On 12/29/11 a member was suspended from our group for the first time. Many of you may be confused about the line he crossed. The last thing we need is unarticulated anxiety that inhibits members from contributing, because they're unsure what Matt Rugar did wrong.

Groups need a safe emotional environment. When a member shares a painful personal experience, doubts, fears, or other personal vulnerabilities, he/she is giving all of us a precious gift. When another member uses that information to insult, ridicule, or attack the giving member, it's not just a betrayal of trust toward the individual. It's an attack on the group itself. If such betrayal goes unanswered, security shatters in the group. Members are reduced to superficialities, with no possibility for mutual validation. It sends a painful message, "nobody is safe here."

Matt Rugar didn't just attack Joan, when he said this, he betrayed the trust of the entire group.

Joan is still whinning about some thing that happened 4 decades ago and attacks who ever does not join her in her pity party. She goes from group to group to be martyerd.

So how does one give negative feedback without betraying trust and making others feel unsafe?


1. Qualify your criticism as your opinion or perception.


Example: (where X is an offending sexist remark)

Instead of saying "You're sexist." say,

            "That sounds sexist to me."

            "When he said X, I  heard a sexist remark."

            "To my ears that smacks of sexism." or

            "I perceive X as sexist."


By qualifying what we say as our judgment, we show respect for the person. We imply that he/she could do better. We present the behavior as a mistake. We imply that we too make mistakes, from time to time,  that we are equal adults. This is called making the person/behavior distinction.

When we label an offender, we imply that this bad behavior is a defining trait, that he/she is not capable of doing better, and that he/she is therefore inferior.


2. Avoid "Mind Reading", i.e. claiming to know the intent of others. Nobody knows what  goes on inside the head of other people. In the example above, Matt claimed to know what goes on in Joan's head. Here again, this is easily avoided by qualifying what you say as your interpretation, your reaction, your judgment. You can say you "feel as if", or "get the impression that."

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Replies to This Discussion

Matthew - Your original posting was purely 'personal'. You did not address one single item from the original posting which covered 'Genesis' as the basis Christian's use to back themselves up when doing all manner of evil regarding this 'meat' industry.

You did not address the section in that original posting regarding the gassing, throat cutting, electrocution of animals. In fact, your posting did not address one single item that was presented. It was 'all about you' - your wants - your needs - your feelings. Not a single word regarding the subject matter. the thread was not about YOU Matthew - it was about other beings. Why is that so difficult for you?

It was not you that said: "I eat meat. Period. You don't like it? Take your business elsewhere." A most condescending statement that has even been posted on Friends.

That specific posting was set up by you - and your ignorant response to the subject matter. You were not asked if you 'liked' meat - nor were you asked if you didn't like meat. That was not the thread subject. You just 'went off' because someone brought up a subject you don't like talking about. Why is that? Is it because you simply do not care - or that you don't really know the subject matter?

Certainly most everyone 'likes' meat (prepared to their favor) - but that doesn not address the subject matter regarding the environment and business practices of that industry. You were not sofiscated enough to answer in the manner posted. It's NOT about Matthew Greenberg and his wants. The thread subject was not about any single person....it was about the meat industry - of which you totally and completely 100% glossed over. 

Even those lowly Christians answer such question's far superior to you Matthew. The actually engage in a discussion - not set up a personal equasion for everyone to follow like sheep.

Matthew - you also had such little curiosity you never asked one single question about IVAN the endangered silverback gorilla. I suppose if there were gorilla's running around that equaled beef cows - you'd have no problem eating them also. If I asked you to fully explain or 'justify' that you'd certainly take the position it was a personal attack on your eating habits. Get over such thinking Matthew - it's NOT 'all-about Matthew'.

SHAME ON YOU for not addressing the thread subject in a manner that would have supported additional intelligent postings. Your posting of greed and ignorance and refusal to address the subject matter was cheered by additional sheep that also refused to address the questions at hand. Congratulations on taking the 'safe place' attitude.

You are warned, Steven. Language such as that highlighted

SHAME ON YOU for not addressing the thread subject in a manner that would have supported additional intelligent postings. Your posting of greed and ignorance and refusal to address the subject matter was cheered by additional sheep that also refused to address the questions at hand. [emphasis mine]

in NOT acceptable here. If you continue to put members down, I will begin to delete your replies before the two week vote is closed. You keep making the same errors in talking to us. Take the time to reword you replies with a cool head, if you want us to read them. Eliminate blaming and shaming language. Reword criticisms of behaviors as your perception rather than claiming them as matters of fact that insult the people who made the statements you dislike.

Matthew also (first) said 'shame on you' did he also 'get a warning?

Steven, you make an awful lot of assumptions about other people.  you misrepresent, turn, and twist words to suit your needs.  it's quite clear that you are irrational about this subject.  funny thing is, you can't even see it.  you are blinded by your passion. 

seriously, your "it's NOT all about Matthew"  rant above is classic.  i made a very simple, and quite reasonable quote about my preference for eating meat.  you have extrapolated from there paragraphs of misrepresentations  based on factless assumptions.  and obviously, as we've suspected the whole time, you're quite judgmental. 

"greed and ignorance"?  really?  you really think you're the only one who is living right, don't you? 

finally, i get along with everyone i've come across at A/N.  you are the outlier.  i'm thinking that there's a reason for that.

Matthew - Everyone has noticed that you still have not stated one single word regarding the original thread topic. That's why it is all about you. Your wants. Your needs.

Not one single question in the original posting asked about YOU. Yet, you continue to protect your 'right' to do whatever you want - and no one has challenged that right. You can eat all the animals you desire - not a single person has challenged your 'legal' right to do such. Go ahead - eat to your heart's desire.

Do not answer or address the primary threads questions. Avoid at all costs.

Matthew, it's not correct you posting you 'get along' with everyone at A/N. You don't get alone with me apparently because you defer to other areas when you address a thread subject. I simply called you out on this and you 'go off'.

I repeat back to you your statements and you get all 'classic' saying you're quite judgemental...as if you're not?

I've never judged anyone regarding their diet preferences. I simply put forth some factual information and hoped for reasonable answers to those facts. Not short one-liners that appeared to me snide - avoidance - and protecting individual turf.

If one reads thru that thread you'll see several really great postings addressing the subject - not personal statements protecting their 'right' to do such and such. Those people are held in high esteem and don't seem to have the same problem as you do with that thread. AND....they all eat meat! Who is really the outsider?

I agree with Matthew's statement to you, Steve.

i made a very simple, and quite reasonable quote about my preference for eating meat.  you have extrapolated from there paragraphs of misrepresentations  based on factless assumptions.  and obviously, as we've suspected the whole time, you're quite judgmental.

I think what he meant when he said you're an outlier here is that your style of communication makes you not get along with others here, by which you put yourself into an outlier position, i.e. in a position far from the norm distribution. By calling everyone else ignorant, for example, you distance yourself. He didn't say you were an outsider. He wasn't using in group/out group language.

In Hang With Friends people have a right to articulate their wants and needs without being being judged as self-centered, "It's all about you.[emphasis mine]" This implied judgment is an example of the behavior matthew described, "...you misrepresent, turn, and twist words to suit your needs." Since you seem unable to understand that this language belilttles matthew, it's time for you to concentrate your participation in Atheist Nexus in other groups. There are groups where in group/out group language is acceptable. Atheist Nexus is a diverse community. I'm sure you'll find a receptive audience elsewhere. Good bye.

Matthew - I could ask the same question substituting 'slavery' for meat.

I could but all I would need to do is take your original posting and substitute 'slavery' for the 'meat' word and you can see how it would appear.

Slavery is also justified by Christians within their holy book. You failed miserably to address the subject matter. Deal with it. I have.

You go eat a nice big ol fat steak Matthew. It appears you feel threatened if anyone brings up such an animal rights subject. You just don't believe in such. We understand. Not a single person ever said you can't -  'have your meat and eat it to'. I suppose you just wanted to make certain everyone knew that. Everyone knows your position. Get over it. I have.

Steven, when someone says ,"Get over it" to you, you take insult. But here you are using "Get over it" to Matthew. This sounds like a double standard to me.

You're obviously correct. It was used against me and I re-stated the words back. My bad.

Greg - Oh how I wished your posting would have been the 'first' posting. It might have set the entire tone of the discussion in a more responsive tone.

Being 'respectful' is difficult when a poster states: "I eat meat. Period. You don't like it? Take your business elsewhere."

That is purely selfish and ignorant. It does not address even one word of the original posting. Not a single word was stated about 'not liking meat' nor one word regarding 'business'. So if my postings of factual information continued to spur negative responses - that's not on me. That's for the posters to look in the mirror first. I enjoy difficult subjects such as this but I don't enjoy negative ignorant responses. The 'meat' industry along with 'animal rights' is one of the most horrific industry's in this country (USA). The simple questions asked were taken personally. Once again, why is that? If you're not guilty - why would anyone take offense? I certainly don't when asked such questions. I address them with factual information as best I can.

If I can't do that - I keep my lack of knowledge silent.

A compassionate soul tending to farm animals with a spirit of joy, gratitude and appreciation. I would love to sit down for coffee and a chat with this woman, especially about how she manages her menus. When I go vegan I get anemic and the doctors tell me to return to meat. If she had good recipes, I would become full-time vegan in a minute. 


A Loving Farm

Anne Schroeder runs the Star Gazing Farm in Maryland, a sanctuary for farm animals. Here the pigs, rabbits, sheep, alpacas, cows and everyone else can live out their lives with love, health and dignity. They are all rescue animals, some arrived with all kinds of issues, and some are just older and have outlived their "function".

I posted a Google Alert about humane treatment of animals and this popped up: 

Humane Treatment Of Animals






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