Blocking on Twitter and other crazy concepts

Note: This is a crosspost from The Heresy Club. Comments are off. If you want to leave a comment, leave it at The Heresy Club!

Update! Rebecca Watson has tweeted this

There’s been an awful lot of discussion on Twitter with the skeptical/atheist communities recently, mainly about calls for equality and respect.

Tony Ryan, AKA the CoffeeLovingSkeptic has made it clear in many blogs and tweets that he dislikes Rebecca Watson. He’s one of the people, along with others in his particular group of friends, who seems to disagree with Rebecca Watson because she’s Rebecca Watson. In the past, he’s also written posts on his Facebook page seemingly directed at my friend Hayley Stevens because she’s a rational ghost hunter. He seems to believe that because he’s not particularly interested in a topic of skepticism, e.g. ghosts and psychics, that they’re not important. All in all, I don’t like the fellow because of his opinions and how he comes across. That’s not the main focus of this blog though.

Along with another person called Tom Williamson, The Skeptic Canary, who I held a lot of respect for before I realised he was also one of the people who dislikes what Rebecca Watson says because she’s Rebecca Watson.

They’ve both recently become embroiled in an argument with Rebecca Watson and PZ Myers via Twitter. Here’s what happened (as far as I can tell):

Tony realised that PZ Myers had blocked him on Twitter. He tweeted about this. Tom noticed and tweeted to PZ to ask him why. PZ said he didn’t know that he had. This wasn’t good enough for Tom who said “evidence suggests you are blocking” along with a screen capture proving PZ had blocked Tony.

Rebecca Watson then tweeted this to PZ:

This tweet started a shitstorm about whether Tony had called Rebecca a cunt or not. Whatever the case, at least most of the tweet was true. Rebecca had indeed blocked Tony on Twitter. Tony later wrote a blog about it, which I will come to later.

PZ took a look at Tony’s blog and said it wasn’t a mistake because Tony’s an ass. He quite rightly them pointed out that he shouldn’t be expected to track and remember every asshole on Twitter. I certainly don’t remember most of the people I’ve blocked. That’s part of the reason I’ve blocked them – to block and forget they exist.

Tony and Tom seem to have some weird idea that blocking someone on Twitter is bad and constitutes an invasion to their freedom of speech, and this should only be done in the most extreme circumstances. That’s absolute bullshit. Blocking someone on Twitter only stops you seeing their tweets. It doesn’t stop them composing tweets. You can block someone for any reason you want to as well. There are no wrong reasons for blocking someone.

Someone’s a spambot? Block them!

Someone’s annoying you? Block them!

Someone’s offended you? Block them!

Someone spends a rather large portion of their time criticising things you say, seemingly because you said them? Block them!

The block feature is not just there to use as a ‘last resort’.

I think PZ put it well in these tweets.



Now, back to Rebecca Watson for a minute.

Tony posted his email conversation with Rebecca on his blog. The post has the title “Rebecca Watson (The Skepchick): deluded or intentionally a liar?

According to the screenshots, he sent an email saying:

Hi. I know this may be a bit odd sounding, but I (don’t know when) have been blocked on twitter by Rebecca Watson. I’d appreciate a second look at this, as I would like to follow her. I’m @tpryan007

I’m sure I must have said something insensitive in the past, but I’m not a troll, a bot, or a spammer!


This suggests to me that he seems to think these are the only real suitable reasons for blocking someone.

Anyway, Rebecca followed up with this bitingly sarcastic email:

I took a second look and you’re right, it was a mistake! I’ll fix that immediately!
”I’m glad the skepchicks (ironic name in the circumstances, with an even more ironic calendar) aren’t convincing many to miss out on Dawkins’ brilliance.

I got sucked into the furore and wrote a couple of blogs on the matter ( and ) , but I shan’t be doing any more! Time to move on to the real issues!”

“Let’s reclaim the elevator! AKA The Skepchick Delusion.”

“The only press Rebecca Watson should be getting right now is how ridiculous she’s become. A parody of a rational thinker.”

None of the Skepchicks have shown a single shred of rationality or objective thinking lately. The irony is painful

TPRyan007: RT @margotriphagen: RT @pinkearmuffs: RT @margotriphagen However, unlike Rebecca Watson, when I hit on my wife she didn’t call me a misogynist.

Note: You can replace the in the domain names mentioned with and access those blog posts.

Tony’s response in which he sounds surprised that she won’t unblock him follows like this:

I didn’t say I agreed with you on everything, especially on Dawkins, but being blocked by you on twitter and other members of the Skepchicks for disagreeing seemed to go against every facet of critical thought I was an advocate of:

Hence, “None of the Skepchicks have shown a single shred of rationality or objective thinking lately. The irony is painful”

Oh well. I asked. Thank you for at least taking the time to respond.

That’s where the email thread apparently finishes. I don’t know if there was more communication after that, but a search through his Twitter feed didn’t reveal any tweets where he called Rebecca a cunt. I don’t know if he did or didn’t call her a cunt. If he didn’t, to be fair to him, Rebecca should at least acknowledge this. I’m assuming this isn’t where this particular discussion will end, given how obsessive some of Rebecca Watson’s critics are.

He still seems surprised as of the latest email that Rebecca and the other Skepchicks have blocked him.

After reading Rebecca’s email, I’m not.

If you talk and write about someone in a patronising manner, or constantly sneer at them and make snide comments, it’s not surprising they want nothing to do with you and will block you. You have no right to expect someone to pay attention to you – especially when you’d been nothing but an arsehole towards them.

So, something to leave you with – if you don’t want people to block you on Twitter, perhaps try not being a dick to them in the first place.

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