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Update: Final update added 8 PM PST 6/23/11

In round two I interview Salon writer MaryElizabeth Williams on the topic of what was so objectionable about my blog post Pegs and Holes. (See prior posts for more background.)

MaryElizabeth Williams is a senior staff writer for Salon.com, an author, and has written for The New York Times and other publications. She recently wrote this about me.

Let's jump right in.

MaryElizabeth: Why did I object to your post? Perhaps you meant it humorously, but let's start with the way you lump "behaving badly, e.g. tweeting, raping, cheating, and being offensive to just about everyone in the entire world" together. Cheating is "behaving badly." Raping is a crime. Right off the bat, you're working off fuzzy logic, in which a consensual affair and an act of violence are somehow on the same plane. You do so again later when you suggest that if men were to "lose the urge for sex," there'd be "no rape, fewer divorces," as if rape was all about the "urge for sex."

You state that "society is organized in such a way that the natural instincts of men are shameful and criminal while the natural instincts of women are mostly legal and acceptable...society has evolved to keep males in a state of continuous unfulfilled urges, more commonly known as unhappiness. No one planned it that way." Your presumptuousness over the natural instincts of men is surpassed only by your wild second-guessing regarding those of women. And society, by the way, is plenty planned. Ours here in America, in fact, was planned by, and its government and businesses are still largely run by, men. So instead of going on about the "instincts" of men and women, consider what our culture deems acceptable behavior from all its members, of both sexes. I would furthermore submit that if our society is "a virtual prison for men's natural desires," you've never been to Vegas.

Now let me ask you - do you believe that rape is a "natural" instinct, or that our culture doesn't differentiate between the "urge for sex" and forcible violation? 


Scott: I'll start by answering you closing question. I think sex is a natural instinct, and it manifests differently in different people. A person who is simultaneously horny, prone to violence, and has sociopath tendencies might act in the worst possible way. That person would be abnormal, and I favor the death penalty for rape. Violent behavior is natural in the same sense that cancer and hurricanes are natural. Natural doesn't mean good. Everything I just explained was obvious to many if not most readers of my Pegs and Holes post. You can verify that claim by reading the comments on this blog and on Huffington Post.

On your other points, let me see if I can break them down to bullet points and get your agreement on what you are saying before I respond to them individually. I believe you are saying...

1. Men who have no sexual desire and no erections will still rape because it's not about the sexual urge.

2. If an author lists three things that are bad, he means all three things are equal to each other. For example, if I say blizzards, ulcers, and head lice are bad, I am implying that they should be treated the same way.

3. Society didn't evolve as the result of millions of people making millions of independent decisions. It is mostly the result of planning by men who successfully designed society to meet their needs. 

4. Men can get their natural urges satisfied by, for example, traveling to Las Vegas. Their wives and girlfriends won't mind. There's no real downside. 

5. You can't tell when I'm trying to be humorous. 

Did I accurately summarize your points?

MaryElizabeth: So to be clear, you're saying do believe that "horniness" is a factor in rape. I wonder, have you ever known someone who was raped? Are you aware that rape is used as a weapon of war? Men who have "no sexual desire and no erections" do rape, Scott. Ask someone who's experienced it. Ask Abner Louima, as just one example.

Further, I wonder why you're backing off from your own use of "tweeting, raping, cheating" and "no rape, fewer divorces" in the same lines of thought. You may facetiously compare your post to saying "blizzards, ulcers, and head lice are bad," but I would argue that if that had been your original statement, you'd have been rightly accused of posting utter gibberish.

Instead, you referred, in the most blanket-like of terms, to the "natural instincts of men" as "shameful and criminal."  You're the one who called men "square pegs" and referred to "males in a state of continuous unfulfilled urges." You made no such distinction, as you do now, for the more "prone to violence" and "sociopathic."

And let me see if I understand you correctly - society has evolved from "millions of independent decisions"? I guess the Constitution can go suck it.

Finally, just because someone can tell when you're attempting to be humorous, it doesn't follow that you're succeeding at it. Likewise, just because people disagree  with you, it's not always a sign they're just not as smart as those HuffPo commenters. Perhaps if there weren't so many of us with what you deem poor reading skills, you wouldn't have the need to create imaginary defenders. (http://www.salon.com/entertainment/tv/feature/2011/04/19/scott_adams_sock_puppetry_scandal) I'd like to believe that you've reached out to your critics because you have a genuine curiosity to understand why your remarks were so offensive to so many, Scott. Or is that one more thing I'm apparently all wrong about?

Scott: If you're lumping together every type of rape from war crimes to date rape to child rape to prison rape, most generalizations fall apart. I will grant you that when rape is used as a weapon of war, horniness is not the inspiration for the act. And I will grant you that if an erect penis is not used in the crime, horniness is probably not involved. And I will grant you that if someone who is seriously insane commits rape, it might not involve any horniness. And I will grant you that there are probably dozens of other twisted motivations that don't start with horniness.

My original reference in my Pegs and Holes blog involved the IMF chief and his alleged rape of the hotel maid. In that case, I don't think he first had an urge to do some violence and decided that his penis was the go-to weapon of choice.

Chemical castration drugs already exist, and have proven extraordinarily effective in reducing recidivism rates among sex offenders. The science is on my side. If you have a link that shows otherwise, I am happy to look at it.

And yes, I've known a number of rape victims. I don't draw conclusions from anecdotal evidence, but horniness was obviously a factor in those cases.

If we can set aside for a moment the clarity, or lack thereof, in the writing of my original blog post, can you tell me what view you think I hold that is different from your own? And please put your answer in bullet point form if you can.

MaryElizabeth: Let's look at how you're changing your narrative here. "My original reference in my Pegs and Holes blog involved the IMF chief and his alleged rape of the hotel maid." Your original post about "tweeting, raping, cheating" declared that "the natural instincts of men are shameful and criminal while the natural instincts of women are mostly legal and acceptable. In other words, men are born as round pegs in a society full of square holes. Whose fault is that? Do you blame the baby who didn't ask to be born male?"  That's not a specific reference to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who, by the way, is not accused of "horniness" taken to an extreme, but of orally and anally assaulting a woman.  A refusal to take no for an answer may be a "factor" in some sexual assaults, but "horniness" does not lead to rape, Scott.

You go on to state, "Chemical castration drugs already exist, and have proven extraordinarily effective in reducing recidivism rates among sex offenders."  Yet in your original post you said, " Society is organized as a virtual prison for men's natural desires..." and whimsically imagined that  "science will come up with a drug that keeps men chemically castrated for as long as they are on it."  You didn't say, "sex offenders." You said "men." The entire tone of your post    suggests the two are indistinguishable in your mind, and that   " if a man meets and marries the right woman, and she fulfills his needs, he might have no desire to tweet his meat to strangers" ie, the burden of responsibility falls upon women to keep "bad behavior" in check. It's a very cynical and incredibly depressing way of looking at the world.

What views do I think you hold that's different from my own?

-      That, as you stated earlier this year,  "women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently." I don't regard my sex as differently abled subset of society.

-      That society forces males to exist  "in a state of continuous unfulfilled urges, more commonly known as unhappiness" (Perhaps you could clarify what society you're speaking of. Is there an Unhappiness Island I'm not aware of?)

-  That "It's a zero sum game. If men get everything they want, women lose, and vice versa." I'm not convinced this general "men" you speak of all want the same things. The men   right now fighting for the right to marry their same-sex partners in New York want something very different than the men of the National Organization for Marriage. Hugh Hefner, whom you claim never got "a round hole for his round peg" likely has damn near everything he could want, if whatever he does want, it's probably not indicative of what Justin Bieber wants. And I don't believe in a world where one gender always has to win and another has to lose.  I think better of humanity.

Here are few questions for you: What are you hoping to communicate with posts like "Pegs and Holes"? Is it means as strictly satire? And if so, why bristle when people take the bait? 

Scott: On your first bullet point, you are making my point for me. The actual point of the earlier blog post you mentioned was that men don't argue in situations where the cost of doing so is greater than the gain. The world is watching you make that true for me right now. This debate will probably reduce my income by a third, as feminist forces have already mobilized and started to ask newspapers to drop Dilbert. That's the sort of risk that men don't have when they engage in a debate with other men.

The exception would be when anonymous men on the Internet debate with women. In that case they have no downside risk and are willing to fully engage. But nothing is gained by it beyond entertainment.

On your second bullet point, regarding men existing in a state of unfulfilled urges, I'm referring to the fact that men (gross generality alert) have hearts that want a relationship with one person and penises that want a thousand different women. Neither marriage nor single life can satisfy that condition. And our current society discourages any other sort of arrangement.

Woman (gross generalization alert) are biologically less inclined to crave continuous sexual variety. That's a statement about evolution. If you have a link that disproves that notion, I'm happy to look at it.

Someone will mention that men and women cheat at about the same rate. But research has shown that cheating isn't about sex for either gender. Cheaters generally just want someone to treat them the way they want to be treated.

Obviously it wouldn't be a point of disagreement if you were to say that many people differ from my gross generalizations. I said the same thing in Pegs and Holes: "Everyone is different."

On your third bullet point, you argue that life is not a zero-sum game for the sexes. That's probably true for economics. But my blog post was about natural urges. If a man you barely know wants to have sex with you, and you'd rather not, you can't both be winners. Society has to pick sides, and you won. I think we both agree that is the best solution. Even the man who wants to have sex with you is glad he lives in a world where his mother/daughter/sister can safely say no.

You asked what I'm hoping to communicate with posts such as Pegs and Holes. My only goal is to be interesting. Ideas are society's fuel. I drill a lot of wells; most of them are dry. Sometimes they produce. Sometimes the well catches on fire.

My next question: Do you support the death penalty for rape, as I do, or are you relatively pro-rape compared to me?

MaryElizabeth: First of all, Scott, your continued assertion regarding the risks "that men don't have when they engage in a debate with other men" is a stellar example of why people find your views offensive. It's insulting, it suggests that talking to a woman isn't worth your time and effort, and when you stoop to do so, you face retribution from the "feminist forces." Here's a thought: if as you claim anyone is asking for your strip to be dropped (and for the record, I am not among them) can you consider that maybe it's because of the things you say, rather than because you've so benevolently deigned to engage in a conversation with a female?

Now, let's consider your idea that "If a man you barely know wants to have sex with you, and you'd rather not, you can't both be winners." So much to unpack! What if it's a man you know well? It gets back to what you wrote about how "the natural instincts of men are shameful and criminal." You're not making the distinction between wanting to have sex with someone and wanting to force her to have sex. And to couch sexuality in terms of "winning" and "losing" just sounds really juvenile. If a woman says no to sex, the man "loses" and the woman has "won"? I will however cop that for a man who views the world that way, the burden of male "unhappiness" you spoke of earlier must be great indeed.

You say, "My only goal is to be interesting. Ideas are society's fuel." I think that sums up the essential difference in where we're coming from. I don't write to be "interesting" (go ahead, peanut gallery, take the straight line). I'm not bored or jaded enough to write just to get a reaction. My Irish firmly in the "up" position, I'm here because I care passionately about these issues, and about the world in which my two daughters are growing up. I don't want their ideas and opinions dismissed as too troublesome for a man to squander his energy on, or to have to put up with what you refer to as "gross generalizations" about their sex.

Now, regarding your question, "Do you support the death penalty for rape, as I do, or are you relatively pro-rape compared to me?" Oh Scott. Oh really. You're just messing with me now, aren't you? What's next, you going to ask when I stopped beating my wife? You can't honestly believe that being opposed to capital punishment is tantamount to be in favor of sexual assault, can you? Where's that great logic you pride yourself so much on?

Scott: I think this would be a good place to stop. I'd like to thank MaryElizabeth for being a good sport and for trying to make the world a better place in her own peculiar way.

I feel as if this has been an Internet-wide conversation, with many websites joining in the debate. I leave it to readers to decide whether it was wise for me to engage in an honest conversation on this topic or whether it would have been smarter to apologize for any alleged offenses and slink away. Here's a link that should help you answer that question.

To the women who are not batshit crazy, and fortunately that is most of you, I apologize for any lack of clarity on my part was deemed offensive. I'm reasonably sure we agree on all of the important stuff.






 

 

 
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Jun 23, 2011
Scott

Ultimately, if you wish to pander, you will have to apologize or at least make some concessions. Such debates are never intellectual.

What's this nonsense about death penalty for rape? For murder I can understand. They cut off hands in Qatar for theft. There has to be sense of proportion in punishment. That's the kind of tyranny I suppose all these interest groups like feminists want. A society where they have all the rights and others have all the duties. Imprisonment for 10-12 years is punishment enough. Life is practically over after one spends time in jail for so long.

The only demographic the Dilbert franchise should "pander" to is the core that led to its success and that values the truth above everything else. So what if some (many) people get ticked off?
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 23, 2011
Wow, I made newperson's list! I didn't even comment about anything that they did! I rule so hard.
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 23, 2011
How come I'm not on "newperson"'s list?
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
@newperson, you have missed the biggest idiot posting on here: yourself.

Perhaps I can dumb this down to a grade 7 level:

Scott wrote: "On your third bullet point, you argue that life is not a zero-sum game for the sexes. That's probably true for economics. But my blog post was about natural urges. If a man you barely know wants to have sex with you, and you'd rather not, you can't both be winners."

Now, if we consider only the natural urges, we get a situation where either the man gets what he wants or the woman gets what she wants. Not both.

If we add in the fact that the society improves when women have the right to say no, we are going outside "natural urges" and into social economics (or sociology or game theory... a lot of areas study this kind of thing). Read Scott's point again.

Is he referring to it being a zero-sum game in terms of social urges or is he referring to it being a zero sum game in terms of social economics?

Hint from Scott's blog: "my blog post was about natural urges"
 
 
Jun 23, 2011

OK some of you are pretty confused, the men especially so, I am going to try and introduce some clarity to what is really going on.

Scott has been charged and convicted by the feminists as a rape enabler.

What you are witnessing now is his trial. His guilt is already a forgone conclusion.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 23, 2011
Meh. I bored with the whole discussion.
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
@hankfu

I don't know Scott's biggest revenue drivers, so yes, he could get more traffic on his site, but will that make up for Newspapers dropping him? I don't know enough about his business to give an anser.
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
I'm going to point out again how Scott tallys up his own example incorrectly. the numbers I'm using are coarse, but that's to show that there is no way his logic holds.

"If a man you barely know wants to have sex with you, and you'd rather not, you can't both be winners. Society has to pick sides, and you won. I think we both agree that is the best solution. Even the man who wants to have sex with you is glad he lives in a world where his mother/daughter/sister can safely say no."

so if the rape occurs it is:
woman:0
man:1

if the rape doesn't occur it is:
woman:1
man: something greater than 1 because he is glad he lives in a world where his mother/daughter/sister can safely say no

It is not a zero-sum game, by his own example, and the dude can't sum up 1s and 0s. Scott Adams is a complete idiot. There is no a question about that.

There are many, but here are some other people that are complete idiots around here:
Telanis
mstrange

you 2 should stop posting publicly because you're very stupid and you are posting things which reveal that.
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
@ Tesseracts

I had to actually create an account here, just because of your comment. I hope you're happy with yourself.

You ask if Mary E Williams did anything to deserve Scott's statement about being relatively pro-rape. You ask if she accused him of being pro-rape....

Here is the title of her article:
"Scott Adams' defense of rape mentality"

That sounds like an inflammatory title intended to at minimum prime the readership to believe Stott is pro-rape.
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
I'm a little disappointed. Scott could have really drilled down on some of the points and misquotations or misinterpretations just by quoting himself and is instead only going point for point when he could slaughter some of what she said outside of the bullets. I suppose I understand the motivation, I just don't agree with one person trying to establish a set of rules and play by them and the other person, the person who is egregiously committing logical fallacies with every reply, is not.

I wonder if anyone noticed that she cherry picked the quote about tweeting, raping, cheating without mentioning the context of it being powerful men. Tsk tsk.
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
Gender feminists even play the gender card! "Don't be mean to me, you big mean man, I'm just a girl!"

I though we were equals now!!
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
"On your third bullet point, you argue that life is not a zero-sum game for the sexes. That's probably true for economics. But my blog post was about natural urges. If a man you barely know wants to have sex with you, and you'd rather not, you can't both be winners. Society has to pick sides, and you won."

This is the key point right here. That is really the issue women don't understand about men. As Scott says though, society is better off this way. But that doesn't negate the fact that there are a lot of blue balls walking around.
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
@Tesseracts

As a regular reader, Scott talks about things in their strict logical meaning, not in the "feel good" talk we surround things with.

So if someone doesn't support the death penalty for rape while another does support it, that literally means that the fist person thinks rape is worse than the second person. But of course, in Scott fashion, he changes the words around and says "relatively pro rape"...which in it's strict logical sense is true, but is sure elicit an emotional response. :)
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
Ideally, I'd like to go further, though this may not be the venue, and I'm only a guest.

5. Gender feminists use guilt and intimidation to justify preferential treatment in academia and professional life.
6. Some women in relationships use guilt and denial of sex to emasculate and control their man. See the movie American Beauty, or a more recent article in Elle online .. google "Elle Sexless Relationships"
7. In most states, divorce and custody law is heavily stacked against men.
8. Some men can be abusive and controlling, but the vast majority want to be good fathers and providers for their family. They in return enjoy being gratified sexually... it is not just an itch.. in the right context it is profoundly soul-satisfying and necessary for general well-being. Marriage ideally channels male urge toward positive ends, benefiting individuals, family, and society.
..continued
 
 
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 23, 2011
Perhaps I've missed this, but are all men "Powerful men"? 'Cause I certainly haven't been feeling powerful. Also, this qualifier has been omitted on every quotation of the rapist/divorce/tweeting/etc. list that I've seen. This is a context shifting omission of Glenn Beck proportions. It completely changes the intended implication that the examples given apply to a subset of men instead of all men.
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
@Pixelbath

That's one of the areas where MaryElizabeth interpreted Scott's statement correctly...

Scott said:

On your other points, let me see if I can break them down to bullet points and get your agreement on what you are saying before I respond to them individually. I believe you are saying...

...

3. Society didn't evolve as the result of millions of people making millions of independent decisions. It is mostly the result of planning by men who successfully designed society to meet their needs.
-------------------------------

He is strongly implying that society has, at least in part, evolved as the result of millions of people making millions of independent decisions. He is also implying that MaryElizabeth's denial of such an obvious truth is an indefensible position.

MaryElizabeth goes on to defend it by suggesting that the Constitution (and presumably other such documents) at the real defining pieces of society.

I think it's fairly clear that society has evolved as the result of millions of people making independent decisions and that laws generally codify and protect what society has deemed important. To think that today's society is the end result of a specific vision of men hundreds of years ago is giving them a lot of credit.

For anybody who wants to see the organic nature of societal development, just look at the incredibly diverse ways that societies evolved over the course of history.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 23, 2011
@derekudlow...I would argue Scott can generate a lot of traffic to his site and thus increase his revenues by suing for libel. In the world of media, there is no such thing as bad publicity. He can sell advertising spots on his blog for more than what he is getting now. He would be an even bigger success than he already is...that is if he is interested at this point in his career.

Back to Scott's original point, society has created institutions to control behaviours. These institutions include marriage, family units, statutes against raping and pillaging. I would agree that without these institutions (for better or worse), it would be a free-for-all and only the most powerful and violent will come out on top.
 
 
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 23, 2011
@newtodilbert I think he would say, "How sad that the feminist activists are wasting their time and resources arguing with Scott Adams. They could be making a real difference in the world. Instead, they are proving how frightened they are by the fact that perhaps he carries greater weight than their organization." As Stewart quoted and Will Rogers said: "People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”

But, of course, that's only a guess. For the record, I am female, feminist, and on Team Scott Adams.
 
 
Jun 23, 2011
No, I am not a moderator, just interested.
I hope Scott Adams and supporters can keep driving home points along these lines:

1. Critics have fallen for the naturalist fallacy
2. Critics have fallen for a blank slate ideology
3. There is a difference between "Gender Feminism" and "Equity Feminism"
4. Critics are not content with the (necessary) restraint of male behavior. They want men to feel guilty for being men, to convict them of thought crimes. Ya basta!
 
 
+20 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 23, 2011
Scott, do you support the slowly torturing someone for many weeks until they are dead for rape, or are you relatively pro-rape compared to someone who does?
 
 
 
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