On May 22, Ben Radford tweeted a settlement that was the culmination of years of expensive and acrimonious litigation with Karen Stollznow, a woman who accused him of stalking, sexual harassment and other very serious crimes.
These demonstrably false accusations, as Hemant Mehta pointed out, spread like wildfire in the skeptical community and beyond. Prominent skeptics such as PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson and Stephanie Zvan spread those accusations as far and as wide as they could and Radford suffered serious social and financial consequences as a result of the campaign against him.
As is so often the case in these situations, the retraction got far less press than the accusations. None of the Freethought Blogs/Skepchick faction of skepticism covered the retraction. Several on the sensible side of skepticism tweeted at anti-Radford commentators such as Adam Lee and Greta Christina in hopes of winning some kind of comment for Radford, a man about whom they were more than happy to spread venom.
Mehta’s article, published on June 2, asked an important question:
If You Promote a Story That Turns Out to Be False, Don’t You Have an Obligation to Correct It?
PZ, Watson, Zvan and Lee profited from the blog hits they received from their Radford accusations, after all…don’t they have a moral obligation to report when those accusations are retracted?
PZ responded with his now-customary lack of class. In “I sincerely concede that Ben Radford is a litigious jerk,” the Humanist of the Year 2009 asserts the following:
- Rebecca Watson “has the story,” a bit of a slight to Mehta.
- He will not apologize to Radford.
- Radford spent 100 grand on his defense
- Radford “browbeat” Stollznow “and her husband” into signing “a piece of paper on pain of ruining her life.”
- Radford’s a “small-minded cartoon villain” for the coincidence that multi-year litigation ended around the same time as Stollznow scheduled her c-section.
- Radford’s a “leaky sack of shit.”
Why didn’t PZ, Watson, Stephanie Zvan or any of the other false accusers correct their stories? Why, they had no IDEA that the settlement had been reached!
Watson was clueless!
Jason “Lousy Canuck” Thibeault, a man who has first-hand knowledge of the pain caused by false rape allegations, had no obligation to follow up on the story or to keep up with the state of the litigation in spite of his laborious documentation of the accusations in the past.
Stephanie Zvan had no idea what happened and made sure to say that Radford did not understand sexual consent.
Knowing that Stollznow’s retraction put PZ and his friends on the wrong side of the issue, they leapt to his defense with a time-worn tactic:
PZ AND OTHERS DIDN’T COMMENT BECAUSE THEY HAD NO IDEA THAT THE STATEMENT WAS RELEASED, SO MEHTA IS NOT SO “FRIENDLY” AFTER ALL.
From PZ’s post:
From the Zvan:
Look at this interesting morsel! GregB asks Zvan if and when she knew about the settlement. She heard about the settlement in a closed Facebook group and figured she would hear more! Instead, she expected Radford to contact dozens of people who had accused him of sexual assault to ask for the accusations to be taken down!
From the comments on Hemant’s post:
The Truth: PZ Knew About the Retraction on at Least May 26 and Said Nothing
Giving people the benefit of the doubt is a virtue. Maybe PZ had no idea that Radford had been vindicated! How would he possibly know about the settlement, seeing as how he likely has Radford blocked in addition to anyone who would tweet him about the end of the litigation?
Now, PZ has never been shy about writing articles about Ben Radford:
PZ knew about the settlement on May 26. He said nothing.
PZ knew about the settlement on May 27. He said nothing.
PZ knew about the settlement on May 28, 29, 30 and June 1. He said nothing. PZ didn’t say anything until “Rebecca” broke the story on June 2, prompted by Hemant’s piece.
How do we know that PZ knew about the settlement? Why, he was informed in comments made on his blog! Comments he MUST have seen because he deleted them.
Thankfully, there is a Wayback Machine record of Brive’s interaction with the Pharyngula Horde.
May 26: PZ posts “Not quite home, and almost regretting it”
Around comment 288, “Brive” throws his or her hat in the ring, saying:
Oh…PZ deleted the comment. PZ deleted ALL of the comments. Thankfully, Brive posted some screenshots to the Slymepit and other Pharyngula commenters quoted and responded to Brive, immortalizing what he said.
Comment 297: Brive pastes in the important verbiage from the Stollznow retraction and points out that PZ and the Horde had done no “housecleaning” or apology in the previous three-plus days.
Comment 309: Brive expressly links to the Stollznow retraction and points out that Stollznow had taken down the accusations on her $60,000 Indiegogo page.
Comment 451: Brive explicitly mentions the settlement. “The accusations have been withdrawn – you ignore it. But the posts remain.” Clear as day.
Comment 462: Lady Mondegreen is absolutely clear. She knows about the retraction.
Brive gets in his soon-to-be deleted “last word,” complete with mention of the settlement and reminder that PZ ignored it.
PZ COULD claim that he just didn’t read Brive’s comments. But that can’t be true…PZ deleted them. He clearly interacted with them. Others in the thread interacted with them. PZ ignored the Radford settlement.
May 27: The Thunderdome. The “unmoderated free-for-all.”
More talk about the Stollznow retraction. Tony! The Queer Shoop quotes Brive’s previous comment and makes an inquiry:
Here’s the ensuing conversation:
So all of these commenters (and anyone who read the thread) knew about Radford’s vindication. (Crip Dyke, by the way, is an occasional Freethought Blogger.) Only a psychic would know if PZ read these specific comments, but it is clear that he participated in the thread after the discussion of the Stollznow settlement.
Why Didn’t PZ Mention the Fact that Radford’s Alleged Victim Admitted She Wasn’t a Victim?
For the most part, that’s up to you to decide. Sexual assault is a terrible crime and should be punished severely. But the severity of that crime and the others Radford was alleged to have committed require us to be fair to the accused.
it would be wrong for anyone to believe that Ben Radford stalked, sexually harassed, or physically and sexually assaulted Karen Stollznow.
Why don’t PZ Myers and the others rejoice? Karen Stollznow (as the evidence and retraction prove) was not mistreated in the way she alleged. This is a good thing, right? Why wouldn’t PZ and his friends at least offer a bland notice of the retraction?
David Osorio theorizes through Rebecca Bradley that Radford is simply a prop: a sacrificial lamb that SJW FTBullies need to justify their abusive actions and illogical beliefs that are far removed from skeptical thinking.
Maybe PZ believes that he’s invincible and that he’s always right.
Perhaps PZ is acting out of a misguided paternal instinct. Maybe deep in the middle of 2015 PZ beats the heart of 2000 PZ, a man who was perhaps a bit strident when it came to creationists, but wasn’t a bully.
If we’re lucky, PZ will explain himself without calling anyone a “shitbucket” or a rapist.
UPDATE: More images and a complete archive of the original comments added.