My thoughts on Myers' post about Michael Shermer
On 08 August 2013, Paul Zachary Myers posted about being handed a ‘grenade‘ with the pin pulled out. Basically, he wrote that a woman told him she was raped by Michael Shermer at a conference a while ago.
That Myers chose to ‘reprint‘ this shows not only a complete lack of common sense, but is also indicative of the incredibly spurious depths to which he will sink to garner a few blog hits.
This is not ‘bringing to light‘ a problem in the skeptic community. It is not an attempt to reveal some sort of dark underbelly of rampant sexual abuse that permeates the skeptic conference circuit. It is yellow journalism, if I even dare to use the word ‘journalism‘ in connection to anything that has come out of Pharyngula for quite some time.
First, this is very likely libelous and if I were Mr. Shermer, I’d be contacting an attorney, post haste, for advice on filing a law suit.
If you’re unfamiliar with this issue, Myers wrote on his blog that he was the recipient of ‘explosive‘ information of unethical behavior by a ‘big name’ in the skeptical community. Already I feel like I am reading an article on The Blaze. He follows up immediately by putting ‘yeah, like that hasn’t been happening a lot lately‘ in parentheses. Hello, Fox News.
So, the reader doesn’t know what to expect at this point, except that some prominent individual did something unethical and it was not just ‘bad,’ but ‘really bad.‘ Oh, and that it has been ‘happening a lot lately.’
In true supermarket tabloid form, he then attempts to abdicate any responsibility or sense of accountability for what he is about to do, by making sure to tell everyone that the bombshell he is about to drop comes from the victim, herself. Or, as he puts it, ‘straight from the victim’s mouth.’ This is a tactic that is commonly used in gossip-fests and shows a level of maturity befitting your average eighth-grader.
Then, he throws in comments that would appear to be his attempt to put himself in the category of being a surrogate victim just by virtue of receiving this information, because now he has the ‘dilemma‘ of whether or not revealing it is the ‘right thing to do.’
No, PZ, it wasn’t the right thing to do. It was so utterly and completely wrong on so many levels. What you did was reprehensible.
But I digress…
PZ continues his combination of build up and plausible deniability by stating,
“I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do, I can do no other. I will again emphasize, though, that I have no personal, direct evidence that the event occurred as described…”
Then, he does a copy/paste of the information:
“At a conference, Mr. Shermer coerced me into a position where I could not consent, and then had sex with me. I can’t give more details than that, as it would reveal my identity, and I am very scared that he will come after me in some way. But I wanted to share this story in case it helps anyone else ward off a similar situation from happening. I reached out to one organization that was involved in the event at which I was raped, and they refused to take my concerns seriously. Ever since, I’ve heard stories about him doing things (5 different people have directly told me they did the same to them) and wanted to just say something and warn people, and I didn’t know how. I hope this protects someone.”
Apparently, the woman had consumed alcohol that was, presumably, offered to her by Mr. Shermer that apparently led to a sexual encounter.
This is not my speculation, but PZ’s, as evidenced in comment #51:
Oh, yes, PZ. We all know the routine, all right. You see what he does here, with his little ‘Next up‘ caveat? This is a logical fallacy, something that PZ has been steadily excelling at. It makes no distinction between being ‘at fault‘ and being personally responsible for reducing one’s risk for becoming a victim.
Let me clarify, lest the previous sentence end up in one of those famous ‘he is a rape apologist‘ tweets that PZ & Company are so fond of farting into the ether:
“The victim of a crime is never ‘at fault.’ That onus falls completely on the actor. That is not now nor has it ever been in dispute.”
My issue with what PZ posted is not about:
- Whether or not this woman was the victim of sexual assault
- What role alcohol plays in interpersonal relationships
- Whether or not Mr. Shermer should have had sex with this woman
- Whether or not Mr. Shermer actually had sex with this woman
- Whether or not this woman made clear her intentions early on
- Whether or not this woman should have continued to drink
- Whether or not this woman was able to consent
If Mr. Shermer is guilty of sexual assault, then Mr. Shermer should be made to answer for it. This is a given for anyone. However, these are issues for the courts to decide, and there are protocols in place that address these issues. Are there problems with the system? Yeah, no doubt. Does that have anything to do with the drek that Myers posted? No.
There is a reason why most of us who call ourselves persons of reason cringe when we read supermarket tabloids, view websites like The Blaze or happen to catch something from Fox News.
We have all come to expect little more from these sources than libelous, slimy pieces consisting of sensationalist bullshit, devoid of any modicum of integrity, value or credibility that serve no other purpose than to advance the agenda of the collective purveyors we know as attention whores.
What PZ posted fits right in.