Taking Sides

There has been a battle going on in the atheists/skeptical movement over the past year or so.  It is a battle about sexism.  I won’t go into the details because there are too many incidents and opinions to mention here.  For an introduction, if you are not familiar with what’s been happening, see PZ Myers’ blog post.  Make sure you visit the links there, and the links in those links.  

PZ feels that it is time to take sides, and I agree.

Sexism is wrong.  Rape is horrible and wrong.  Anyone who supports these things whether openly, through making excuses for them, or just pretending they don’t matter is wrong; period.  These people try to explain away sexism, to rationalize it, to excuse it in any way they can.  They make threats of violence, rape, and even death agains the women who come forward with their experiences of being victimized.  

These are the same people who claim to be rational.  They deride the religious for being irrational in their beliefs; for supporting and rationalizing their beliefs with senseless excuses and rationalizations while they do exactly the same thing in their defense and denial of sexism in the atheist and skeptical communities. 

These people are wrong and no amount of rationalization can change that.  They are immoral, plain and simple.

I take the side of every woman, all women, who live with sexism every day.  I take the side of inclusion.  I take the side of equality and fairness.  I take the side of humanism.  I take the side of what is right and moral; the idea that every woman has the right to not just be safe, but feel safe, at all atheist and skeptical conferences and events, to never have to live with threats of violence, rape, and death just for speaking out about their experiences with sexism.

These are painful times we are going through, but if we want to advance the causes of atheist and skepticism, we must clean our own house or we can never claim the high moral ground against the religious, who use their gods to claim the same.

We must demand of our conference organizers that they not invite speakers who are known to engage in sexist and predatory behavior.  We must demand that they bar these people from all conferences and events.   If they refuse, then we must refuse to attend their events and to contribute to their organizations.  We must insist that the CFI, the JREF, and all other atheist and skeptical organizations refuse these sexists and predators venues for their speeches and writings.  We must insist that they remove these people from their organizations.  If they don’t, then they don’t get our support or our money.  

As a society of atheists and skeptics, we must shun those sexist predators and all who support them.  This is not a war, but a boycott.  We must boycott their speeches, their appearances, their books, and their podcasts.     We must make them outcasts and pariahs.   

It is time to take sides.  If you truly care about your community and what it should stand for, then take the side of what is right and moral, or be left in the dustbin of history.


3 thoughts on “Taking Sides

  1. Thank you very much for this. I agree, with one modification. If there is someone who has previously engaged in mild to moderately inappropriate behavior who is genuinely sorry and promises to do better, we should give them a chance. if they say “I used to think it was OK to do X, but now that you have explained your objections I realize that it wasn’t OK. I was a jerk and I deeply apologize. I’ll work really hard not to do that anymore, and I’ll speak out against such behavior whenever I see it” we should welcome them back. I’d rather change somebody’s mind than kick them out.

    I’m not proposing forgiving the true predators and stalkers here, just those guys who thought things like the occasional butt grab or drunken elevator proposition were OK.

  2. The relentless misogyny directed at prominent feminists in the online atheist community by atheists is completely unacceptable. Having anonymity does not give one the licence to abuse ones fellow human beings. If the strongest line of attack against a particular argument is to engage in ad hom then the argument has not been defeated at all let alone even addressed. I may not always agree with everything prominent feminists in the online atheist community say but I am completely with them when it comes to condemning what they have been systematically exposed to. It has been suggested that because others can take it then so should they. This reasoning is completely fallacious. It is fallacious because such abuse is fundamentally wrong irrespective of how it is received. The emotional detachment of some to it is entirely superfluous therefore. I believe in absolute free speech but I also believe in absolute responsibility and proportionate response too. I am a passionate advocate of the principle of attacking the idea not the individual. The internet is a wonderful tool for the mass communication and dissemination of ideas. It is a shame that some prefer to use it for other means instead

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