Some days it feels like PZ Myers is struggling to hold on to a tenuous grasp on the truth. He’ll dance atop the fence separating fact from fiction, never straying too far into one side or the other.
And then there are days like yesterday and today, where it feels like he’s so far gone he can’t even see the fence. Yesterday, his target was a bunch of college kids at UMM. Today, it’s two frequent punching bags – Richard Carrier and Donald Trump – and one who is relatively new – Andrew Doyle.
Lots to get through today, so let’s jump straight in.
PZ Myers Lie [in bold]:
By the way, while we wait for a decision on the Minnesota case, the next step is a hearing in the Arizona case, in which Carrier, acting as his own lawyer, gets to depose the woman he harassed, which is all kinds of fucked up. Isn’t it nice how the legal system enables his ongoing harassment? https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/09/were-still-looking-for-ways-to-raise-money/
PZ is shilling for money in this post, asking his readers to help pay for the high-priced lawyer he hired (at a discount, apparently) to defend himself against a different Carrier’s lawsuit. Here, he’s talking about a lawsuit Carrier filed against a woman named Amy Frank.
PZ is convinced Carrier harassed Frank, but if you’re interested in Carrier’s side of the story, go here. We’re not in a position to judge the truth of any statements made by either Frank or Carrier, so we won’t do that.
We are in a position, however, to judge whether or not PZ Myers is being truthful, and in this case (heh) he is most certainly not being truthful.
Civil lawsuits, like the one filed by Carrier, can sometimes be purely motivated by the desire to harass. There are rules in some states – including Arizona, where this suit was filed – that try to limit this effect in circumstances similar to those in this case, called Anti-SLAPP laws. Carrier would be, therefore, disincentivized to file a frivolous lawsuit to harass which could get in him trouble. But that’s not the whole story here.
What makes this claim from PZ a lie is the fact that Frank is both counter-suing Carrier and demanding a jury trial.
Frank had several options on the table both before and immediately after Carrier filed his lawsuit. She could have: a) acquiesced to his demands, b) cut a deal that would likely not have involved her paying Carrier any money (we think Carrier probably would have settled for an apology, deserved or not), c) defend herself or hire a lawyer to help defend her in court, or d) what she did, both play defense and offense by counter-suing Carrier.
She chose option (d) knowing full well Carrier was representing himself and that she would have to face him, at some point, in a deposition. But it will not be harassment. There’s no way it could be considered harassment. I cannot imagine a scenario in which Frank’s lawyer – the same high-priced lawyer representing PZ Myers – will allow Carrier to harass Frank in any way. We have no doubt it will be an uncomfortable situation for her, but our legal system – thankfully! – requires evidence and testimony from all parties concerned to help encourage the truth to emerge.
PZ knows that. He just doesn’t like it.
If you’d like to donate to PZ’s legal defense fund, here is the link. They’ve raised $65K to date, which is impressive. We wonder just how much of a discount their lawyer is giving them.
PZ Myers Lie #2 [in bold]:
There’s going to be some kind of ridiculous Trump rally in Minneapolis tomorrow — I reserved two seats, but somehow, I don’t think my butt is going to be filling them. The Minneapolis mayor has the right idea, though: he is billing the Trump campaign in advance for security and the venue. Smart move. Trump has a reputation for stiffing the cities he visits… Of course, Trump’s countermove is to threaten to sue the city, claiming the bill is inflated. I suspect it’s a conservative estimate. https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/09/bills-must-be-paid-in-advance-a-good-policy-for-this-administration/
Two separate lies here. First, the idea that the mayor of Minneapolis can bill anyone for the use of the Target Center, a privately-owned facility, is farcical. The Trump campaign and AEG had previously – before the Minneapolis Mayor entered the fray – signed a contract to host the event. The only thing that changed between the signing of that contract and now is the Mayor’s insistence that it will cost well over half a million dollars to provide security for the event.
There’s only one problem with that. Here is Trump’s response to AEG’s demand:
Your position is clearly wrong under the plain wording of the contract. Neither the Campaign nor AEG is responsible for arranging or paying for rally-related security. Rather, the U.S. Secret Service – and the U.S. Secret Service alone – is “solely and directly” responsible for coordinating law enforcement services in connection with the rally. “As such, no law enforcement costs shall be coordinated by [AEG], charged through [AEG] to [the Campaign], or shall otherwise be reimbursable expenses in connection with the [contract].” https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2019/10/city-of-minneapolis-tries-to-derail-trump-rally.php
The second lie is PZ’s claim that $530,000 is a “conservative estimate.” We wondered if any other Presidents had visited Minneapolis in the recent past and, lo and behold, we found that Obama had visited the very same venue just ten years ago in 2009. The cost? A mere $20,000, or 4% of what the Minneapolis Mayor wants to charge.
What’s more, the Mayor has been quite open about his hatred of the current President, going so far as to suggest that while there is no legal means of preventing Trump from appearing in Minneapolis, he could take actions to make the visit painful.
This is another one of those PZ Myers lies we just don’t get. He’s no doubt thrilled the fact that the Minneapolis Mayor is trying to stick it to Trump – why be all coy and pretend like it was a valid request? PZ presents it as if it’s some ordinary, unbiased bill for services rendered when it’s clearly a rabidly political act. Laugh about it and move on, we say, but don’t treat your audience like children and pretend like all this is on the up and up.
Who, exactly is he trying to fool?
PZ Myers Lie #3 [in bold]:
[Andrew] Doyle is the living embodiment of Mr. Gotcha, that smug know-nothing who pops up to declare that criticisms of society by people who benefit from society are invalid because they live in a society, and who thinks that you can’t decry the abuse of privilege if you have any hint of privilege yourself. It’s a cunning ploy to universally reject the voices of everyone on the planet who finds the status quo intolerable. https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/10/09/new-speakers-added-to-sovereign-nations-conference/
This is another PZ Myers lie that is exposed by the very source material he cites. Immediately above this paragraph he posts a paragraph written by Doyle to explain why he set up the fictional Twitter account in question:
Last April, I decided to set up a satirical account on Twitter under the guise of radical intersectionalist poet Titania McGrath. She’s a po-faced young activist who, in spite of her immense privilege, is convinced that she is oppressed. She’s not a direct parody of an existing individual, but anyone who regularly reads opinion columns in the Guardian will be familiar with the type. Given that such individuals are seemingly impervious to reason, and would rather cry ‘bigot’ than engage in serious debate, satire seemed to be the only option. https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/03/12/why-i-invented-titania-mcgrath/
You can read the rest of Doyle’s reasoning here, and it’s a shot directly across the bow of people like PZ Myers, so it’s no wonder PZ’s up in arms. But there’s no good reason for PZ to lie about Doyle’s claims as he does here, given that they’re fairly straightforward.
First of all, Doyle never claims “criticisms of society by people who benefit from society are invalid.” PZ, as he so often does, just made that up. Doyle also never claims people “can’t decry the abuse of privilege if you have any hint of privilege yourself.” What he did say, in sum, is that it’s ironic to be a person of immense privilege, yet be convinced you are oppressed.
And if that wasn’t enough, the suggestion that Doyle wants to “universally reject the voices of everyone on the planet who finds the status quo intolerable” is a baseless lie. Again, a simple reading Doyle’s own words that PZ himself posted belie this claim. Doyle wants to engage in “serious debate” with those who find the status quo intolerable. He resorted to satire when he discovered that those people, like PZ Myers, don’t really want to debate.
Doyle has PZ’s number. We read the Spiked-online piece and thought virtually every sentence could apply to Myers and the horde at Pharyngula. It’s no wonder PZ is antagonistic towards Doyle, but it is interesting that PZ allowed Doyle’s words to appear on his blog. Normally, if he refers to those types of arguments at all, he will link to a friendly analysis of them, not to the actual arguments themselves. PZ must be slipping, or he must think his readers are too indoctrinated to be swayed by satire emanating from the right. Either way, good on him. We wish he would engage more with conservative ideas. We also wish he’d stop lying about them, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon.
Today: 0 science-related posts, 4 posts on other stuff
Since 30 May 19: 117 science-related posts, 449 non-science posts.
21% of the posts on a “science blog” are about science.
Today: 3 PZ Myers Lies
Since 30 May 19: 139 PZ Myers Lies
Over to you, PZ. Until tomorrow.