We have to demand better


Rebecca has a blistering post on cowardice in the atheist/skeptic “movement.” She starts with an Australian military guy, Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison, addressing a major harassment problem with the kind of emphasis and restrained but real ferocity that we can only dream of coming from the “generals” of the movement.

Rebecca transcribed much of it.

I have stated categorically many times that the army has to be an inclusive organization where every soldier, man and woman is able to reach their full potential and is encouraged to do so. Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army.

Our service has been engaged in continuous operation since 1999 and in its longest war ever in Afghanistan. On all operations, female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian army. They are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future. If that does not suit you, then get out.

The bolding is there in his voice. He says it with contempt as well as emphasis.

We don’t get that kind of support. As Rebecca points out.

It is my firm belief that we are, as a “movement,” cowardly, and that is why we ultimately will fail. There are too many of us, and especially too many people in positions of power, who are unwilling or unable to take any real action that might help stop the incessant harassment of women in our ranks, or to take any other real moral stand. I’ve seen people who think of themselves as allies actively covering up sexual harassment at an event and then going on to invite the harasser back to speak. I’ve seen “skeptics” write blog posts defending Brian Dunning as a hero instead of an embarrassment. I’ve seen organization employees privately rage about the nonsense their boss is spewing but then refuse to even try to hold him accountable. If we’re going to get anywhere, we have to demand better. We need leaders who are more like Lt. Gen. Morrison. Hell, I’ll take leaders who are just a little less like this and this and this.

That would be good.

 

Comments

  1. MrFancyPants says

    That video was indeed awesome. Can you imagine what the dialogue might be like today if, say, Richard Dawkins had made a similar video in response to Elevatorgate, instead of writing that condescending Dear Muslima comment?

  2. A Hermit says

    Damn that was good…

    “The Standard you walk by is the standard you accept”

    That has to be the message to all the wishy washy fence sitters and hyperskeptics who keep trying to make the issue just go away. Casual thoughtless sexism can’t be an acceptable standard anymore, never mind outright harassment.

  3. MJ says

    I’m Australian and seeing that video this morning made my head spin. We have just as bad of a rape problem in the military as the USA (although I havnt ever heard of stuff like rapist commanding officers sending victims in to high risk areas in the hopes they die so they don’t get caught). This is the first time I’ve seen such aggressive condemnation from a person with authority in our military. For the longest time the rape problem was never properly addressed and according to some ex military anecdotes I’ve seen its all because the top of the chain was nothing but very old conservative men who opposed women joining the military at all. At best they were negligent and didnt care or think it a big enough problem to address. At worst they did nothing but cover the rapists, hoping the violence would somehow prove that women had no place in ‘their’ space and all the women would leave.

    This is all very encouraging, although I am still only cautiously optimistic. There’s still many battles to be fought.

  4. chrislawson says

    I did not expect such a forthright attack on the culture of harassment from the Australian military. All I can say is this is one of those days that makes me happy I live in Australia.

  5. Pen says

    There are too many of us, and especially too many people in positions of power, who are unwilling or unable to take any real action that might help stop the incessant harassment of women in our ranks, or to take any other real moral stand.

    Well, yes, and ‘we’ are also not a highly regimented, strictly disciplined organisation with a rigid chain of command and superiors with authority to tell us what to do and/or kick us out. I hope ‘we’ can find some mode of non-failure that’s adapted to this very desirable situation.

  6. says

    Well, yes, and ‘we’ are also not a highly regimented, strictly disciplined organisation with a rigid chain of command and superiors with authority to tell us what to do and/or kick us out. I hope ‘we’ can find some mode of non-failure that’s adapted to this very desirable situation.

    This sounds like a cop out. It doesn’t take a chain of command for everyone who is in a position to make a moral stand to do so. I’m sick of people giving the male supremacists, misogynists, sexists, and harassers respect. It should be “career suicide” to do even that, let alone be one of them oneself. Why, for example, are people still treating Vacula as if he has something worthy to contribute? If he were a supporter of antisemitic hate speech and harassment, he would not have been warmly welcomed by Ron Lindsay, and it wouldn’t have required a superior with authority for that to have happened. Treat women like shit and you’re golden.

  7. says

    Pen: You’re basically saying that you can’t be “good” without some over-arching authority figure telling you to be so?

    Well…isn’t that …. religious of you.

    You just armed every theist with an example of the moral argument for god.

  8. says

    Pen: Are you the same person claiming that Greta Christina’s exhortation to theists to come up with better, less insulting questions to ask atheists “feels like somebody is policing our social interactions for us”? The same one who used the gendered slur “bitch” to characterize the objections some atheists have about constantly having to explain to theists that they’re not actually amoral monsters? The one who objects to other people telling other people to ask better questions because you personally don’t mind answering questions with ignorance and insulting assumptions as their premises?

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