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Jan 11 2013

Adam’s petition

Adam Lee has a petition to the Leaders of Atheist, Skeptical and Secular Groups: Support Feminism and Diversity in the Secular Community. Please, if you agree with it, take a minute to sign it and share it.

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:

We support making the atheist movement more diverse and inclusive.

And (to speak for myself for a moment) we’ve noticed that cyberstalking and harassing and impersonating and smearing a tiny selection of feminist women and a tinier selection of feminist men (aka “manginas”) is not a good way to do that. Why not? Because it puts people off.

We support the people in our community who’ve been the target of bullying, harassment and threats. Outside the conference environment, there are prominent members of the atheist community (including most of the people named in Thunderfoot’s video) who’ve been subjected to a vicious and persistent campaign of online harassment, including obsessive streams of slurs and invective, threatening messages, sexually-tinged taunting, and malicious impersonation on social media, all carried out with the goal of bullying them into silence. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder in support of the people who’ve been harassed in this way, and forcefully and unequivocally condemn those who’ve carried out the harassment. Unless they change their ways and make amends, they have no place within the movement.

To put a stop to this bad behavior once and for all, we need to change the culture of the atheist movement so that sexism isn’t condoned or defended, just as racism and homophobia aren’t condoned or defended. We’re grateful to the leaders of the movement who’ve spoken out against harassment, and we encourage all atheists and skeptics, regardless of their influence or prominence, to do likewise.

Over here! I’ve been subjected to that campaign. A lot. On the one hand, of course, it’s great, because it shows how hugely important I must be, or they wouldn’t pore over my every word. On the other hand, it gets creepy after a year or so.

Adam has a post about this, too.

You may have heard that the video blogger “Thunderf00t”* recently published a video titled “Why ‘Feminism’ is poisoning Atheism“, which he’s been sending to the heads of atheist and skeptical organizations. In this video, he attacks named individuals who’ve been active in promoting diversity and fighting sexism and harassment in our movement, describing them 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. He’s also claiming that prominent members of the atheist movement who’ve previously spoken out against harassment and misogyny didn’t do so of their own free will, but were coerced into making these statements using nefarious means he declines to specify.

Although I don’t expect that anything will come of this effort, I think it’s important that ignorant and destructive statements like this not go unanswered. Therefore, I thought it would be worthwhile to demonstrate the depth of support within the secular community for measures to increase diversity among our representatives, institute anti-harassment policies at our gatherings, and other moderate and reasonable policies for making everyone feel welcome and broadening our appeal.

That’s why I say if you agree, please sign.

 

18 comments

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  1. 1
    Sastra

    Done.

  2. 2
    sheila

    Signed. And I noticed that the number of signatories went up in the minute or so I was doing it.

  3. 3
    Bjarte Foshaug

    Done

  4. 4
    brucegee1962

    I signed it. My comment was “I’ve read ‘The Screwfly Solution,’ and it’s pretty disturbing to watch it playing out in real life.”

  5. 5
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    And, as is so often the case in these situations, the best argument for why such a petition is needed becomes obvious once you read the comments on Adam’s post on the issue.

  6. 6
    Rieux

    In. And eyerolling at the inevitable comments that Wowbagger references.

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    And then there’s a mystifying post on it by Bridget Gaudette.

    http://www.emilyhasbooks.com/so-you-value-feminism-and-diversity-prove-it/

    I read a petition today that was encouraging atheists, skeptics and secular groups to support feminism and diversity. A very worthy cause. I was bothered by something in the intro though, “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”. No. Can it not be about that please? Can it be about us valuing feminism and diversity?

    What a ridiculous question. No, it can’t not be about that, since that is in fact what it’s about. Der. If you want a petition that’s about something else, make one.

  8. 8
    Nathair

    Signed

  9. 9
    Martha

    Adam’s third point was the most important for me. Yes, we do stand with those of you who have been willing to battle publicly with the forces of backlash and repression. I only wish I thought that last phrase was an exaggeration.

  10. 10
    Argle Bargle

    Signed.

  11. 11
    Ophelia Benson

    Al Stefanelli has a fabulous parody of the whole idea. Simply hilarious.

    http://wcnn.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/little-rascals-he-man-women-haters-club-renamed-goes-international/

  12. 12
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Done. Let the screaming and braying and accusations of bullying leveled at the victims increase to the heavens.

  13. 13
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Al Stefanelli has a fabulous parody of the whole idea. Simply hilarious.

    So sad.

  14. 14
    KellyM

    Signed. And donated to the Surly Grants for good measure.

  15. 15
    rrede

    Signed!

  16. 16
    A. Noyd

    Signed. I didn’t leave a reason, but now that I think of it, I should have said, “Because I’m well past that point in my life when I thought anyone not conforming to the current, dominant identity of a community should have to ‘earn’ their place by putting up with excessive bullshit from other members of the community, most of whom aren’t facing anything like what they’re dishing out.”

    I was a young geek girl at one point and for a while I bought into a lot of stupid shit about how it’s so much better to be “one of the guys”—to take geek communities as they are and “change” them by simply being willing to endure all the sexism. Except, that changed me, not the community. And, in not standing up for women who didn’t want to put up with the bullshit, I contributed to excluding people who could have helped to make real change.

  17. 17
    Mr. Turquoise

    Long time reader, first time poster here.

    Signed the petition. And my stated reason was as follows:

    “Even if I were to concede that all of Thunderf00t’s objections have merit (and I don’t for a second believe that they do), his proposed solution to protect free speech in the atheist community is to demand that the people he disagrees with no longer be allowed a platform to speak at conferences no one is forcing him to attend. How does that not make him, at best, one of the “whiners” and “professional victims” he so vocally decries?”

    But while I’m commenting, I also wanted to thank you for what you do. We need more voices like yours, not fewer. I am looking forward to the day when I can introduce my daughters to your writing.

  18. 18
    hjhornbeck

    Signed and have shared it, and will share it a little more, with my secular friends.

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