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Jun 17 2013

CFI issues a statement

It’s not encouraging or inspiring of confidence.

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.

“The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.” Jebus. Can you get any more waffly? What caused the controversy, gang?


Rebecca Watson isn’t very happy, either.

172 comments

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  1. 1
    Badland

    Weasel words. Fuck ‘em

  2. 2
    A Hermit

  3. 3
    Gregory in Seattle

    In summary: “We’re sorry that some people were offended.”

  4. 4
    Timid Atheist

    I wish to express my unhappiness with the CFI Board for being unhappy that there’s a controversy and not being unhappy with the fact that the controversy is about their CEO scolding women a a conference that was expressly for women.

  5. 5
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Not even “we’re sorry”… “we’re unhappy”?!?! I guess the CFI board is the real victim in all of this?

  6. 6
    Louis

    Secular, sceptical, atheist ladies, have you put on weight recently? That’s because CFI just chucked you under a bus. Buses are heavy.

    Louis

  7. 7
    doublereed

    It’s way more vague than that. It’s more like “We’re sorry for something that may or may not have caused offense to some people that may or may not exist and are located at places.”

  8. 8
    ChasCPeterson

    I wish to express my unhappiness with a number of controversies.

    Thank you.

  9. 9
    tigtog

    That receding sussuration of clinks and rustles they’re hearing right now? That’s money stampeding from their coffers.

  10. 10
    SallyStrange

    Something happened, they won’t say what. But it made them feel REAL sad and they wish it would just go away.

    That’s what I got from that.

  11. 11
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    This reads like a parody of a weasle-y nonpology. Who the fuck wrote this? Guess another letter to CFI is off in the mail today. I’m going to be off the books.

  12. 12
    Lauren

    Mistakes were made!

  13. 13
    sawells

    The ending is a particularly weak point in a message apparently made up entirely of weak points. They say they 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.” But significant elements of the secular movement are opposed to full equality and respect for women around the world. So you can’t do both, guys. Pick one.

  14. 14
    Trebuchet

    I counted 126 words. To bad they didn’t actually say anything.

    That last sentence sounds like something from one of those automatic mission-statement generators.

  15. 15
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    “this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences. ” Was the motivation? This doesn’t sound promising for a 3rd one. This whole post is a great example of how language can be used to erase all actors and responsibility for something that happened. Look at the subjects in the sentences. The only reference to actual actors are the Board and the atheist movement as a whole (or just CFI, unclear) -”we”.

  16. 16
    sawells

    …wtf, is that _the entire statement_???!!! I thought it was an excerpt, but no… that is the sum of what they have to say. They are unhappy with the controversy.

  17. 17
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Welp, I have just written off CFI entirely. Enjoy having to bend to the whims of the Slymepit, since they’ll be the only audience you’ll have left, you fuckers.

  18. 18
    doublereed

    I feel sorry for the person who was told to write this.

  19. 19
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    I don’t even…

    I wasn’t even there and I’m practically shaking with rage right now.

  20. 20
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Dissing the reason for a meeting is “respectful debate and dialog”? I don’t think so Tim.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Gregory@4:
    I disagree.
    CFI did not acknowledge the nature of the problem. They show no understanding of the anger many people have. Indeed, they did not even offer an apology to everyone angry at Ron. Issuing the above statement was definitely one of the worst possible responses.
    But hey, even if they lost the support of many feminists, they can take mantle of Clubhouse #2 for the Slymepit.

  23. 23
    sawells

    Okay, I think I just grokked how libertarianism and this “free speech” fetish work together. Libertarians _say_ they want freedom for everyone, but in practice their policies give freedom to people who have money and power, and everyone else gets screwed over. Likewise, the Freeze Peach brigade _say_ they want everyone to be heard, but in practice they want the people with the loudest voices, the people with the most stamina, and _the people who are talking already_ to be heard – and everyone else gets drowned out or silenced.

    And so we get Lindsay seizing the stage to lecture everyone on the utter horror of ever suggesting that anyone should ever say “shut up and listen” – when his speech was “Shut up and listen to me”.

    CFI are fine with that. CFI can wither on the vine now.

  24. 24
    Kevin

    Dear CFI:

    Fuck off.

    Kindest regards,

    Kevin

  25. 25
    screechymonkey

    What caused the controversy, gang?

    Duh. It was those pesky controversialist bloggers trying to drum up blog hits. If only you lot would just shut up and accept condescending lectures from the “leaders” of the movement, everything would be fine!

  26. 26
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Typical corporate bullshit. They obviously don’t give a fuck, so they can now go searching for the fucks I don’t give about them.

  27. 27
    medivh

    @Tony!, #22: Clubhouse #3; Michael Nugent seems to be hosting clubhouse #2 for the time being…

  28. 28
    Asher Kay

    If you can’t even tell from the statement what they’re making a statement about, it’s a lousy statement.

    It’s puzzling — they have to have known what the reaction would be to such a vapid collection of words.

    Maybe the board agreed on so little that what they could all say with one voice became virtually content-less.

  29. 29
    Deen

    What a non-statement.

  30. 30
    PZ Myers

    I think it’s really nice of CFI to do fundraising for American Atheists like this.

  31. 31
    sawells

    Maybe it’s a lead-in to a name change. They can be the Committee for Free Inquiry About Bigfoot And Crop Circles But God Help You If You Question The Socioeconomic Status Quo, Bitches.

    CFIBACCBGHYIYQTSSQB?

  32. 32
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith is a Spocktopus cuddler

    Damn! The only thing missing from that CFI announcement are the words “paradigm” and “synergy” for it to be perfect corp non-speak.

  33. 33
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    I think it’s really nice of CFI to do fundraising for American Atheists like this.

    *snicker*

    Well that was a minute and a half I’ll never get back. That statement said nothing, and it said so with blandness, boredom and more than a slight air of superiority.

  34. 34
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @PZ Myers:

    Maybe American Atheists needs to host the next WiS, cause you can be damned sure CFI isn’t.

  35. 35
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    And dear god but some are frustrating. I mentioned this to an atheist friend of mine, directed him to all the relevant blog posts (with links!) Reaction? I don’t want to read all that, I don’t see anything wrong with what Lindsay said, after all its humanist, isn’t it?

    Me, I’m too emotionally involved to debate this right now, I’m stepping out of the discussion.

    Him, but why are you offended?

    Did I not just say I’m no longer going to discuss this with you? /rage

  36. 36
    Stephanie Zvan

    doublereed @18:

    I feel sorry for the person who was told to write this.

    This is so badly written that it’s highly likely it was written by the person whose brilliant idea it was. I feel sorry for all the people who would never have written it who have had to see this statement go out under the name of the organization they’ve put so much into.

  37. 37
    unbound

    They just refuse to eat that humble pie, don’t they…

  38. 38
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @Gen:

    It’s basically “we are aware there’s a controversy” in more words than needed.

  39. 39
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    They just refuse to eat that humble pie, don’t they…

    They suffer from the same Don’t Question Your Leaders delusion that the Slymepit does.

  40. 40
    Parse

    CFI believes in respectful debate and dialogue.

    “Respectful dialogue” would actually address and respond to what other people say; this statement doesn’t do either. CFI’s words and actions belie their beliefs.

  41. 41
    PZ Myers

    I also suspect that there was no malice intended in their disabling of comments. It was because any comment might have added a tiny bit of substance to it, marring the perfect vacuity of the post.

  42. 42
    Tom Foss

    It’s a homeopathic statement. So little content as to be nonexistent, diluted among so many words.

  43. 43
    PZ Myers

    You know what else really bothers me about this non-response? There are some truly stellar people working at CFI, people who actually believe social justice and equality are under the purview of skeptical thought, and CFI just told them to shut up or take a hike out behind the chemical sheds.

  44. 44
    Matt Penfold

    I have sent the CFI an email:

    Hi,

    The following statement has appeared on your website, dated 17th June.
    “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.”

    Can you confirm that this in fact a genuine statement by the CFI ? The reason I ask for clarification is that it is so anodyne, so lacking in substance and so misses the point that it is hard to believe it can have been written by someone acting on behalf the CFI, and with the interests of the CFI in mind.

    Regards,

    Matt Penfold

  45. 45
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I think it’s really nice of CFI to do fundraising for American Atheists like this.

    LOL

    This doesn’t even qualify as a not-pology. My heart aches for people like Hensley who’ve done such excellent work for an org that just basically said “Bitches: Fuck ‘em”.

  46. 46
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    You know what else really bothers me about this non-response? There are some truly stellar people working at CFI, people who actually believe social justice and equality are under the purview of skeptical thought, and CFI just told them to shut up or take a hike out behind the chemical sheds.

    Yeah, they just threw Melody Hensley and Paul Fidalgo under a very large bus.

  47. 47
    Martha

    I’ve only been around these parts for a year, and I feel totally sucker-punched by this tone-deaf parody of a statement. Ironically, attending WiS2 was the first real contact I’ve had with CFI, and, with one obvious exception, I was really impressed with the CFI staff I met there. It seemed to me that CFI were closest of all the secular organizations to carrying out the missions that I most care about, so I only reluctantly decided not to contribute to them. I was hoping that the board would weigh in constructively about their CEO’s utterly unprofessional behavior and that I could go back to supporting people like Melody, Debbie, Simon, Paul, etc. Instead, my money will go to American Atheists and the Secular Student Alliance.

    This is a clear sign that we need new institutions.

  48. 48
    Ingdigo Jump

    Instead of giving to AA consider Planned Parenthood

  49. 49
    SubMor

    “A thing happened, and we feel obligated to comment on that thing, but we have nothing to say about that thing. Rest assured, however, that we believe in having respectful dialog about things that happen, so thank you everyone who commented on this thing.

    That is all. Have a nice day. More dollars please.”

  50. 50
    A Hermit

    DINGDINGDING!

    We have a winner people!

    @ # 42
    Tom Foss


    It’s a homeopathic statement. So little content as to be nonexistent, diluted among so many words.

  51. 51
    sawells

    If someone had cobbled that statement together yesterday as a _joke_ about how vacuous the statement was going to be, nobody would have believed it.

  52. 52
    LykeX

    “this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences. ” Was the motivation? This doesn’t sound promising for a 3rd one.

    I got the same vibe. I may well be reading too much into that, but on top of that non-statement, I’m not so sure anymore.

  53. 53
    Louis

    A Hermit,

    Let’s start a REAL controversy.

    My #6 was objectively funnier.

    ;-)

    Louis

  54. 54
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    I may well be reading too much into that, but on top of that non-statement, I’m not so sure anymore.

    Well, they can’t have a third, otherwise all those valuable MRAs might stop donating to them! Moneymoneymoneymoneymoney.

  55. 55
    anteprepro

    It sounds like it was written by a focus group. Like they just decided “this is the best possible time to issue a statement that basically just regurgitates our Mission Statement and offers up feel good bafflegab instead of addressing anything specific or relevant to the issues at hand”. What is it with the leadership of atheist organizations? Fucking embarrassing.

    I’m fairly certain that the lack of specifics, the fact that you cannot tell what the controversy they are talking about actually is, is an attempt to save face. They want to sweep everything into the memory hole. They want to say BOTH SIDES were wrong without actually saying it and thus provoking outrage. They don’t want to bring up specifics because they don’t do so without drawing attention to things that they would rather just sweep under the rug and have people ignore. Actively dealing with the complaints, either by refuting them or lukewarmly accepting them, still brings attention to the complains and they can’t do that. They can’t have more people becoming aware of the issue. So everything is hush-hush with a non-specific notpology so Lindsay can continue to do his thing and the organization can pretend nothing ever happened.

    Yeah, fuck CFI.

  56. 56
    Joerg

    Tonetrolling. More shameless display of privilege. The good old tactic of using measures of respectability to … silence debate.

  57. 57
    chigau (違う)

    If they cannot manage “full equality and respect” for women in their own organization, how are they going to manage it for “women around the world”?

  58. 58
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    You know what else really bothers me about this non-response? There are some truly stellar people working at CFI, people who actually believe social justice and equality are under the purview of skeptical thought, and CFI just told them to shut up or take a hike out behind the chemical sheds.

    Sounds like a schism is in order.

  59. 59
    Musca Domestica

    It must feel really nice for all those who sent thoroughly thought out emails and letters to CFI, that the CFI board thinks they would be stupid enough to fall for this insult. I wasn’t expecting much after the last few years, but this is just a continuation of Lindsay’s rant.

  60. 60
    dutchdelight

    It’s kinda odd not to explain why they are unhappy with the controversy around WiS.
    This is CFI right? There’s controversy around pretty much anything they do in (american) culture, but suddenly now they don’t like controversy and most mystifyingly… they can’t even be bothered to say why?
    Someone should start a clock on their site/blog, counting the days that Ron still hasn’t stepped back and CFI has issued an actual apology. Also, inquiring minds want to know, what they are going to do to prevent this kind of fuck-up from happening again?

  61. 61
    anteprepro

    If they cannot manage “full equality and respect” for women in their own organization, how are they going to manage it for “women around the world”?

    Why are we are also focusing on “common values” and “solidarity” when it is clear that the movement contains people opposed to “full equality and respect”? As in, “full equality and respect” is NOT a “common value”. As in, “full equality and respect” will NOT be a necessary consequence of women focusing on gaining solidarity with teh menz of the atheist movement. Which is to say that we don’t need to “enhance our common values” or gain “solidarity” first and fight for equality second: We need to fucking convince people that equality is a common value and then work for solidarity and equality and respect from there. But that doesn’t fit into their whitewashed, face-saving narrative.

  62. 62
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    We at CFI have an ongoing unhappiness over-quota situation, possibly caused by a happiness shortfall. We are confident that, going forward, an input of generic struggling-and-equality clichées will eventually lead to a raise in happiness quotients, and a consequent relative drop in the unhappiness index.

    Yours, in a state of ongoing sinceritiness

  63. 63
    barbyau

    These institutions and organizations that want to waffle on cultural wedge issues never learn do they?

    Take the BSA for example. They now allow gay youth, but not gay adults. Do they think that placates the religious haters? Do they think the gay community they are reaching out to appreciates them reinforcing the lie that gay adults are a danger to kids? No. They are alienating both groups.

    Does this organization think there is a middle ground between the group that thinks women should be treated civilly and respectfully and the group that does not? There isn’t. The MRAs will hate any attempt to be welcoming to women. And women? We’ve been watching this debate and aren’t impressed by people who can’t figure out who the good guys and bad guys are.

    When you are dealing with eliminationists who do not like the existence of the other (gays, feminists, whatever), there is never a compromise position. Compromising is always ceding ground to the eliminationists, who will never be satisfied until the thing they dislike is eliminated. All you’ve done is fooled yourself into thinking you haven’t picked the side of the eliminationists.

  64. 64
    JohnM

    It’s actually even a worse statement than it first appears. The CFI Board is unhappy with the “controversy” surrounding WiS2. The implication is that all they’re unhappy about is that people were ticked off at Lindsay’s speech and wrote publicly about it and contacted the board to complain about it, but that they’re OK with what Lindsay said. I hope they have something else to say or PZ’s right and people’s feet and dollars will head to American Atheists.

  65. 65
    smhll

    Dissing the reason for a meeting is “respectful debate and dialog”? I don’t think so Tim.

    Agreed. And let me add, a speech to a silent audience is not a dialog.

  66. 66
    anthrosciguy

    What caused the controversy, gang?

    Why, those damn people who objected to his hectoring lecturing, of course.

  67. 67
    Rieux

    Count me in on Watson’s boycott (a real, non-fictional one this time, albeit she isn’t demanding that one and all join her).

    I think that it would be a tragedy if this board decision killed the WIS series, though. I would strongly support another organization continuing the annual tradition—under another title if necessary.

  68. 68
    perplexed

    I think
    1) this is an extremely well written letter
    2) that someone invested significant time in writing this response, probably even more than one person
    2) it says exactly what they wanted it to say
    3) it sends a very clear message

    I’m not justifying the content or it’s path but to believe that this was written in minutes after a board meeting is folly. My guess is the board has been informally chatting and this note has been written and revised since this incident happened.

  69. 69
    myeck waters

    dutchdelight #60

    It’s kinda odd not to explain why they are unhappy with the controversy around WiS.
    This is CFI right? There’s controversy around pretty much anything they do in (american) culture, but suddenly now they don’t like controversy and most mystifyingly… they can’t even be bothered to say why?

    Ah well, see, they’re happy to be the Center For Inquiry. They’re not happy at all to be the Center OF Inquiry.

  70. 70
    carlie

    Secular, sceptical, atheist ladies, have you put on weight recently? That’s because CFI just chucked you under a bus. Buses are heavy.

    *quickly checks ticket for place in seething mass queue, realizes it is nowhere near close enough*

    I can’t even imagine how demoralized Melody must be right about now.

    I could understand this if it was the first statement they issued the day after the conference, before they knew anything. But now? After weeks of waiting, during which time they could have done a lot of research and opinion-making? Not even. Before I read this, I wouldn’t have believed there was something more weasely than “I’m sorry if you were offended”, but there is. It’s “we’re unhappy about this controversy”.

  71. 71
    rowanvt

    If by “well written” you mean grammatically correct, sure. But it’s still nothing but noncommittal fluff, and due to the lack of substance “well written” is not necessarily accurate.

  72. 72
    anteprepro

    I’m not justifying the content or it’s path but to believe that this was written in minutes after a board meeting is folly.

    Agreed. The evasiveness and the feel good tripe were intricate in their simplicity. Expertly performed.

  73. 73
    Paladynian

    “The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.” amazes me, from an engineering perspective.. It a work of art; a statement that occupies every possible interpretation in perfect quantum superposition. A similar particle at least has the grace to collapse into a single state upon observation, whereas this sentence just gets more and more formless and meaningless the more I look at it…

  74. 74
    philosophia

    I see that all the comments are condemning the CFI statement. I think that it is appropriate to the situation, and the best thing they could do. I think I speak for a lot of atheists/skeptics who don’t agree with either side of the current atheist furious infighting, and wish to get on with dealing with the outside world on these issues instead of continuing a lot of infighting. Hooray for CFI! Here is the letter I sent:

    Dear CFI Board,

    I am a CFI member concerned about all of the criticism directed at CFI’s CEO, Dr. Lindsay because of his welcoming comments at the recent Women in Secularism conference. I must say that the criticism is way out of line compared to the offense. I can hardly imagine comments less offensive, less controversial than to say that we shouldn’t tell each other to shut up, rather, we should emphasize listening.

    But not only are the howls of protest way over the top, they are being accompanied by demonization. A man who has stood up for women’s rights in real world situations, including the halls of government, is being criticized as either a complete idiot or in league with the forces that wish to oppress women. The concluding sentences, the crux of Lindsay’s talk, which includes a reaffirmation of CFI’s commitment to women achieving “complete social and civil equality and equal economic and political opportunity” are completely disregarded.

    However, I think we have to recognize and deal with the reality that there are some very sensitive people out there with regard to women’s issues. Many of them have been oppressed and harassed, and unfortunately but understandably get extremely angry when there is any disagreement even with the particulars of their world view. They do not admit the possibility that other reasonable points of view might be valid. Thus they have blogs in which care is taken to boot out any dissenting voices as not merely wrong, but evil. Everyone who disagrees even on the particulars or the tactics is lumped in with those that really do not want the complete liberation of women. This, of course, stifles any kind of free and open discussion in their fora, but it satisfies their need to have a place where their ideas can be constantly reinforced and it gives them a sense of community.

    Ron Lindsay, admittedly, should have been more aware of the sensitivities involved before speaking. The best thing a male speaker can do at such a conference is say as little as possible and keep out of the way. However, I’m sure he’s learned his lesson on that by now! There really was no excuse for the tone of his blog entry attacking Rebecca Watson, but he apologized for that. I hope that CFI will continue to support Dr. Lindsay, and support the free expression of ideas. I look forward to calm, reasoned discussion on this topic in future editions of “Free Inquiry”, in the spirit of the name of the magazine.

    Philo

  75. 75
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    philosophia

    I can hardly imagine comments less offensive, less controversial than to say that we shouldn’t tell each other to shut up, rather, we should emphasize listening.

    And

    Ron Lindsay, admittedly, should have been more aware of the sensitivities involved before speaking. The best thing a male speaker can do at such a conference is say as little as possible and keep out of the way.

    Pick one and stick with it, please.

  76. 76
    Ingdigo Jump

    @philo

    No you don’t know any fence sitters stop bsing

  77. 77
    perplexed

    @71…”But it’s still nothing but noncommittal fluff, and due to the lack of substance “well written” is not necessarily accurate.”

    I don’t think it’s non committal fluff or inaccurate at all. I think they said very directly that they heard everyone and they are responding by not doing anything in a notably visible way other than this statement. That speaks volumes very loudly.

  78. 78
    brianpansky

    I can hardly imagine comments less informed, less clued in than to say that “we shouldn’t tell each other to shut up, rather, we should emphasize listening” is all ron lindsay did.

  79. 79
    tajparis

    Many of them have been oppressed and harassed, and unfortunately but understandably get extremely angry when there is any disagreement even with the particulars of their world view. They do not admit the possibility that other reasonable points of view might be valid.

    Oh, fuck off! That is a steaming-hot pile of dishonest garbage.

    Jezisfuckinzombiechrist, this both sides bullshit… Gah! Fuck this “movement.”

  80. 80
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    An evasion if ever I read one. *sigh*

  81. 81
    cadfile

    I really didn’t expect Lindsay to get fired but they didn’t even acknowledge that he was the reason for the controversy.

  82. 82
    J B

    It should be possible for the membership to recall this board. I’m having trouble finding CFI’s bylaws, however. I hope such a move might get some traction, as it’s a shame to kill the organization, or abandon it to the status-quo-loving portion of its membership by just leaving.

  83. 83
    anteprepro

    I must say that the criticism is way out of line compared to the offense. I can hardly imagine comments less offensive, less controversial than to say that we shouldn’t tell each other to shut up, rather, we should emphasize listening.

    For fuck’s fucking sake.
    1. Context! He gave this lecture of his in lieu of welcoming women at a women’s conference!
    2. It’s based on a fucking strawman! “Shut up and listen” ALREADY EMPHASIZES LISTENING. Tut-tutting the “shut up” part of it is just supporting the status quo: Where straight white males get a disproportionate amount of the speaking time on issues that pertain to non-straight people, non-white people, and non-male people. Where straight white males talk to other straight white males about issues relevant to disenfranchised minorities in an abstract, detached, academic fashion and rarely ever letting those disenfranchised minorities get a word in edgewise. They don’t give them the floor even when the subject matter is something relevant to their own fucking lives and experiences. Ron Lindsay opposes the very idea of “shut up and listen” because either he doesn’t understand that “shut up” isn’t supposed to be a life sentence or because he thinks that straight white males should never shut up, ever, because FREEDOM.

    However, I think we have to recognize and deal with the reality that there are some very sensitive people out there with regard to women’s issues….They do not admit the possibility that other reasonable points of view might be valid….
    The best thing a male speaker can do at such a conference is say as little as possible and keep out of the way.

    Yeah, those women and their irrational, emotional sensitivity, amirite?

    Fuck off. Fuck right off. You are no fucking moderate by any stretch of the imagination. I’m so fucking glad that the vast majority of your letter was spent condescending and dismissing the pro-women side, though, and never once daring to even pretend to be interested in condemning BOTH SIDES like the real brain-addled, self-righteous fencesitters do. Yeah, you totally haven’t chosen a
    “side”. Sure.

  84. 84
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Shorter perplexed and philosophia : Pat us on the head now, Dr. Lindsay! We’re obedient! We don’t question! We don’t think!

  85. 85
    carlie

    Shorter philosophia: “bitches be hysterical and emotional and shit”.

    Do I have that about right?

  86. 86
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    “Yeah, you totally haven’t chosen a “side”. Sure.”

    LOL totally. I have a hard time believing they actually believe anyone will fall for their obvious defense of bigots and harassment and obvious disdain for social justice. I tend to think they are slymepitters who, post brainless, illogical drivel like perplexed and philosphia have done just to get flamed and banned. You know, for the slymepit Bigot merit badge.

  87. 87
    Eristae

    That’s it? That is the entirety of what they wrote? They received piles of letters that were pages long and that’s what they came up with?

    On the one hand, I know that sitting down and writing that letter was a waste of time when I wrote it. On the other hand, it still sucks.

    Also, I’m going to express my rather painful humor over the fact that people are absolutely freaking out about the phrase “shut up and listen” and yet do not display a similar level of outrage when women in their movement get threatened with rape and have their heads photoshopped onto pornographic images. “Oh, of course we condemn that!” they (sometimes) cry, but do they? Did Lindsay take the time at a Women In Secularism opening speech to talk about the fact that women have been fiercely harassed over the last few years, some so much so that they have either severely curtailed their involvement or have left altogether? No. To him, the big issue was that these women who were being harassed might use the phrase “shut up” rather than “please deign to listen to me for a moment even though my words have no particular value and certainly can’t inform you of anything, as your skepticism clearly gives you complete understanding of minority experiences despite the fact that you aren’t a minority. Oh, and I completely am not implying that you need to be asked to listen; no, clearly you’re already doing that and maybe we can just forget everything I just said.”

    Yes, clearly the first phrasing was vastly inferior to the second phrasing.

  88. 88
    yazikus

    I think they said very directly that they heard everyone and they are responding by not doing anything in a notably visible way other than this statement. That speaks volumes very loudly.

    I’m actually kindof leaning to agree with perplexed’s above comment. I hope they do indeed have a followup statement planned. I do wonder if they read all the letters? I even sent a real live, paper, snail-mail one. Saying that I was disappointed would be a huge understatement.

  89. 89
    medivh

    It’d be nice to think that perplexed and yazikus are right, but I’m not holding my breath…

  90. 90
    throwaway

    Philosophistrya

    I must say that the criticism is way out of line compared to the offense. I can hardly imagine comments less offensive, less controversial than to say that we shouldn’t tell each other to shut up, rather, we should emphasize listening.

    You can hardly imagine context, either, it appears.

    The concluding sentences, the crux of Lindsay’s talk, which includes a reaffirmation of CFI’s commitment to women achieving “complete social and civil equality and equal economic and political opportunity” are completely disregarded.

    Those words are simply bread buns on a shit sandwich. No one has a problem with such a sentiment. They only masque Lindsay’s criticism in the language of an ‘ally’ so as to deflect valid criticism of the other parts of his speech which were harmful. And you’re playing right into his narrative and providing him cover. Fuck off.

  91. 91
    throwaway

    Ugh, philosophistrya again:

    The best thing a male speaker can do at such a conference is say as little as possible and keep out of the way.

    No, that’s rank bullshit and it shows you have the same mindset as some of the slymers. The best thing for a male speaker to do is to at least minimally educate themselves before speaking about things that concern the rights and treatment of women. And then to run it by women who are involved to see if maybe there is some privilege-blindness in their speech. And then correct such privilege-blindness. Ron Lindsay did none of that. It’s not because he has a cock that he is drawing so much well-deserved criticism. Again, fuck off with your lame ass oozing letter.

  92. 92
    athyco

    I am a CFI member concerned about all of the criticism directed at CFI’s CEO, Dr. Lindsay because of his welcoming comments at the recent Women in Secularism conference. I must say that the criticism is way out of line compared to the offense. I can hardly imagine comments less offensive, less controversial than to say that we shouldn’t tell each other to shut up, rather, we should emphasize listening.

    Why do so many who wish to say “I can hardly imagine comments less offensive, less controversial…” then go on to paraphrase a small section of the talk? It seems that there was a preconceived message that they were hearing rather than the actual words of the talk. To what were they “listening” if instead they were busy formulating their own words to give in response? There should be some sort of warning we could give to others: “Stop projecting your current mindset in order to take on new data”? Naw…needs to be snappier.

    Presumably, philosophia, you’re here for substance, not rhetoric.

  93. 93
    Chie Satonaka

    I think I speak for a lot of atheists/skeptics who don’t agree with either side of the current atheist furious infighting

    Rape threats, death threats, harassment that continues for YEARS, doxxing, DDOS attacks, inviting the Westboro Baptist Church to harass the convention….

    These are “reasonable points of view” that you find “valid?”

  94. 94
    culuriel

    Maybe one day, a conference devoted to women in secularism can be organized by people who actually respect women in in secularism. Or at least want to hear what we have to say. Sigh….

  95. 95
    anteprepro

    Rape threats, death threats, harassment that continues for YEARS, doxxing, DDOS attacks, inviting the Westboro Baptist Church to harass the convention….

    These are “reasonable points of view” that you find “valid?”

    Well, maybe not, but they hardly bear mentioning compared to the utter atrocity that is IRRATIONAL FEMINIST HIVEMIND GROUPTHINK ECHOCHAMBERS DEVOURING FREEZE PEACHES. And men being told to listen to women about women’s issues. Can you really expect someone to not confront such horrors first, and then deal with all those lesser, petty issues?

  96. 96
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    Anyone know if/when Secular Women will be making a counter response?

  97. 97
    medivh

    Rawnaeris: I’m not sure this warrants a response. How do you respond to nothing?

  98. 98
    LykeX

    A mini round-up on this subject:
    Brute Reason
    Almost Diamonds
    Lousy Canuck

    There seems to be a general trend in the responses.

  99. 99
    irisvanderpluym

    More and more, I cannot help reaching the conclusion that when doods in leadership positions in the movement want diversity so they can say they have diversity, not to actually welcome it. In the case of wanting more women, it’s for entertainment purposes only.

  100. 100
    anteprepro

    More and more, I cannot help reaching the conclusion that when doods in leadership positions in the movement want diversity so they can say they have diversity, not to actually welcome it.

    I think that is actually pretty common. Saying you want “diversity” is good PR, makes you seem like good guys. Diversity entirely for the sake of looking good. Of drawing in a larger market. They don’t actually want different viewpoints, don’t actually care about women’s issues, don’t actually care about LBGT issues, don’t actually care about racial issues, don’t actually about religious discrimination. They will pretend they care, but they don’t because they don’t see notable benefits to themselves or their bottom line, and that’s all they really care about.

  101. 101
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    Medivh, hmm, you have a point. I guess I just want to see a “well thanks for nothing” considering the well written Objection.

  102. 102
    noxiousnan

    Philosophia @74,

    Until the third paragraph of your letter you were just someone I disagreed with. Now you’re someone I suspect of disingenuousness:

    They do not admit the possibility that other reasonable points of view might be valid. Thus they have blogs in which care is taken to boot out any dissenting voices as not merely wrong, but evil. Everyone who disagrees even on the particulars or the tactics is lumped in with those that really do not want the complete liberation of women. This, of course, stifles any kind of free and open discussion in their fora, but it satisfies their need to have a place where their ideas can be constantly reinforced and it gives them a sense of community.

    Please do tell which blogs are these, with examples? You’re full of shit, Philo, and I think you’ll find quite a bit of disagreement to your comment. Let’s see if you get banned for it. When it doesn’t be sure to remember that Pharyngula is not one of those blogs you accuse of stifling dissent.

  103. 103
    Susannah

    I just removed myself from their mailing list, with a bland note to match their bland notpology.

    Too enraged to rant.

  104. 104
    perplexed

    I may be overly optimistic but I have a very different perspective on the CFI response.
    I understand why there is a very real sense of disappointment up to and including apoplexy regarding the response from CFI. Mainly, many didn’t get what they were looking for, the CEO getting his ass fired for being an ass. However, this is a response from a corporate entity and a large one at that relative to what they do. They were not going to fire their CEO for intemperate, misguided or even stupid remarks. Not the way corporations work. You can be pissed at the system but it is what it is.
    I come out of a corporate environment and am reading this note very differently than most on the thread based on the responses.
    I think that what PZ and Greta and many that have written letters about to CFI has in fact been heard.
    I think the board said we know Ron fucked up. We are not going to fire him but…
    How do we get to the next step. We want to be part of the solution. Tell us what we need to do to move forward with you and advance the cause of women.
    This is a moment in time right now with CFI and potentially a broader group of organizations.
    You can continue to be pissed off and lose the opportunity or take advantage. I’d bet real money that CFI and Ron would be very open to a dialogue of a cross section of the movement to discuss moving forward with women’s equality issues.

  105. 105
    ethicsgradient

    I think the crafter of the apology was aiming for the equivalent of a cold reading – commit to as little as possible, and be so general that you hope a lot of your audience will read what they want into what you say. But I don’t think that will work with a sceptic audience.

  106. 106
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Not the way corporations work.

    Gee, category error. CFI is a non-profit organization. Contributions are tax deductible. An organization allegedly dedicated to rational investigation and thinking. Do a reality check.

  107. 107
    noxiousnan

    Perplexed, where are you picking up that they do think Ron fucked up in that statement? I personally, didn’t expect him to be fired, and heard very little in the way of people wanting him fired. But he did indeed fuck up, and I’m not getting any acknowledgement in that short statement, nor even another delay in acknowledging such. You don’t have to fire someone to discipline them and it seriously behooves CFI to acknowledge that at the very fucking least Lindsey is being sent through another round of diversity training. It’s true corporations often gloss over any mistakes. That is however, to their great detriment.

  108. 108
    A. Noyd

    ethicsgradient (#105)

    But I don’t think that will work with a sceptic audience.

    It certainly worked on perplexed. See the comment right above yours.

  109. 109
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Mainly, many didn’t get what they were looking for

    Correction. Nobody got anything. CFI’s statement acknowledges some unhappiness but fails to address the source or even the nature of that unhappiness, and mouths a few platitudes about working together for a nicer world, “going forward.”

    It’s corporate-speak gobbledegook designed to look good whilst saying nothing.

  110. 110
    machintelligence

    Notice to fence-sitters: If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice, and can be faulted for it.

  111. 111
    Ryan Cunningham

    I think the board said…

    There’s the key phrase in your comment, Perplexed. You think that’s what they said. Anyone can think whatever they want to about the board’s statement, because it says absolutely nothing. If they actually wanted to convey all the things you wrote in your post, they would’ve simply said them. They didn’t. Because that wasn’t their goal. Their goal was to say nothing and hope this all blows over. It’s simple ass covering.

  112. 112
    perplexed

    @106…Not the way corporations work.
    Gee, category error. CFI is a non-profit organization. Contributions are tax deductible. An organization allegedly dedicated to rational investigation and thinking. Do a reality check.

    Gee, non profit 501(c) 3 are corporations. You can google it if you get a moment.

  113. 113
    Pteryxx

    Is it even possible to bail on CFI and still support Melody Hensley, Lauren Becker, Debbie Goddard, and the CFI staff who did all the hard work of putting on WiS and have earned folks’ trust? Can they even speak out about this and still keep their jobs? (Or did they try, during the board meeting which culminated in that… patheticsauce weasel statement? Were they able to sign the speakers’ letter along with Stephanie Zvan?)

    I’ve got no particular love or hate for CFI as an organization (up till now anyway…) but maybe what needs to happen isn’t a boycott so much as a coup. IMHO it wouldn’t hurt Lindsay at all to be reduced to a mere figurehead…

  114. 114
    LykeX

    I’d bet real money that CFI and Ron would be very open to a dialogue of a cross section of the movement to discuss moving forward with women’s equality issues.

    This is them being “open to a dialogue”? In that case, I recommend sacking the entire board and bringing in some people who know how to communicate at least on the level of a three year old.

    Dialogue involves listening to what people are saying and responding to it. They haven’t done that, nor have they indicated that they’re going to. They’ve done nothing but delay, deflect and ignore. If this is their idea of dialogue, I’m not impressed.

  115. 115
    perplexed

    @107…Perplexed, where are you picking up that they do think Ron fucked up in that statement? I personally, didn’t expect him to be fired, and heard very little in the way of people wanting him fired.

    The way they couched the first line of the second paragraph. They are speaking for him. Fairly unusual for that to happen and they are telling you their (CFI) and his view.

  116. 116
    Kevin

    Who are these people on the CFI Board?

    Anyone we know?

  117. 117
    TheBlackCat

    Well that was a minute and a half I’ll never get back.

    You’re a slow reader.

  118. 118
    TheBlackCat

    The way they couched the first line of the second paragraph. They are speaking for him. Fairly unusual for that to happen and they are telling you their (CFI) and his view.

    And what view is that? That they don’t like controversy?

  119. 119
    perplexed

    @111…17 June 2013 at 2:13 pm (UTC -5)
    I think the board said…
    @111…There’s the key phrase in your comment, Perplexed. You think that’s what they said. Anyone can think whatever they want to about the board’s statement, because it says absolutely nothing. If they actually wanted to convey all the things you wrote in your post, they would’ve simply said them.

    Of course it’s only my opinion and I could be incorrect. But it’s how I read it since I’ve written so many of these types of notes during my career.. And maybe they will wait for it to blow over but again in my opinion it doesn’t seem like the community allows things to just blow over and they would know that. The board couldn’t write anything else or it would have looked like they knuckled under to the pressure. Pretty much no board in the world is going to allow itself to be dictated to.

  120. 120
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall
    Perplexed, where are you picking up that they do think Ron fucked up in that statement? I personally, didn’t expect him to be fired, and heard very little in the way of people wanting him fired.

    The way they couched the first line of the second paragraph. They are speaking for him. Fairly unusual for that to happen and they are telling you their (CFI) and his view.

    Whut? here’s the line in question:

    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.

    That doesn’t express a view. It expresses an intention, but in no way provides evidence that they’ve achieved that intention. And note the very next sentence:

    The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.

    It specifically doesn’t lay any blame, or show that they’ve put any thought into what caused the controversy; it merely says they’re unhappy about the controversy itself, not about the cause.

    Try reading for comprehension.

  121. 121
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Perplexed: First, stop pretending you can read minds. Second, go choke on your condescension. Third, your condescplaining is tedious, irrelevant and pointless. (cue: “I don’t have any idea why you’re being so hostile! I’m so Vulcan rational after all!”)

    I, personally, don’t care what happens with or to Lindsay. He’s just another useless coward who can’t admit to an error in my eyes. Therefore, I don’t care if he keeps his job or not.

    What I do care about is the total lack of leadership CFI showed with this non-response. THEY had the chance to be real leaders, to do something – anything – even if it was to more clearly side with misogynists. They could have done SOMETHING. Instead, they chose the chickenshit path. And that’s a path I don’t follow.

  122. 122
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    For those looking for somewhere else to offload their cash, Everyday Sexism is looking for funding so they can start doing outreach. http://www.catapult.org/project/fighting-everyday-sexism

  123. 123
    noxiousnan

    Thanks Perplexed. I for one believe that sentence, or at least I believe they as an organization believe it of themselves. But, I think the second sentence right afterward is a re-hash of Ron Lindsey’s tut tutting, in it’s way (corp-speak, I mean). Perhaps if they had actually elaborated on the nature of their unhappiness (note how I assumed their unhappiness was meant to chastise those angered at Lindsey’s speech). Netflix bravely (if the second time out) said we are a corp that has fucked up. And I think that’s what kept them afloat. The public is too sophisticated for corps to always deny culpability no matter what.

  124. 124
    perplexed

    @120…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.

    “That doesn’t express a view. It expresses an intention, but in no way provides evidence that they’ve achieved that intention. “”

    Actually, it’s a view. They had the conferences so the intent became a reality based on their view.

  125. 125
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Philosophia:
    It is ever so nice of you to tell all the targets (primarily women) of the harassment, bullying and threats of rape and death that how they have been treated is not that big a deal.

    If you have not faced any of this, I am glad for you.

    But don’t you dare tell the victims of such abhorrent behavior that their concerns are not significant.

    This is NOT a two sided debate.
    Group A)
    Advocates equality for all and wants harassment policies in place at conventions.
    Has not sent rape or death threats.
    Does not employ dehumanizing slurs and recognizes the significant difference between calling someone an intellectually dishonest asswipe and calling someone a ‘cunt’.
    Does not bully, threaten, stalk, or attempt to silence their critics. In fact this group condemn these tactics.
    Has not twisted events to suit their purposes, nor lied about events to make themselves look better.
    Has actively spoken up for humanist values, and recognizes that feminism is one of those values
    Roundly condemns Mens Rights Activists and does not knowingly provide support or encouragement for people who are affiliated with MRAs.
    Understands that free speech is a right all people have, while recognizing that free speech can be abused, especially if one is pseudonymous online. These people also recognize that no one is free from criticism simply because they can speak freely. They also acknowledge that free speech has limitations.

    The other group:
    Continues to use offensive slurs, conflating insults like ‘fuckwit’ with gendered slurs like ‘twat’
    Has told lie after lie and twisted events to suit their purposes.
    Stalks the people they do not like on Facebook and Twitter and continues to email vile, sometimes violent messages to their targets.
    Has not criticized MRAs and considers a known MRA associate to be one of their allies.
    May speak up for humanist values, but does not recognize many of the foundational principles in feminism , preventing them from understanding, let alone supporting feminism. Specifically, I speak of the refusal to acknowlege privilege or patriarchy.
    Has used rape and death threats, as well as threats of violence to intimidate their opponents.
    Does not support harassment policies at conventions.
    Believe free speech is a right all people have and that no one has the right to prevent others from expressing themselves in whatever venue they choose. These people di not recognize limitations on free speech and views criticism, mockery or ridicule of their ideas to be attempts to silence or intimidate them.

    The two groups are vastly different and nothing done by Group A comes close to matching the heinous tactics of the second.

    (Please note that I recognize each group is made up of a diverse array of people. As such, some individuals may make statements or take actions that the rest would not (example for group A include telling someone to die in a fire. Examples in the other group are writing for or doing an interview for a known hate group. The key difference is Group A will criticize an individual who uses violent rhetoric. More importantly, violent rhetoric has been apologized for and not used again. This lies in contrast to the other group who do not condemn asdociates of hate groups. This group has not-to the best of my knowledge-recanted any of the threats of physical violence or sexual assault. Nor have they criticized individuals who associate with hate groups)

    Now, get out.

  126. 126
    Ryan Cunningham

    But it’s how I read it since I’ve written so many of these types of notes during my career.

    Ah. That explains everything. You’re a professional weasel word author. Pause for a moment and consider this: if you’ve written notes anything like this one in your career, you might be a terrible human being. Yes, I’m sure that’s not a pleasant thing to think about, but if you’ve ever penned a statement like this to people who have been mistreated, you’re probably a scumbag.

  127. 127
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    perplexed

    Your talent for wilful misunderstanding is noted. Well done. You can stop now.

  128. 128
    ChasCPeterson

    I wish to express my unhappiness with…well, just my general unhappiness.

    Thank you.

  129. 129
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Of course it’s only my opinion and I could be incorrect.

    Gee, with a ‘nym like perplexed, incorrect is the default when reading your posts.

  130. 130
    LykeX

    This does bring up the question; are devious, newspeak-spouting corporate types really the ones we want in charge of our organizations?

  131. 131
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Perplexed:
    neither CFI, nor Ron Lindsay has shown an inkling of understanding why people are upset. How can you be so hopeful that they are willing to listen to women when they cannot acknowlege wrongdoing?

  132. 132
    Ryan Cunningham

    This does bring up the question; are devious, newspeak-spouting corporate types really the ones we want in charge of our organizations?

    It also brings up the answer: No.

  133. 133
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    [Can we please get a how to blockquote guide]

  134. 134
    perplexed

    @130…I actually think they know just how upset people have been and are. Let’s not forget they are the organization that sponsored the 2 conferences in the first place. I think they want to move forward with the equality issue and said so in their statement.

  135. 135
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Okay, perplexed. Let’s all pretend you’re not painfully naïve and stipulate that CFI does, as you say, “want to move forward with the equality issue”

    Please explain how one moves forward on the equality issue after writing this: “Going forward, we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement to enhance our common values ”

    when all elements of the secular movement do not see treating women with respect to be a common value?

  136. 136
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    I think they want to move forward with the equality issue

    WTF does this corporate-speak mess even mean? “Move forward” espouses no stance on the subject, expresses no views, addresses no specific issues. It’s just space-filler.

  137. 137
    anteprepro

    [Can we please get a how to blockquote guide]

    You put your [blockquote cite=""] in.
    You take your [/blockquote cite] out.
    You put your sentence in,
    Then you snark what it’s about.
    Change square brackets to the angled ones
    Press submit and then shout.
    “That oughta show that lout!”

  138. 138
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    It’s

    nesting
    the sneaky little buggers

    that causes the problems

  139. 139
    carlie

    Perplexed – part of making a good statement is to not insult your audience. They know that there are an awful lot of people who are enraged. They ought to know that the first way to defuse anger is to acknowledge that the anger exists. They did not do that. And on top of that, they broadened the scope to say that there was “controversy” about the conference, not that there was “controversy” (itself a weasely word) about the talk that the CEO gave at the conference. In phrasing it that way, they left it wide open to interpretation that they were unhappy about the controversy that people at the conference dared to complain, rather than the controversy being about the bad talk in the first place. They specifically worded it so that people on “both sides” of the “controversy” could read it as a slant towards them, which is insulting to anyone with a rudimentary grasp of rhetoric.

  140. 140
    yazikus

    “That oughta show that lout!”

    I’m trying really hard to not start singing that out loud. Made my day! Thank you, Anteprepro!

  141. 141
    Jadehawk

    at first, I thought this statement was completely content-free.

    then I noticed that they managed to contradict themselves (“we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement” vs. “struggle together for full equality and respect for women”).

    Since you can’t have a contradiction without content, I guess there is some content in there; it’s just so bland as to be near imperceptible.

  142. 142
    consciousness razor

    WTF does this corporate-speak mess even mean? “Move forward” espouses no stance on the subject, expresses no views, addresses no specific issues. It’s just space-filler.

    All they have to do about “the equality issue” is nothing whatsoever, and they’ll “move forward” as time continues to flow. Alternatively, we could make a time machine and move backward on it. Of course, that’s not very feasible, so moving forward is probably the better option. It takes the least amount of work.

  143. 143
    Deen

    I always get amused by sentences like “We wish to express our unhappiness.” Why do you need to wish for that? What’s preventing you from expressing your unhappiness that you need to wish away? Just express your unhappiness already.

  144. 144
    LykeX

    I think they want to move forward with the equality issue and said so in their statement.What the hell does that mean? Seriously, explain to me exactly what that means. I fucking dare you.

    Why the hell is it that we’re expected to hold supposedly fellow skeptics to a lower standard than anyone else? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
    If some corporation had fucked up and sent out this statement as an “apology”, we’d rip them a new one. Nobody would stand up and explain how they really “want to move forward” and we should give them the benefit of the doubt.

    THIS IS BULLSHIT. They fucked up and now they want it to all go away without having to admit they were wrong or change anything about how they act.

    Goddammit, this just pisses me off. I really wish someone from the board would agree to talk, even anonymously, and explain what the hell this is supposed to be. Seriously, can we have someone from the board contact a reliable source and give an interview? I’d sure love to hear this one explained without the corp-talk.

  145. 145
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    I’m calling it.

    MachinIntelligence reveals in comment #110 a distinct liking for progressive rock.

  146. 146
    LykeX

    Obviously, that first sentence was supposed to be quoted. I’m too annoyed by all this to get my tags right, apparently.

  147. 147
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    Um TRIGGER WARNING here:

    If anyone wants to know why we need to raise the consciousness and attack sexism immediately, frequently, and viciously, check out http://www.salon.com/2013/06/17/why_didnt_anyone_help_nigella/?source=newsletter

    TL:DR version: Nigella Lawson, white, rich, famous, successful woman choked by husband in public, no-one does anything.

    Fuck me, but this gets old.

  148. 148
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Perplexed, we have seen what leadership looks like and it more closely resembles John Scalzi’s response to the recent kerfuffle at the SFWA, not this piece of puff. In his case at least he admitted a problem that had a cause and an effect and which he was ultimately responsible for. That’s a first step. The CFI statement avoids responsibility completely.

  149. 149
    playonwords

    Looks like they’re telling people to “Endeavor to Persevere,”

    What a load of … bureaucrats

  150. 150
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Okay, I have reached the end of the thread. Anything new to add, I ask myself?

    -Well, not in terms of analysis.

    Okay then, don’t comment.

    -But I so wanna say how awful it is, I just can’t say anything about why it’s awful that hasn’t already been said.

    You are why we get 500 comments on posts about the simplest of moral issues.

    -So, I have to be accountable for adding redundant condemnation to list-form condemnations of deplorable behavior?

    Yes.

    -I can live with that.

  151. 151
    Vall

    @110 machineintelligence and 145 Crip Dyke

    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill. I will choose a path that’s clear.

    Does anyone think the next statement from CFI will be no more WiS because every time they do one a controversy erupts? That would be the ultimate weasel move I’ve come to expect. Before this statement was issued, I was thinking the next one better clear up some stuff. It didn’t.

  152. 152
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Does anyone think the next statement from CFI will be no more WiS because every time they do one a controversy erupts?

    No, they’ll just quietly not have another one. Then refuse to respond to anybody who asks why.

  153. 153
    Vall

    @152 UnknownEric

    You’re right. That would require the least effort.

  154. 154
    screechymonkey

    Eh, it might be for the best if CFI didn’t try to do a WiS3. Let some other organization that doesn’t have all that baggage step in and fill that niche. I mean, already you’d have the problem of at least some speakers not wanting to participate in a CFI-run event.

  155. 155
    Vall

    @154 screechymonkey

    ” Let some other organization that doesn’t have all that baggage step in and fill that niche.”

    We’ve come too far, to give up who we are. So let’s raise the bar, and our cups to the stars. Did you see the post over on Skepchick about setting standards? I agree that they probably should move on from this, but it’s disappointing to see such a pathetic display of leadership. I think it’s a shame to get to this situation to begin with.

  156. 156
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Maybe they will have a third, but wonder wh.y so few women attend. TAM all over again.

  157. 157
    PZ Myers

    Eh, it might be for the best if CFI didn’t try to do a WiS3.

    CFI didn’t “do” WiS 1 and 2. They provided institutional support for a conference that was all Melody Hensley’s hard work.

    This is the really hard part about this problem: the leadership seems to be a concatenation of assholes, but the real face of CFI is represented by the good people doing the actual work of CFI. It’s hard to see how to peel away the assholes from the faces, without harming the people who count.

    Well, that metaphor got a workout.

  158. 158
    ethicsgradient

    Deen@143:
    One thing phrasing it like that does it bring to mind John Cleese in The Parrot Sketch – “I wish to register a complaint!” In fact, it puts a good deal more life into the whole thing if all parts of it are read in tones from Monty Python:

    Michael Palin in the Spanish Inquisition sketch:
    The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.
    Michael Palin as the Constitutional Peasant from MP & the Holy Grail:
    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.
    John Cleese in the Parrot Sketch:
    The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.
    John Cleese as the leader of the People’s Front of Judea, from Life of Brian (amphitheatre scene) :
    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.

  159. 159
    screechymonkey

    I was aware that Melody was the driving force behind it, but I guess I assumed that she was still doing it under the banner of the CFI, so to speak. Especially when Lindsay was giving the “welcoming” speech, a role usually reserved for the host, plus I had the impression that it was CFI who made the call on whether to allow Vacula to attend.

    When you say “institutional support” PZ, do you mean that basically, Melody did all this work more or less as a side project and CFI was ok with her using “company time” to do it in exchange for getting some credit, or is there more to it than that?

  160. 160
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    This is the really hard part about this problem: the leadership seems to be a concatenation of assholes, but the real face of CFI is represented by the good people doing the actual work of CFI. It’s hard to see how to peel away the assholes from the faces, without harming the people who count

    In my eyes, these people are the biggest victims of Lindsay assholish incompetence. All the work they did – which made HIM look good – and he took a big shit all over it, destroying all the progress and good will THEY achieved for CFI.

  161. 161
    Karlriffic

    Not intended to be an actual statement.

  162. 162
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    This is the really hard part about this problem: the leadership seems to be a concatenation of assholes, but the real face of CFI is represented by the good people doing the actual work of CFI. It’s hard to see how to peel away the assholes from the faces, without harming the people who count

    In my eyes, these people are the biggest victims of Lindsay assholish incompetence. All the work they did – which made HIM look good – and he took a big shit all over it, destroying all the progress and good will THEY achieved for CFI.

    QFFT

  163. 163
    Pteryxx

    In my eyes, these people are the biggest victims of Lindsay assholish incompetence. All the work they did – which made HIM look good – and he took a big shit all over it, destroying all the progress and good will THEY achieved for CFI.

    that… sounds sickeningly familiar.

    It’s been five years now since I first became involved with the atheist and skeptic movements. And for most of those five years, I felt like I belonged. When I started the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University, I was relieved to know I wasn’t the only atheist on my campus. So when I realized there was an even greater national movement, I was elated to become a part of it. I had finally found people who shared my passion and values. I was welcomed with open arms.

    Until I started talking about feminism.

    from last August

    When I started this site, I didn’t call myself a feminist. I had a hazy idea that feminism was a good thing, but it was something that other people worried about, not me. I was living in a time and culture that had transcended the need for feminism, because in my world we were all rational atheists who had thrown off our religious indoctrination so that I could freely make rape jokes without fear of hurting someone who had been raped.

    And then I would make a comment about how there could really be more women in the community, and the responses from my fellow skeptics and atheists ranged from “No, they’re not logical like us,” to “Yes, so we can fuck them!” That seemed weird.

    July 2011

  164. 164
    Kagato

    The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.

    “We are unhappy that you forced us to pay attention to this issue.
    Please do not do so again.”

  165. 165
    rorschach

    (OT)

    @147,

    TL:DR version: Nigella Lawson, white, rich, famous, successful woman choked by husband in public, no-one does anything.

    This woman did something.

  166. 166
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    J.B. @82 wrote,

    It should be possible for the membership to recall this board. I’m having trouble finding CFI’s bylaws, however. I hope such a move might get some traction, as it’s a shame to kill the organization, or abandon it to the status-quo-loving portion of its membership by just leaving.

    Fair enough, if they want to do their own housekeeping. But I’m not going to continue to support the organization on the off chance that something will change their mind, when the well-reasoned and articulate outcry that they have already experienced did not.

  167. 167
    Sili

    I think it’s really nice of CFI to do fundraising for American Atheists like this.

    Don’t forget Secular Woman.

  168. 168
    LykeX

    So, having calmed down (and gotten some sleep), I went a-digging and found this:

    CFI by-laws

    There doesn’t appear to be any way of recalling the board, but they are up for yearly elections:

    11. Election and Term.
    Subject to the provisions of this By-law, directors shall be elected yearly by the Associate Members at an annual meeting. The directors’ term of office shall be from the date of the meeting at which they are elected until the annual meeting next following or until their successors are elected. The whole board of directors shall retire at the annual meeting at which the election of directors is to be made but, subject to the provisions of the By-laws, shall be eligible for re-election.

    Note that “‘Associate Member” is a distinct category. I’m not sure how many there are or who qualifies, but “General Members” don’t get a vote (see section 46). I assume that donations only gets you a General Membership, though the donate page is not explicit.

    Finally, there’s the question of which board members are pulling in which direction. Here’s the List of Board of Directors.

    Honestly, though, I think it’s much more likely that nothing will happen. Ron Lindsay has dug his heels in from the beginning and now the board has supported him. I don’t think it’s very likely that they’ll change their current course; lots of lip service, no self-awareness. They’ll continue to alienate people and sit wondering why.

  169. 169
    grignon

    I’m not convinced of the utility of brick and mortar secular advocacy groups, though I totally get the motivations for conventions.
    But I’m tempted to join CFI just so I could quit.

  170. 170
    dogfightwithdogma

    @168
    Are you sure these are the bylaws of CFI – Transnational? Did you notice that they are labeled Centre of Inquiry. I think what you found are the bylaws of CFI – Canada, which is in fact an independent organization. Though CFI – Canada began as a CFI – Transnational affiliate, it is now totally independent of the U.S. organization. Might want to check to see if the two organization’s have identical bylaws.

  171. 171
    LykeX

    Well, the pdf is hosted on the CFI main site and CFI Canada has its own, separate site. On the other hand, I did get to it by some creative googling. The by-laws are not directly linked from the site, so…
    I’m not actually sure :/

  172. 172
    buddhabuck

    @171

    The by-laws are co-titled in both English and French, define “arms-length” with a reference to Canadian tax law, and state that the home office will be located in Canada.

    I don’t think these are the by-laws you are looking for.

    Your creative Googling was better than mine; I didn’t find any CfI by-laws, US or Canadian.

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