact information of the defendants and their witnesses by citing a risk of harassment of said individuals by HBB and fellow space lepers #GamerGate and AVoiceforMen.

Our legal dynamo, Harry Kopyto, objected to any such ban, arguing that people's names, addresses and phone numbers are a matter of public record and publication bans should be ordered with extreme caution. The judge agreed with Harry, telling defence counsel that they had not demonstrated any such risk exists. To my mind, this is significant, since the Mary Sue had alleged harassment by Alison at the panel discussion in their article and their affidavit, the affidavit filed in support of Calgary Expo repeated that allegation, and #GamerGate was described in both defence affidavits as being "notorious for harassing". Essentially, the judge said, "well, you keep telling me about all this harassment, but you haven't actually demonstrated it, yo. If and when you can show me some evidence of harassment of your clients and their agents, come talk to me and I'll change my mind."

For our part at HBB, we're not interested in disseminating anyone's contact information, nor in having it dug up and disseminated by someone else, nor in contacting any of the parties involved, nor in having any of our supporters do so.

As we did at Calgary Expo, we will continue to embrace an ethic of civility and non-aggression, and we hope to lead by our example. We did not harass anyone, and we will not engage in any behavior that could be regarded as harassment. We do not condone harassment, and will continue to promote calm and reasoned debate, polite disagreement, respecting the rights of others, and following the rules of a civilized society.

We are the people who politely state our case and allow others to approach us and engage in a discourse, not the ones who barge into other people's events, screaming profanities while they're trying to give a speech or pulling fire alarms to shut it down. This is who we are, and who we will continue to be.

I'm certain HBB will be giving more detailed updates on everything that happened the last few days, once we've all had a chance to collect our thoughts.

Thank you again to everyone who supported our fundraisers, and I only wish I could reveal a verdict. But again, while this court session was a victory for us, the final verdict will have to wait until November.