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Jun 23 2013

The “Campaign” to Replace Ron Lindsay

By now, some of you have probably seen EllenBeth’s long post about why she left Secular Woman. It’s disturbingly full of what I will call factual inaccuracies, but I was going to let it generally slide for various reasons, even though many of the incorrect statements are about me.

One of her statements about the Secular Woman members group, however, has started making the rounds and growing in the telling. It’s bizarre, but I’ve seen people believe sillier in this whole thing, and this one has potential to do harm if believed.

When I saw all of the posts berating Ron and the letter-writing campaign to get him fired, I spoke up and wanted to know what the end-game was. What were they hoping to accomplish? I was told that perhaps either Melody or Rebecca could take his place.

EllenBeth has now published excerpted “evidence” of her claim. It’s not particularly compelling on its face, but even so, it is missing information that undercuts that claim.

First of all, there was no letter-writing campaign to get Ron fired. Secular Woman itself issued a statement that suggested they were looking for an “apology, retraction, or other followup”. One of the two letters written by a Secular Woman member and posted to their site says, “CFI will not see any support from me, monetarily or otherwise, for as long as Center for Inquiry’s CEO Dr. Ron Lindsay continues as CEO, and does not retract his statements and blog posts, and apologize for his shameful and impolitic conduct at last weekend’s Women in Secularism 2 conference”, providing a choice of requested courses of action.

Secondly, what EllenBeth actually asked was not what Charles, who wrote the letter in question, hoped to accomplish by his letter but “So, you want Ron fired? Who do you think is going to replace him?” With permission of those quoted below who weren’t already quoted by EllenBeth (names, where used, are also with permission), here’s how the answers to that question went.

Charles: Indeed, I don’t want to get into a discussion of that point, but my view is as follows:

I don’t know who I would want to be the next CEO of CFI. I don’t know who would be capable and who would want it. As far as I am concerned, this isn’t my job. It’s my estimation that Ron has critically failed the movement, and that he should be removed. I feel similarly about the coaches my alma mater(Rutgers) hires. I don’t know who a good replacement would be for the abusive coaches they have been hiring, but the coaches should still be fired because they have crossed important lines and have proven themselves unfit for leadership positions. I believe of both college athletics and the secular movement that there are plenty of willing and competent people who will not further abuse and will work to end it. I assume that the paid staff of these organizations can search out, vet, and hire those who would do a good job. This is not my responsibility, nor should it be. And if it happens to be the case that we are unable to find leaders for secular organizations (or college athletics) that fit some basic standards of human decency, such as honesty, tolerance, and not being abusive or enabling abuse, then to Hell with the secular movement. I don’t want to be a part of any movement that requires me to cozy up to bigots and cowards.

Member 2: This is very hypothetical, but replacing a CEO is the job of the board of directors. (Not making a point, just clarifying.) In the secular movement we have had a tradition of hiring executives who have potential to do public speaking / media relations, and to raise funds. These people have not, generally, had management experience or credentials, nor are they usually vetted for their views on specific issues. CFI is one of the biggest orgs in the movement. If Ron does step down or is removed, I would expect the board to do a full-on professional search. It’s hard to say what criteria they would apply and harder to know what their own vision for the organization / movement would be. It’s also not out of the question that someone would be quietly recruited from one of the other secular organizations, leaving the opening elsewhere.

Member 2: Also, for those who aren’t aware, CFI has a history of being an insider organization. Ron is only their second leader. Their first, Paul Kurtz, founded the organization.

At this point, EllenBeth responds to a question with an answer that makes it clear she’s asking about one single letter, not any campaign.*

Charles: I also should say that above when I say cowards, I don’t mean people afraid to speak out- I am totally there with you, but rather intellectual and moral cowards, the sort of moderate for moderation’s sake who would rather be nice to bigots than stir the boat, or who prefer to languish in the mires of their own unexamined ideas rather than do the hard and painful self-examination that might lead to real progress.

Charles: Hahaha, stir the boat. Well, I’m keeping it there.

Member 3: One is, of course, free to speculate about who would be a more effective CEO than the now infamous Lindsay. However, it is no more our obligation to find a new CEO for CFI than it is for us to find a new CEO for Whole Foods or Hobby Lobby. One need not have a replacement in mind to see that the current holder of the position is unfit nor to speak out in the hope of having said embarrassment removed from the position.

:)

That said, I say Watson or Hensley ending up at the helm would be choice.

Member 2: I like RW’s blog, but does she have experience running a complex organization with two magazines, many branches, etc.? Well, we’ll see what the board does.

Member 3: I have no idea whether RW is qualified to run CFI, my choices for succession are based solely on how much they’d cheese Lindsay, Vacula, AVfM, et al.

Nathan: Honestly [Member 2], I *do* want Lindsay gone. After everything, an apology just isn’t enough anymore. Lindsay will, at this point, do nothing but hurt the organization. At least… that’s what I think…

It would be “choice” because it would “cheese” people. That’s it. That’s the big “campaign” to have Ron Lindsay fired and replaced with Rebecca Watson or Melody Hensley. No one from Secular Woman’s board of directors was part of the discussion. Not only that, but Member 3 and Nathan there are two of the people who signed a letter requesting only that Ron Lindsay apologize. Not be fired, apologize.

So we have one letter calling for a firing, from someone who just wanted a decent person who could do a good job, a letter asking for an apology from someone who would have been amused if particular people were pissed off, and a copy of that same letter from someone who wasn’t sure they trusted Lindsay as CEO. Then we have EllenBeth turning one letter and the feelings one person confided in a private group into a “campaign” and a flip answer to her question into the nefarious purpose of that “campaign”. Finally, we have a bunch of people willing to take that flimsy story and spread it around to where it will do damage.

I really don’t know what else to say to this, except that the allegations you may have seen aren’t true.

*If EllenBeth wants to give me permission to quote her from the private group, I will reproduce this comment in full.

81 comments

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  1. 1
    PZ Myers

    That’s it? One random person speculating that it would be “choice” to have Rebecca or Melody appointed to head CFI is now a “campaign”?

    OK, I think it would be really cool if Dracula were put in charge of CFI. Get on the bandwagon now, it’s a campaign!

  2. 2
    Stephanie Zvan

    Oh, but, PZ, if you say it, then everyone must bow to your bidding and it automatically becomes a campaign.

  3. 3
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    Thank you for this. I’m a member of Secular Women, and I try to follow along with the group discussions (as much as I can), but this whole thing was making me go “Bwah? What? Where? I just. Whaa?”

    I appreciate the breakdown.

    (I need to find another way to say “mountains out of molehills” because I’m so tired of repeating myself, and I hate to be cliche, but really.)

  4. 4
    MrFancyPants

    It’s received wisdom over at the pit that this made-up “concerted letter-writing campaign to get Ron fired” is in fact absolutely true. The pitters are working themselves into an angry froth about it even now, and of course are furious that the FtBullies are trying to install Melody or Rebecca in his place. As part of their reaction to Ron’s apology post, there was at least one of them snickering about how Rebecca is going to have to “eat crow” now (presumably because she didn’t want that apology? Or something? And now won’t be able to take the reins of CFI and spread the evils of feminism there? Who knows, it’s surreal).

  5. 5
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    For the record (and I’ll be blogging about this later), I’ve also walked back my opinion. I do not want Ron Lindsay to step down. That was posted before I had really thought everything through and it simply is not how I feel.

    Ron’s apology was a good start and I think we can move forward from there into a hopefully brighter future.

  6. 6
    dofang

    Wow, I followed that thread as it happened. Who knew we were fomenting a conspiracy!

  7. 7
    jenBPhillips

    Eeeeeeep. EllenBeth reminds me of someone I’m acquainted with who became a Republican because the Dems he interacted with while running for local office (as a Democrat) weren’t welcoming. Good luck to her, I guess.

  8. 8
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I’m not at all surprised at this point… and this says something really negative about EllenBeth Wachs’s character. So what if she was poorly done by in a comment thread on Pharyngula? That single event is enough to lead her to not only disliking The Peez and the Horde, but is also a catalyst for joining with shitty people to tell lies about everyone associated with FtB or the causes that any of its bloggers support? That’s some high level low-down bullshit there.

  9. 9
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Also, so what if people DID call for Lindsay to be fired/step down? Last time I checked, that wasn’t illegal or a breach of ethics or anything remotely worth being angry at someone over. What, we can have letter-writing campaigns and boycotts against theists who we see as doing the wrong thing, but the leaders of secular/atheist orgs are supposed to be to us what the pope is to Catholics?

  10. 10
    Matt Walker

    I personally don’t think Lindsay should be fired, or really has anything to apologize about, except perhaps the context in which he gave his speech. However, I can definitely sympathize with EllenBeth feeling that there has been a campaign to get Lindsay fired. Given that I don’t believe Lindsay has anything to apologize for, it would appear most of the letters are asking him/the board to either lie or fire him. I wouldn’t expect the board to demand their CEO to lie, and I personally doubt the letter writers really want that either. Also, it has certainly been a trend in the comments of FTB and Skepchick for wanting the latter. Note that these people ALSO wrote letters to Lindsay.

    Lindsay showed he was willing to apologize for things he genuinely believed he had done wrong, when he apologized for the North Korea comparison. That he doesn’t agree with you on this single issue, and was still willing to have his organization fund WiSC and Skepticon and so on suggests to me that Lindsay isn’t even that bad of a CEO from your perspective either. But, given the reaction, I’m clearly wrong in that estimation.

    I hope CFI will continue to fund women’s secular groups and so on, even with the recent backlash from some in the community. Not every woman in the secular community (clearly) agrees with FTB and the Skepchicks, but sometimes I feel their voices are not heard.

  11. 11
    Ophelia Benson

    Just for one thing – have any of these conspiracy-spotters asked themselves if Rebecca would want to be CEO of CFI (or anything else)? My bet is that she would run a mile from the very idea (just as I would).

  12. 12
    Stacy

    I…wanted to know what the end-game was.

    An odd assumption, that anybody had an “end-game” in mind. The objective was stated clearly: we wanted Ron and CFI to understand people’s objections to his speech. Surely it’s a violation of Occam’s razor to hypothesize there was more to it than that.

    Now if you’ll all excuse me, I feel compelled to join the new campaign to oust Ron Lindsay and replace him with a fictional undead Transylvanian Count.

  13. 13
    Stephanie Zvan

    Matt, are you suggesting Ron Lindsay was lying in yesterday’s apology? Or are you maybe missing a few possibilities in how you’re thinking about the entire situation.

  14. 14
    louise29

    I’m a member of the private SW group. The extent of the discussion is what is posted here. There was no letter writing campaign to get Ron fired. There was no conspiracy to replace him with Rebecca or Melody. There was one discussion thread in which a couple of people expressed wanting him fired and one person who made the half-hearted (at least I read it that way) comment of wanting Rebecca or Melody to be the new CEO.

    I don’t usually comment on blogs or get involved in these back-and-forths nor am I regular reader of FtB (for the record), but EllenBeth is misrepresenting what took place. She was asked, on several occasions, to be more respectful when posting and this last time she seems to have gotten upset and left the group. Next thing you know, she has a blog up slamming SW.

  15. 15
    Rational Feminist

    Of course, those “places” aren’t demanding *evidence* of this absurd accusation. They are only skeptical of things they don’t like to begin with. May they continue to slide into nothingness and disappear from the secular movement landscape.

  16. 16
    Matt Walker

    Ron apologized for the following things, and I quote:

    “I am sorry that I caused offense with my talk. I am also sorry I made some people feel unwelcome as a result of my talk. From the letters sent to me and the board, I have a better understanding of the objections to the talk.

    I am also sorry that my talk and my actions subjected my colleagues and the organization to which I am devoted to criticism.

    Please accept my apologies.”

    Frankly, I’m surprised the FTB and Skepchick communities haven’t labeled this a notpology. Even to me, it certainly looks like one. He apologizes for offending anyone, something I believe is on the feminist-internet-argument bingo card.

    As far as I can tell, Lindsay hasn’t really changed his position. (Nor do I think he should.) The post by Roth on Skepchick seems to suggest those in the comments (and Roth herself) are accepting this for now, trusting that the line about learning about the problems people had with the talk.

    So, to answer your question, I honestly don’t believe I’m missing much about the entire situation. I feel Lindsay is genuinely sorry that people are offended, and he genuinely is more informed as to their reasons for being upset. I think that he is not, however, coming to the belief that he speech was in any way incorrect in its content, and nor am I.

    Of course, I could be wrong, and I welcome opposing viewpoints. I will monitor what Lindsay says in then future to see whether Roth is right to think he is moving more towards the FTB and Skepchick position.

  17. 17
    Jason Thibeault

    I can’t help but think that the pitters’ mythologizing is no more than half balking at the idea that we’re trying to get Ron fired to install one of Rebecca or Melody, no matter how entirely invented from whole cloth that fear is. The other part is balking at the idea of either of them in charge of something so prominent in this community. Why, pray tell, are they so annoyed by the idea? Feminazistasi! They’d totally turn the place into a gulag! What ELSE would you do with a large organization? I mean… they might even institute… harassment policies.

    Antifeminists are terribly irrational. I am as happy to fight this form of irrationality as any other.

  18. 18
    Eristae

    Given that I don’t believe Lindsay has anything to apologize for, it would appear most of the letters are asking him/the board to either lie or fire him. I wouldn’t expect the board to demand their CEO to lie, and I personally doubt the letter writers really want that either.

    I don’t see what this “given that I don’t believe” stuff is all about. Either the letters are calling for people to lie and/or fire Lindsay or they aren’t. Whether or not you believe Lindsay has anything to apologize doesn’t determine what people other than you are asking for.

  19. 19
    Stephanie Zvan

    That’s your second time leaving out options, Matt, in all of two comments. Ron doesn’t have to be apologizing for the content of his speech in order to be apologizing for his behavior–which he explicitly apologized for, making it not a not-pology. There were far more complaints than that.

    But now you’re wandering away from your “ask Ron to lie or fire him” allegations. Nobody asked for him to lie. Very, very few people asked for him to be fired. Additionally, EllenBeth isn’t just “feeling”. She made allegations of her own that have been passed around on her say-so.

  20. 20
    Matt Walker

    Jason, I think that the problem people see with RW is that she can be extremely petty and immature in her disputes and doesn’t tolerate criticism very well. See, for instance, her response to Sara Mayhew disagreeing with her position slightly for the latter, and her expulsion from the JREF forums for the former. Those are the best documented cases I can find. Also that keynote speech she made where she equated a student’s disagreement with her to someone sending her rape threats — but that’s just bonus. Of course, this might just be standard “pitter’s” argument to you. I don’t know.

    Have you checked the Alexa rankings for FTB and Skepchick.org recently? The opinions of these blogs are becoming less and less popular, if I am allowed the relatively modest assumption that the popularity of the blogs is proportional to the popularity of the opinions expressed in them. Putting RW in charge of a large secular organization, when she has been seen to be unable to work with people who disagree with her is probably not the best idea.

    Believe it or not, a lot of feminists are unhappy with the stances FTB and Skepchick have taken. I am but one of them.

  21. 21
    Eristae

    Frankly, I’m surprised the FTB and Skepchick communities haven’t labeled this a notpology. Even to me, it certainly looks like one. He apologizes for offending anyone, something I believe is on the feminist-internet-argument bingo card.

    So . . . Ron didn’t do anything wrong, but FTB/etc should still be mad at him? What exactly is your goal in this? To keep people angry?

    However, assuming that you really are Just Asking Questions or some such thing, I’ll give you a piece of advice, which you will take or leave as you will: in the event that you don’t understand why someone has accepted an apology, it is very possible you don’t know why they were mad in the first place. So, if you think you haven’t missed anything, the fact that you don’t understand should be a hint that you are in fact missing something.

    Also, “I’m sorry that I offended you” is different than ‘I’m sorry you were offended” or “I’m sorry if anyone was offended.”

  22. 22
    SallyStrange

    Let’s totally rehash Elevatorgate for the 348th time and make this all about Skepchick. Because that’s TOTALLY relevant.

    Where’s my “banging my head against a wall” animated gif, dammit?!?

  23. 23
    Stephanie Zvan

    And Matt, having devolved in a mere set of talking points, is gone.

    Go ahead. Look at Alexa. See what replacing the bloggers we lost to Patheos has done to our recent stats: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/freethoughtblogs.com# So much for the anti-feminist narrative.

  24. 24
    SallyStrange

    So . . . Ron didn’t do anything wrong, but FTB/etc should still be mad at him? What exactly is your goal in this? To keep people angry?

    Yeah, I thought us “gender feminists” were supposed to be the drama hounds around here.

  25. 25
    Stacy

    Matt Walker, have you read any of the posts that explained people’s objections to Ron’s speech? Now that he’s apologized, I don’t really want to get into a discussion of what he did wrong.

    I’ll just say a couple of things. He really did misunderstand the concept of “privilege,” and he misunderstood the point of the “shut up and listen” posts by Paul Fidalgo and John Scalzi. The people he was speaking to (most of them paying customers!) understood these concepts better than he did, yet he felt it appropriate to lecture us. To lecture us when he was supposed to be welcoming us.

    Other cons offer opening/welcoming remarks, typically delivered by the CEO or founder. They don’t take the form of lectures. It was inappropriate and insulting.

    But Ron’s moved on. He listened, and he’s responded in good faith. I trust he’s willing to continue learning. I appreciate his apology; it can’t have been easy to make it.

  26. 26
    Stacy

    Oh dear. Didn’t refresh before posting.

    Stupid me, assuming Matt was posting in good faith.

  27. 27
    smhll

    As far as I can tell, Lindsay hasn’t really changed his position. (Nor do I think he should.)

    Even the parts that are unsupported opinion, factually wrong, or exaggerated?

  28. 28
    Helix

    I’m a Secular Woman member who participates in the Members-Only group, and I agree that this is a completely accurate accounting of that thread. There was no “campaign” – just an opinion expressed by one person (of hundreds in the group) and discussed by a few others. The suggestion of Melody or Rebecca replacing Ron came off as banter to me, once I read that the person offering those names wanted to “cheese” some others. Also, Stephanie has demonstrated her integrity by asking permission before publishing members’ postings to the group, even with their names anonymized. The group is private and confidential, and EllenBeth’s publishing of remarks from the group is a violation of the terms of use and other participants’ trust.

  29. 29
    M. A. Melby

    To be fair, at the end of her original longer post she says this:

    “Edit 6/17/2013 9:50 a.m. I have just learned that Melody Hensley is claiming on her Facebook wall that there is a “rumor” that there was a serious campaign to make her President of CFI. I don’t know that she is referring to what I said here but on the OFF-chance that she is, she should come read it herself to see what I actually said. I never said there was a “serious campaign” taking place to get her installed as president. What I said was that her name was mentioned as a possible replacement.”

  30. 30
    Jason Thibeault

    Yeah, I thought us “gender feminists” were supposed to be the drama hounds around here.

    Yeah, I noticed him calling himself a feminist too. I’m going to bet he’s one of those “equity feminists” who’ve tried to cargo-cult the word for their own use. As though the power behind the word feminism, plus laissez-faire libertarianism that lets them pretend they’ve fixed all the problems and anything further is overreach, gives them what they think is the moral high ground.

  31. 31
    smhll

    You probably cut off Matt just in time, as I was tempted to quote 4 very long paragraphs of Rebecca’s speech to the CFI student group. (That word “equated” is just like a red flag, and I’m just like a not very peace-loving bull.)

  32. 32
    blorf

    @Stephanie Zvan 23: Alexa has an interesting average visitor blurb :
    Based on internet averages, freethoughtblogs.com is visited more frequently by males who are in the age range 18-24, have no children and browse this site from home.

    Maybe the pitters hunt for material is driving up traffic? 8^P

  33. 33
    Stephanie Zvan

    Meh, Matt wouldn’t be the first feminist to pick up the anti-feminist narrative because he couldn’t stand Rebecca or PZ or someone.

  34. 34
    PZ Myers

    Oh, but, PZ, if you say it, then everyone must bow to your bidding and it automatically becomes a campaign.

    It is going to be so awesome when Dracula is running CFI!

  35. 35
    Rational Feminist

    Or maybe the ranking of the blogs is changing as the community grows and there are more options and people’s time for blog reading has increased. That seems like the more rational explanation.

  36. 36
    clydey2times

    At no point did EllenBeth claim that there was a campaign within SW to get Ron fired. She even cited examples from outside of the group, which Stephanie omitted. What she did say was that the letter writing campaign (in general, not within SW) led her to ask what the end game was.

    And for those suggesting that EllenBeth claimed there was a “conspiracy”, I challenge you to find a single example of her using that word within the context of this issue.

  37. 37
    PZ Myers

    visited more frequently by males who are in the age range 18-24, have no children and browse this site from home

    Alexa stats are pretty much close to meaningless. Those are probably the values for the majority of people who bother to install that stupid Alexa toolbar.

  38. 38
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Stephanie wrote:

    Meh, Matt wouldn’t be the first feminist to pick up the anti-feminist narrative because he couldn’t stand Rebecca or PZ or someone.

    I’m never going to grasp that rationale. Rebecca and PZ could kidnap me, tie me up and take turns whaling on me with a sackful of doorknobs and it still wouldn’t change my position on feminism. It’s almost as collossally stupid a thing to do as whichever shallow dimwit it was on Mooney & Kirshenbaum’s blog years ago who said reading Dawkins had convinced his brother to go ‘from’ atheist to agnostic.

  39. 39
    Stephanie Zvan

    At no point did EllenBeth claim that there was a campaign within SW to get Ron fired.

    First of all, you’ve missed the part up top about EllenBeth’s tale being passed around and growing in the telling. Or you don’t care about it. Either one.

    Secondly, the quote in this post is from her post about leaving Secular Woman, and it is in the middle of a paragraph about joining the Secular Woman members-only group. If she didn’t want people to think she was talking about a “letter-writing campaign” in Secular Woman, she really needed at least a disclaimer.

    She even cited examples from outside of the group, which Stephanie omitted.

    I’ve omitted a lot of things in talking about EllenBeth’s long posts. EllenBeth has made it clear in a number of places that she doesn’t feel emotionally healthy right now. I have no interest in a drawn-out fight with someone I used to consider a friend. I’m only addressing this because people have been attempting to use it as a political wedge in a sensitive situation.

    What she did say was that the letter writing campaign (in general, not within SW) led her to ask what the end game was.

    As already covered, no, she didn’t say that. Maybe it was what she meant, though. Either way, it isn’t true. There was still no letter-writing campaign (if you disagree, provide a definition of “campaign” that covers what happened). Nor did she ask about any “end game”.

    And for those suggesting that EllenBeth claimed there was a “conspiracy”, I challenge you to find a single example of her using that word within the context of this issue.

    You know, it takes a lot of gall to waltz in whining that EllenBeth didn’t outright say something and to finish by whining about what you think people are suggesting.

  40. 40
    Tom Foss

    Here’s what I don’t get about the “Lindsay didn’t do anything wrong” apologists: even if we accept every myth and distortion that Lindsay saw fit to spout at the top of the conference, even if we accept that his speech was appropriate as a welcome even though it explicitly welcomed no one, he still skipped out on a fundraising dinner to write a blog post in which he compared one of the speakers at the conference to a North Korean dictator, in response to some relatively minor slight. There is no world in which that is not incredibly unprofessional. To look at that and call it “nothing wrong,” but then to describe things that you’ve heard fourth-hand without bothering to check the facts that Rebecca Watson’s done in the last five years as “petty” and “immature” and not “tolerat[ing] criticism very well” is hypocrisy at its finest.

  41. 41
    arbor

    EllenBeth can go to hell (however she conceives of it). She’s already done a great deal of damage and I have no respect for her or her opinions.

    I think CFI should have fired Lindsay. That they failed to do so means that they are unworthy of any support.

    Both EllenBeth and Lindsay have behaved quite badly and neither deserves another moment of our time or attention.

  42. 42
    lpetrich

    I decided to check on what http://www.alexa.com/ had to say about the blog networks in question. I compared:
    freethoughtblogs.com
    skepchick.org
    skepticink.com
    slymepit.com

    I chose skepticink.com because it is a blog network that has some slymepitters blogging on it, so it’s the closest thing to a slymepit answer to freethoughtblogs.com

    All of the data are rather jumpy, so it can be difficult to recognize long-term trends unless they are rather strong.

    slymepit.com has too little traffic for Alexa to graph, so I’ll concentrate on the other three.

    In reach, freethoughtblogs.com has about 6 times that of both skepticink.com and skepchick.org

    In page views, freethoughtblogs.com has about 4 times that of skepticink.com and roughly 8 times that of skepchick.org (hard to read off of the graph)

    -

    So if there is anyone who ought to be concerned about lack of followers, it’s the slymepitters.

  43. 43
    rorschach

    So if there is anyone who ought to be concerned about lack of followers, it’s the slymepitters.

    No no no! Don’t you know that FtB is at the verge of collapse and the evil atheist feminists will finally be banned and shunned from the movement? Any day now. Just ask Tuvok.

  44. 44
    Eristae

    @rorschach

    But don’t forget! While FtB may be on the verge of collapse, it’s currently has tentacles that stretch far enough to fiercely bully international organizations into firing their CEOs.

    Their banning and shunning may be nigh, but they’re also powerful enough that we need Brave Heroes to stand up to them.

  45. 45
    michaeld

    Ugh I’m just so tired of it all…..can we skip ahead to the part of the story where we wave a magic wand and everything is all better ever after?

  46. 46
    M. A. Melby

    I absolutely need to let this go. It is what it is.

  47. 47
    Rational Feminist

    Or maybe the ranking of the blogs is changing as the community grows and there are more options and people’s time for blog reading has increased. That seems like the more rational explanation.

    hasn’t

  48. 48
    mofa

    One important point to note: Ronald A Lindsay did not apologise, a few days ago, for the content of his talk. He was sorry that he had caused offense to some and he apologised that he made some feel unwelcome. We can all see clearly that some people were offended and some people were made to feel unwelcome…so good on him for saying sorry to those people (some people are more sensitive than others) But he never back-tracked or apologised for his speech content or message.
    There was a ‘call to arms’ from PZ Myers and Greta in their blog spaces. They were too clever to actually articulate what they really wanted, instead they ENCOURAGED their minions to directly make contact with the board of the CFI and tell those in charge of the CFI how they should deal with Ronald A Lindsay. The comments section of many of the blog spaces at FtB prove that many of the minions demanded a resignation or sacking.
    Dana Hunter was not quite as subtle as PZ and Greta and directly called for his head. Of course Amanda Marcotte did the same.

  49. 49
    Badland

    mofa (Mark Senior), you amusingly shoot yourself in the foot. Yes, various bloggers encouraged their readership to write to CFI and express their displeasure. Yet, as you note, those bloggers did not instruct their readers to call for his sacking. Clearly they are too clever by half; certainly they’re too clever for you.

    Is there a reason you dropped this turd in a post talking about EllenBeth Wachs and Secular Women?

  50. 50
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    mofa wrote:

    They were too clever to actually articulate what they really wanted…

    Well, too clever for you to understand at least. Though that bar isn’t very high now, is it?

  51. 51
    Eristae

    @48/mofa and Matt Walker are the reason that FtB can simultaneously be so incredibly insignificant and unpopular that no one will listen to them and so incredibly influential as to have a flock of “minions” to impact Lindsay’s employment.

    Mwahahaha

  52. 52
    hjhornbeck

    mofa @48:

    Ronald A Lindsay did not apologise, a few days ago, for the content of his talk.

    Ron Lindsay:

    I am sorry that I caused offense with my talk. I am also sorry I made some people feel unwelcome as a result of my talk. From the letters sent to me and the board, I have a better understanding of the objections to the talk.

    Sure sounds like he apologized for the content of his talk; why else would he reference the letters sent to him and the board?

    mofa @48:

    They were too clever to actually articulate what they really wanted

    And everyone has a god-shaped hole in their heart.

    The comments section of many of the blog spaces at FtB prove that many of the minions demanded a resignation or sacking.

    So wait, if blog owners and other big names weren’t calling for Lindsay’s resignation (as Zvan has pointed out in the OP), but the commenters on those blogs were calling for a resignation, doesn’t that disqualify us as “minions?” We aren’t doing what our supposed masters wanted us to, right? Look, here’s what I myself fired off to CFI:

    I am still calling for him to resign, however. Even without the issues of tone, there are still large problems with his speech, and his response to the feedback on his speech. [...] By going silent and refusing to dialog, the board is stuck with only two choices; retain Lindsay, and signal to his critics that CFI management endorses this ill-advised speech, or fire Lindsay, the president who they’ve known and become friends with over the years. I do not envy the board’s position, but I must press the obvious: if Lindsay will not step down, he needs to be removed to limit the damage to CFI.

    Note that my call for his resignation assumed he was silent and refusing dialog; in the weeks after his speech, this was very much true. Now, however, there are signs that he is listening to his critics. With the changed conditions it makes far less sense to fire Lindsay at the moment, and so I’m happy to withdraw my request. I do this even though I have no idea if he’ll agree with the criticism; I only care that he either shows us why we were wrong, or concedes that we were right.

    How, exactly, is any of that unreasonable?

  53. 53
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    One random person speculating that it would be “choice” to have Rebecca or Melody appointed to head CFI is now a “campaign”?

    I have to agree*, that would be “choice.” Also “sweet,” “awesome,” and (if this usage is still kosher) “bitchin’.”

    I also voted for Jill Stein. Intelligent readers may draw their own conclusions.

    *I would add Carrie Poppy to that list, if we’re talking wishes.

  54. 54
    oolon

    @Wowbagger, well duh, don’cha know communications 101 is all about never saying what you really want of your minions… You just need to make vague pronouncements and if they attack CFI then it’s nobodies fault. So to be clear Mofa are you accusing FTBs of stochastic terrorism? I’m pretty sure the pittizens had a collective fainting episode when that was mentioned on FTBs as an analogy to their actions on the pit.

  55. 55
    mofa

    hjhorn,
    Ronald A Lindsay has done some ‘harm reduction’ with the wording of his apology…it is a half backed apology (“I don’t apologise for what I said, I JUST apologise for upsetting those that I did because we still want your support”), read between the lines…others have. He does not withdraw any of the message he sent to the audience and RW during the opening speech.
    It was quite clear at the time and also looking back at it that many FtB ‘personalities’ and other so called ‘personalities’ were outraged at Ronald A Lindsay’s speech and called for a full unreserved apology and an ‘on knees’ beg for forgiveness from the CEO, something that would never have happen, or a resignation or a sacking. PZ and Greta and others did not want to be seen calling for his resignation but certainly tried to whip the readers up into a frenzy of outrage. You would be dishonest to tell me that PZ, Greta and others would not have had a smile as wide as the Cheshire cat if he had been dumped by the board. PZ and Greta would make good politicians.

  56. 56
    Eristae

    @54/mofa

    1) You are putting words in Lindsay’s mouth. Not respectful. If Lindsay had wanted to say what you said, he could have said it himself. Hell, he can still say what you are saying if he so chooses.

    2) You are deliberately undermining what you say Lindsay is trying to do; you say he’s trying for “harm reduction,” but here you are trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. You even put words in his mouth to do it (see above). Not respectful.

    3) You say people were demanding “on knees” begging, yet here we are with those same people being fine with an apology which you deem to be meaningless. You cannot have it both where Greta/etc are evil for refusing to accept anything other than an “on knees” apology and be pissed off that they’re accepting an apology that isn’t “on knees” begging. Pick one.

    4) Ah, the wonders of being mad at people for things they haven’t actually done, even by your own admission.

  57. 57
    Badland

    mofa / Mark Senior, you are embarrassingly out of your depth

  58. 58
    mofa

    Eristae,
    You are the one putting words in mouths. I never said Lindsay’s apology was ‘meaningless’. It said a lot to me, there was significant meaning to his statement/apology. Have you questioned why it was so short? Have you questioned why he turned comments off? Can you see him ‘clearly’ apologising for the ‘message’ he communicated at WSCII? You can read his statement which ever way you chose and if you and others are happy with it in the end (and I mean totally satisfied) then good for you. Because I am happy. And if we all are happy then this is a good thing.
    Yes I do think it is an exercise in ‘harm reduction’ but this is only my opinion (I have watched politicians make similar apology/statements in the past), but you don’t have to see it that way. Feel free to accept his apology and take from it what you want, but it is a bit rich to be calling me ‘”disrespectful” because I am slightly cynical. You have every right to call me cynical though! But I wear that label often and do not see it as a derogatory adjective.

  59. 59
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    I’m starting to suspect mofa learned his written communication ‘skills’ – using the term loosely – at the Reap Paden School for Online Blather.

  60. 60
    mofa

    Come on Wowbagger, attack (or disagree with) the words, thoughts and opinions, not the person! Lift your game.

  61. 61
    Eristae

    @mofa/56:

    “Cynical” isn’t the right word to describe your attitude. “Cynical” would be if you wanted Lindsay to have apologized and yet believed his apology to be insincere. Believing that you got what you wanted (you don’t want him to have sincerely apologized and you believe he did not) doesn’t fit.

    Regardless, you clearly aren’t working in the interest of the people here and you also are not working in Lindsay’s interests. You don’t care if he wants wants there to be bad blood between him and others (you assert he apologized with the sole intention of avoiding bad blood) and you don’t care if anyone here wants it (your whole argument is centered around convincing people here to be upset with Lindsay), so would seem that the one who wants there to be bad blood is you.

  62. 62
    mofa

    Lindsay works for his own intersest and the CFI’s interests. This whole matter is politically charged would you not agree?
    I am simply putting forward an alternative take on this. Ponder upon my thoughts, accept them, reject them or come to some in-between decision later on, it is in your hands (minds). You and others here should not be upset to hear alternative points of view. If you are so confident and steadfast in your opinion on this matter and you see no validity in any point that I have made then so be it, continue on your way, make out I am not here…but to get upset when I come here with a contrary point of view, or having a real fear that I may make people question what they see or may want to see, is insightful to me and perhaps to other readers. Don’t be frightened of a diversity of ideas and points of view. Be skeptical and ask questions of yourself. To end with another thought, there is no point smoothing something over if it is not ready to be smoothed over…it will bring no good in the long run.

  63. 63
    Eristae

    @mofa/60

    1) I’m not upset. I’m bored and have insomnia. Not the same thing at all.

    2) If you think no one here has considered the possibility that Lindsay might apologize without meaning it, then we’re going to have to move from “cynical” to “naive” or perhaps a less flattering term. Lindsay could have said, “I did a horrible, terrible, unforgivable thing, I take it back completely, please grant me mercy!” or otherwise offered an “on knees” apology and he still could have not meant it. But let’s be honest: you know full well that people have considered the possibility that Lindsay doesn’t mean it. You simply object to the fact that anyone chose to believe him rather than not. Except, of course, that you wouldn’t have been happy if they had chosen to disbelieve him (hence the spat about “on knees” and so forth). Which brings me to . . .

    3) I not only reject your thoughts, I reject your motives. Lots of people have said they don’t buy Lindsay’s apology, and I accept their feelings. But you, you’re being malicious, and that is what I take issue with. You don’t think that people should reject Lindsay’s words because Lindsay is still in the wrong; you want people to reject it because you want Lindsay to be on bad terms with people. And that says something about you entirely separate from any supposed “cynicism.”

  64. 64
    Yukimi

    Thank you very much for posting this clarifying some of the misrepresentations of Ellen Beth Watch’s posts. Even though she hasn’t quoted me, I no longer feel secure in our private member only group because of her actions. I don’t want to trigger her but I don’t want her maligning us with falsehoods all the time either so I appreciate your effort of trying to set the fact straight being careful to not hurt Ellen Beth,while at the same time being careful trying not to hurt Ellen Beth. I would never be able of it so I’m disengaging.

  65. 65
    Stephanie Zvan

    Yukumi, EllenBeth is no longer part of that group. She resigned her membership.

  66. 66
    Lou Doench

    Do minions come in flocks? I thought we were part of a drove.

  67. 67
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    mofa, were I not already familiar with you as a dishonest creep, there’s a chance I might have bothered trying to engage with you – but, given you’re playing the ‘just asking questions/can’t you tolerate dissent’ bullshit card of the scumbag, why should I bother? It’s a far better use of my time too just point and laugh.

  68. 68
    Stephanie Zvan

    mofa, you’ve managed to tell us that you’re right because Ron Lindsay didn’t really mean what he said and PZ and Greta didn’t really mean what they said. I think I may have discovered why you tend to think lots of people agree with you. It may not be the answer you were hoping for, though.

  69. 69
    A Hermit

    So let’s if I’ve got this straight; according to “mofa” the campaign to have Lindsey fired was a kind of covert operation directed by PZ and Greta using the devious tactic of suggesting that anyone concerned about the issue write to CFI and express their own opinions…which was actually a coded message instructing their brainwashed “minions” to call for Lindsey’s firing (I guess I misunderstood since I just suggested he apologize and take action to mend fences in my letter)…while the bloggers themselves created cover by not overtly calling for a firing…

    Wow, that;s some powerful thought control there, isn;t it? I haven’t heard a story this believable since the one about that meeting in the Prague Cemetery…

  70. 70
    Stephanie Zvan

    A Hermit, you left out the part where the minions were supposed to know this despite both Greta and PZ publicly signing letters asking for apologies. Otherwise, I think that describes it pretty well.

  71. 71
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Rebecca and PZ could kidnap me, tie me up and take turns whaling on me with a sackful of doorknobs and it still wouldn’t change my position on feminism.

    Bingo. I mean, even if for argument’s sake we were to say that Rebecca lied about Elevatorguy (which, believe me, I don’t in any way think she did), how does that make “hey guys, don’t creepily hit on strangers in elevators at 3 in the morning” any less of a valid comment? They’re completely grasping at straws to “justify” their backwards views.

  72. 72
    karmacat

    Instead of Count Dracula can we nominate Count Chocula for CEO because that would be just delicious

  73. 73
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    To me, it looks like arbor is well-poisoning for the opposition. A quotable strawperson which gives anecdotal armament for generalities. I cannot take anything arbor says seriously because it is simply too black and white, too extreme, and too unrelentingly aggressive. Without any indication that arbor is directly involved with the current events, their comments seem derivative of an irrational strawfeminist. I think it is overdue that arbor either gives some background information relative to the source of their emphatic determination to severe ties and oversimplify, or stop repeating themselves in every damn thread on this subject.

  74. 74
    blorf

    @PZ 37:
    Point taken. Still it would have been nice to launch a meme that the pitters habit of crawling for targets was actually making FTB more profitable.

  75. 75
    bcmystery

    I’m fine with being a minion, especially if the job comes with goggles.

  76. 76
    Stacy

    To me, it looks like arbor is well-poisoning for the opposition.

    Yeah, I’m starting to suspect that myself. Either that, or ze holds everyone to an impossible standard of perfection (where “perfection” = agreeing with arbor absolutely, on all possible terms, all the time.)

    Certainly couldn’t put it past a pitter; that sort of manipulative dishonesty wouldn’t be unprecedented.

    @arbor, if you’re sincere: we’ve all heard your opinion on the subject. Now if you’ve nothing more to contribute to the conversation, please knock it off.

  77. 77
    yazikus

    @Stacy
    I’m thinking it might very well be

    Either that, or ze holds everyone to an impossible standard of perfection (where “perfection” = agreeing with arbor absolutely, on all possible terms, all the time.)

    after a bit of googling. See the quote below.

    23
    arbor

    18 April 2013 at 7:46 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    I don’t think that the University of Minnesota should be allowed to host any research at this time. Everyone involved with this, from the researchers and staff through the university’s administration and board, should be fired, prosecuted, shunned, and plagued by Anonymous.

    Inexcusable.

  78. 78
    PZ Myers

    Instead of Count Dracula can we nominate Count Chocula for CEO because that would be just delicious

    Oh, pffft. That would be ridiculous. Count Chocula isn’t real!

    Meanwhile, I was in Romania and am sipping tea from a mug I got there…which has an actual picture of Vlad Tepes, Dracula. Therefore he can be president of CFI.

    See? You can’t beat that logic.

  79. 79
    Jacob Schmidt

    Meanwhile, I was in Romania and am sipping tea from a mug I got there…which has an actual picture of Vlad Tepes, Dracula. Therefore he can be president of CFI.

    Hah! Just the one? Why, there’s dozens of pictures of Count Chocula over at the grocery store! Face it, you’re just covering up the facts and letting your political biases get the better of you.

  80. 80
    Stacy

    Dracula vs. Chocula

    DEEP RIFTS

  81. 81
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    /raises voice meekly, aka Hans Moleman

    I prefer Boo Berry.

  1. 82
    My Part in the “Campaign” to “Get Ron Lindsay Fired”… and My Thoughts on His Apology | Atheism, Music, and More…

    [...] untrue. I do not want Ronald Lindsay to step down. Indeed, as Stephanie Zvan points out in her post about it, I was one of many, many people who signed a letter asking for Ron to apologize, not “step [...]

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