Anyhow, I'm paying attention to the latest scandal for only one reason: because it's about the alleged sins of DJ Grothe, and listening to him on Point of Inquiry for a couple of years made me think the world of him. His alleged crime, in a nutshell, is making this argument (I will number the steps for clarity):
(1) Some people in the online atheist community have been talking about the mistreatment of women at atheist meetings out of proportion with how frequently mistreatment occurs. It doesn't occur frequently at all, if you go by a survey of 800+ attendees conducted by DJ at The Amazing Meeting (TAM) last summer.
(2) This disproportionate talk of mistreatment may be scaring women away from further meetings (like this summer's TAM), and gratuitously so, given how frequently mistreatment actually occurs (see (1)). Thus, the way people are trying to reduce mistreatment is interfering with the separate goal of increasing female representation at meetings.
Now, you could criticize this argument. About (1), you might say that the survey measured mistreatment at just one meeting, and that it was a singular meeting, coming (as it did) so soon after the elevatorgate controversy. About (2), you could say that it's only possible that all the talk is reducing attendance at this summer's TAM. That's speculative, and DJ doesn't have proof.
Fine, criticisms like that wouldn't be untoward (which is not to say I find them conclusive). But instead what we see is piles and piles of ... horse excrement. I don't really want to spend too much time wading through it, so will just pluck out a few examples. One is the accusation that, by making claims (1) and (2), DJ is guilty of the sin of "blaming the victim."
This is just weird. Surely it does sometimes happen that people talk about mistreatment of Xs out of proportion to how often it occurs, and this can scare away Xs. Worrying about this -- and speaking out about it -- can't possibly be out of the question. If that does sometimes occur, could it possibly be taboo to try to tamp down the excessive talk, to make a plea for proportionality? No, it really can't.
And when you do point out disproportionality and worry about possible negative consequences, no, you're not "blaming the victim" within the usual meaning of that phrase. You're not blaming victims for being victims. The blame has got to be about overgeneralization or extrapolation or spurious inferences. Or perhaps the complaint is about other people, people who are not victims at all, who make it seem as if there are far more victims than there really are. This worry about disproportional talk and overgeneralization is perfectly consistent with taking injustice to individual victims very, very seriously. All signs are that DJ Grothe does (and I certainly do).
Saying (1) and (2) should have been possible in a community of so-called "skeptics". People who claim to care about reasoning and data should have taken notice of the survey data that was the foundation of DJ's argument. But no, it's seldom mentioned in the endless discussions at blogs. A rational debate about (1) and (2) could have taken place, but was instead pre-empted by all sorts of histrionics, like demands for DJ's resignation, accusations that he doesn't care about harassment, ludicrous charges about his being gay and being out of sympathy with women, etc. etc.
Good heavens. If I were a religious person, I'd keep close track of what passes for reasonable discussion at atheist blogs and I'd be laughing my head off. As it is, I'm doing some laughing, but also shaking my head in disbelief. OK, back to trees ....