You Count–Be Counted


The timing is coincidental. I know because Adam Lee and I talked about his petition about a week ago. It was driven by Thunderf00t’s video, not by the timing of the HEADS meeting that Ron Lindsay asked about two days ago. Nonetheless, the timing is good.

We, the undersigned, are atheists, skeptics and nonbelievers who value free speech and rational thought and who seek to build a strong, thriving movement that can advocate effectively for these values. We’ve chosen to put our names to this petition because we want to respond to a video created by a blogger calling himself Thunderfoot. In this video, Thunderfoot attacks named individuals who’ve been active in promoting diversity and fighting sexism and harassment in our movement. He describes these people as “whiners” and “ultra-PC professional victims” who are “dripp[ing] poison” into the secular community, and urges conference organizers to shun and ignore them.

We hold this and similar complaints from other individuals to be seriously misguided, false in their particulars and harmful to the atheist community as a whole, and we want to set the record straight. We wish to clarify that Thunderfoot and those like him don’t speak for us or represent us, and to state our unequivocal support for the following goals:

What are those goals? Making the movement more diverse and inclusive; having strong, sensible anti-harassment policies at our gatherings, and supporting those of us who have been targeted by bullying, harassment, and threats.

Why is the timing good? Shortly the leaders of several national secular organizations will meet to discuss the state of the movement and their priorities for the near future. They could have gone into this knowing that this is an important issue to some of them but not really being able to sort out the balance of opinions from the loud voices talking about these issues. They could have gone into it having heard only from those followers of Thunderf00t who listened when he asked them to take his video to the organizations (though Ron’s request and the responses he’s received mitigated that at least somewhat).

Instead, if you are one of the many people who have spoken up here, or nodded quietly while lurking, Adam has given you an easy way to make your opinion known. You can go and leave a message to those leaders with your vote, or you can simply sign and be counted. Many of them responded well to the call to implement anti-harassment policies. Several contributed to Surly Amy’s series speaking generally against hatred. They should be receptive to this as well, but being leaders, they’re not always answerable just to themselves. Help them know they’re speaking for you too when they move forward on this.

Adam has more at his blog on his reasons for creating the petition.

Comments

  1. Kelseigh Nieforth says

    Out of curiosity, I wonder just how many of T-Fart’s (sorry, T-F4rt) followers actually did as he requested. If a lot, then I imagine it would severely backfire as they’d just come off as spammers. If very few, well, that statement would be pretty clear in itself.

  2. says

    I’ll sign the petition, but I’m generally rather cynical about the value of petitions. I’m curious about your opinion on this. You know the specific people involved better than I do. How responsive do you think the targets of this petition will be?

  3. julian says

    I like the goals but I think “support feminism” is bit vague. I mean, just which feminist ideas would we be signing on for?

  4. says

    John, several of them have already been responsive on other issues. At the same time, however, they hear from constituents–frequently low information as far as what’s been happening–who are just tired of conflict and tired of both the attackers and victims because they keep hearing about this stuff. This will help them be more certain that as they do the right things, they have broad support.

    julian, which feminist ideas do you think are likely to both receive support from these organizations and be problematic?

  5. julian says

    julian, which feminist ideas do you think are likely to both receive support from these organizations and be problematic?

    I really don’t know. But with feminism being such a great many number of different (and sometimes conflicting) philosophies, I think, or at least right now feel, it’s really not enough to say “We support feminism.”

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