So it’s Monday, time to do the things that hung fire over the weekend…like release any little statements that might have piled up on Friday afternoon. This one from CFI for example, stemming from the meeting of its board last week:
The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.
The Center for Inquiry, including its CEO, is dedicated to advancing the status of women and promoting women’s issues, and this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences. The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.
CFI believes in respectful debate and dialogue. We appreciate the many insights and varied opinions communicated to us. Going forward, we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement to enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity as we struggle together for full equality and respect for women around the world.
That’s a very bizarre statement. It’s so bizarre it borders on the silly. It doesn’t say anything. Surely the first duty of any statement is to say what the statement is about. This statement entirely fails to do that. No one who didn’t already know what it was about could possibly figure it out by reading the statement.
And then, it says the board is unhappy. Well that’s interesting, but why issue a statement about it? It’s unhappy with “the controversy” – but what is that controversy? Well it wouldn’t like to say. Why not?
The last paragraph is just corporate bafflegab. It’s annoying bafflegab, too, because the core of the issue is that Ron’s talk at the beginning of WiS2 was not an example of respectful debate and dialogue.
The problem here, if I understand it correctly, is that feminism is a big tent, and there are some woo branches of feminism. I don’t think the woo part is a very big fraction of feminism, but that could be because I don’t know enough about feminism as a whole, I know only the kind I like. Well we could have talked about that. We could have had a panel on it. It could have been interesting.
But we didn’t get that. Instead we got Ron springing his talk on everyone, clumsily lecturing us about something he doesn’t know much about, and sounding as if he thought we were going to crap on the furniture.
As many people have patiently (and not so patiently) pointed out, that’s just a very odd way to start a conference. Of course conferences deal with controversy and disagreement; many conferences are about nothing else. But that’s part of the planning; it’s not a bomb dropped as a surprise at the start of the conference. It’s on the schedule, it’s not a gotcha.
It was a bad decision, ok? It just was. That’s not feminazi crazy, it just is the case. Doubling down on it didn’t work at the time and it seems unlikely to work now. Rebecca is out, and urging a boycott, and given what Ron wrote about her, I’m not a bit surprised.
So that’s this morning’s news.