Among the comments of Ophelia's post , where she makes light of the Twitter hashtag #FTBullies, many of the sycophantic baboons aggressively laugh and joke about how cool they think they are that the hashtag got hijacked.
Comment #55 points out that the original post, along with the comments, is, in essence, proving the point of Paula Kirby's Open Letter, and the hashtag itself. This comment is rebuked by julian and Ophelia herself, so the poster then asks how many of the FfTB bloggers had actually addressed the points raised in the letter, rather than just posturing with name calling and childish behaviour. julian replies that Ophelia had written a rebuttal, and Rebecca Watson had written a post at Skepchick. Ophelia also replies, but states that she had mainly addressed the name calling and Paula's use of feminazi and femistasi instead of the arguments in her letter, because she had been named.The issue appears to have been dropped (due to Ophelia's turning on moderation for the questioners comments). The screenshot shows that what Ophelia is doing (censoring comments of dissenters) is proving the point of Paula's letter, as well as pointing out that a number of people are finding the FfTB attitude to be elitist and arrogant, and that any disagreement with the FfTB orthodoxy is censored out of existence.
Instead of allowing that comment to stand, Ophelia instead chose to email the commenter as follows:
- From: Ophelia Benson 
Sent: 07 July 2012 1:51 PM
- From: Ophelia Benson 
- Look. I get a lot of trolls, thanks to rants like Paula's (and those of people with much less claim to be otherwise rational debaters). If you want to comment you have to say something of substance. No, just "asking a question" doesn't count, especially when it's such a trollish question. (Compare: when did you stop beating your children?) Maybe you're not just trolling, but so far you've given me absolutely no reason to think so.
It is clearly beyond Ophelia to actually address valid questions posed on her blog, and knowing any further comment attempted by the questioner would not be published, the response to her was as a reply to her email as follows:
- From: Steve Williamson 
Sent: 07 July 2012 9:49 PM
To: 'Ophelia Benson'
Subject: RE: commenting
- From: Steve Williamson 
- Hi Ophelia,
- Thanks for your email.
- I will take the liberty of responding to it. Your short email, in my opinion further, enforces the perception among many, that FtB bloggers are becoming rather arrogant in how they handle commenters, or those that may disagree with what has been blogged. Generally, I found the tone of your email to me to be quite arrogant, condescending and patronising. You did not even address me with a greeting (as I have to you) which is rather impolite, regardless of whether or not you think you are dealing with a troll. Politeness always should be used. “Look” is not a good way to earn the respect of the person you are addressing, particularly when you do not know the mindset of this person.
- To address the points you made;
- OK – you get a lot of trolls – but then, which online discussion forum / blog doesn’t. The question I posed was not trollish in my opinion. I have read many of the FtB blogs since Paula published her letter and generally none of them are addressing the points made. The hashtag FTBullies being hijacked was also very childish and actually proves the point being made by the hashtag, as well as displaying the childishness of those doing the hijacking. Hence the question, which was not actually answered: How many of the FtB bloggers have actually responded to the points made in Paula’s letter? I did not ask *who* had responded – how many of them? Why is this a trollish question given the current atmosphere? The question *does* have “substance” as you call it – as it is pertinent to the current situation. OK – so your response to Paula’s letter addressed her naming you. This is fine and what one would expect. Why did you not then rise above this and continue and address the points she wrote about? I must say that all these “blog-wars” that have been going on recently are making the sceptical community quite laughable in many peoples eyes. Note that I have yet to actually state my opinion / thoughts on the whole affair – merely pointing out what is being perceived by many people I am in regular contact with and Paula’s letter should not really have come as a surprise. As I have said – there are quite a few FtB members who recently are showing very egocentric and elitist traits in their writing and in particular in their responses to comments.
- Your comparison question is quite silly and a bad analogy really. The question I asked was IMHO quite valid. If a FtB member were to take Paula’s letter and answer / address the points raised rather than just resorting to childish name calling, then surely that would be far more productive than the bickering that is currently going on? It is also perceived that most of this childish behaviour is originating from those at FtB, likely in response to those who comment with a disagreement of what was written, which I have seen a lot from some quarters there from people I would have expected better of. I used to be an avid reader of these blogs, but now rarely look at certain pages there as the tone changed somewhat recently and the attitude of the elitist viewpoint where disagreement is met with scorn and derision from not only the commenters but from the blog authors themselves, despite the disagreement being put forward in a very polite and rational manner. This of course may not be the case – but it is certainly the perception among many, which I think is the main reason Paula wrote the letter in the first place. This I feel is quite an important issue to be honest. How a group / network of blogs is perceived is rather important to how it is then received and how serious the issues being discussed are then taken by the readers. Maybe it may be worth taking this up with Ed? As I said – it may not be the perception from the “inside looking out”, but the outside view looking in is certainly such among many, many people. I feel I must also point out that I am not taking any sides on this, and there are a number of blogs on FtB that I do read daily / whenever a new post is made.
- Please review your original mail to and be honest with yourself in whether you would like to receive such an email in response to what you considered to be a valid question, relevant to the current situation. As I hope you can see from my longish reply to you, I feel it is NOT a trollish question at all. Just how many of FtB bloggers *have* actually responded to the points raised, which I am kind of raising in this email, albeit possibly using a different tone to Paula’s letter?
- Kind regards
To date there has been no further email contact from Ophelia, but it would appear that she has partially listened to what was stated to her in the email, and has posted what she would think of as a response to the points raised in Paula's letter, but slightly misses out (and creates a strawman in the process), as she initially only points to a post made by someone else not part of the FfTB network.
PZ Myers, not to be outdone, and with evidence of some form af chit chat in their backchannel (as suggested in the email), also writes a post which, incidentally, merely links to the same article Ophelia referred to along with a second link.
Natually the baboons are all over this, in their usual inimitable style, with personal slurs and strawmen aplenty.