She said he said

A few people think I’ve been unfair to DJ Grothe. I don’t. I think it’s the other way around.

I’ll explain why, as succinctly as I explained it to DJ (and Carrie) the day after threat-day.

I think he stuck a metaphorical target on me. He didn’t do anything to take it off. He didn’t do anything to assure me that he still welcomed me to TAM. He triggered a shit-storm, and then let it get worse and worse and worse.

That’s it.

He stuck a metaphorical target on me (in my view) when he blamed the fall in women’s attendance at TAM on

irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in skepticism, actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe.

Since I was scheduled to do a talk at TAM, the target was very awkward. I blogged about this. DJ never responded. (I could have emailed him directly – but his target-attaching was public as opposed to email, so I replied to it in public rather than email. Besides, I didn’t feel as if I should have to email him to say, “Uh er am I still supposed to do this talk or wut?” I thought it was his job to deal with it, not mine. I still think that.)

As time went on, the fallout from DJ’s remark got bigger and nastier. I felt steadily more unwelcome. DJ still did nothing. Again – I think this is not how someone in charge of an event should treat an invited speaker.

Then came the emails. When I told DJ about them and my decision not to go to TAM as a result, he finally did say they would welcome me as a speaker and value my safety “like we do of everyone who attends our events.” It wasn’t entirely convincing…and it was also very late (and forced). It wasn’t entirely convincing for instance because he went on to predict that some attendees might have different opinions and then cited “these recent couple dozen blog posts on Freethought Blogs about TAM” – in other words he blamed posts at Freethought Blogs for people at TAM disliking me. I, on the other hand, think the dislike originates in his remarks about the clumsy women. He then pointed out that controversial speakers possibly disliked by attendees were still treated respectfully, and named three examples: Dawkins, Krauss, and Jillette.

As I pointed out to him in my reply, there are some salient differences between me on the one hand and Dawkins, Krauss, and Jillette on the other. I think they kind of jump off the page, especially in this context. They’re all men. They’re all Names. They don’t piss off angry misogynists.

So that’s why I don’t think I’ve been unfair to DJ Grothe. That’s why I think it’s the other way around.

As I said, I replied to DJ’s reply, but I got no reply in turn. Carrie told me I could phone them, but that’s all the answer I got. I don’t think that’s very good management.

So that’s that. I expect now we can at last drop the whole smelly subject!