Quinn Norton Implodes – In The Interest Of Clarity

BBC

After the recent confusion caused by a statement heard on BBC Newsnight that “Men are raised to hate women” I decided to ask the journalist responsible for an explanation.

The outcome was unexpected and inspired me to pen this blog post, which in turn led to in my view, unfairly, hours of bizarre accusations from a tiny number of individuals

1Although the overwhelming majority of (I realise this is not indicative of being right) people seemed to agree that clarification was necessary, and the initial statement was too much of a generalisation to be helpful to say the least, the very small number who did take issue with me seemed to fall in to two camps.

Some argued that the statement was perfectly reasonable and not deserving of question.  And that it was actually my lack of understanding that was the real problem, or the manner in which I questioned.

Others seemingly fell afoul of a catastrophic inability to differentiate between the following two statements, (one genuine, one imagined):

“What exactly do you mean by that?  Please explain”

And

“Sexism and misogyny are not genuine problems in society”.

I could not attempt a defence of the second statement, even if I were stupid enough to actually believe it, or want to.

Obviously there are a lot of good people who feel incredibly passionate about sexism and misogyny for incredibly valid reasons (captain obvious) and may have felt I was somehow denying the importance or existence of these issues.  As explainable as this perception may be on some level, it is not even remotely accurate to anything I have said, implied or argued.

An objective reading of the contentions raised in my blog could not lead any rational member of the human race to conclude that this was an attack on women’s rights, or a dismissal of them.

A lot of time was wasted and a lot of noise made either trying to convince me of the existence of misogyny, disagreeing with arguments I hadn’t even made or pushing an agenda to expose my apparent sexist motivation, for simply daring to politely question a ‘journalist’, who just so happened to be a woman.

Even more exacerbating was the baffling wilful ignorance to assert that the statement was perfectly self-contained, the meaning obvious, without any need for clarification, context or further expansion.

If we can’t see eye to eye on this simple and obvious problem of language and generalisation, I simply do not know what you are talking about.

I would recommend swapping out the word “men” from the sentence “men are raised to hate women” with any other group defined by their nature, such as an ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability. Or perhaps go with “Women are raised to hate children”.  I’m not going to clarify what exactly I mean by this, I’m just going to assume you can fill in the relevant blanks yourself.  If you can’t, it’s obviously a failure of understanding on your part.

If you were to hear the above statements expressed on a global news network.  Ask yourself, would you at the very least raise an eyebrow , and ask for clarity, or agree that expanding on this statement would be useful?

If the answer is yes for my comparisons, but not for men, then you do not hold men to the same standards of fairness that you hold for anyone else.  This is prejudice.  You may rightly point out the significant variations in prejudices in society in terms of frequency and volume, and you would be right in pointing out that women historically, and currently suffer significantly more inequality than men .

This is still a non sequitur.  Prejudice is still prejudice, regardless of its historicity, frequency or current societal impact.

You may bang on about using ‘men hate women’ as shorthand and personal experiences whilst attacking my character all you like, but all you are doing is conceding you are being irresponsible with language whilst using subjective experience to make unfounded broad generalisations.

Perhaps you actually do believe “Men (all or most) are raised to hate women”.  If so, fine. Please present your evidence and then we can have an adult conversation.  Unless, of course you feel this polite request is battering you into submission.  Please see this incredible summary in the comments of this blog piece:

PoliteRequestsForEvidence

I wonder which comment of mine on this issue made someone so angry, they unfollowed. haha  I’d be genuinely interested to know.

And no, this isn’t an attempt to paint men as the victims here either.  I’m interested in clarity.  Have I mentioned that?

I would not even consider evidence of “men (all or most) being raised to hate women”  as  “proving me wrong”, I’d consider myself “educated”.  My intentions are understanding and clarity, not disagreement.  In other words, I’m willing to be convinced.  I fully understand that just because I may not wish for something to be true, it does not mean it cannot be true.

My initial and only concerns were and are:

  • Irresponsible generalisations made by a journalist on the BBC, a global news network.
  • A so-called expert on internet trolling labelling someone a troll simply for politely asking them a question or two.

And then later

  • The subsequent questionable attitude and responses of said person and others.

To hi-jack my quite clearly defined and honest concerns with wider and more complex issues is severely unhelpful, unfair and misplaced.

I’ve not even put forward my opinion on her statement to even be considered opposing it, for the simple reason I do not have a full outline of her view with which to do so, were I actually to find it disagreeable.  I did ask though.  Politely.

I’ve since been told she had clarified “some men” 5 days or so before I tweeted her.  And I’ve since noticed she’s done the same to others after my blog post.

It’s been hard to keep in the loop of what is being tweeted due to the bizarre behaviour of blocking me, then unblocking me, then blocking me again.  This has also prevented me from re-tweeting any of her relevant statements in the interest of balance, as I’ve noted here.

Even “some” requires context and clarification.  Which men?  Where? Why? She says “in the context of men who harass women” but starts the statement with “the social problem is…”.  Online society then? Or just the harassing enthusiasts society?  Are only men responsible for trolling, harassment and online abuse then? Words. Mean. Things.  Some clarity from the expert would be appreciated.

It’s also telling that those among her own camp who decided to take me to task on the issue actually assumed she meant ‘”most”, and was happy to argue that to me on her behalf.

Obviously I’m not holding her responsible for the views of her followers (she does not return the courtesy), I’m simply pointing out the disconnect her unclarified generalisations have caused even amongst those who actually subscribe to her views (or non-views, as I’m no clearer to what they actually are).

At this point I realise how dull this whole episode has become, but should unfair accusations of sexism or an anti-feminist agenda rear their ugly head in the future based on this silliness, I’d very much like a record of the nonsense from which they arose.

Please note that all the thoughtful comments and objective input have not gone unnoticed, and this experience in no way changes my views on the importance of feminism.

So here goes, swiftly followed by a firm washing (perhaps scrubbing) of my hands of the entire affair.  I’ve got spelling to correct.

Quinn appeared to reiterate her accusation of Trolling again, the next day, but plucked a dash of anti-feminism out of the air this time too.  The persecution complex is sowing its seed.

concerntrollingI decide to tweet her my blog piece and receive this bizarre response.

2thisIsyourLifeA very odd comment to make to a stranger, and also very personal. ‘Useless meaningless things’ is an odd way to describe criticism, or calls for clarity. I respond, but stay on topic.  I’m not interested in personal jibes.

Bizarre Judgement

I then had the misfortune to be introduced to one of her followers, @conniptions.

The disagreement starts reasonably at first, but it becomes clear this is nothing but an agenda to draw me on misogyny, then paint me as a misogynist.  When I stay on topic, and refuse to be drawn, they get desperately impatient and play their hand anyway.  this ranks as one of the most intellectually dishonest exchanges I’ve had on Twitter.  Those that are familiar with my exchanges will understand the gravitas of that claim.

NotBlanketStatementSo we begin with the claim that the statement “Men are raised to hate women” is not a blanket statement.

duvetfactory

I disagree.  From then on, despite several reiterations, it’s clear they simply want to debate misogyny, rather than any of the points raised in my initial blog.  The agenda behind this becomes clear eventually.

ConniDebateChangeHijackingMove onReiterateIntent

This.  Went.  On.  For.  Hours.  With my relentless intent to stay on topic, they then begin a new tactic to paint me in their desired shade. Guilt by association.  I was now to be held accountable for the questionable statements of others.

didNotSeeTweet

This refers to a statement made, which I still have not seen, to a female member of Twitter who was arguing for the statement made by Quinn.  I did a search for it to include in this blog, but I couldn’t find it.  If anyone else can, I’ll include it.  I’ve no doubt it happened though, it’s either been deleted, or my search for “gspellchecker” + “cock” is bringing up fewer results than I’d anticipated.

As you can see, I’ve clearly stated I did not see it.  I often get when debating, up to 50 messages every few minutes.  I skim passed some, read others.  There’s no real system involved to this.  This may seem like an exercise in excuse making, so let me be clear.  I like clarity.

Even if I did see the comment “you’re not getting enough cock” I probably would have ignored it anyway.  It’s crude, childish and I’m not interested. I cannot police every tweet sent to me, nor have the desire to wag a finger at every childish comment made.  I’m interested in adult discussion.

And regardless, as “offensive” as it might be perceived, you do not have the right to go through your life protected from offence.  But luckily as an adult, you have options.  Block.  Ignore. Right to respond.

Incidentally, I received this today.  Probably a troll.

Screenshot_2013-08-09-08-55-24

What did I do?  Ignore it.  Why?  Because it’s childish and I’m an adult.  Is it reasonable to hound the other two named in the message and accuse them of condoning?  I think not.

Holding me accountable for such puerile behaviour, which I confirmed I did not even see is desperate straw man production designed to compensate for lack of argument.  Perhaps @Conniptions would be interested to see I reported a person to the police for misogynistic behaviour recently.  Perhaps that doesn’t fit their agenda.

Policedone

Why did I take an interest in this one?  Because it was a threat of murder, and therefore against the law. I assume I am exonerated from being a misogynist now. If puerile name calling on a social network is your chief concern, perhaps have a word with yourself regarding your description of me.

KnobInsult

Despite my clarification that I did not see the comment, the relentless agenda to convict me by association continued.

OkToTellWomenCockSilencecondonesAllINeedToKnowAllowAgenda

And even a day later they are still telling people I was arguing something I wasn’t, and how I’m responsible for someone elses statement.

TodayCondoingAccusation

It falls to another level of desperation when I’m then painted a misogynist for someone else’s Star Wars related bio joke.

RapeJokeAccusation

You can look it up yourself if you want, and weigh in with your opinion on the severity of the ‘rape joke’.  Again, I’m not responsible for every off-colour or ‘offensive’ remark made on Twitter.  I can only try to set an example by not behaving that way myself, and refusing to acknowledge or retweet behaviour of this kind.

When their guilt by association tactics to paint me as a woman hating “knob” don’t succeed, they play their hand and go full tilt babble.  This is simply extraordinary to witness.

bombWomanjournoWomanOhdear InsultSocalled.

UndermineWomenorig

So now my polite questioning is an “attack” and its intent clearly designed to undermine women. Ahem. *Her.  It seems @Conniptions is arguing my intentions are sexist based solely on no other information than the person being questioned is a woman.

socalledJournResponse

I think this exchange speaks for itself.

So, as we can see, without so much as expressing any view on women, I’m now a misogynist for asking a polite question to a journalist, who just so happens to be female, and for being caught in the crossfire of a few childish tweets,

A quick glance of their timeline will reveal a fixation on the issue of sexism.  And if silence is condoning,  perhaps I should draw your attention to this, about their own failures (read from the bottom up).:

hypocrisyOh dear oh dear.  So, at worst you are condoning sexism yourself, or at best you are simply a hypocrite, especially since you actually did witness the incident. Or perhaps, it’s just incredibly unreasonable of me to hold you accountable for every little thing some other plant pot says.

What’s the point of documenting all this you may ask?  Because I care.  These are accusations I cannot take lightly.  To Quote Hitch: “Up with this, I will not put”.

It gets worse.  Despite this conversation moving back and forth without mentioning Quinn Norton by name, she decides to tweet me.  What follows is bizarre behaviour.  I think she may be broken.  I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed such a misjudged and petulant display from a media ‘professional’ since this. Before I proceed, I’d like to share a quote from Quinn Norton, online troll expert, from the very Newsnight piece in question.

On trolls, of which I was so ungraciously labelled:

The best thing to do is to let them have their account, and to block that account so that you don’t see it.

This is superb advice, advice I advocate myself, and would expect to be given from an expert.  It’s rather puzzling then that she does not seem to heed it.

I don’t recall anywhere in the piece, words to the effect of:

The best thing to do is accuse them of trolling when asking polite inconvenient questions,  in a way to ensure all your followers see it (I have 11k), then insult them personally.  Then block them.  Then, unblock them to unleash more erratic messages, regardless of the fact they haven’t tweeted you since. then block them again.

I suppose the right thing to do is easier in theory than practice, expert or not.

Ladies and gentleman, Quinn Norton, Journalist, Expert, Erratic Behaviour Enthusiast, Career saboteur

1hobbyandanswer

There’s nothing in her jibe to really grapple with as far as the issues are concerned, so I light-heartedly make fun of her initial unclarified statement, which led us here to begin with.

3Leaveme alone

A request is then made to “Just leave me alone”.  I had been doing as much, but unfortunately one of her followers was committed to painting me as a woman-hater.  Whilst defending myself, without mentioning her, she decided to engage regardless.

4About me

5tweetaboutmeanswerI explain I’m simply responding to questions, as is the nature of most social interaction, online or otherwise.

6Screamingso, we will add “screaming” to “troll”, and “misogynist” to the growing list of accusations made by people unable to have an objective, adult conversation.

7appealToEmotion

9Response to emotion

This is the one that had me scratching my head the most.  This is a bizarre appeal to emotion.  Notice the “.” at the start of the statement.  This ensures the statement is seen by all 11k of her followers, and not just those involved in the conversation.

What an incredibly dishonest misrepresentation to make of our conversation.  I have no desire for Quinn to remain silent (well, not at least I didn’t initially).  I was actually actively encouraging more words from her, in the form of clarifying her irresponsible statement, which she does not appear to be helping with this subsequent childish attitude.

As a result of this appeal to emotion technique to her followers, I received the following messages.

It’s telling that any rational voices were seemingly absent, and the only ones that responded to her call for back-up were these abusive clowns.  Perhaps the more rational among her following were too embarrassed to get involved:

ToughGuyDickinsultAm I now being abused? Bullied? Wait…I can just ignore it, block them, or respond!  Twitter is generous with the power it offers individuals!

StopHarrasingWomen

It’s interesting to note no response to the following questions:

ResponsesWe also had this:

GspellisterribleAnd then extra points for someone going to the effort of emailing me to highlight a pertinent point:

EmailInsultI’m not a gambling man, but knowing what I know about the thoughtfulness of the people I’m lucky enough to have following me, I’d wager Quinn’s mentions from people ‘following’ me are of a slightly higher standard, for the most part.  Despite all this, not one cry of “trolling” or “abuse” or “bullying” from me. Why?  Again.  This is childish and I’m an adult.

We continue with the childish attitude parade:

8StalkySo, asking a ‘public figure’ to clarify their statements, writing a blog about it, is now compared to devious, and illegal activities such as ‘stalking’.  The desperate need to paint me as something I’m not is fascinating at this point.

10Stop Talking about meSo many tweets start coming at me now in quick succession, that my android phone (hootsuite) app can’t handle them enough to display them in my mentions.  I have to go to her timeline to read the missing parts of the puzzle.

11Stop criticising because

A bizarre demand is then made.  Apparently everything I’ve done, asked and said boils down to my intent to attack public women, and if i don’t stop responding to Quinn, or exercising my right to free speech  immediately (polite and civil I might add) I am confirming my guilt. I heard similar logic in a playground once.  It went along the lines of “The next one to speak is a gay”.  I think we can all see the issues with that brand of reasoning.

12FangsCommentI then suggest she follow her own advice.  This is now caricatured as showing my fangs and true colours.  if someone can demonstrate a way of remaining more civil, and on point in the face of such petulance and inflammatory accusations I will consider them my new best friend.

FangsResponse

I make my dismay at the comment known.

LoudAsswoman

Maybe, just maybe, it’s nothing to do with your gender, but your irresponsible comments, lack of professionalism and an attitude, which stinks.

I now intend to draw a line under this.  I believe my blog/tweets speak for themselves.  I no longer feel the need to respond to what other people choose to misunderstand.  It’s now for the internet to sort out.

In closing, could my understanding on issues relating to women’s rights benefit from some expansion?  Undoubtedly.  Is that likely to happen whilst genuine inquisitiveness is cut down with accusations of trolling and sexism?  Doubtful.

GS

44 comments

  • I watched all this unfold. Truly astonishing.

  • And, actually, you didn’t even call her a ‘so-called journo’, you called her a ‘self-described journo’. So you don’t even have that to worry about. Crack on GS, you rock.

  • I understand why some women are super on-edge about abuse on Twitter, but Quinn Norton was so clearly turning a tuffet into a drumlin in this case. She didn’t have to answer you at all if she didn’t want to and she didn’t deign to answer your question in any way before trying to turn you into a misogynist. I went to her website to try to read the piece that she was referring to (sans link) and there was nothing I could find. To say “men are raised to hate women” is a shocking statement (of the sort that would sell a tabloid) and would make a decent hook for an actual article if you could back it up with studies and ideas and explain in what way this is the case, which might give some hope of rectifying the situation. I still have no understanding of her perspective on this or what part of her anatomy she pulled that statement from.

  • GS you finally knocked heads with the ‘Atheism Plus’ crowd. It was only a matter of time.

  • Cheers lad

  • Just a guess, but I think her responses (and her followers) may be merely an attack on your atheism, and nothing to do with your request for clarity, or even the topic of mysogeny or trolling for that matter. As a female, her initial statement would have taken me aback as well. It did paint men with a broad brush, as well as the women who raise them. You are correct, words do mean things. One little adjective, whatever that might have been, would have clarified that statement. Even if that adjective was “most,” you would have had your answer, and probably would not have engaged her at all.

  • I’ll use my real name, since when I commented on your previous post, someone called me a gent and used the Quinn Norton technique of inserting all his own assumptions and then arguing with them rather than focusing on anything I had said 😀

    Can I just say this sentence had me laugh out loud “my search for “gspellchecker” + “cock” is bringing up less results than I’d anticipated.”

    It’s a good idea to keep a factual, detailed account of what actually happened, if for nothing else than fairness. I watched the whole thing unfold with disbelief, laughter and finally dismay, especially considering she is supposed to be a journalist.

    I have wondered, a few times, if she assumes other people besides herself have no feelings, nor any right to any respect or kindness. Her treatment of you, as well as being bizarre, irrational and driven by her own inner agenda rather than anything you said, was quite deliberately unpleasant and unkind, in my opinion. Your superpower appears to be the ability to remain calm and rational when a “journalist” defaults almost immediately to the opposite of that. Maybe a cape and a pair of boots might be in order here 😉

    Well, hopefully this will be the last of her online tirade. And I do hope, for their own sake, that before any other publication or interviewer decides to listen to her on any topic, they take a good long look at her Timeline and at these two blog posts. I had never heard her name before this, but from now on I will never forget it. Nor will I ever forget that she responds to polite questioning with a veritable onslaught of unfair, venomous and emotionally driven insults.

    Quinn Norton is not a name synonymous with rationality, calm debate or credibility, and should I come across her again, that is a lesson I won’t forget.

  • So well recapped as always Gspell. It’s really interesting, these identity politics obsessed people attacking “Neo-Atheists” and insisting that our trojan horse agenda is to “batter” woman and other marginalized people.

    I consider myself a lefty, on just about everything from the Occupy Movement to LGBT rights, but this constant harping on about “white male privilege”, while it’s doesn’t make white men, (of which I am one) into victims at all, it does seem to have the unintended result of painting a group of people with a brush that’s way too wide.

    This not only does nothing to stop REAL misogyny & sexism, it also makes people who might sympathize with their position turn in the opposite direction. How on earth does this help us progress past the obvious abuses that women have historically faced and still face?

    One more note. I tweeted Quinn a couple of times, basically supporting your call for clarity. I’ll recheck my tweets but while I’m not always as calm and focused on a given topic as you always are, I don’t think I said anything remotely aggressive. So I was surprised to find my name seemingly randomly pasted into one of her tweets with the message “that’s who I was talking about”. It took me a minute to realize what she meant. She was literally saying that I was one of the people who were “raised to hate women”. I was surprised how absolutely offended I was and how frankly mad it made me. I wanted to respond. Angrily.

    I didn’t. She has thousands of followers & I didn’t want to get swept up in her generalizing and be put on some list as a “woman hater”. Ironically, it gave me a glimpse of what woman & people of color might feel like on a daily basis when they’re accused of something they’re not guilty of simple because they’re “one of them”.

    Maybe this is her point. She’ll be silent and group us together so we can all “know how it feels!” But there must be a better way of teaching me about my possible insensitivity than to make sweeping generalizations like that to thousands of people, right? In what utopian worldview do two wrongs make a right? In Quinn’s worldview apparently. The sad part is that even if it wasn’t an unethical way to make a point, it’s clearly not working either.

    As the proud father of two wonderful, smart, intelligent, science loving daughters, I wish nothing but the best, fulfilling, equal opportunity life for them as possible. And the idea of them being harassed in anyway because of their gender or for any reason makes mad as hell. I would literally do anything to make this world better for them. If Quinn or anyone could rationally & clearly convince me of a better way to make that dream a reality I wouldn’t hesitate to help them. So far she’s failed to do that miserably. I really hope we as a society can get past this type of prejudice no matter what “group” is in question and just respond to the content of people’s character, as the great Dr. King said. We’ll see.

    Keep up the good work G. You’re an inspiration and a real example of grace under pressure. You’ve taught me that the best argument is not only the rational one but the clearest one as well. Thank you for that.

    – Barney

    • Well said Barney, where’s the “Like’ button cos I think that’s what I was trying to say 🙂

      “Ironically, it gave me a glimpse of what woman & people of color might feel like on a daily basis when they’re accused of something they’re not guilty of simple because they’re “one of them””…

      That was a fantastic insight, I felt much the same, and do try to take those sort of “lessons” onboard. However I also doubt that insulting those people who are willing to listen can be a very constructive solution, I hope there’s a more balanced and rational path to improve these issues.

      • Agreed. I got into a twitter argument the other day where I was told it was “white privilege” to even ask for an explaination on a specific topic of insensitivity. It really does feel like some people would rather keep others ignorant so that they can feel superior. I feel most atheists take the opposite approach. It’s everyone’s duty to shed light on problems of bigotry. And we should all use reason to facilitate that discussion. Hope I’m being clear. 😉

    • Jonah Cartwright

      An absolutely fantastic post, Barney, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but it’s somewhat related; the great Billy Bragg was at the centre of a Twitter shitstorm last weekend, because (shock! horror!) he took umbrage at being called a racist on the sole basis that he was a white man. The identity politics crowd jumped right on him, and he was treated to such eminently intellectual statements as “being on the dole is white privilege for white trash” (as if non-white people are somehow banned from claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance), amongst many others. No matter what their principle focus, these folks are almost always self-styled “radicals” whose theories come from brainstorming in Sociology classes and sparsely-attended activist groups where no-one has an opposing opinion; therefore, it becomes a contest among them to see who can come out with the most controversial, inflammatory or knee-jerk statement and win the fawning admiration of the others. They value attacking lefties who disagree with them far more than they value fighting actual racists, sexists and homophobes. Their politics are dedicated to dividing people with a “you’re with us or against us” mentality, and any attempt to persuade them that what we need is unity gets met with the barrage of “that’s because you’re privileged”.

      The thing is, I’m a working class bloke who’s campaigned for left wing causes all my adult life. I want a world where equality of opportunity is the norm, and advancement in life comes purely on merit, and I honestly believe that the majority of people on the planet would support such a system. While it would be disingenuous to pretend that factors like inequality of race, gender and sexuality aren’t a big obstacle to be tackled in creating such a society, the important thing is always to listen and learn from each other on these matters. I wouldn’t presume to lecture a non-white person about racism or a woman about sexism, any more than I’d tolerate a member of the Royal Family trying to tell me what it’s like to have grown up on a West Midlands council estate, but I’d still treat that Royal with the basic respect I’d accord any human being and give their thoughts on society my consideration, because otherwise how can you ever hope for progress?

      For someone who spends their days talking their friends, family, neighbours and co-workers round to the truth and validity of left wing values, there’s nothing more gutting than watching the Quinn Nortons of the world making some bigoted statement on national television which drives all of those otherwise decent folk away (“see, that’s what your leftie politics is really about, isn’t it, mate?”) and off to vote for the BNP, or worse. But I do believe that those of us who stand for unity and reason will win out in the end, especially when we have the likes of GS to challenge bigotry so clearly, concisely and eloquently. I already recommend his Twitter page to any sane activist I meet so that they can learn how to calmly deal with the idiots of the world, and I’ll continue to do so in future.

      Chin up GS; you’re a beacon of sense in an increasingly mental online world.

    • Hi Barney,

      Thanks for your comments. I found them on point and a little touching. Your tweets are always well reasoned to me, even when you’re disagreeing!

      This is always a pleasure/appreciated.

      GS

  • I also watched this unfold on Twitter, or as much of it as I could follow, and it followed a depressingly predictable trajectory. Some people, who believe fervently in a cause, respond to attempts to engage in rational dialogue – where questions are asked, assumptions challenged and evidence requested – with repeated attempts to misrepresent the motives and behaviour of those making the attempt. If you disagree with them, you will be labelled a bully. If you stand your intellectual ground, you will be labelled obsessed. They typically start by being condescending (your question is so stupid it is not even worth their time to answer it), and typically end by claiming victimhood (your questions are attacks and by not slinking away with your tail between your legs you are a big meanie). In short, zealotry is not restricted to the religious.

    I’ve been through this experience more times than I can count myself, and I know how incredibly frustrating it can be to have your words twisted, and words you did not utter crammed into your mouth, and motives and values you do not hold ascribed to you. So I want to congratulate you on a) not losing your cool, and b) not allowing yourself to be shouted down. It can be very difficult to avoid either of those outcomes (I’ve failed often) and either outcome is taken as evidence that the false accusations against you are correct.

    Incidentally, I still have no idea what proportion of men Quin Norton believes are raised to hate women, and I’m genuinely intrigued. Although I’m certain such men do exist, I can’t think of any men that I know personally that seem to hate women, and I wonder if this is because they are a very small minority, or I am simply oblivious of them. I guess I’ll never know.

  • Keep doing what you do.
    The reasonable amongst us will continue to respect and admire your work.

  • I confess I am struggling to express my concerns with this entire incident (probably partly because I assume that if I stray out of line I will be immediately labelled as a misogynist).
    I should also say upfront that I am quite likely about to talk about my perceptions of what happened, which include quite a lot of assumption on my part (Declaration: my opinion is not necessarily correct).

    To me it seemed to unfold like this:
    1) QN made a statement “men are raised to hate women”. To me this seemed very general and a bit extreme. I wasn’t raised to hate women. However, I know that there can be some subtle forces at work in society, so I am open to hearing more. I would however, like to learn more without being yelled at.
    2) GS asked for clarification
    3) QN and followers (for whom she is not responsible) turn this questioning into an accusation of misogyny.
    4) once GS has been labelled a misogynist, it is easy work to dismiss everything that he says according to a fairly formulaic procedure.

    A couple of things. Firstly, this seems really unfair. In fact, it seems like the work of trolls which is ironic considering that is what QN is a) supposed to be an expert on and b) supposed to oppose? (I may have just assumed that point b).

    Secondly, and most importantly to me, by so blatantly and desperately trying to drag everything back to “GS is sexist! He’s bad and nothing he says matters cos he’s sexist” it seeks to remove his voice, whilst trivialising actual sexism.

    As background, I am a straight white male. I was bullied a lot when I was younger about my weight. That really sucked. It also taught me that being mean has far reaching effects, which is why I support same sex marriage, and oppose sexism (amongst other things) and generally try to think about things. What I’m saying is that having a direct experience of bullying means I dont want to bully people about anything, even if the “topic” is not something I have direct experience of (perhaps I could have just summarised all that by saying I learnt compassion).
    But it does sort of seem to me that GS has been bullied here, by people who have seen themselves as the victims, and are therefore outraged to have it pointed out that they are in fact bullying people.

    Being a victim of sexism does not make it OK to bully people, and if you do choose to do so you will likely undermine the effort to eradicate sexism, and alienate people who may be open to considering what you have to say.

  • As a female (want to be clear on that), her original statement was ignorant, and in my humble opinion, something concocted to get a reaction and her name out there. Offence is taken not given; we atheists love that statement. And I took offence on behalf of my male friends and family. It was a stupid sweeping statement. To state FIVE days later that it should have been ‘some’ is too late and only comes in response to realising a mistake. As a journalist on a global network, the mistake should never have happened and wouldn’t have if she’d been properly prepared. This is why I believe it was said as a sound bite for self promotion. I digress.

    If she had ANY genuine belief in what she’d said, she would have been able to respond intelligently and answer your question. Instead she ignored it, and even deflected from it.

    So I’m going to make a statement. One I’d be happy to clarify.

    Some cultures/religions raise men to treat women in an appalling, degrading manner.

    I would also add…

    Some journalists need to realise that, without clarity, they can be controversial. Furthermore, if their point lacks validity, it will be shown as weak when questioned.

    I trust your hands are nice and clean now, GS!

  • I wonder if that ” journalist” realizes how much she is hurting her own agenda. The minute someone starts treating her like a professional, she starts crying “I’m a woman!” And Spellchecker is the one with gender equality issues? She makes me embarrassed to be female. Never have I wanted to be treated with a different intellectual standard because I’m a confident, professional woman.

  • Excellent post Godless. I’ve been following this over the past few days and I find it hard to believe that Quinn Norton is an educated woman for whom journalism is a profession.

    I think the problem started with you having “the temerity” to question her, her reaction suggests that this is not something she is used to, especially as she clearly could not defend her broad and sweeping statement ( I’m amazed that Newsnight aired it ).

    To finally suggest that your “real” issue is with women having an opinion saddens me because it belittles the very real and present instances of misogyny that us women have to contend with daily in RL and online.

    Thank you for continuing to be the voice of reason and clarity.

  • Thanks for this fair and excellent summary.

    “obsess on me”
    “I’m like a hobby”
    “your entire stream is about me”
    “put me in your bio”
    “can’t leave (implied:women like me) alone”

    Comments like this suggest to me a planet-sized ego to go with the petulance and bizarre behaviour.

  • @conniptions told me that changing the words in the blanket statement wasn’t valid. I think she believes that all men hate women since saying “whites are raised to hate blacks” is not true and therefore not a good analogy.

  • The online world is the same as the real in many ways, but one consistency for me personally is that I don’t find many of the people in it very pleasant.

    I find @GSpellchecker to be one of the most decent and intelligent people inhabiting my online world, and I find myself more annoyed with the attack on him than I can justify.

    I have many women in my family, not least a wife and a daughter, all of whom I love deeply, but I too read the statements made as if I was apparently raised to hate them. I wasn’t. Transparency is almost always a power for good, requesting it politely should never be considered unjust, more so on a public forum or a global news channel.

    I find the reaction of Quinn Norton odious. This is not to say I hate her, or that she might not be anything less than a delightful person normally, I don’t know her other than this episode, and in this one encounter of her I have found her attitude severely falling short of what I would consider reasonable. I would be embarrassed, and if she takes the time to research then, in time, I think Quinn might be a little embarrassed too.

    Please ignore this fuss @GSpellchecker. More power to your elbow.

  • I’ve been following this (well, most of this) with interest. I fail to see how you’ve done anything wrong. Keep up the good work! 🙂

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  • I realise that everyone’s probably moved on now but it occurred to me the other day the further absurdity of Norton calling for a “societal discussion” on the issue and then crying “concern troll!” when someone dares to, well, have a discussion on the issue.

    It’s bonkers, I tell ye!

  • I don’t see how Anyone can skew a genuine question so badly. I mean, it’s almost like they believe she should be void of criticism because she happens to be female. (Btw, love this, even in the face of petty name calling and serious accusations you keep your dry wit, keep tweeting the good tweet)

  • I wasn’t online to see this exchange unfold, but enjoyed being filled in on the details here. It is always a treat to read your posts as I find that they are (like your tweets) well thought out and rational. I don’t think I can add much more to some of the great comments here, but just wanted to leave a comment of support and say that I wish I was on twitter to see your response of “Hobbies are fun 🙂 Sorry. Some hobbies.”

    I am still laughing when I read that.

    Also, thanks for being a reasonable person on the internet.

  • Beautifully and meticulously dissected.

    The problem as I see it is that people feel threatened by your razor-sharp wit and unshakeable logic and reply accordingly. Sorry, some people 😉

    That you persist with your beliefs and principles in the face of such abuse and provocation is a credit to you.

    All the best.

  • Always a pleasure to read your well-reasoned and measured arguments. It’s reassuring to know that there’s intelligence out there. Some intelligence. Keep up the good work 🙂

  • Hi GS – I think you did a good job of documenting this and generally gave a fair account.
    I have a hypothesis about the hostility shown towards you.
    There is/has been a lot of nasty stuff going on in the intertubes re feminism and misogyny.
    The people who are *deep* into this battle are used to seeing everyone as either enemies or comrades.
    There is a suspicion that someone “Just Asking Questions” J.A.Q. is actually trying for some kind of gotcha. (Or to exhaust people to explain all over again why they are upset about online misogyny…)

    I think her statement was ABOUT the men who troll and harass women on the internet – she should have said “These men have been raised to hate women” – she didn’t and she could have clarified.
    If you were, for example, a subscriber of Rebecca Watson (I am!) and witnessed the incredible flood of weird hateful stuff that was dumped on her (for over 2 years!!!) for saying essentially “don’t be creepy” – then you might have an idea of how twitchy many women have become online.
    You actually did nothing wrong – but I *believe* – on very thin evidence – that she took your question as JAG trolling. She simply assumed you were one of the enemy and attacked.

    To the warriors in this battle who do it, and almost nothing else, the idea that people might not actually be steeped in this stuff is unbelievable – and so someone “just asking questions” is obviously NOT “just asking questions” – if you can follow the idea.

    • Hi,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m not entirely sure her comment was aimed that narrowly, given ‘the societal problem’ aspect of it.

      The way I see it, there are two possibilities, worst case scenario she has some terrible prejudices, best case scenario, she’s incredibly unprofessional with an appalling attitude. Neither is good news.

      Regards

      GS

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  • Considering her entire career is based on what guy she’s sleeping with, to use a euphemism, obviously not EVERY man is raised to hate women. Would we have ever have heard of her, if not for O’Brien, Swartz, et al?

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