The intersection between rationalists and feminists »« Onward

Correct, diplomatic, and timely

Reactions from the other direction also give us reasons to take Ron’s apology as genuine.

Like this for instance:

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Center for Inquiry @center4inquiry tweets

CEO Ron Lindsay apologizes. http://t.co/ZMyrx2PHbL This weekend, Ron also gave a heartfelt apology in person to CFI staff and branch leaders

Russell Blackford @Metamagician tweets

@Center4inquiry This was a terrible thing for Ron to do. He has handed a victory to the people who bully, vilify, and intimidate.

What a horrible thing to say. Even what Ron said to CFI staff and branch leaders is terrible? Russell is so confident that all the staff and all the branch leaders are completely wrong to be upset about anything that he knows it was terrible for Ron to apologize to them? I don’t see how he can possibly know that, and I don’t see how he can possibly be unaware that he doesn’t know that, so I don’t see how he can reasonably make such a sweeping and savage assertion.

He goes on in the same vein.

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Russell Blackford @Metamagician tweets

By giving an apology, @RALindsay hands a victory to people who trash and vilify opponents for reasonable disagreement.

There was nothing wrong with @RALindsay’s remarks. They were correct, diplomatic, and timely. He should withdraw his apology.

@RALindsay should not have apologised for anything.

You know…I’m all for internationalism, but internationalism doesn’t mean just brashly meddling in other people’s organizations and internecine quarrels from the far side of the planet. That’s colonialism rather than internationalism. I’ve never been able to understand why Russell feels entitled to meddle so energetically in the affairs of US secularist organizations. I don’t feel entitled to do that when it comes to UK or Indian or Australian organizations. Why does Russell carry on as if CFI were accountable to him?

I don’t know.

Note: avoid name-calling if you respond. Seriously.

Comments

  1. says

    I find it ironic that that Blackford is complaining about bullying and intimidation while insinuating that Lindsay is a coward for not doing things his way. Isn’t the idea that you can’t admit to being wrong antithetical to skepticism?

  2. says

    My only interaction with Mr. Blackford was an unpleasant exchange at Camels with Hammers because I had the temerity to defend you folks in my piece about Dan’s civility pledge. He was rude and dismissive. This current behavior does not surprise me, he appears to be of the opinion that you and Stephanie and Rebecca et al deserve the abuse heaped upon you because of some imagined power you have to “bully, vilify, and intimidate”.

    He’s a big shot and expects to be taken seriously because of it. I wonder how much of Mr. Lindsay’s talk was originated in interactions with guys like that, people with axes to grind and access to “inner circle” discussions in teh atheist/skeptic movement.

  3. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Mr. Sir Russell Blackford is VERY IMPORTANT INDEED and he wants to make sure OTHER VERY IMPORTANT INDEED MEN are given the DEFERENCE TO WHICH THEY’RE ENTITLED.

    Touchy, touchy, touchy.

  4. says

    Once again, I am compelled to wonder: what happened to Russell Blackford? We started interacting online in 2006 or so, and he was someone I generally agreed with during almost all kerfuffles. Then, pow! dependably wrong about a pretty darn significant ethical issue.

  5. says

    Lou @ 3 – I’m pretty sure a lot of it originated in discussions with Russell specifically. He’s tweeted about “standpoint theory” and “privilege” several times since WiS2, which makes it kind of obvious that he had a hand in all the “privilege”-panic.

  6. elyss says

    CFI has international affiliations all over the world. What the US base does affects all of us and is not, therefore, immune from international criticism.

    This is not to say for a moment that I agree with the Blackford creature but playing the colonialist card to shut down criticism is insular and parochial.

    Or perhaps I should just shut up and go away too since I’m British and have no business commenting on an American’s blog.

  7. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    That could have been a reasonable point, Elyss, but then you played the “play a card” card. Your motivation is transparent. Hint: “shut down criticism” is a huge tell and immediately blows one’s cover as a reasonable interlocutor. You have to be a little more subtle if you don’t want your I HATE BULLIEZ OPHELIA IZ BULLIEZ disposition to be so obvious so soon.

  8. says

    It makes me worry, now and then. What could make me screw up so badly that accusing someone of the “most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea” doesn’t count as vilification?

  9. says

    I’m all for internationalism, but internationalism doesn’t mean just brashly meddling in other people’s organizations and internecine quarrels from the far side of the planet. That’s colonialism rather than internationalism. I’ve never been able to understand why Russell feels entitled to meddle so energetically in the affairs of US secularist organizations. I don’t feel entitled to do that when it comes to UK or Indian or Australian organizations.

    Really?? Okay, I think this is a bit of privilege. The Internet is, largely, American culture (at least in English), even if it’s global. If we non-Americans were to restrict ourselves to discussing what goes on in our own national orgs…well, I can’t even finish that sentence. Such a situation would be incredibly difficult to imagine.

    And don’t you meddle in discuss, for example, affairs in the UK all the time?

    I’m rather gobsmacked at this statement; it seems so outlandish.

    (This comment ought not to be construed as a support for Blackford’s opinions.)

  10. Pteryxx says

    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” – Richard Feynman

    Blake: sounds like it’s time to read Demon-Haunted World again. ;>

    So in preparing to defend their theses, they must anticipate questions; they have to think, “Where in my thesis is there a weakness that someone else might find—because I sure better find it before they do, because if they find it and I’m not prepared, I’m in deep trouble.”

    Quoted from the 1995 essay here, not the book version.

  11. Brian E says

    Once again, I am compelled to wonder: what happened to Russell Blackford?

    Good question Blake.

    The rage is strong in this one. It is weird, and more than a bit sad, that a person who has shown pretty decent ability in freethinking and rationality has gone so far off track due to an incredible hulk like rage. Except the hulk’s anger subsided quickly I’m lead to believe.

    Hume’s idea, that reason is and always will be the slave of the passions seems somewhat apposite here. But I think the canny Scpt from Ninewells meant that we reason about things only because we have emotional drivers, otherwise we’d let the world go to hell for all reason cared. Not so much that we’re irrational because our passions have overpowered us, as seems to be Russell’s case. But could be two sides of the same coin?

  12. says

    Ibis – hmm – I see what you mean about privilege. Point taken.

    There’s also the broader subject of Anglophone privilege, which I think I do try to notice. I’m hugely privileged compared to people in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Poland, etc etc etc etc etc. FTB is privileged because we can recruit bloggers from Nigeria, India, Pakistan, South Africa, and many many other places where English is a very common second language.

    Anyway. I didn’t mean discuss, I meant meddle. As I said @ 13.

    But, maybe I’m just wrong.

  13. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    Huh… Blackford denounced the apology?

    I would have like an apology directed at Rebecca specifically, as his apoplectic remarks on the website were directed at her specifically. But if Russell Blackford hates the apology as it stands, it must not have been terrible.

  14. arbor says

    I haven’t heard of Blackford apart from his association with pitters.

    I have a serious aversion to people who are self-proclaimed leaders or, indeed, to those who take the idea of leadership seriously.

    Simply because he (possibly insincerely) is castigating Lindsay doesn’t mean that Lindsay’s “apology” was real.

    Throw all of these “leaders” out. We don’t need them.

  15. elyss says

    @11 That’s remarkably defensive. You misread me completely. I’m an FtB supporter; always have been. That’s doesn’t mean I’m not going to criticise when I think it”s warranted, and when I see what looks like an attempt to shut down criticism from someone on a team I expect the opposite from, then I’m going to speak.

    Just as I’m going to speak when I see what seems like an unseemly scramble to pick up the bone Lindsay has thrown.

    Sorry if you can’t handle that. Well, no I’m not really – you need to learn to handle it.

  16. says

    Another bad thing about the first tweet, that I didn’t quite register at the time.

    He has handed a victory to the people who bully, vilify, and intimidate.

    The people? The people? As if those people are the only people bully, vilify, and intimidate? As if they do more of it, or as much of it, as certain other people who bully, vilify, and intimidate?

  17. says

    elyss, that remark about the “unseemly scramble” is crappy. Does it occur to you that there might be good reasons to want to accept the apology? Which Stephanie and I have alluded to? If it hasn’t, please allow the thought entry.

  18. Suido says

    As another non-USAn on the internet, I hope my additions to conversations in other parts of the world don’t get branded as colonialist meddling.

    Blackford’s tweets were demonstrative of his own continued and blatant misogyny, and I thank Ophelia for highlighting them. However, would tweets from someone like Kylie Sturgess in support of Lindsay’s apology also be categorised as colonialist meddling?

  19. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    What happened to Russell Blackford was that he got tired of being the super-dooper smartest guy in the room and yet everyone kept on paying attention to people who didn’t have a penis, multiple PhDs or a penis.

  20. says

    I comment on things all over the world, with flat statements and demands, even. I just don’t expect anyone to pay particular attention. At least three of the terms Lindsay used were completely new to me and I think must come from anti-feminist language. I suspect that his perception of the situation got “framed” by some privileged or hostile advisers.

    I am willing to wait and see what happens, even though like arbor I have an urge to simply write off anyone who is that clueless.

  21. says

    When I tried to speak to Blackford about this a year and a bit ago it became painfully obvious to me just how very personal this is to him. There’s no reason involved when he denounces Lindsay’s apology, or when he decries anti-harassment policies for conferences. This is all purely personal to him, anti-PZ and by proxy anti-Watson, anti-A+ and anti-FtB. That’s my impression anyway. The man is not otherwise stupid.

  22. chrisho-stuart says

    I’m in Australia; and I felt free to write to the CFI on this matter, expressing my unhappiness with Ron’s handling of the opening. Was I out of line to do that?

    I’m for internationalization; including expressing my views of actions by organizations in other countries.

    I don’t consider expressing my view to be “brash meddling”.

    I agree that Russell’s tweets were terrible. But he’s expressing his opinion; as was I. I’d leave the word “meddling” for something rather more than critical tweets. I think we have to be consistent on this. If my support of Women in Secularism and my criticism of Ron was okay, then the ONLY thing that Russell should be criticized for is the content: not his daring to speak up as an Aussie.

    I see a couple of people have commented on this frankly surprising part of Ophelia’s post.

    There’s plenty in the content to be critical of. I’d prefer to see it left at that; so as to legitimately allow me also the space to continue to express criticisms and/or support of organizations overseas.

  23. deepak shetty says

    He has handed a victory to the people who bully, vilify, and intimidate.
    How is Lindsay’s apology a victory for the slymepitters?

    @Ophelia
    but internationalism doesn’t mean just brashly meddling in other people’s organizations and internecine quarrels from the far side of the planet.
    Im surprised you feel this way.

  24. deepak shetty says

    @Improbable Joe
    but he’s also being disrespectful to Lindsay and CFI.What, they can’t make their own decisions without Blackford’s input and approval?
    Sorry no – If thats the case then everyone on this side is guilty of it too.

    @wowbagger
    What happened to Russell Blackford was that he got tired of being the super-dooper smartest guy in the room and yet everyone kept on paying attention to people who didn’t have a penis, multiple PhDs or a penis.
    Even given whats happened , this is a completely unfair statement (and probably untrue). I dont know what happened to Russell Blackford either – he gave me one reason in an email which explains some but not all (nor does it justify his actions)- but if you used to read this blog it simply isn’t true that he is a misogynist/sexist.
    My opinion he just seemed to have picked this side as the enemy and that clouds his reason/judgement – and it seems to be based on some insults that went his way when elevator-gate started.

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