PZ Myers is being sued by at least one person we know of – he regularly asks his readers to donate to his legal defense fund – but, we’re sometimes surprised he’s not sued by more of the people he defames.
Richard Stallman is a case in point.
PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:
You know, Richard Stallman has always been an egotistical jerk, so he had to poke his head up and demonstrate it once again. His latest is to claim that Epstein’s “harem” — I guess that’s his word for “victims” — were “mostly willing”. Ugh. You aren’t helping, rms. Crawl back into your hole.https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/09/15/hows-mit-doing-lately/
That’s an astounding claim, if true. You’d have to wonder about the sanity of someone who would say the underage victims of Jeffrey Epstein were “mostly willing.” The question then becomes, did Richard Stallman say that?
Our first clue was when we clicked on the link PZ provided as evidence and searched for the phrase, “mostly willing.” Those two words never appear next to each other in the text. The only time the word “mostly” appears is when it directly precedes the word “nice.”
Okay. So what about the word “willing”? That word appears three times, and all three are direct quotes from Stallman. So we’ll let him take it from here:
The announcement of the Friday event does an injustice to Marvin Minsky: “deceased AI ‘pioneer’ Marvin Minsky (who is accused of assaulting one of Epstein’s victims)”https://medium.com/@selamie/remove-richard-stallman-fec6ec210794
The injustice is in the word “assaulting”. The term “sexual assault” is so vague and slippery that it facilitates accusation inflation: taking claims that someone did X and leading people to think of it as Y, which is much worse than X.
The accusation quoted is a clear example of inflation. The reference reports the claim that Minsky had sex with one of Epstein’s harem.
Let’s presume that was true (I see no reason to disbelieve it).
The word “assaulting” presumes that he applied force or violence, in some unspecified way, but the article itself says no such thing. Only that they had sex.
We can imagine many scenarios, but the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing. Assuming she was being coerced by Epstein, he would have had every reason to tell her to conceal that from most of his associates.
I’ve concluded from various examples of accusation inflation that it is absolutely wrong to use the term “sexual assault” in an accusation. Whatever conduct you want to criticize, you should describe it with a specific term that avoids moral vagueness about the nature of the criticism.
Stallman does not, in fact, claim that Epstein’s harem were “mostly willing.” His claim is the exact opposite, that the women were being coerced and were not willing participants.
Stallman’s point is that it’s wrong to claim Marvin Minsky “assaulted” any of these women without further evidence since the women themselves would most likely have presented themselves as consenting adults. In other words, from Minsky’s perspective, he may not have known the women were being coerced, and as such the term “sexual assault” isn’t one that should be used in his case.
His point is absolutely clear, and probably true. PZ chose to not only willfully misunderstand it, but to completely invert what Stallman said and lie about it.
To be fair to PZ, Selam G., the person who wrote the original Medium post, also lied about what Stallman said. But PZ can read and should have checked Selam’s work before publishing this smear.
Envy is a hell of a drug, and PZ Myers, it seems, gets high on trying to tear down those people who are more successful than him. And if he has to do that by lying, so be it.
Today: 1 science-related post, 4 posts on other stuff
Since 30 May 19: 104 science-related posts, 357 non-science posts.
23% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science.
Today: 1 PZ Myers Lie
Since 30 May 19: 121 PZ Myers Lies
Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.