February 24, 2013

Horrible T-Shirt Bullying

250px Hall with Safe shirtI am going to assume that you are familiar with snark and sarcasm on the Internet. That is what you are going to find in this post. I am writing it in such a tone - not because I am trying to hurt anyone's feelings - but because I am having an extremely difficult time giving the subject I will address here the gravely serious tone some seem to think it deserves. I find it absurd, and that is how I choose to interact with it in this post. You know how we atheists are so fond of advocating snark and even mockery of absurd religious ideas, right? Sometimes we need to be able to laugh at ourselves too.

With TAM 2013 scheduled for July, those of you planning to attend have plenty of time to give serious consideration to your attire during the meeting. Huh? Why would you have to give any thought to what you would wear? Well, you do not want to be guilty of "horrible T-shirt bullying," do you?

What exactly is t-shirt bullying, and how can you avoid it? According to Amanda Marcotte's recent article in The Raw Story, "t-shirt bullying" was an offense committed by Dr. Harriet Hall during a previous TAM. You can see Dr. Hall wearing her evil t-shirt in the photo to the right. It says, "I feel safe and welcome at TAM." How awful of her! I probably should have expanded my disclaimer at the beginning of this post to give you a "trigger warning." I sincerely hope nobody is traumatized by that photo of Dr. Hall's t-shirt. I mean, how dare she feel safe at TAM when it is clearly not a "safe space" for everyone! What right does she have to express herself in a manner that is different from a couple of the other attendees?

Okay, I know what you are thinking. The front of Dr. Hall's shirt does not seem all that objectionable, does it? Misogynist! Don't you realize that this shirt contributed to the tears and early departure of at least one TAM attendee? The feelings of this one conference attendee are far more valid than those of Dr. Hall. I can't tell you why exactly, but they are!

Hall backBesides, I've only shown you the front of Dr. Hall's t-shirt. You haven't even seen how terrible the back is. Once you do, everything about this unfortunate incident will make sense. We'd better have a look at the back of the shirt now, so brace yourselves. You'll see it pictured to the right. It says,

I'm a skeptic
Not a "skepchick"
Not a "woman skeptic"
Just a skeptic

Wow! Just wow!

Please do not mistake this for the message of gender equality or empowerment (i.e., the idea that a woman who is a skeptic is still a skeptic in the same way a man who is a skeptic is a skeptic) it appears to be. This could not possibly be akin to a female police officer saying, "I am a police officer, not a police woman." That would make far too much sense and provoke too little outrage.

No, this had to be a direct attack on Skepchick bloggers, some of whom seem to attend all these conferences. It makes no difference whatsoever what Dr. Hall has said about her intention in wearing this t-shirt. She is obviously a "gender traitor," and this, dear reader, is nothing more than "horrible T-shirt bullying."

So do yourself a favor if you are planning to attend TAM this year, and avoid t-shirt bullying. If what you wear upsets anybody for any reason, you are a bully. Your intent is irrelevant, and the fact that your clothing would not have bothered a reasonable person in the least is even less relevant. The evils of your attire can only be judged by the number of tears it provokes.

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