Monday, May 16, 2011

Jabberwocky of the Day : The Qwibbler on Honor and Decency

quibble, quibble, quibble
I think I might have mentioned this before but I really dislike hypocrisy.  You either stand by what you say and demonstrate it through your actions - or you don't.  There are many people who say that they are one thing but through their actions and words show that they are another.  In my opinion, self-proclaim "community builder" and lady of science Kim Wombles is one of those people.

Consider her recent responses in the Bonnie "Sullivan" Offit incident.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, here is the short version.

J.B. Handley accused the then anonymous "Sullivan" of secretly being Bonnie Offit, wife of the ever-so popular Paul Offit.  Mr. Handley was so convinced that he was right (or that Sullivan would never out himself) that he makes two promises if he was wrong - never to publicly write about or utter the name Paul Offit again and to turn over the domain to the Offits.

Much hilarity ensues from the right-wing of the autism world but the blogger known as Sullivan does not reveal his identity.  A few months later, Sullivan is "outed" by former members of the autism hub blogs and Handley is called on his promises.  Handley responds and says that he will make good on his promises.

Interestingly enough, a few days after he is "outed", Sullivan writes an apology to J.B. Handley saying that "I doubted that Mr. Handley would make good on his commitments, even going so far as to write that I didn’t think he had the integrity to do so. For those comments I offer a sincere apology. I was wrong." (Although he may have since retracted his apology).

All of that takes us up to about three weeks ago and since then people seemed to be losing interest in the affair.  That is until Liz Ditz decided to stir up trouble and call J.B. Handley "forsworn" for not keeping his promises.  Specifically she has a problem because the domain name has not been transferred to the Offits and the then current content on the site was hostile to Paul Offit.

Here are a few facts that I can establish.  As of May 9th, 2011 at 04:19:54 GMT, google has a cache of the domain that just has a single picture of the character of Sullivan from the movie Monster's Inc on it.  Liz Ditz published her piece on May 11th, 2011 at 4:45 PM EST (give or take).  I cannot find any record of what the site looked like at that point but from the screen shot's included in Ms. Ditz's post, it appears that the site consisted of old news stories about Paul Offit.

I am not going to judge whether putting those stories on the site was a violation of Handley's promise, assuming that he actually was the one who modified the page.  There is the letter of the promise and then the spirit of it.  I will say that if Mr Handley was the one who put up the page then one of these things might have been broken.

Moving along, in jumps St. Wombles into the fray with a piece entitled "Handley Backs Out of Agreement Regarding Offit Website".  She says it is "despicable behavior from an often vile group of people" and that Handleys (alleged) behavior "should not be surprise to anyone", thus showing that she really does care about building community.  I mean, nothing builds community and shows tolerance for difference of opinion like calling someone "despicable "or labeling an entire section of autism parents an "often vile group of people".


The thing that I also found interesting is that it doesn't appear that the lady of science ever attempted to contact J.B. Handley to see what he was doing in regards to transferring the domain.  If you wanted to be strictly accurate, there was no evidence that J.B. Handley wasn't working to keep his promise.  As anyone who has tried to transfer a domain name from one party to another could tell you, it can sometimes take a little while for the transfer to happen.  Especially if the two parties to the transfer aren't on the best of terms as is clearly the case here.

So putting up a piece asserting that Handley backed out of his agreement without first actually establishing that that was indeed the case would be, what's the term, a little bit of "woo"?

Well, that brings us to earlier today when J.B. Handley explains on the Age of Autism site what the problem was.  Basically he says that the initial transfer attempt was made on May 3rd - less than a week after the initial "outing".  An e-mail was sent, presumably to Paul Offit, telling him that he could arrange to transfer the domain to be under his name.  Handley asserts that he followed up with the person who was co-ordinating the transfer twice in the next week and a half.

Which brings us back to another point of fact.  The domain name was transferred on May 15th and Bonnie Offit is now listed as the contact on the domain.  The content of the site is now favorable to Paul Offit.  Presumably, the site is now in his hands.

At this point, Liz Ditz writes another post on the matter saying that "Mr. Handley has finally done the honorable thing."  Sullivan wrote a response to the matter on Left Brain Right Brain giving his take on the matter, suggesting it was a "tempest in a teapot".

So, what do you think the Qwibbler does?  I know a rational person would either just drop the matter or post a brief note that the transfer was done and leave it at that.  But the Qwibbler, she doesn't strike me as the most rational person around.

Instead of letting the matter drop, she instead launches yet another attack again Handley saying that he "shows himself to be without honor, without decency, and without facts".  She takes him to task for "breaking his promise" and for publicly talking about Offit while he was explaining the facts what was happening with the transfer.  Because, you know,  it is so easy to explain how you were attempting to communicate with someone without ever mentioning their name.

I guess she is right, technically Handley did break his promise while he was attempting to explain how he was keeping his promise.  Way to stand up for evidence and community Qwibbler.



  1. I think Kim painted a large target on her backside.

  2. Went and read through the posts you linked. My goodness, she is a winner when it comes to being rude and nasty and self-righteous. Does she ever look in the mirror?

    Oh well, I've opened mouth and inserted foot a good many times in my life...

  3. An aside: just a thought - all of the people mentioned in your post are neurotypical.

    How loud are their voices and how self-righteous is their indignation?

    Aren't I lucky to have so many people taking such an interest in my "autism"?

  4. Minority,

    You are correct, Kim has painted a very large target on her sanctimonious backside, figuratively speaking of course.

  5. Socrates,

    If you ask me, this whole incident is just plain silly. The "community" gets so fixated on proving each other wrong that the whole thing just descends into pointlessness.

    My wife tried to read this post and I had to keep explaining to her who all of these people were and why they were fighting in the first place. I almost added a character list to the post to help casual readers keep them all straight...

    But you are right, there is almost no one on the spectrum involved in this little debate. Although given the silliness of the whole thing, that might reflect well on people with autism. You know that there are real issues and this isn't one of them.

  6. Kim Wombles, like many proponents of neurodiversity engages in Freudian defense mechanisms: Projection and displacement are two. She is so angry at having a severely autistic child, that she displaces her anger onto J.B. Handley and others that she does not like and insults them and calls them names.

    She uses reaction formation and denial as psychologic defense mechanisms to say that autism is no big deal and it is agood thing that she loves. Such defense mechanisms are typical for those who adhere to that flawed philosophy called neurodiversity.

  7. Jonathan: how -interesting- to come across an analytical/cognitive reference in this context!

    The concept of neurodiversity is flawed in its execution; the underlying premise is about as valid as anything else presented in a sophmoric debate. Its abhorrent courtesy of the APA's DSM revisions.