One alleged TAM Harasser Responds

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

–Williams Shakespeare, Henry V

It was by a woman’s treacherous hand
That I was condemned tae dee
Aboon a ledge at a windae she stood
And a blanket she threw o’er me

–MacPherson’s Rant, Compiled by Robert Burns

I sometimes wonder why I do it. I really do. I say to myself, “SA (that’s what I call myself in these moments, just plain old SA), you are never going to read Freethought Blogs anymore. Never again. Especially don’t go and read Greta Christina’s Blog. You will just get worked up.” But then, well, I succumb to morbid curiosity and find myself wandering over to the Wretched Hive Of Scum And Villainy. Which I did today. And what did I see? Another inane screed trying to stick it to DJ Grothe, TAM, and the JREF.

I know. Same old, same old. Broken Record. Been there, done that. But again, morbid curiosity took me. Call it a character flaw.

The latest fauxtroversy concerns an incident that allegedly occurred at TAM 9 last July. Greta links to this facebook post which contains the following description of what occurred, apparently at the Del Mar Lounge:

Two women approach me and another conferee. They are pale and trembling. A man with a camera on the end of a telescoping monopod has been attempting to surreptitiously take photos up their skirts. Yes, he was attending TAM. They had taken concerns to conference organizers and got little satisfaction. Hotel security confiscated the camera. I later learned the individual was well-known and had been complained about in previous years, and yet there he was again.

What really set Greta off was this Comment from that post:

Though I was less traumatized and more seriously angry I am one of the people to report the upskirt photo thing along with multiple other incidents by the same person the last day at tam last year. We spoke to dj about it during the event, he said we would hear back on what was going to be done and never did. We followed up on it for a number of months and nothing happened so we gave up. Its part of what has very much frustrated me about tam and other such events is that even when we reported harassment we only got lip service on something actually being done. I know DJ is busy and I don’t expect him to be the one to take care of things but I do expect there to be some response from the jref more than vacuous head patting.

Fair enough. This appears to be some first hand information, at least. But note, we don’t have anyone actually saying that this person actually took any up-skirt photos. Nobody apparently claims to have been victimized personally, just that they sort of had a glimpse of a guy with a camera on a stick. If he did so, he would have violated the law. He should have been arrested. He wasn’t. Which leads me to think he didn’t. And if he did, he should have the opportunity to show that in a court a law, not a court located in the bowels of the Wretched Hive. Indeed, a person on Facebook who apparently believes he is the individual described with said camera and stick (I will not name him here, I don’t know for sure he is the guy, and I don’t want to wrongly accuse anyone, so let’s just call him “Mr. X”) claimed in the comments to the post that he did not use this device to look up skirts, but that it was designed to allow him to take photographs of himself and celebs. According to him, he was contacted by hotel security, and the following took place:

They did not remove the camera, actually. They came up to me and asked what I was doing. I said I was using a camera and they told me they had a policy of not allowing cameras on the casino floor. I protested that I had seen others with cameras. They basically said something akin to (and I’m prarphrasing) “Yes, we turn a blind eye to it all the time, but it’s kind of obvious when you have that thing, so please put it away.”

DJ Grothe, President of TAM, has not, as far as I have been able to see, made a statement about this. Still, that has not stopped Greta from going batshit crazy, to wit:

There is so much I could say. After I scream and curse and throw things at the wall, that is

After the little bit of property destruction had passed, Greta graced us with this calm-headed observation:

D.J. Grothe, president of JREF and organizer of TAM, was told about these incidents.

D.J. Grothe was told that a male attendee of TAM had been using a camera on the end of a telescoping monopod to surreptitiously take photos up women’s skirts.

And he nevertheless made this statement:

It should be said that there has never been a report filed of sexual harassment at TAM to my knowledge and there have been zero reports of harassment at the TAMs we’ve put on while I’ve been at JREF.

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

How eloquent. What, exactly was the report? What exactly was said to DJ? We don’t know. As far as I can see, the only information we have from Facebook and from Greta (who apparently can’t be bothered to do any investigation on her own other than looking at Facebook, not even an email to DJ, it would seem) is that something happened with a camera on a stick, or at least a guy had a camera with a stick, that nobody was arrested, and that someone said something, we don’t know exactly what, to DJ.

At any rate, back to Greta’s first class analysis, where she confines the Universe to four (count ’em) possibilities:

1: Grothe was told that a male attendee of TAM had been using a camera on the end of a telescoping monopod to surreptitiously take photos up women’s skirts — but thinks this incident wasn’t “reported,” because he is defining “report” in the extremely narrow, weaselly, goalpost-moving way described above.

2: Grothe was told that a male attendee of TAM had been using a camera on the end of a telescoping monopod to surreptitiously take photos up women’s skirts — but he didn’t think this qualified as sexual harassment.

3: Grothe was told that a male attendee of TAM had been using a camera on the end of a telescoping monopod to surreptitiously take photos up women’s skirts — and lied about having been told this.

4: Grothe was told that a male attendee of TAM had been using a camera on the end of a telescoping monopod to surreptitiously take photos up women’s skirts — but he didn’t remember it.

Did you catch that? Subtle, no? Either DJ has a bad memory or he is lying or obfuscating. Yep. Call DJ a liar and do it in a way that allows you to say, “I didn’t call him a liar! Far from it.” Wonderful. Maybe Greta should run for Congress. The possibility that the report she received might have been inaccurate is apparently not even a glimmer of a thought in Greta’s brain. The possibility that DJ was told something vague or something like “Mr X. has a camera on a stick” is not even contemplated for a nanosecond, apparently. Indeed, there is no effort to get DJ’s side of the story. Or even to contact Mr. X and see what he has to say. To call this yellow journalism would be to insult yellow journalists everywhere.

But do not fret, gentle reader. I took it upon myself to contact Mr. X–just sent him an email–and got his side of the story. And I will now share some of it with you, slightly edited to take out information that could easily identify Mr. X.

I write a blog called the Skeptical Abyss. I would like to ask you some questions for a post I am working on. I
would really like to get your point of view before that post goes up. Here are the questions:

1. Mr. X., were you an attendee of The Amazing Meeting 9 in Las Vegas in July 2011?
Yes. I have been to every tam since TAM-5__ including TAM ___. TAM is the highlight of my year and I credit it with motivating me to really work to be more of an activist in my life. I find it really inspiring that people like RS Lancaster and Rebecca Watson managed to make a pretty big impact on the world by sheer hard work and chipping away at false beliefs.

2. Have you ever been banned from TAM?

No, of course not. What would make you think I was?

3. [Question not about TAM or the camera and disclosing personal information–deleted]

4. Were you contacted at any TAM about having a camera on a stick/pole?


5. If so, who contacted you?


6. Were you kicked out of the conference or the hotel?


7. Was any of your property confiscated? If so, by whom?

Nope. Of course not.

8. Did DJ Grothe or anyone else from the JREF ever speak to you about the incident with the camera!
Um… not directly, no. I’ve seen DJ and spoken to him a couple of times since then. He did mention, indirectly, the fact that he has been disheartened by the amount of rumor and BS that can be spread at something like TAM. I don’t know if that was an indirect reference to the camera thing.

9. What impact do you think this will have on your [your life]?

That is the most absurd question I have heard in a long long time. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

OR at least it shouldn’t.

I had not even heard of this issue until VERY RECENTLY. Let me reiterate: This all started when I took out the X-shot (which is for self-photography) and [a person whom I have known for some time] immediately said “I can’t believe you brought a stick to take shots upskirts” and then turned it into a running gag because he knew it annoyed me.

I’m absolutely shocked that anyone is clinging to that like it is serious. And where the hell does this thing about me being kicked out of the hotel come from? What is next? Are you going to ask if I was arrested? Convicted? Targeted by a drone as a national security threat. The absurdity of this is striking.

That said, because some people seem to not be able to let this go and continue to bring it up, I don’t think I have much choice but to go on the offensive here. I have a . . . lawyer . . . . We’re trying to figure out what to do, because this is a very small issue, but it is not impossible that someone could blow it into a big one. We absolutely don’t want to start throwing out lawsuits for no reason, but sometimes you have to make a point in order to show you are not ignoring it. Let me restate, I do not want to do that, because I don’t like it when people get all trigger happy with lawsuits. However, I just can’t let it seem like I’m letting this be said without disputing it.

And really, I don’t want to amplify this situation. I’m going to leave it alone unless some idiot decides they want to actually try to disseminate this false information. If they do, well, we won’t stand for that.

. . . What matters is I don’t want to be known as “That guy who is associated with upskirt photography.”

See how easy it is actually getting first hand information? It’s just an email away. After reading all of this, I think that the whole situation with Mr. X has been blown out of proportion, and that there is absolutely no evidence that Mr. X harassed anyone with his camera or that he violated any law or policy of TAM. There is likewise a lack of evidence that DJ Grothe did anything wrong. Indeed, I will put the following imagined conversation between DJ and a witness out there as a likely scenario:

Witness: See Mr. X over there?

DJ: I know Mr. X.

Witness: He has a camera on a stick!

DJ: A camera on a stick!

Witness: Yes! He’s using it to look up women’s skirts.

DJ: Did he do this to you?

Witness: No.

DJ: Did you see him doing this to anyone?

Witness: Well, actually . . .

DJ: Thanks for letting me know. We’ll call security and keep an eye on him.

Speculation? Absolutely. Just as good as Greta’s speculation? Of course. Plausible? I think so.

Based on the evidence at hand, I stand with Mr. X (at least on this one issue and one accusation) and I stand with DJ. Hopefully this is my last foray into this particular breach.



  • John

    Was the “Camera on a stick” the x-shot? I got one of those from think-geek about a year ago and I love it for when I go to conferences and stuff, because I get to take video of myself without bothering someone to hold the camera. I use it mostly for video and not still pics, but it works for both (timer or remote control for still pics tho)

    this is it:

    I love it, but after reading this, and since it sounds like the same thing I had been using, I feel like I probably should never take the damn thing out again! I really do not want to find myself being accused of such a dirty kind of behavior when I just want to maek youtube vids without a cam man

    • Skeptical Abyss

      Yep. Same thing. Not a chance I would get one now.

  • Pingback: UpskirtGate (?) « Geoff's Blog()

  • Lee deLay

    Hi. I guess I get to say the same thing over and over today after all. If you actually read what I said over on FB or greta’s blog (though that was just today so I don’t blame you if you haven’t yet – in fact here, go do so. I’ll wait… done? good.) you would know precisely what I did and didn’t do or claim.

    Here we go, I’ll just paraphrase from there;
    1. was getting annoyed by “mr x” and asked him to leave me alone
    2. had to ask again.
    3. and again.
    4. had to ask “mr x” to leave me /and/ my friend alone.
    5. saw “mr x” with a camera, on a pole, at ankle height. Was really uncomfortable with it and didn’t feel safe.
    6. asked a friend what she thought – she agreed. We asked security to be called.
    7. had to ask ‘mr x’ to leave me alone AGAIN. (and again… I am not sure how many times I had to actually. Other people did for us too, in case it didn’t sink in. – which it didn’t as I had to ask the whole time I was there)
    8. got fed up, as did my friend who had a similar experience both at that tam and the previous.
    9. found JREF security, told them what happened, was asked to fill out a paper detailing what we experienced, was told we would hear back shortly on what actions were going to be taken.
    10. Spoke with DJ about everything I detailed here. His response? ‘did you tell him directly to leave you alone?’ when we said yes he told us it wasn’t acceptable behavior and that it would be taken care of.
    11. I never heard anything back from the JREF on the matter though apparently my friend has. I can’t comment on that though.

    So your glib characterization of what occurred between myself and DJ is asinine and as you said “it’s easy to get information” if you looked at the facebook post my info is on there. It would have been easy to ask me what I said and did. You didn’t.

    Way to protect someone who made me and others feel unsafe, uncomfortable and not welcome. Congrats. I hope you feel good about yourself.

    • To Lee deLay

      Remember this when you’re called to the stand for a potential libel case Lee.

      Way to condemn a guy who has not only explained himself but has posted the pictures he took, with no evidence of your hysterical claims.

      Way to persecute some poor geek who didn’t intend to make you feel unsafe, uncomfortable and you certainly have guaranteed a possible permanent undeserved bad reputation for him for the rest of his life. I hope you feel GREAT about that.

    • Skeptical Abyss

      You make some good points. Thank you for commenting. And to be clear, I am only with Mr. X on the camera stick issue, not anything else. I am most definitely not with Mr. X on any thing else, which I thought I made clear, but I guess I didn’t, so mea culpa. I think that accusing Mr. X of up-skirting people (which I think it is clear you didn’t actually do, and which I sort of said in my post in what you, maybe properly, refer to as my glib and asinine manner) is just so serious of an accusation, that could actually have big implications in the life of Mr. X outside of the blogosphere, that it really needs the kind of proof that you would need in a criminal trial. Because anyone can google Mr. X and get now learn about the up-skirting, I think it is important to stand with him until and unless he is proven guilty–not of having a camera on a stick–but actually up-skirting. Greta didn’t just imply he did that–she actually stated he did that as if it were a fact. That’s wrong. I still stand with Mr. X on Greta’s post. On all the other boorish behavior, well Mr. X is well known for that kind of thing. I have warned women about him on numerous occasions and I do what I can to avoid him at TAM (not that he has actually done anything I would call “harassment” in my presence, he is just, in my opinion, really creepy). Creepiness aside, I stand with him on Gretta’s post, and I don’t disagree with you on any particular point.

      Thanks again for commenting.

    • John C. Welch

      So the problem was, X was being a douche to you.

      The camera stick, aka “monopod” is incidental to this, since neither you, nor anyone else know he was doing anything inappropriate with it. He might have been, or, it might have been a more comfortable way to carry the camera.

      The *camera* is incidental to the *harrassment*

      The question I have, which I haven’t seen answered yet, is:

      Did the harrasment *stop*?

      Because that would seem to be of some importance? Did they act on the *harassment*? That’s important. What he may or may have not have been doing with the camera, no one knows yet, and having seen a few monopod rigs, they get clumsy. You’re left with not a lot of ways to carry it for long periods of time.

      Am I dismissing the potential that he was going above and beyond in being a creeper? Nope. But if we start acting on what *might* happen, then we wander into badthought territory.

      So the question is, did the harassment stop?

      Secondly…does the accused get their say, or is it “you’ve been accused, you’re out”?

      Because that is somewhat of an important point. If it’s the former, then things work correctly. If it’s the latter, then things are really bad, and the entire conference needs to end. Now.

      • Lee deLay

        As I said in my clarification, no the harassment didn’t stop. That’s why I reported it. Clearly that didn’t make a difference to our ‘mr x’ as they are saying they never heard about it. I am not saying ‘you’re accused you’re out’ I am saying have a policy in place and enforce it. Just like every other event out there, something like ‘if someone reports your behavior making them feel unsafe or uncomfortable we will ask you to stop that behavior and similar. If there are further reports of that behavior we will take further action up to and including asking you to leave the event.’ Look, gives someone who didn’t realize what they were doing a chance to not do it and makes the rest of us feel like something will happen if the behavior doesn’t stop. It’s a common policy and not a hard one to enforce.

    • Mister X

      Well, Lee, this is Mr. X, and I can have the author of this blog confirm this by e-mailing me.

      If I annoyed you or made you feel uncomfortable then I am deeply sorry. That was not my intention. Yes, I remember you. I do recall you getting a little annoyed, at least I think.

      TAM is a bit of a sensory overload experience. There are a lot of people there, things get loud. It’s a massive social experience. It involves a lot of strange situations, like guys waving around stuffed representations of anatomy, people from various cultures, long nights without much sleep, drinking is customary.

      I go to TAM for a number of reasons. I like meeting people and have made some of my best friends there. I like networking. I try to push my blog and my own skeptical work. I can get caught up in it.

      There are also people who don’t like me and say bad things about me and frame me in bad ways. Why? Well, a number of reasons. In one cases, one of the attendees viciously hates me because of a disagreement over the extend of state social services (NO I’M NOT KIDDING)

      Suffice to say, I have been known to end up with “foot in mouth disease” from time to time.

      I don’t know what happened. I certainly do not recall you repeatedly telling me to go away. I’m not saying you didn’t. You probably did. Maybe you were not clear enough or not direct enough? (I’m not blaming you. I’m saying sometimes you have to be really damn straight up to get through my thick skull. Yes, I can be socially inept from time to time.)

      In any case, I’m sorry.


      I have every right to be there. I have been to every tam since tam 5. I have been a contributor to SWIFT. I’m a member of the JREF and numerous other skeptic organizations (CSI, Skeptic) etc. I’ve volunteered at events. At almost every TAM I have spent time putting things together and helping out. I’ve made my best friends through skepticism. I spend my time doing things like writing letters to newspapers, blogging and other activities to advance the cause of scientific skepticism.

      Why? Because it’s my thing and it’s important to me. Some people work at soup kitchens. Some people send money to African kids. Some people clean up public parks.

      Helping to advance and participate in skepticism is my thing. It’s what gives my life purpose and it is my small contribution to the world.

      While I’m sorry that I may have gone overboard and made you feel uncomfortable, you need to take a breath here, because you have no right to make *ME* feel uncomfortable or try to portray me as a creep that does not belong at a conference like that.

      I really find it offensive that you’re portraying me in this manner. Offensive and potentially slanderous, actually.

      I’ve never been accused of anything serious in this regard. Perhaps coming on strong, but noone in my life has ever accused me of anything physically improper. Never once have I been subject to any kind of formal complaint at work or elsewhere. My name is 100% clear.

      I have every right to use a monopod to get pictures of myself with other people or get high vantage point pictures. There’s nothing wrong with it. I can own a camera. I can use a camera.

      So while I will admit freely I can be annoying and I don’t always take a hint, I consider these charges that I was “threatening” or somehow made things “unsafe” to be both insulting and potentially libelous.

      When you say “Way to protect someone who made me and others feel unsafe, uncomfortable and not welcome. Congrats. I hope you feel good about yourself.” I think you are missing something. Nobody can control how others feel. I might say “hello” and it might make you feel scared. it might make you feel happy. It might make you feel… anything.

      People get the wrong impression all the time. Regrettable, but it happens. Clearly I need to be more careful. But yeah, it happens to all of us.

      Now you want to hear about being unwelcome and unsafe?

      I’m now not sure what to do here. TAM is the highlight of my year and I already have dropped more than a grand on hotel rooms, flights and so on, because until yesterday I wasn’t even aware this was an issue.

      I’m downright scared that going is somehow going to ruin my reputation or something.

      You’re starting to make me feel very unsafe at TAM. I have a good time there and most people are happy to see me. It’s a great place to network with other skeptics and advance the cause.

      The past day has been spent making sworn statements to probate judges over the purpose of the monopod, getting legal advice, trying to track down people to make sworn statements about what they saw and otherwise gathering documentation.

      I’m very very worried about this. Extremely worried. If I go to TAM at all, which I might not, I’m going to be surrounded by people I can trust every moment and I’m likely not going to say a word to anyone.

      If I see you, I intend to immediately go as far away as possible. I’ll thank you to do the same.

      Again, I’m sorry for the missunderstanding and I freely admit that, from your end, it probably seemed a much bigger deal than from mine. But now this is a VERY VERY BIG deal on my end.

      Let me remind people that skepticism is not a huge cause. We do not have hundreds of thousands of people who will put a lot of time, energy and money into trying to support it. We can’t throw them away.

      Don’t anyone dare start saying that I’m “blaming the victim” because there is no victim here. Nobody was victimized. Someone might have missunderstood or been uncomfortable. That hardly makes them a victim.

      In case anyone missed it, yes I am sorry I was annoying and didn’t take a hint.

      None the less, I should not be forced to prove my own good character or affirmatively defend myself against accusations that could easily ruin my life.

      • Skeptical Abyss

        I can confirm that this is the real Mr X.

      • Lee deLay

        Hi there Mr. X – I am going to use he/him pronouns since you seem to be okay with the ‘mr’ title, if I am wrong please let me know. I in no way want to misgender you.
        TAM can indeed be a sensory overload but I love that about it. It’s awesome – I thrive in an environment with a lot of people and things going on. TAM is a lovely place most of the time but there are problems as evidenced by this kerfuffle.
        I don’t know you, I didn’t even know your real name until recently (even when I made the report it was by your forum name). I was indeed warned about you by others at my very first TAM (TAM8) because if your “foot in mouth disease” as you put it. I don’t however take others comments as red, I was willing to give a chance. Frankly – you blew it. I told you multiple times to go away because I don’t want you around me. Heck I remember even telling you once in the Del Mar that I didn’t like you and you needed to go away from me. That you don’t remember doesn’t surprise me – it’s a side effect of your privilege that you don’t have to remember someone who you made really uncomfortable. Cis-men are raised and conditioned to ignore that.
        You do have the right to be there but you DON’T have the right to make myself and others so uncomfortable that it is a factor that we take into account when we decide to go to TAM or not. You DON’T have the right to ignore us when we repeatedly ask you to leave us alone. I don’t report this stuff easily because I know full well jack happens and things like this explosion end up happening. Your behavior to myself and my friend who reported with me was so bad that we felt that we needed to report it even though it was the last day of the event, because we didn’t want others to experience what we did.
        Saying “I may have gone overboard and made you feel uncomfortable” is such a privileged understatement it is to the point of being deliberately obtuse. I am not trying to portray you as a creep, in fact if you will notice I said nothing publicly on this matter until people came out talking about it and were misrepresenting it. I have DEFENDED YOU saying that no, I don’t know that you were actually taking pictures with the camera just that I wasn’t comfortable with it. That it was not the only reason I reported your behavior and I have clarified over and over what I actually experienced. So I am making your feel uncomfortable by saying ‘hey mr x did indeed do things that made me uncomfortable but hey now lets not take this out of proportion. Here’s what I actually reported?’ You’d think that it would make you happy that the one of the people actually involved came forward to make sure people didn’t think there was evidence of you actually taking pictures.
        I also have been doing my damndest to not name names, yours or my friends who reported with me. I know that this explosion can take things out of proportion and is not fun to deal with because I have had this happen over and over when I report things. I don’t hide my name when I come out like this because I think it’s important not to. It’s your choice and my friends if you want it attached to your names, not mine. And by the way, as I did indeed file a formal complaint at TAM 9 – even if you never heard about it – you have had a formal complaint against you. You may not know it but you have now at least been informed so please do update your statement to be accurate.
        You can use your monopod to take pictures, I am not saying you can’t. I am saying you don’t get to make myself and others uncomfortable by having it at your ankle. You’ll notice my action for that was to ask security to talk to you. Done. I didn’t freak out, I didn’t explode in public, nothing. It only went further because it was part of a pattern of behavior. Use your camera to take pictures with celebs I don’t care. Just think about how other people are going to perceive your actions before hand. Since you’re privileged enough to not have to do that I asked security to let you know it bothered people. I didn’t want to talk to you myself because I had been going out of my way to avoid you since you had demonstrated you didn’t listen when I asked you to leave me alone anyway.
        You don’t get to decide what I find unsafe. Sorry. Your behavior made me uncomfortable and feeling unsafe. You have so much privilege as a white cis male that I am not surprised that you are pulling this bs like claiming that your behavior doesn’t make others uncomfortable. I know full well I can be triggered by things that others won’t realize and I can deal with that. I can also ask others to not do that behavior. I can also report it to the conference organizers so I don’t have to talk to the person who is triggering me. You have to deal with the fact that your behavior – intentional or not – can make others feel unsafe. You obviously can’t accept that since you are trying to derail this into an accusation of me taking shit to personally.
        The reason I reported it was so that you would have yet another avenue of someone telling you to check your behavior. I thought that maybe if you heard it from somewhere official it would sink in. Well that didn’t work. “it happens” isn’t a good enough reason for this bullshit to continue. Check your behavior. Check what you are doing. If someone says to leave them alone you do it. “Clearly I need to be more careful” Yeah you do – you needed to back at TAM8 when I asked you to leave me alone. Did it go beyond that? no. You needed to at TAM9 when I asked you to leave me alone, to go away, hell I told you I didn’t like you. Be more careful? How about check your privilege and listen to other people when they tell you to leave them alone.
        I don’t give a flying fuck how much you spent on going to TAM since guess what, I spent that much too last year. Guess what, your behavior and having to report it is something that sticks out about TAM last year and was influential in my decision to not go this year. (Note – no, it is not the main reason, my health and medical bills are but it is part of why I am not trying harder to go.) You can not accuse me of ruining your rep because I am not naming you. My intent in coming forward is not to name and shame. My intent is to make sure that what is currently rumor and conjecture has an actual first hand account of what happened rather than the distorted bs that goes through the mill.
        My past day has been spent repeatedly telling people that “no, this is what happened.” My past day has been spent being called a liar, being misgendered, being told I am over reacting, being questioned over and over on the same thing I said last year at TAM. I never intended to go public. I ONLY did because I saw that there was misinformation being spread and I don’t find that acceptable. I am not going to TAM but if we are both at the same conference, thanks do leave me alone. As I asked you to. Over and over. How am /I/ making you feel unsafe at TAM? I have done nothing but keep it out of the public till I had to speak to clarify my report.
        Oh and as far as the whole victim thing goes – um hello. I filed a damn report about your behavior. That does indeed make me a victim. Harassment, even unintentional, has a victim. It’s not a misunderstanding when your behavior made me uncomfortable. It’s not a misunderstanding when I am led to have to report your behavior to security. You /are/ blaming the victim. You /are/ minimizing what happened. I don’t give a shit that ‘you’re sorry’ because clearly you aren’t sorry you make me and others feel unsafe you’re just sorry that it got out and now you have to deal with the consequences of your actions.

        • Darren

          One question, Lee:

          “Mister X” has claimed that one of his friends had a running joke about him using the x-shot to take photographs up womens skirts, and this may have lead to the spreading of a rumor.

          Had you heard any rumors that this was Mister X’s intention?

        • Justicar

          I’m curious, Lee, on what grounds do you warrant the claim that Mr. X is ‘cis’gendered? Presumably you and Mr. X weren’t the best of friends, and that to me indicates you and Mr. X probably didn’t have conversations about such issues.

          You wouldn’t by chance be making that opinion represented as fact (which you then used to dismiss Mr. X’s personal agency) based on what it appears to you that Mr. X is, would you? I’m certain you’re the kind of person who wouldn’t assume that something is the way it initially appears without doing the noble task of investigating relevant facts so as to make an informed conclusion. Right?

          Oh wait, ‘some people once told me about something they claim happened . . .’

          I certainly wish I had the kind of privilege that would let me know whether someone is cisgendered or not so that I could appropriately deny them their personal agency based on whatever’s convenient to whatever I happen to want to say.

          Not that I for a moment think this notion of privilege is at all coherent, but on the proviso that it’s a real thing, it would appear that you’re fucking swimming in it.

        • AndrewV69

          Something to note irrespective of the various positions in this matter.

          Lee could have remained silent, but instead spoke up in multiple places in an attempt to clarify.

          I think that is admirable behaviour in itself, and worthy of some respect, and acknowledgement of the same.

  • Lee deLay

    I guess before you accuse me of hiding who I am – on facebook my name is Halley deLay. I use Lee because I am genderfluid and find the neutral name to be a better fit. Oh and before it starts – my pronouns are they/them so please don’t ‘she’ or ‘her’ me. Cheers.

    • John C. Welch

      and now you’re telling other people how to talk and think even when not directly addressing you.


      My name is john, but because of deeply held personal beliefs, when referencing me, you must use “hottentot/hottentots” because you’re all being specist if you don’t.

      • Joey Maloney

        Good grief, what a hottentot asshole.

        • John C. Welch

          “Hottentot” is a pronoun, not an adjective. Stop oppressing me with your privilege.

          • Arkham

            So, John, what’s it like to be an incurious asshole?

  • John C. Welch

    I for one am shocked, shocked that Greta is ready to hang someone based on an unverified account of an incident on facebook.

    shocked I tell you.

  • James Onen

    My goodness…. Free Thought Blogs – the home of melodrama.

  • Skepcheck

    I too am shocked. Who whould have thunk it?

  • Skepcheck

    would, obviously.

  • Will B.

    I wasn’t there. I don’t know what did or didn’t happen. The way it stands, I honestly don’t know what to believe, or if there’s any way I ever could figure out what happened.

    While there’s some merit to your criticism of Greta Christina’s post, some elements of yours are troubling as well. The witness stated that she had personally been approached by two women who believed they had been victims of attempts to take violating photos. You can note that we haven’t heard *directly* from them, but you omit a crucial detail when you suggest that there weren’t even any victims and the accusation was based merely on someone seeing the camera on a stick and speculating wildly.

    Perhaps the victims and/or the witness is lying. Perhaps Mr. X is lying. Eagerly accepting one possibility without so much as considering the other does not demonstrate an honest assessment of the available information. Greta Christina is guilty of making too many oversimplifications and assumptions – and so are you. Pot, meet kettle

    And there are many other variables as well. Maybe the two women honestly misinterpreted the way he absentmindedly held the camera when not in use. Or maybe they indeed did leap to unfounded conclusions. Maybe the accused is guilty but faced no consequences due to apathetic authorities. Maybe he’s guilty, but as he was caught before taking any photos there was no solid evidence. Maybe DJ spoke to the women in addition to the witness and had far more info to work with than we do, maybe he didn’t. Maybe the victims and/or witness didn’t manage to communicate the matter clearly, or maybe DJ didn’t really listen. Maybe he tried to take action but didn’t have enough solid evidence to do anything, or maybe he was negligent. There are a huge number of maybes with no clear answers.

    As skeptics, we ALL have a duty to admit when we don’t have enough information to reach a conclusion on a matter. In this case, we have such incomplete information that the most honest response is to refrain from hurling vicious accusations against Mr. X, the two women, the witness, DJ, or anyone else involved.

    • John C. Welch

      well that’s the problem Will.

      If you say that, if you don’t immediately accept the accuser’s story as 100% true in every way, you’re wrong. If you say “Well, we need to get both sides of the story”, then you’re not properly creating a safe space for women. The attempt to use the actual Constitution as a guideline is seen as enabling harassment.

      Note: there is a world, a UNIVERSE of difference between saying “We cannot evict/eject someone without talking to them *first*, and “we don’t believe you, stupid bitches, STFU”

      Well, not in the world of someone who sees skeptic as something more than an adjective to be used to make one feel superior.

      It’s an extreme example, but when you operate on accusation = conviction, you get the Duke Lacrosse team. They weren’t angels, they seemed to be a douche collective writ large, but they also didn’t RAPE anyone. However, even TODAY, with the clear evidence of that, there are still people who think they were guilty. Why? because they weren’t angels.

      “They like strippers, so they MUST have raped SOMEONE”

      Funny how “she was asking for it” is okay when it’s directed at the OTHER gender.

      But hey, men just STFU, it’s your turn to take it for a while. Revenge, FUCK YEAH.

      • Mister X

        I probably was annoying and obnoxious. Geez, it’s not like it’s the first time someone has thought I was. I probably did use some poor judgment in some place there. I’m sure I did make someone uncomfortable. And clearly, either I was oblivious to something or didn’t take a hint.

        And for that I am very very very sorry.

        But please, let me live my life and at least consider that I might not be a pervert or a hideously dangerous person.

        I don’t deserve to face the kind of slander I’m now dealing with and I really don’t want to be kicked out of the whole damn event because of something like this (which I freely admit the other person probably saw differently)

        I should not be forced to defend my character. I just shouldn’t. I should not have my entire personal life and affairs called into question or scrutinized nor should I feel it necessary to provide other people to defend my good name.

      • Will B.

        But we also don’t know if the action demanded by the Halley or the two women (that is, the people who were personally involved) goes beyond what’s fair and appropriate – again, because there are significant gaps in what we know regarding what actually did or didn’t happen in terms of the incident, report, or response.

        People like Greta who immediately blame the men and vilify anyone who doesn’t do the same are behaving shamefully. But jumping to characterize those who are concerned that justice might not have been adequately pursued and who disagree with *you* as having a “Revenge, FUCK YEAH” attitude is no better. The intellectually honest response to someone banging their “defend [group A] against oppression from the evil of [group B]!” war drum is to advocate for an honest assessment of what’s known and justice for all involved parties – not to bang your own “no, defend [group *B*] against oppression from the evil of [group *A*]!” war drum.

        • Skeptical Abyss

          Once again: word

    • Skeptical Abyss


    • Lee deLay

      Can we stop dehumanizing and misgendering me?
      “the witness” my name is Lee.
      “she” “the woman” I am not a woman, I am genderfluid. I use they/them pronouns.
      There was ONE woman in the report. There was ONE non-binary person.

      • Not Mr X

        While I appreciate that one is allowed to self-identify as one wishes, this whole kerfluffle has been about the sexual harassment of women at TAM. Getting angry at the commenters for not properly calling you “non-binary” (which is a bit of a foreign concept for many) is making you look reactionary. The words “drama queen” come to mind and I mean that in the most gender-neutral way possible.

      • John C. Welch

        Humanity exists outside of gender. Even those born with some FASCINATING genetic issues and expressions of same are still human. Gender is a subset of species.

      • Justicar

        Just as soon as you stop using terms to describe everyone else in the world who might object to being labeled against their own will. For instance, a huge number of non-transgendered people positively hate the term ‘cis’. (And you can’t really tell that by looking at someone anyway).

        This doesn’t stop the larger trans-community from nevertheless foisting the offensive-to-many people term on them. If they can survive that, I’m certain you’re strong enough to survive ‘she/her’.

        What is more is that you should go off on reGreta for using you in any sense in a conversation about what women have to suffer through; per your own insistence, you aren’t a woman.

    • Justicar

      I wasn’t there either. And while your post has some merit, some elements of yours are troubling as well.

      And you identify exactly why your reasoning here is deficient: your big maybe game solves it all. Maybe the person making the claim never was approached by anyone and told anything. Or perhaps the complainer misunderstood. You cede all of the ground though by referring to these only claimed to have existed people as victims.

      A victim is someone who has had some wrong perpetrated against him or herself. To call those people victims is to admit something happened to them that was improper, all on the basis of some non-witness’ asseverations.

      This Lee person has no direct knowledge any event that would warrant someone saying some improper anything happened to anyone. The most Lee can say is that two people approached her/him/it/whatever and said things.

      And that is really where it stops. And it was on this basis I surmise that a complaint was filed. In other words, no complaint was made by anyone who had any knowledge of anything worth note. Any partly reasonable person should discount that as a report of anything beyond ‘some people just talked to me’. Okay, great. Any reason to think what YOU allege someone else supposedly TOLD YOU about an event that they may or may not have correctly interpreted? No reason other than you’re upset? Okay – have a great day – I’ll keep my eye out.

      So, let’s say DJ did listen and acted on this complaint. Imagine the conversation to follow: you there, sir, Mr. X – we need you to leave.


      Someone told us that someone told her that they saw you do something they interpreted as wrong.

      Any evidence or firsthand accounts of this supposed incident?

      None at all – why would that matter. All that matters is someone told us that someone told them about something.

      Um, isn’t this a skeptics meeting?

      Sure, why do you ask? Don’t skeptics generally take hearsay as gospel? Isn’t that why we all convert when two Mormons show up and tell us they heard from a preacher that god talks to him?

      People gripe and complain about ‘guilty’ people being found ‘not guilty’ for insufficient evidence. Well, tough shit; if you can’t substantiate your claims to the degree that a neutral arbiter can legitimately discount your proposition, that’s not the fault of anyone who’s not convinced. This isn’t to say that nothing wrong happened, or the person is innocent anymore than my saying I am unconvinced a god exists means that it doesn’t. It just means the evidence insufficiently weighty to remove from me a rational basis on which to dissent. In other words, the evidence isn’t sufficient to make my not accepting the story as true irrational.

      And there isn’t a single jot of information that’s been yet written which counts as evidence of any kind. It’s entirely some person saying she was told something by other people. To the extent that something might have happened it’s those ‘other people’ who are the witnesses – not Lee.

      All Lee has done is engage in gossip.

      • Arkham

        I mean, if she doesn’t have a sperm sample, she’s making it up? Amirite?

  • Scented Nectar

    Oh those idiots! It’s anecdata time for reGreta et al. They are so determined to screw up TAM and all other skeptic/atheist/secular,etc get-togethers, they don’t bother verifying anything that sounds like it’s on their pre-determined side. They are a parasite cause, using atheist/skeptic resources to spread their own radfem ideology.

  • John C. Welch

    Also, the attempt to blame DJ be reference for things that happened in 2009 is kind of bullshit. That would be before he took over. Maybe people should go yell at Plait over that once.

  • D4M10N

    “…if you don’t immediately accept the accuser’s story as 100% true in every way, you’re wrong.”

    I don’t see any reason not to accept Lee’s account of events as true, John. They have been more than forthright and responsive and answered direct questions in at least three fora, and to my knowledge they never actually accused him of breaking the relevant NV law ( but instead accused him of repeated harassment, which he does not deny and which is consistent with various third-party accounts.

    Having followed this over three forums, I’m not seeing a significant difference between DeLay’s and [Mr. X’s] version of events at this point.

    That said, I’m as disturbed by Greta’s willingness to jump to dramatic and sweeping conclusions as I am by DJ’s unwillingness to step forward and ensure that [Mr. X’s] behavior will not be repeated.

    Note: post edited by admin to remove name and replace by “Mr. X”

    • John C. Welch

      I wasn’t speaking of lee specifically. If that was unclear, I apologize for my lack of clarity. I was pointing out that as long as the accuser is NOT male, and the accuser IS male, then any action not 100% in accordance with “accusation = guilt” makes you a misogynist.

    • Iamcuriousblue

      D4M10N – What you said!

      Way too much polarization on both sides. Either “No harassment at TAM ever, and no need to deal with it” or “DJ must step down, and TAM must have an anti-harassment policy of our choosing”. This level of dialogue is pretty much guaranteed to lead to an impasse.

  • Allison

    To my continued amazement – with each passing day these clowns (Greta, Stefunny Svan, Laden, Thideault) manage to surpass themselves with their foolishness and nonsense. I really feel bad for DJ having to endure all these baseless accusations.

    • Justicar

      Stefunny. I’m so jealous I never thought of that one.

      • Arkham

        You must be a hit on Xbox live.

        Behold, the comic genius of our time.

  • CommanderTuvok

    Wot? The incident was on Facebook?

    I guess it must be true!

    Keep calling these shit-stirrers out.

  • skeptifem

    Funny how you dipshits could probably understand why his carrying say, a bat around, would be a problem at such an event. I guess something that only threatens women is a non-issue.

    • Notung

      Monopods threaten women?! I work part-time in a camera shop, and we have people buying monopods all the time. Next time someone asks for one I’ll call the police.

    • Justicar

      Yeah. I’m with you sister. Because so many people are beaten with monopods it’s roughly analogous to a baseball – an exceptionally rare item to be seen in large public gatherings. Cameras and camera-standing-on-type-thingies aren’t rare. Indeed, it would seem that when there’s a weight imbalance on one end of a lever type doohickie, people tend to let their hand create a fulcrum which makes carrying it around less hard.

      I’m sure even ideologues like you can understand the physics that make carrying something ‘heavyside’ down has been discovered independently by billions of people through thousands of years of our carrying shit around.

    • Franc


      You are my favourite loon. At least you have respect for consistency.

    • John Greg

      Glory be to Dworkin on high, it’s skeptifem, the queen [deleted by moderator] of rational discord yet again and consistently throwing her vivid misandry to the winds of regressive deconstructive nought-thought.

      Oh what joy it is to bathe in the glorious sweat of her sociopathic outrage.

  • John C. Welch

    Having worked with several people using a monopod in its prescribed manner, when just standing about, it’s common to carry it camera-down.

    Pro-tip: not everything is about gender

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  • Mister X

    I do not admit to “harassing” anyone. I admit to possibly being oblivious to being unwelcome. I admit to perhaps being even a little annoying. That’s it. I didn’t actually do anything wrong.

    • John C. Welch

      Dude, you may have not seen it as harassment, but if you annoy the shit out of someone to where they tell you to go away/leave them alone/etc., then regardless of your intentions, it’s harassment.

      I mean, even the dictionary definition is clear:

      the act or an instance of harassing, or disturbing, pestering, or troubling repeatedly; persecution: She sued her boss for sexual harassment.

      Intentions are a factor, but they are also non-obvious. Only you know your intentions, and if you’re being an obnoxious tit, and people tell you to stop, or ask you, and you don’t, then harassment.

      If people tell you to go away, they aren’t feeling your mojo, maybe you should consider finding a new friend.

    • davros

      You admit to being ‘oblivious to being unwelcome’ then say ‘I didn’t actually do anything wrong’. Well making yourself unwelcome and ignoring requests to stop is wrong.

      Do you really not care if people are made to feel very uncomfortable by your behavior?

      Why not just apologize and promise to behave nicer next time?

      • Arkham

        Surely Mr. X will deliver an answer shortly.


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  • John Greg

    Them that’s got shall get
    Them that’s not shall lose
    So the Bible said and it still is news
    Cis-Mama may have, trans-Papa may have
    But God bless the xer that’s got them’s own
    That’s got them’s own

  • ccbiggs

    Been following this and here’s what I find interesting…the original Facebook post by Tom in Act II has been changed from the original but still states,
    “Two women approach me and another conferee.  They are pale and trembling.  Allegedly*, a man with a camera on the end of a telescoping monopod has been attempting to surreptitiously take photos up their skirts.” sounds a little like what Greta posted.
    Next, I believe Lee has also altered her original facebook post and deleted where she stated and I am paraphrasing that a man with a camera on a tripod had the camera pointing at his ankle but it was making her and another person nervous because it was around women in skirts.
    So, if this information is accurate, then both people intimately involved in this conversation changed their posts and contradict each other and if it is Lee that Tom has quoted she told two different stories or Tom is mistaken in what he wrote. Regardless, this is what Greta’s blog is based on. Really?

  • Rob Tarzwell

    I don’t know how to contact the owner of this forum other than this thread, so I wanted to point out that the initial Facebook post has been edited to clarify language which might be read that I saw something when in fact I did not see any of the alleged behaviours. I am a witness to the distress, not to the behaviours which provoked distress. I have not, as far as I know, met the alleged harasser.

    My point was and is to register dissatisfaction regarding JREF’s process in handling a serious allegation, *not* an airing of the particulars or outing of individuals.

    It displeases and distresses me that individuals not directly witnessing the particulars have named the alleged on my thread, and those comments, once brought to my attention, have been deleted, three in all so far, to safeguard the anonymity of the alleged, who is absolutely *not* required to defend himself in this or any other non-formal forum. I will continue to delete any naming or outing of complainants or alleged harasser by non-involved persons.

    The complainants and the alleged harasser deserve: anonymity for both parties, a presumption of innocence for the alleged harasser, and a presumption of good faith from the complainants.

    I take these matters very seriously. The particulars are documented but sadly seem, in the most charitable case, to have gone astray or been mislaid. That, at minimum, doesn’t bode well for JREF’s chain of custody for handling complaint documents.

    If the alleged harasser does not already have the names of the individuals in my thread who outed him, I will provide him with those as a basic courtesy.

    • Jimmy Status: Rustled

      Real courageous of the douche-bagel to set up an anonymous blog to attack people who don’t like being creeped on.

      I’ve got a fiver that says “Mr. X” is the one running the show and that he’s too much of a maladjusted passive-aggressive to either let it go or face the problem publicly like a man.

      He’s also arranged for some of these posts to be read out loud on youtube by a “friend,” lol.

      • Skeptical Abyss

        Funny, I missed the not so thinly veiled anti-semitism the first time I read this, calling me a “douche-bagel.”. I don’t know why you assume I am Jewish, perhaps you think that anyone that disagrees with you must be one of “da Joos”.

        • Cattle Rustler

          I take it you don’t read The Oatmeal.

          Wherein The Oatmeal argues that Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived. The Oatmeal (whose comic is “a thing” in geek circles) is well known for his innovations in the douchebag denigration sciences. My personal fave is “douchecanoe” followed closely by “doucepickle.”

          But don’t let that stop you from “jumping to conclusions.” :3

          Abyss Status: [ ] Not Told
          [X] Told

          • Skeptical Abyss

            It is as if you are writing in a foreign language, because all I see is excuse making for your obvious anti-semitic comment.

          • Eternal Rustling

            “It is as if you are writing in a foreign language…”

            Covering your ears and shouting “nananananananananananana” has that effect.

            You get some credit if you remember to shout “BATMAN!” at the end of it, though.

            Some skeptic.

            See also:


      • 2 can play

        I find the term douche ‘noun’ to be highly demeaning to women.

  • ccbiggs

    Interesting but not the point I was making. If you published in your statement what you were told by Lee, if in fact it was Lee, then this is different than what she has claimed. Can you clearly identify if one of the people who approached you and whose complaint you declaratively state was Lee and is what you wrote definitively what you were told or you think it was what you were told or don’t clearly remember what you were told?

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  • Per_Daniel_Sorensen

    I am amazed that anyone would think that the Xshot:

    would be used to take upskirt pictures.