An interesting comment at PZ’s by Keith Monaghan.
Irish Atheist here. I used to be a supporter and paying member of Atheist Ireland until all this went down and Nugent went off the rails. He has poisoned the entire organisation with his willingness to defend abusers and provide a forum to known harassers. Not to mention his embarrassing brown nosing of our great “thought leaders” Dawkins, et al. It’s a real shame because many in Atheist Ireland have been doing great work regarding raising awareness about our ridiculous blasphemy law and the overwhelming control of our schools by the Catholic Church among a great many other abuses committed in the name of religion.
But just as the charitable acts of the Catholic Church do not outweigh the many abuses it allowed and in many ways fostered under its watch, AI does not get off the hook either. With the organisation choosing to side with Nugent in all this I had to question their commitment towards fighting against sexism and abuse within our community and for the well-being of atheists in general.
Do they only care about sexism and harassment when it comes to achieving their goals against religion only to turn a blind eye when it happens within our own community? I suspect that they do care but are unaware (and possibly unwilling to see) how their recent actions call that into question. The blind hypocrisy from an organisation, and from Nugent in particular, that has criticised the church for its culture of silence and abuse is rather appalling.
So when it came time for my membership to be renewed I emailed them asking that I be taken off their membership lists and I cited Michael Nugent’s behaviour and how it reflects on AI as my reason for leaving. Given Nugent’s insistence on professionalism and maintaining the right tone you will be shocked by the nature of the response I got from their head of Membership, Kevin Sheehan… Or more likely you won’t be shocked at all.
Basically all I got was this quote from the Chair of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva:
Then there remain the many social issues that have been raised by colleagues. The Magdalene laundries, the Mother and Baby homes, the child abuse, the symphysiotomy. It is quite a collection, and it is a collection that has carried on beyond any period that it is hard to imagine any State Party tolerating.
And I can’t prevent myself from observing that all of them are not disconnected from the institutional belief system that has predominated in the State Party, and which occasionally has sought to dominate the State Party.
… and a link to a related article on the AI website.
And that’s it.
There was no attempt to address my concerns or even acknowledge that I had any in the first place. No confirmation that my membership had been ended at my request. No “We’re sorry to see you go”. Just the quote and link that, to my mind, clearly implies (whether through simple foolishness or malicious design) that, by discontinuing my support, I no longer care about those horrendous injustices. As though AI is the only organisation fighting for justice in those cases.
I find it very difficult to believe the message was a good faith attempt to change my mind (how could anyone think think something as dismissive and insulting as that would bring me back into the fold?). Rather I suspect that it was a pathetically childish (not to mention wholly unprofessional) attempt to have the last word. It only served to confirm my initial conclusions about the organisation and my decision to leave.
It would be great if they could clean up their act. That we need coordinated efforts to root out religious privilege and abuses in this country is without question but I am not prepared to sacrifice my fellow atheists’ well being as well as my own integrity in the pursuit of such and it saddens me that AI has seemingly chosen to do so.
It is sad.