Dr. Richard Carrier, an atheist known on the chicken dinner circuit and professor of Ancient History, who helped get the social justice group Atheism+ started several years ago, now ironically finds himself on ‘the other side’ of the fence, as it were, by suing several people and blogs in the freethought community, including a woman who went public with a claim of sexual harassment, for $2 million.
Dr. Richard Carrier, the author of several books about ancient philosophy, religion, and science, has filed a lawsuit against multiple atheists, their blogging networks, and an atheist conference on charges of defamation (two counts), interference with his business (one count), and emotional distress (two counts). They stem from posts made about his alleged sexual harassment, an accusation he repeatedly denies.
It all boils down to this:
By falsely claiming, without privilege, that Dr. Carrier committed sexual assault and/or sexual harassment, Defendants intended to inflict a vicious, deliberate, and calculated attack on Dr. Carrier’s character, reputation, and professional standing, and to turn the academic and skeptic communities against Dr. Carrier, and to cause them to have contempt, scorn, disgust, and hatred for him, and to hold him in the lowest possible regard.
Defendants’ statements stigmatize Dr. Carrier as guilty of serious criminal offenses involving moral turpitude, allege behavior incompatible with the proper conduct of his business and trade, and injure his professional standing.
(BTW, you might not want to read the comments to the post I quoted above. The Friendly Atheist blog has not been a fan of Atheism+ in the past)
I get that Carrier is upset that his reputation in the freethought community is shot for the most part and he will be lucky to be invited to any major conventions or meetings in the future, but at the same time he plays the MRA game of denying anything bad happened since he hasn’t had a formal jury trial in a court room.
Carrier’s problem is that there hasn’t been only one allegation and at least one national group found the claims to have merit and removed him from their speaker’s list. He violated a known rule the group had about relationships between speakers and attendees.
He also admitted he crossed the line and planned to be a better person in the future although he does “forget” what sexual harassment and assault means. For example, in some states, touching someone without permission is considered assault.
Suing a woman who accuses you of sexual harassment was the LAST thing I would have thought to see from “feminist” Richard Carrier.
A commenter on the Friendly Atheist post also pointed out another irony. Carrier wrote his own blog post asking readers to support another woman being sued for complaining about sexual harassment:
It looks like he is counting on the fact that defending herself in court will bankrupt her and has used that to try and intimidate her into issuing a retraction, but she refuses to retract what she says is simply the truth. If you think this is appalling and want to help her, I would very much like you to. I am donating to her defense fund, and am ready to give more if it’s needed.
I think it is a fundamental injustice in this country that people have to pay for their own legal representation in courts. This is not only the case in civil trials, but contrary to popular myth, you even have to pay for your own legal defense in a criminal trial–if the government “decides” you can afford it, you have to pay. This is appalling. It thus turns especially civil cases, but even many criminal trials, into a plutocracy where the one with the most money wins (and in criminal cases, that’s the state), rather than the one with justice actually on their side. But alas, this is the system we are stuck in. So please support the justice our government won’t: help someone get a fair trial. And in the process help fight sexual harassment: because if the precedent is set that harassers can intimidate their victims into shutting up by exploiting the injustice of our wealth-based justice system, well, I’ll let you do the math on that…
The lawsuit won’t restore Carrier’s reputation in the freethought community (and he shouldn’t spend that $2 million award just yet) but probably the MRAs will welcome him as someone who “saw the light” and offer him a place to rant and rave about how mistreated he was by all of this.
When you agree to participate in a community that has known rules of conduct and you get caught breaking those rules, you don’t get to complain or try to sue people into silence. A rational person would own up to their mistakes and move down the road.
Also published on Medium.