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Sorry for the silence, things have gone a bit sideways at home and work has been going distractly well. I make a point of discussing controversies within the atheo-skeptic sphere, though, so I’m going out of my way to broadcast these two items.

I want to ensure that this follows him, unlike what happened with him at Virginia Tech’s Secular Student Alliance group prior to us knowing him. Dan Linford should never, ever be able to wriggle his way out of being known for who and what he is ever again. He will be held accountable. Even if someone in his life were to be willing to forgive him or believe his remorse, at least they will be able to see the paper trail and make that decision with partial knowledge, since this is not even close to documenting everything shady, creepy, predatory, and just plain wrong that he has done or tried to do.

As of this writing, his online presence seems to be almost completely gone, but I can, will, and do confirm and affirm that Dan Linford is not safe, especially for femme women and femme AFAB non-binary people (the latter group I will refer to from here on out as “femmebies” for brevity). He has behaved inappropriately in a deliberate way that lent itself to plausible deniability (a classic manipulation tactic), up to and including his confessions of sexual assault, along with the stock-standard patriarchal use of women and people perceived as women for emotional labor.

The emphasis comes from Heina Dadabhoy, not me. Having had a quick glance at their case, as well as the statements of a few people who’s seen Linford’s ugly side, I can understand why it’s there. I haven’t seen anyone give Richard Carrier the bolding treatment, but

One of our writers, Richard Carrier, has been banned from Skepticon for “his repeated boundary-pushing behavior”. This is, obviously, a serious accusation, and we’ve been investigating further. We now have several first-hand reports of persistent, obnoxious sexual behavior in defiance of specific requests that he cease. We believe his accusers. […]

While Dr Carrier has been a valued contributor to this network, we have to demand support of that principle in actions as well as words. After a review of the evidence so far, Richard Carrier’s posting privileges have been suspended, pending further evaluation, and all comments on his blog have been closed.

These two examples hit me hard, and now that I’ve had some time to process I think I know why. It’s not because they’re on “my side” of The Rift, because I didn’t feel as badly when discussing Ophelia Benson. I don’t think it’s as simple as having interacted with them, either; while I’ve talked with Linford a few times, and Carrier got his “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirt off me, I also got to fanboi over Benson at a conference and I’ve had a few guest posts on her blog. I also don’t think it’s due to surprise, as I’ve known about the issues with transphobia and virtue signalling within feminism for a while.

No, I think these two cases hit me because it’s too easy to put myself in their shoes. They’re men who identify as feminists, like me. They also invoke the “outsider” and “neuro-atypical” cards. While I’ve been happy to call myself a feminist for decades, it wasn’t until I arrived at university that I began pulling apart what that meant and started challenging my own assumptions and attitudes. Through the benefit of hindsight, I’ve realized I wasn’t as free of bias and contradicitions as I wanted to be. I grew up very isolated and aloof from others, either by my own choice or my own brain wiring, and had to puzzle out what “normal” human behavior was for myself; this did give me the space to challenge some of the toxic views within my society, but it could have also led to overconfidence and entitlement.

Had things been slightly different in my life, I could have easily wound up in the same place they did. I didn’t of course, thank the maker (hi mom!), but they both serve as reminders that walking the walk is far more important than memorizing the lingo or waving the proper T-shirt around.