It’s too early in the morning for this »« I get email

Time to make a promise

Oh no, not another of those stories.

OK, here’s my deal: a promise. I’m not an important speaker, and I’m not the kind of make-or-break participant that any conference might want, and I’ve got a lot of haters out there who want nothing to do with me anyway, but this is how I will approach speaking invitations from now on.

I will decide whether to accept only by considering my availability and the purpose and execution of the event. I do have some restrictions: I’ve got a heavy teaching load and limited available time. I also expect some reassurance that significant effort will be made to promote diversity; if I’m one more white guy in a roster already overloaded with white guys, I’ll step aside and suggest that you invite someone who doesn’t look like me instead. If your conference doesn’t have a harassment policy or treats attendees poorly, I won’t be interested.

But otherwise, I will not discriminate on the basis of who else you’ve invited to speak. So sure, you can also invite Ray Comfort to your conference, and I won’t use that as an excuse to back out. I won’t necessarily get chummy at the event, and I might even aggressively speak out against that other person, but I’ll do my part to make your conference interesting and a good experience for the paying attendees.

One more thing: conference organizers, I expect you to have the spine to refuse to cave in to suppressive demands from other speakers. I’m promising not to make those demands, I’m expecting you to refuse to honor them from others.

Comments

  1. embertine says

    It was claimed a while back (am just trying to find the link) that you had stated you wouldn’t speak at a con where Abbie Smith was also a speaker. I don’t know if that’s true but if so, I guess that is no longer the case?

  2. says

    This probably happened. At least it wouldn’t surprise me. But I’m not happy with the way it’s been published. It’s hearsay, really. Corroboration would have been helpful here.

    I’m curious tho, how common are demands by “leaders” to not have certain speakers at events?

  3. embertine says

    I know, bc, and I applaud it. As skeptics, we should be prepared to change our minds. I was just checking that that is what was meant.

  4. says

    I couldn’t hear everything Dave was saying, but I heard the name “Rebecca Watson.” Richard suddenly had a very angry look on his face and I heard him almost shout, “No, absolutely not! If she’s going to be there, I won’t be there. I don’t want her speaking.” and then Dave immediately replied, “You’re absolutely right, we’ll take her off the roster. It’s done.” Richard huffed for a moment, Dave continued to placate him, and then he made the video.

    :Snarl: That’s all I have right now.

  5. says

    Rorschach:

    This probably happened. At least it wouldn’t surprise me. But I’m not happy with the way it’s been published. It’s hearsay, really. Corroboration would have been helpful here.

    Yes, everyone knows bitches lie. I mean really, when Sarah said:

    As for me? I’m sorry it took me two years to build up the guts to share this story publicly. I’m sorry I didn’t have the courage to speak up when I saw things I disagreed with. I’m going to stop making excuses for why I haven’t been living up to my values and start actually doing it. I hope you’ll join me.

    well, that was just gratuitous ass covering, I’m sure.

    Pardon my jump, I’ve been immersed in rape threads for weeks now, and hearing people saying almost exactly what you said. It leaves a very bad taste in my brain.

  6. A Hermit says

    I also think there’s some difference between between Myers saying he will politely decline to appear at an event and Dawkins demanding that someone else be removed from an event…”I’m not going” vs “I don’t want her speaking.”

    That said I like the new policy better.

  7. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    It’s hearsay, really. Corroboration would have been helpful here.

    *facepalmdesk*

  8. says

    Rorschach@#4
    I initially skimmed past this comment on the assumption that it was sarcastic, but if that is the case, sarcasm tags or some similar indicator would have been valuable (or perhaps better, refraining from the remark entirely), as Caine and Beatrice’s reactions indicate. If it wasn’t sarcasm, which Caine and Beatrice have reminded me may well be the case, I can only ask what was passing through your head when you wrote it. If you have questions about the prevalence of speakers being pains in the ass about other speakers, your last sentence would have been quite sufficient.

  9. says

    Dalillama:

    If it wasn’t sarcasm, which Caine and Beatrice have reminded me may well be the case, I can only ask what was passing through your head when you wrote it.

    Indeed. After all, it’s not as though Richard Dawkins did anything like massively overreact to egate, and that whole Dear Muslima thing was a joke, right?

  10. Aaron Pound - LG says

    It’s hearsay, really.

    No, it isn’t. Reporting something that you witnessed is not hearsay. Sarah was at the meeting in question and reported what she saw and heard. That is the exact opposite of hearsay.

  11. says

    Y’know, that is possibly the most pathetic thing I’ve heard in a very long while.

    I don’t actually have much time for folk making noises about senility or other more clearly ‘organic’ causes, here. Sadly, there’s lots of perfectly coherent explanations for this cringe-inducing behaviour quite consistent with, say, failings more of the cognitive variety*, and obviously present also in twentysomethings far less likely to be able to take such an excuse…

    That said, all of a sudden I’m a little more sympathetic to those making such noises…

    I guess I’m admitting I do kinda wish. If only ‘cos I think it would be less embarrassing for everyone.

    (*/Consider it a monism-compatible euphemism.)

  12. says

    I am very glad we got you at Norwescon last year, and hope to lure you back in the future.

    “I’m not an important speaker, and I’m not the kind of make-or-break participant that any conference might want.”

    You might be surprised.

  13. gussnarp says

    Honestly, after “Oh, no, not another one of those stories”, this came as a relief. That Dawkins might act like that, considering the comments he’s made since the elevator incident, is not a surprise. That Dave would accept his demand, considering what a high profile event he was trying to produce and how much he would need celebrity atheists on board is also not surprising, if a bit disappointing. I was afraid this was going to be much worse and really stir up the shitstorm. Still, it’s time for that kind of shit to stop, too.

  14. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    @Rorschach #13

    I think it’d be better if you explained yourself, rather than assume a dog pile is about to ensue and running away.

  15. Rey Fox says

    It’s easy for me to say, not being involved and all, but I wish Silverman would have called him on his bluff. Like, what are you going to do, Dawk? You came all this way and now you’re going to sulk in your hotel room because of the big bad Watson?

  16. seraphymcrash says

    Evaluating a claim about someone’s behavior:

    Disclaimer: this is not a court of law… this is about how human beings interact in a day to day way.

    In this instance we have a first person account of an action by Dawkins. This person hasn’t had any issues with their reliability before, so they provide a provisionally trusted account.

    Their account follows a generally accepted pattern of behavior from Dawkins. We know Dawkins has a past negative history with Watson and has overreacted in some pretty unacceptable ways (see the “Dear Muslima” letter).

    So this seems to be in the “sky is blue” claim territory. Without any additional context to provide a reason for doubt, there doesn’t seem to be a rational reason to discount her story.

    Rorschach –

    I certainly hope that you apply this same standard of skepticism in all your daily dealings. Otherwise it would appear that you have a rather nasty prejudice poking out.

  17. says

    It’s hearsay, really. Corroboration would have been helpful here.

    You know, ‘hearsay’ doesn’t really apply to the OP. At all. It would, if PZ hadn’t linked to the woman speaking directly. But he did. “I’ve heard similar accounts from other people” actually is hearsay (Not that I disbelieve it). But the OP? No. Seriously, don’t do this.

  18. anuran says

    If they’d had any integrity they would have said “It’s a shame you won’t be on the speaker’s list, Richard”

  19. says

    Everybody thinks they are “one of the good guys” until someone views them differently.

    I think I’m one. But … I make mistakes, and plenty of them. I would like to think that my mistakes do not boot me out of the “good guy” category, but that they may make people more likely to question what I say. I don’t mind being called on a mistake. I don’t mind (much) being called on mistakes that aren’t mistakes IMHO.

    Dawkins is complicated, a combination of good and bad, a combination of mistakes (lack of perspective? short-sightedness? self interest?) and excellent educational/inspirational efforts. As long as people stand up to him when he makes mistakes, this may be okay in the end.

  20. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    And in the Slyme reaction, Ellen Beth Wachs tweeted that PZ Myers is acting in the same way that Richard Dawkins did. Because not accepting an invitation to speak because of conflicts with other speaking on the proposed bill is the same as demanding that an other person be removed.

    (I know this kind of intentional misunderstanding keeps happening yet I still get upset by it.)

  21. sharkjack says

    I would have liked to say this news surprises me, but at this point it really doesn’t anymore. It’s pretty indicative of the boys club mentality that’s sadly so pervasive in the atheist movement. I’m just hoping this thread won’t explode because it’s probably going to be pretty much exactly the same arguments again and again.

    @ AJ Milne 17:
    I have no idea what you’re saying. I’ve tried to wrap my brain around your post multiple times and I still have what is at best an educated guess to what your points are.

  22. says

    @PZ Myers #21 – That would be awesome! I will put you down on my invitee list for next year, unless you tell me otherwise: I realize that Seattle is a bit of a voyage from your usual stomping grounds. We would love to have you back.

    If anyone else is interested, Norwescon is one of the larger regional science fiction and fantasy conventions in the United States. It is a gencon (not tied to a particular genre or medium), a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit and is ENTIRELY run by volunteers who love speculative fiction. Our programming covers a very wide range, from the art and business of writing to hard-core science to popular media to cultural issues. Not to mention the art show, the vendor’s room, the dances, the costume contest and the fabulous cosplay. Norwescon is also where the Philip K. Dick Awards are handed out to honor the best first-publish to paperback science fiction.

    And our Writer Guest of Honor for 2014 is — hold on to your hats — the legendary Michael Moorcock. Other guests of honor include artist Robert Gould and author Seanan McGuire.

    Norwescon is always Thursday through Sunday of Easter weekend, which next year is April 17 to 20.

  23. says

    Should have added: Norwescon is held in SeaTac, which is between Seattle and Tacoma in Washington State. The hotel is near the airport and well connected by regional public transit.

  24. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Not surprised about Dawkins, not surprised about Silverman, given the wishy-washy way he responded to assholes complaining about PZ being invited to the AA National Convention. He wants to woo us social justice types by occasionally flexing his feminist muscles, but he also doesn’t want to piss off anybody who “matters” on the other side (Vacula was a safe target, since nobody actually gives a flying fuck about him any more).

  25. says

    @ gussnarp #19:

    I had the same “stops brathing for a moment, reads a bit, starts breathing again” moment. While this is pretty petty behaivour on Dawkin’s side, and really disappointing, it is nothing terrible. It is pretty normal to be sometimes petty and have grudges and/or childish demands. It only shows, that Dawkins is no moral superhero.

    In my opinion.

  26. Randomfactor says

    “It’s a shame you won’t be on the speaker’s list, Richard”

    And “we’ll offer her your time slot.”

  27. says

    UnknownEric:

    not surprised about Silverman, given the wishy-washy way he responded to assholes complaining about PZ being invited to the AA National Convention. He wants to woo us social justice types by occasionally flexing his feminist muscles, but he also doesn’t want to piss off anybody who “matters” on the other side

    From what I’ve read, David Silverman is really making an effort toward diversity and making his stance on feminism clear. Yeah, he’s fucked up, badly a couple of times, however, I can say the same about myself.

  28. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Caine @ 34:

    I’m not writing him off completely, I’m just extremely disappointed in his response to the “Kick PZ out” people, which was basically, “Well, I already invited him, I’m not going to [i]disinvite[/i] him…” The correct response would have been “We invite who we want. Come or don’t come.”

  29. Anthony K says

  30. says

    That’s hardly a fair complaint. I’ve been at a few of his signing sessions, and he has been remarkably patient and worked hard at it — he can’t do more than rapidly sign a book when there’s a few hundred people in line.

  31. says

    sharjack/#17:

    It wasn’t esoteric, I didn’t think. Or not most of it. Or at least not meant to be. But anyway, in hopefully more linear fashion:

    1) I’ve previously seen people opining that possibly Dawkins is actually getting senile, thus these embarrassing displays.

    2) I don’t at all hold with this. The behaviour is quite of a piece with plenty else we see in society, and even specifically among organizations and social groupings around Dawkins. Kinda figure such thinking (the ‘oh, I bet he’s just senile’ thing) therefore more for wishful thinking. There’s other problems with it, besides, but I suddenly remember I’m trying to make this simpler, so, umm, leaving those now*.

    3) Notwithstanding my general contempt for the soundness of that conjecture, given actually many features (the sheer pettiness, the distinctly obnoxious overtones of abuse of celebrity, mostly) of this particular outburst, I’m suddenly actually a bit sympathetic to that wishful thinking. Such an explanation might be slightly less painful to face, given scenes like this. In some ways, anyway.

    … the ‘monism-compatible euphemism’ is a reference to my musing that really, there’s a bit of a flirtation with dualism in entirely separating ‘biological’ causes (like senility) from various other cognitive ‘fails’ (I’m pretty sure this is the correct technical term), up to and including making an ass of yourself and digging yourself in deeper because you can’t admit publicly to just how wrong you were, or just don’t see it through a veil of prior assumptions and a wounded ego too full of resentment to let you stop and think before you pick up the shovel yet again, etc. And yeah, okay, maybe that was a bit inside.

    (*/Okay. Not entirely leaving it. While I have a certain sympathy with anyone grasping for the straw given existing views of senility, I also actually find a quite marked lack of respect in just saying ‘senile’ and moving on. Sure, it’s a reality different-aged brains face different challenges on average, but old humans aren’t quite old dogs, and it’s pretty obnoxious, too, to assume they just can’t learn new tricks. Another instance where trying to change someone’s mind is actually, arguably, far more respectful, in that you’re giving them the credit that you think it can change. And see also ‘I respect you, and that’s actually why I’m telling you so openly I don’t at all respect this particular belief of yours.’)

  32. Anthony K says

    That’s hardly a fair complaint. I’ve been at a few of his signing sessions, and he has been remarkably patient and worked hard at it — he can’t do more than rapidly sign a book when there’s a few hundred people in line.

    Hey, no problem: I know he’s the High Pope of Atheism and there are a lot of devout atheists who want to kiss his ring. The point is that he, of all fucking people, should shut the flying fuck up about Spontaneous! Carefree! Rule-free! Delightful!

    Look: if you’re a stuffy English tweed-coated fuck, then embrace it. Fine. But don’t you fucking dare run off at the mouth about how women should be more carefree and accommodating with their bodies.

  33. sbuh says

    Eh, Dawkins…

    Back in my deistic days I was one of those people who didn’t like Dawkins despite having never actually read anything he’d written or seen any of his programs, just off of his reputation as being excessively confrontational.

    Of course once I actually did get around to reading his books (starting with The Selfish Gene and sorta/kinda going chronologically through the list) and going through his programs I gradually started to like the guy and started to see the biases at work in some of his critics. Of course I could still see that at times he could be a bit brusque but with some of the people he was dealing with I didn’t fault him too much.

    Then came elevatorgate and ugh…

    I’ve been kind of accumulating disappointments within the people whose books and lectures I admire. Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins…even Neil deGrasse Tyson has disappointed me by saying some rather stupid things about biology. And one of the reasons that I’ve been putting off reading any of Carl Sagan’s autobiographies is that I love his books and Cosmos so much and I know there’s some unflattering material lurking in there that I’ll be uncomfortable seeing pretty much the last hero figure I have crumble.

    Maybe it’s for the best. Personality-worship is clearly part of the problem. I like to think I’m intelligent enough to separate good ideas from the flawed people promoting them. But in some of these cases like Harris I’ve just had to let them go. I feel I can get the same or better dose of reason from a more reliable source with fewer side effects.

    Dawkins hasn’t quite hit that point for me. I’m still interested in reading his upcoming autobiography. But he’s no role model.

    I’d be interested in knowing how many other people have had similar experiences.

  34. yazikus says

    Gregory in Seattle,
    Would you recommend Norwescon for someone’s first con? It is one I could actually travel to, and due to a change in work/school I will actually be able to take a day or two off in April… I’m excited just thinking about it.

  35. says

    Maybe it’s for the best. Personality-worship is clearly part of the problem.

    I actually find myself thinking that quite regularly.

    I fear it might come off as kinda Panglossian, but really, there are positive aspects to this whole thing.

    Said it before, will say again: it ain’t the gods, it’s the worship. I can soften the stance as far as saying there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by the achievements of others to ourselves achieve. But idols are bad news, whether they depict flesh or air. So people realizing someone can be pretty insightful about some things and dead wrong about others, that someone can write a mean paragraph even and still be so dead wrong, those are all, actually, good things.

    … granted, it’s been expensive. But hey, if we can just get the net fora and the live conferences places where women and minorities can speak up about marginalization without having to go into the witness protection program, maybe we can call this a wash.

  36. says

    sbuh:

    And one of the reasons that I’ve been putting off reading any of Carl Sagan’s autobiographies is that I love his books and Cosmos so much and I know there’s some unflattering material lurking in there that I’ll be uncomfortable seeing pretty much the last hero figure I have crumble.

    Heh, I was in my late teens / early twenties when Sagan was on TV damn near constantly. If he wasn’t on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, he had a two hour panel discussion show on science and politics, etc. He was in the news a lot, people were reading his books, all that. It was well known at the time that he enjoyed the herb and had difficulty keeping it in his pants. I still have such regard for him, for all the fires of wonder and curiosity he lit in so many, I sat in awe when I watched Cosmos, and I have all the books he wrote. Yeah, he fucked up, and yes, he hurt people in his private life. Most people do.

  37. says

    Norwescon is a good medium sized con, large enough to get a diverse audience and draw in some really good pros. I’d recommend it. But then I’d recommend smaller or larger ones. You really can’t go wrong — the SF community is very welcoming and have an excellent con culture. I’ve been recommending for years that atheists ought to go to more SF cons just to learn how to run one.

  38. David Wilford says

    “I’ve been recommending for years that atheists ought to go to more SF cons just to learn how to run one.”

    Well, they’d learn even more if they also volunteered to help. Hint, hint.

  39. everbleed says

    The thing about AJ Milne. You actually have to READ what he spews. I mean read. Every fucking word. Twice. Maybe three times for the ‘senile’ like me. I notice here in octopus land, most of the 8 legged egg heads don’t generally respond to really having to read… with rare and blessed exceptions.

    I must be missing a leg. I would give much to be able to send a snail mail to the Milne Monster. Being a Lost Hoser and all. Sharing so much. So far away.

    Bleed

  40. funkyderek says

    I’m not sure I get why this is a big deal. It must have happened after Rebecca Watson had publicly stated she would not even attend a lecture by Dawkins, so it’s not surprising that Dawkins would feel similarly (although to my knowledge he never made any public statement on the matter). The event organisers then had to choose which one of the two speakers to pick. Dawkins was likely chosen because he was a much bigger draw than Watson, or perhaps because Silverman felt that whoever initiated the ultimatum should lose out.
    To me, this story reflects badly only on the person who breached the privacy of her employer by sharing it with the world.

  41. screechymonkey says

    funkyderek@55:

    “It must have happened after Rebecca Watson had publicly stated she would not even attend a lecture by Dawkins”

    Must it?

  42. says

    funkyderek:

    To me, this story reflects badly only on the person who breached the privacy of her employer by sharing it with the world.

    Naturally. Bitches, can’t trust ‘em. Nope.

  43. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    It must have happened after Rebecca Watson had publicly stated she would not even attend a lecture by Dawkins, so it’s not surprising that Dawkins would feel similarly

    Things that are apparently the same: Refusing to attend a speech given by someone, “I don’t want her speaking”.

  44. says

    funkyderek:

    I’m not sure I get why this is a big deal.

    Okay, on the more patient side. Are you aware of Elevatorgate and Dear Muslima? Are you aware of Richard Dawkins’s increasingly outspoken record of sexism and dismissal of women? Are you knowledgeable about the chilly climate toward women in the atheoskeptisphere? Are you knowledgeable about power dynamics? Do you know much about feminism? How about the concept of privilege? What about diversity and our outreach to minority groups?

    Or we could just go with got anything on the overwhelming ego and arrogance of Prof. Dawkins? His sense that it’s okay if he demeans people, that he’s just, you know, better than them? How about his distinct refusal to engage empathy to see things from someone else’s point of view?

    Anything on the auto-assumption that of course any action by Prof. Dawkins must have been caused by said woman, so she deserved it?

  45. unclefrogy says

    I applaud PZ here his clarification s what I would have expected. Everything I have read and heard from him seems to be inline with being egalitarian and consistent with someone who grew up under a more democratic society.
    Dawkins is British is a “Don” is he not. Britain is still very much more a class stratified society then the US. I would not really expect him to be the kind of person who would be ever out on the “barricades” with Labor pushing for more justice. He would not like or feel comfortable with the freewheeling nature of it out there.
    Having Watson speak at a conference at the same time would be for him too unpredictable and controversial.
    Silverman was /is trying to do something else he was really not trying to promote Dawkins but raise the profile of “the movement” and to that end it would have been great to have Watson speak nothing like some fireworks to get attention but without Dawkins “a man of the hour” there would be less media attention .
    that is the way I see it. I am not sure I would have done the same thing and am glad I do not have to make that call.
    I agree with “If you ask me to talk do tell me what I can say!”

    uncle frogy

  46. says

    This reminds me of a post by Ron Lindsay, explaining why he always refuses “advice” to exclude certain speakers.

    The list of individuals that CFI has been advised not to have any dealings with is long. In no particular order it includes: Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Ophelia Benson, Harriet Hall, Russell Blackford, Edwina Rogers, Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers, and Sharon Hill. I am sure I am forgetting several more. This is advice which I decline to follow.

    However, what Ron Lindsay is talking about is slightly different, because the “advice” sometimes comes from speakers, and sometimes from attendees. Could be interesting to explore similarities and differences.

  47. says

    Yes, it must. Having checked the dates, it did.

    Dear funkyderek…

    I suspect you are operating on next to zero background knowledge here. If you are conversant with the background, then you’re operating in bad faith.

  48. says

    @sharkjack #28

    I would have liked to say this news surprises me, but at this point it really doesn’t anymore

    That’s the sad part. Reading that story, I didn’t feel anything. Not a twinge of surprise. I wasn’t even angry or upset in any way. I just felt like “Yep, add one more incident to the list.”

  49. funkyderek says

    @57:

    Naturally. Bitches, can’t trust ‘em. Nope.

    What an incredibly odd thing to say. It’s almost as if you’re trying to say that my criticism of a single action by a particular individual means I think that all women are untrustworthy and worse. But why would you try to say such a thing, unless you were some sort of idiot?

    @59:

    Things that are apparently the same: Refusing to attend a speech given by someone, “I don’t want her speaking”.

    They’re not the same but they are similar. The former goes further of course (as it necessarily includes the latter), but the principle is the same.

  50. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    Rebecca Watson, July 5th:

    Nope, I didn’t call for a boycott. I’m relaying the fact that I have no interest in giving this person any more of my money or attention. Other people have independently told me they’re doing the same. This is not an organized campaign, and no one is going to be vilified for continuing to give their own time and attention to Dawkins.

    Richard Dawkins, September:

    No, absolutely not! If she’s going to be there, I won’t be there. I don’t want her speaking.

    Technically afterwards? Yes. Of the same magnitude? Lolz no.

  51. funkyderek says

    @64:

    I suspect you are operating on next to zero background knowledge here. If you are conversant with the background, then you’re operating in bad faith.

    Wrong on both counts.

  52. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    Things that are apparently the same: Refusing to attend a speech given by someone, “I don’t want her speaking”.

    They’re not the same but they are similar. The former goes further of course (as it necessarily includes the latter), but the principle is the same.

    How does the former go further? Seems like refusing to attend a speech given by someone else doesn’t stop them from speaking to other people, while Dawkins forced Silverman to take Watson off the roster.

  53. funkyderek says

    @67:

    Technically afterwards? Yes. Of the same magnitude? Lolz no.

    That’s right. There’s a slight difference in magnitude. Watson refused to even attend an event where Dawkins was speaking, while Dawkins only refused to speak at one. Also, he made no mention of never buying her merchandise. And he didn’t do any of it in public.

  54. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    funkyderek ,

    You have to take into account power differentials. Dawkins is full of himself, but realistically he does have more power in the “atheist movement” than Rebecca Watson does. It’s not just the difference between what the two of them stated, it’s also the amount of damage to the other that each can really do.

  55. NightShadeQueen, resident nutcase says

    Rebecca Watson, emphasis mine:

    I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same.

  56. funkyderek says

    @69:

    How does the former go further? Seems like refusing to attend a speech given by someone else doesn’t stop them from speaking to other people, while Dawkins forced Silverman to take Watson off the roster.

    Slight cross-posting there but I’ll elaborate anyway. Dawkins didn’t force anyone to do anything. He said he wouldn’t speak at an event if Watson was going to be speaking. That’s similar but less than refusing to attend an event where she would be speaking.

  57. says

    Okay, Caine, everbleed, thanks. That’s… Umm…

    Waaaait a minute… Is this some kinda experiment, maybe? Just some cruel test to work out how much you have to inflate someone’s ego before they start saying stupid things about Rebecca Watson?

    I was this close, I tell you. But I’m onto you.

    More seriously, thanks.

    (/Oooooh, can’t help it! I demand my own podium! With my name on it in lights! And Rebecca can’t stay in the same hotel! Just because!)

  58. says

    @funkyderek

    The event organisers then had to choose which one of the two speakers to pick.

    No, they didn’t. Being a speaker doesn’t mean you have to attend every other talk given by anyone invited to the same event. Apparently, Watson had no problem with Dawkins being at the event. She hadn’t made any demand that he be removed.

    Note that Dawkins didn’t say: “She’s refusing to attend my talk, so I refuse to listen to her.” That’s pointedly not what he said. He said “I don’t want her speaking.” It’s not just that he didn’t want to listen to her talk. He didn’t want her at all.

    What you’re doing here is harmonization, straight from the playbook of Christian apologists. You’re assuming things that aren’t in the story in order to make it seem less problematic. You’re assuming that Dawkins had certain motives which are not apparent, simply because it would make his actions seem less problematic, not because you have any real reason to think it’s the case.

  59. sbuh says

    @73:

    The language used “I don’t want her speaking” really implies more that he wanted her removed rather than that he wanted to opt out himself. And since that’s what did happen it’s simply not defensible as a principled stand.

    If he had refused to speak and not accepted the offer to have her removed it would have been principled.

  60. funkyderek says

    @71:

    You have to take into account power differentials. Dawkins is full of himself, but realistically he does have more power in the “atheist movement” than Rebecca Watson does. It’s not just the difference between what the two of them stated, it’s also the amount of damage to the other that each can really do.

    Agreed. As the less famous person, Rebecca Watson was always likely to lose out in any ultimatum.

  61. says

    He said he wouldn’t speak at an event if Watson was going to be speaking. That’s similar but less than refusing to attend an event where she would be speaking.

    Seriously? Are you fucking kidding me?

    Watson was find with speaking at an event that Dawkins also attended, she just wouldn’t personally listen to him. Dawkins refused not only to listen to her, but also to speak at an event where she was speaking.

    On top of that, he didn’t simply not attend, he mentioned this fact to the event organizer in a deliberate (and successful) attempt to get her removed from the speakers list. Finally, he did this, as you point out, not in the open, where people could make up their minds about it, but behind closed doors, so nobody found out about this until now.

    And you’re saying that his actions were the lesser problem?

  62. says

    funkyderek: Really? You can’t tell the difference in between I don’t want to go and I will not permit someone else to go?

    Hypothesis 1: You do not know the difference. (rejected)

    Hypothesis 2: You believe that there’s an equivalence between what one doesn’t do oneself and forbidding someone to do something. (unlikely)

    Hypothesis 3: You have no idea how power works. (more likely)

    Hypothesis 4: Trolling. (more likely)

  63. funkyderek says

    @77:

    The language used “I don’t want her speaking” really implies more that he wanted her removed rather than that he wanted to opt out himself. And since that’s what did happen it’s simply not defensible as a principled stand.

    The language used as recalled some two years later by a single eyewitness. I don’t think we can put too much faith in the exact wording. I think the account is probably true but I’d be very wary about relying on any of the details.

  64. brianpansky says

    @66
    funkyderek

    It’s almost as if you’re trying to say that my criticism of a single action by a particular individual means I think that all women are untrustworthy and worse. But why would you try to say such a thing, unless you were some sort of idiot?

    i might suggest the answer to your question is that it’s difficult to tell what could possibly be your reasoning. so, “women are liars” is a common bias and thus a fairly good first guess.

  65. says

    funkyderek:

    The event organisers then had to choose which one of the two speakers to pick.

    No. What you are failing to understand here is the dynamic in play. Prof. Dawkins has much more privilege and power than Ms. Watson. There was no equality in anything Prof. Dawkins did. He was fully aware that he would be the larger draw, and could thereby effectively blackball Ms. Watson, which he chose to do. This is quite clear.

    Now, let’s pretend it’s reversed. Prof. Watson is aware that she is the primary draw, the big name, and decides she does not want Mr. Dawkins to speak, even though he was engaged to do so. Prof. Watson knows she is in a position to blackball Mr. Dawkins, and chooses to do so. Now, would you be standing up for Prof. Watson? Or would a thought like “damn, what a bitch, having a hissy fit and kicking Mr. Dawkins out for the gratification of her own ego” have flitted into your head upon reading about it?

  66. brianpansky says

    To me, this story reflects badly only on the person who breached the privacy of her employer by sharing it with the world.

    the only explanation other than bias i can guess is that…you like keeping vices secret?

    But why would you try to say such a thing, unless you were some sort of idiot?

  67. says

    On the subject of collaborating data: If you read the thread on Skepchicks, you’ll see that this situation is familiar to the audience, who have heard similar things from others about Dawkin’s response to Watson. Moreover, we have a long standing list of stuff Dawkins has said that indicate that this is behavior consistent with his opinion of Watson and/or feminist topics.

    Are we really going back through Bayesian stats again? Didn’t we just deal with this same bullshit?

  68. says

    The language used as recalled some two years later by a single eyewitness. I don’t think we can put too much faith in the exact wording.

    We’re not being asked to. We’re being asked to accept the meaning.

  69. says

    He turned the event into a zero-sum game. Having Rebecca Watson speak at the Reason Rally would not have detracted from Dawkins or in any way cut into his time, nor would it have diminished the appeal of the event to attendees. It might have drawn in a few different attendees. That is the real problem here — that Dawkins used his influence to diminish the impact of an atheist event.

  70. funkyderek says

    @81:

    Really? You can’t tell the difference in between I don’t want to go and I will not permit someone else to go?

    Yes, but the latter does not refer to anything in this account. According to the account, Dawkins did not want to speak at the same event as Rebecca Watson. The organisers then chose Dawkins over Watson. Everybody had a free choice.
    At a conference I was involved in organising recently, we simply invited the speakers we wanted and let them decide for themselves whether or not they could bear to be at the same conference as other speakers.

    I assure you I’m not trolling. I don’t post here much but I use the same pseudonym Internet-wide, this account is linked to all my other accounts and my real name, and my avatar is a photo of me.

  71. says

    But why would you try to say such a thing, unless you were some sort of idiot?

    I don’t seem to recall calling you an idiot. I’ve done you the benefit of assuming you are capable of critical thinking. Try that, okay? If there is something you are honestly baffled by, a simple question will garner an answer.

    So, about all those questions as to how knowledgeble you are…not so much?

  72. says

    Monitor Note: When someone says something apparently stupid or vile, verify before opening fire. Express your objection and ask them to rephrase their statement. Then open fire.

    Just a reminder.

  73. funkyderek says

    @83:

    i might suggest the answer to your question is that it’s difficult to tell what could possibly be your reasoning. so, “women are liars” is a common bias and thus a fairly good first guess.

    It wouldn’t even occur to me that someone would think that. Is “women are liars” really a common bias?
    Anyway, it’s certainly not one I share. And I don’t think the person was lying. I do think she published the details of a private conversation between her employer and a client though. And I question the ethics of doing so.

  74. says

    According to the account, Dawkins did not want to speak at the same event as Rebecca Watson. The organisers then chose Dawkins over Watson.

    And Dawkins knew full well that this would be the result. Instead of simply not attending Watson’s talk, he made sure that there wouldn’t be a talk.
    Honestly, do you not see the problem with a major name using their influence in this way?

    It wouldn’t even occur to me that someone would think that. Is “women are liars” really a common bias?

    I thought you said you were aware of the background.

  75. dezn_98 says

    @98 funkyderek

    Yeah… that is not an analogous situation. Sending out invites, telling them the rest of the invitees, and then letting them decline or accept is way different… from… Asking one of your invitees about inviting this person, and then that invitee issuing an ultimatum that if this person is to speak they will not. This is not a “free choice” as you make it out to be. Especially because Dawkins has a bigger pull with crowds.. it conference organizers would be put in a position of getting less pull with crows and defending the other speaker, or remaining silent and getting more pull. Considering the power structure in place, and the fact that the speaker being banned is a feminist fighting for equality….. this makes a very very different situation. One that is basically a picture perfect view of how modern oppression works… Privileged people with power, wield it in a way that stifled minority voices.

    This is a much more serious issue than Watson refusing to endorse Dawkins because he is actually acting sexist. You need to get more context before saying these things are the same.. cause they are really not.

  76. funkyderek says

    @93:

    I don’t seem to recall calling you an idiot. I’ve done you the benefit of assuming you are capable of critical thinking. Try that, okay? If there is something you are honestly baffled by, a simple question will garner an answer.

    You’re right. I should not have suggested you were an idiot. I retract the suggestion and apologise.
    My simple question, then, is: Why did you write: “Naturally. Bitches, can’t trust ‘em. Nope.” as if it were a response to what I wrote?

    So, about all those questions as to how knowledgeble you are…not so much?

    I’m very familiar with the background of the situation. Feel free to test me.

  77. Amphiox says

    That’s right. There’s a slight difference in magnitude. Watson refused to even attend an event where Dawkins was speaking, while Dawkins only refused to speak at one.

    By your use of the words “only” and “even”, it seems you are suggesting that the magnitude of refusing to attend is greater than that of refusing to speak.

    To which I have but one question:

    Dude, what are you SMOKING? Can I have some?

  78. brianpansky says

    @93
    funkyderek

    I do think she published the details of a private conversation between her employer and a client though. And I question the ethics of doing so.

    if she had not been employed, yet heard it anyways, the ethics would be different?

    maybe you don’t mean ethics. maybe you mean legal issue? there is a difference.

    i honestly don’t see how anyone would call it ethical to keep something like this a secret unless they already wanted it to be a secret regardless of “employed” circumstance.

    also, as i try to understand this, i’m also thinking that different kinds of employment would probably be treated differently by your judgement? for instance, it’s less of a problem if it was fast food employment or something?

    @98

    agreed.

  79. says

    funkyderek

    I do think she published the details of a private conversation between her employer and a client though. And I question the ethics of doing so.

    How do you feel about the ethics of someone who’s being contracted to do a job leveraging their fame and popularity by threatening to pull out, if they don’t happen to like another contractor; especially one with whom they are not being asked to interact, other than having to use the same stage at different times?

  80. says

    funkyderek:

    It wouldn’t even occur to me that someone would think that. Is “women are liars” really a common bias?

    Oh for fu…There’s a whole lot of reading on implicit bias here. Many other very helpful links, too.

    Back to the Angry Dome for a moment.

  81. funkyderek says

    @95:

    And Dawkins knew full well that this would be the result. Instead of simply not attending Watson’s talk, he made sure that there wouldn’t be a talk.
    Honestly, do you not see the problem with a major name using their influence in this way?

    Dawkins and Watson fell out over Elevatorgate. Dawkins likely did not want the drama that would result from both of them being at the same conference. So he declined to attend if she was going to be there. I really can’t blame him for that. He doesn’t owe anybody anything.
    The reaction of immediately capitulating to his demands is perhaps more of an issue. I prefer the way we dealt with it, but perhaps Silverman felt put on the spot or was hugely afraid of hosting a loss-making event. Or had other good reasons that we don’t know about.

    I thought you said you were aware of the background.

    I am, but I don’t spend that much time here. In my everyday life, it simply wouldn’t occur to me that people commonly think women are liars. I understand why it’s an issue here and in this context though. I forget sometimes that without a reputation anything I say online is likely to be interpreted in the worst possible way.

  82. wondering says

    Aaaah! I haven’t been to Norwescon in a decade (got out when Magic the Gathering took. over. everything) but if PZ is there, I’m in. I’ve been thinking about that con wistfully off-and-on for a while; this will kick me over the edge and up to the registration desk.

  83. A. Noyd says

    funkyderek (#97)

    Why did you write: “Naturally. Bitches, can’t trust ‘em. Nope.” as if it were a response to what I wrote?

    brianpansky already answered that for you at #66: “i might suggest the answer to your question is that it’s difficult to tell what could possibly be your reasoning. so, ‘women are liars’ is a common bias and thus a fairly good first guess.” Which I know you saw because you replied to it in #93 with enough naive incredulity to thoroughly torpedo your credibility as someone with an awareness of the background for these matters.

  84. says

    funkyderek: The difference, as I outlined it on 81, is in the wording of Watson’s statement versus Dawkin’s statement. If you can’t see it in the wording, I am at a loss to figure out how to show it to you.

  85. says

    I find the calm consideration implied by…

    Dawkins likely did not want the drama that would result from both of them being at the same conference. So he declined to attend if she was going to be there.

    …very hard to square with this:

    Richard suddenly had a very angry look on his face and I heard him almost shout, “No, absolutely not! If she’s going to be there, I won’t be there. I don’t want her speaking.”

  86. ekwhite says

    I have to object to the whole “Dawkins is getting senile” trope being bandied about by a few of you. First of all, my mother and grandmother both died of Alzheimer’s disease. It is a horrible disease, not something to joke about. Second, it excuses Professor Dawkins for being a jerk. His grudge against Rebecca Watson has nothing to do with his age – it has to do with his attitude.

    /rant

  87. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    WELP, so much for giving Dave Silverman the benefit of the doubt. He just threw Sarah under the bus to make himself look better…

  88. bhebing says

    Apparently, power still corrupts.

    You would hope that the most powerful would also be the wisest. However, it seems that being in a position of power does something nasty to your ego (yeah, I know [citation needed]). Or maybe your ego has to be a bit nasty to get in a position of power to begin with. And than it gets nastier when you get more power, so you can get more power, so you get a bit… Well, you see the pattern.

    Also, seeing powerful people acting, well, human makes a powerful argument against the person worshipping that is so rife in our culture.

  89. says

    The organisers then chose Dawkins over Watson. Everybody had a free choice.

    Except…Rebecca Watson.

    To claim that everyone had a free choice is so obtuse, so stupid, so clueless, that I do suspect you are trolling. Dawkins’ choice limited everyone else’s options. That you fail to see this suggests that you have some serious biases.

    Insensitive and rude as I am, even I can see that. That’s why I made the promise in the OP. If you can’t figure it out, then fuck off.

  90. says

    Dawkins and Watson fell out over Elevatorgate. Dawkins likely did not want the drama that would result from both of them being at the same conference. So he declined to attend if she was going to be there.

    You’re assuming things again. The account we have does not imply that he simply “did not want the drama.”And he didn’t “decline to attend”. He’s described as “almost shout[ing]”.

    You’re giving a highly tendentious interpretation that goes in a very different direction from what the account says; the only account we’ve got at the moment. Either you’ve got some information we don’t, or you’re allowing some preconception to color your view on this.

  91. gussnarp says

    Person with a very small, narrow audience: “I don’t like that guy, I’m not going to go to any of his lectures.”

    Person with huge, global, broad audience: “I will not speak at your event if she speaks there!”

    One of these is the kind of decision by an ordinary person that we all make every day.
    The other is an attempt by a person with power to silence his critics.

    That anyone can make a number of posts attempting to argue that the ordinary person saying they won’t attend someone’s lectures is somehow worse than the powerful person’s attempt to silence his critics is so dumbfounding that I really must assume it to be utterly dishonest.

  92. says

    I also want to chime in on the many statements about power differentials made so far.

    Caine’s readings at 102 are very helpful in explaining why the reflexive disbelief of female speakers stems from more serious problems.

  93. dezn_98 says

    @106 mouthyb

    You know, despite IMO what seems to be a lot of obtuseness coming from funkyderek.. he did have one good point. Memory is very unreliable, we all know this. As such, even if we think such an account is accurate – and I think we all have good reason to think so – we can not depend on the exact wording because memory is so inherently fallible. Unless a person write down exactly what you say at that moment and then keeps it as a reference years later…. an eyewitness account probably is not the best account to sentimentally depend on. The odds of getting the exact wording from memory is not on our side here… however, what is on our side is that Dawkins past behavior patterns clearly indicates that he would act in this general way.

  94. Anthony K says

    Dawkins likely did not want the drama

    Wait, what? Dawkins thrives on drama. That’s why he has a twitter and uses it like a fucking shithead.

    If Dawkins truly did not want drama, the first thing he’d do is visit a surgeon and get that idiot-hole in the front of his face sutured up.

    Also, The God Delusion? Come the fuck on.

  95. says

    ekwhite:

    I have to object to the whole “Dawkins is getting senile” trope being bandied about by a few of you. First of all, my mother and grandmother both died of Alzheimer’s disease. It is a horrible disease, not something to joke about. Second, it excuses Professor Dawkins for being a jerk. His grudge against Rebecca Watson has nothing to do with his age – it has to do with his attitude.

    The trope was mentioned here because it’s doing rounds on the ‘net, used in this case as a possible defense, much like ‘socially awkward’ was used as possible defense in Egate. I do think it’s a terrible thing to use as a prop for a bad argument.

    That said, yes, Prof. Dawkins’ age has a great deal to do with his behaviour, not only toward Ms. Watson, but towards women in general. He is a highly privileged man who is 72 years old, and still very happy with the sexism he was raised up with and accumulated along the way.

  96. A. Noyd says

    funkyderek (#103)

    …but perhaps Silverman felt put on the spot or was hugely afraid of hosting a loss-making event.

    Well, no shit, Sherlock. Do you seriously think Dawkins wasn’t aware Silverman would feel that way? That Dawkins didn’t use exactly that fear to exclude Watson? If Dawkins was merely leery of “drama,” he could have just as easily pressed Silverman to make sure he wouldn’t be forced to interact with Watson.

    Instead, he got her completely barred from speaking at that event. Which isn’t anything at all like Watson’s announcement she would no longer promote his stuff or be an audience member at his talks. Only a fucking idiot or dishonest jackass would keep trying to equate those things.

  97. says

    dezn_98: Well, her account has a series of collaborating events in the form of Dawkin’s previous comments on Watson, elevatorgate, and/or feminist causes, which you point out. And as many other people have pointed out, even if his wording was closer to ‘I don’t want to speak with her’, it still has an effect on Watson’s potential speaking engagement.

    The thing about decision-making is that it is generally based (in daily life) on partial information. The more data from disparate sources you have, the more likely an event is to be accurate. In this case, as yourself and others have pointed out, the wording seems likely, and the effect is the same either way. Moreover, I have no reason to distrust the speaker, and several reasons to trust her.

    If you think I’m sentimental, you don’t read my comments often. However, your characterizing my decision as emotional is noted.

  98. says

    dezn_98

    We’re not being asked to take the exact wording as completely accurate. We’re being asked to accept the memory* of an angry attitude and a general meaning of “If she’s speaking, I’m not.”

    *Which is a memory of an interaction with a famous person, and a personal hero, to boot. That sort of thing tends to stick in the memory.

  99. funkyderek says

    @99:

    if she had not been employed, yet heard it anyways, the ethics would be different?

    Probably. I mean, publishing people’s private conversations is usually questionable, but it’s worse when you have agreed either explicitly or implicitly to keep such conversations private.

    maybe you don’t mean ethics. maybe you mean legal issue? there is a difference.

    No, I meant ethics. There could of course be legal implications, even over so trivial a matter.

    i honestly don’t see how anyone would call it ethical to keep something like this a secret unless they already wanted it to be a secret regardless of “employed” circumstance.

    As I said at the beginning, I don’t think it’s such a big deal, certainly not big enough to warrant the breach of confidentiality.

    also, as i try to understand this, i’m also thinking that different kinds of employment would probably be treated differently by your judgement? for instance, it’s less of a problem if it was fast food employment or something?

    It’s less likely to be an issue in certain types of employment because there’s less trust involved. But generally, the principle is that you should keep your employer’s secrets unless there’s a very good reason for not doing so. At least, that would be my principle.

  100. brianpansky says

    ah, talk on the facebook link is already “the divisiveness needs to stop”

    but the divisiveness was dawkins…so…

  101. dezn_98 says

    |@ 121 mouthyb

    Umm…. That was a spelling error. I meant to say semantically depend upon. In that you should not depend on the exact semantics to argue a point… because it is highly likely, considering our flawed memories, these were not the exact semantics used in the convo…

    My other point is that you do not need to depend upon the semantics to make that same exact point. The idea here is that Dawkins used his power to stifle a minority voice… in this case the semantics do not matter as much because he just acted like a bigot in a very direct way. I do not care what he said, I know what he did, and I can assume he did it in the general fashion the account was detailing because of his past aggressive bigoted behavior. Full stop.

    Everything else you said, I am 100% on board.

  102. says

    funkyderek:

    Dawkins likely did not want the drama that would result from both of them being at the same conference.

    Hahahahahahaha, oh, pardon me. No. Seriously no. This is fractally wrong. Many of the people in this thread were active when Egate broke, and were in the same threads with Prof. Dawkins. At one point, he said he would listen to why he was wrong, *only* if there was nary a cuss word used in said explanation. Even then, after Dear Muslima, his arrogance was breathtaking.

    Well, lots of people took him up, and wrote out lengthy, clear, well explained missives, which were very well behaved indeed. In the end, he sniffed and handwaved it all, excusing it because he wouldn’t feel upset or threatened in an elevator. When it comes to sexism, he’s not at all a good thinker, he prefers ignorance, and he thrives on the drama of being a sexist, which would be obvious if you had read the thread and bothered to click the links to his twitter feed.

    You are well beyond wrong, funkyderek. Waaaaaaaay out into another universe of wrong.

  103. says

    dezn_98: Hell of a spelling error, there. Sentimental and semantic are quite different words.

    Just out of curiosity, what makes you think (out of the multiple things I’ve said so far on this thread) that I depend on semantics alone to make my point? I am *well* aware that memory is fallible, that semantics are not the only way to make the point, merely that the power differential is ALSO built into the wording.

  104. A. Noyd says

    funkyderek (#123)

    I don’t think it’s such a big deal, certainly not big enough to warrant the breach of confidentiality.

    What confidentiality!?

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Caine (#127)

    When it comes to sexism, he’s not at all a good thinker, he prefers ignorance, and he thrives on the drama of being a sexist….

    And racism, too.

  105. gussnarp says

    I don’t really see the American Atheists’ statement on this as throwing anyone under the bus. It says she didn’t have all the facts, something she herself basically says in the post. It supports her efforts to call attention to the issue. It doesn’t say what she described didn’t happen. It doesn’t, in fact, have anything negative to say about her at all.

    It may or may not be entirely true, and it certainly has a CYA sound to it, but throwing her under the bus?

  106. says

    dezn_98

    My point being that funkyderek’s point about memories of exact wording was not, as you put it, a “good point.” It was, unless his contention is that her memory is so faulty that she remembered even the general meaning wrongly, a very bad point.

  107. dezn_98 says

    The AA response is now damning… they basically just said that, the account on skpechicks is what took place. Now they are being evasive by saying “she was not invited to speak when Dawkins voiced protest”.. in effect arguing that because they did not “technically” invite her yet, they can not be accused of “reascending the invite based on Dawkin’s protest”…

    This is PURE BS. The idea is not that they reascended an invite… it is that they would not even consider having watson based on the idea that Dawkins issues an ultimatum to silence her voice. Way to dodge the issues.. man.. is there any secularist organization that has courage to own up when the fcked up and correct it?… or are they all engaged in doublspeak when caught with their pants down?

    These people are such ding dongs….

  108. dezn_98 says

    @ 128 mouthb

    Well.. spelling errors happen.

    Anyway, if you were not dependent on semantics, than fine. I just read a semantics point when you tried to highlight the differences in the words used to emphasize the distinguishing feature between Dawkins actions and Watsons actions.

    I think the distinguishing features, even if they used the same exact words, was the power structure.. and that is what makes what Dawkins did.. a textbook example of marginalization.

  109. gussnarp says

    @dezn_98 – It is possible that they weren’t ever planning to have Rebecca speak in the first place, so Dave didn’t think it was any big deal to say what he did to Dawkins.

    That is really only a very small excuse, but it is an excuse. This was a difficult position for an event organizer to be in. It would have taken a lot of courage to do the right thing, which would be to say: “Well, we weren’t actually planning to offer Rebecca a slot at the event, but if you’re going to take that approach, we’ll be happy to offer her yours.”

  110. dezn_98 says

    @131 Daz..

    Ahh yes.. now I see it.. then yeah, I agree. The account she gave does nto depend on exact wording, rather it depends on the larger context going on… i.e…. Dawkins a white male accused of sexism just used his power to effectively ban a feminist speaker from a conference. Which is plain marginalization and the account that was given, his anger merely produced at the mention of her name.. is a very clear indication that he is having a visceral sexist reaction to his privileged being checked.

    so yeah.. I now see your point. I agree.

  111. funkyderek says

    @111 PZ:

    To claim that everyone had a free choice is so obtuse, so stupid, so clueless, that I do suspect you are trolling. Dawkins’ choice limited everyone else’s options. That you fail to see this suggests that you have some serious biases.

    Sure, Rebecca Watson didn’t have a free choice. But why would she? Who among us has a free choice to be invited to speak at conferences? Well, you, more or less. But you have no right to demand to be invited. If you’re invited, you can accept or decline or put any conditions you like on it. If you’re not invited, you can do nothing about it.
    As I said, I prefer the way we did it, where speakers can simply accept or decline (or throw a hissy fit) and ultimatums are ignored, but I don’t think anybody is wronged if it’s done differently.
    I don’t think I have strong biases on this issue other than that I think far too much time and effort has been spent in quarrels that have irreparably damaged what I used to think of as the atheist community. The level of vitriol expended on those who disagree slightly over minor issues strikes me as hugely disproportionate.

  112. says

    Amphiox @ 98: Dude, what are you SMOKING? Can I have some?

    Kyriarchal Gold. Don’t, it’s a serious mindfuck, and it’ll harsh your buzz in the worst way.

  113. Anthony K says

    I don’t think I have strong biases on this issue other than that I think far too much time and effort has been spent in quarrels that have irreparably damaged what I used to think of as the atheist community.

    It’s exactly the opposite: far not enough attention has been paid to the cancer in the community. If you want to sweep shit under the rug for the sake of all getting along, feel free to join the Catholic Church.

  114. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    ah, talk on the facebook link is already “the divisiveness needs to stop”

    but the divisiveness was dawkins…so…

    Well, really the comments are mostly “Women suck/I hate women/Only women cause drama/Women should shut up”

    With a little “everything will be better once we purge ourselves of women” for funsies.

  115. dezn_98 says

    @141 daz

    dude… never apologize. If your BS radar went up because of something I posted.. by all means destroy that sht. I do this all the time on issues around racism.. and no one “tone” bothers me in this thread.. this is the FCKING tone you all should have!

    No holds barred.. as it should be.

  116. says

    Would anyone here like to tell me that I have a choice, that I can either allow you to comment on threads here, or I can allow funkyderek to do so?

    I mean, apparently it’s fairly easy to allow both of you to comment freely here, but you know, if someone objects, then he has nothing to complain about if I choose you over him — after all, he has no right to demand to comment.

  117. says

    Sure, Rebecca Watson didn’t have a free choice.

    As was Silverman’s given the disparity in crowd-pulling-power between Dawkins and Watson. Just thought I’d mention that, as you appear to have conveniently forgotten to do so yourself.

    But why would she? Who among us has a free choice to be invited to speak at conferences? Well, you, more or less. But you have no right to demand to be invited. If you’re invited, you can accept or decline or put any conditions you like on it. If you’re not invited, you can do nothing about it.

    Watson was not demanding to be invited to speak, was she? Dawkins was taking it upon himself to dictate who should and should not be invited to speak.

  118. Anthony K says

    Would anyone here like to tell me that I have a choice, that I can either allow you to comment on threads here, or I can allow funkyderek to do so?

    I’ll put myself up against funkyderek if he agrees.

    Hell, I’ll even the odds: unlike funkyderek, I actually do mean harm to the movement, if it’s led by people like Dawkins and supported by the kind of people who’ll defend him at any cost. I’m a big ol’ negative influence.

    So what say, funkyderek? Wanna step up?

  119. dezn_98 says

    @ 139 funkyderek

    umm… Vitriol?? puhlease…. this issues is a serious one, so you can not blame anyone for getting pissed at disagreements. You may label them as minor, but others do not… This is not minor disagreement either…

    People have explained to you multiple times on this thread why your analogies fail.. in particular there is a power structure present in this social exchange… and that matters. Something you have failed to address.. the fact that you have not addressed to sexist social structures that provide the context necessary to judge this issue accurately… does sent alarm bells to everyone here.. indicating that you might not “get it”… as much as you think you do.

    So take some time to think about the power structures present before you make another incoherent analogy trying to equate Dawkins actions to Watsons.. because nothing can be further from the truth.

  120. says

    funkyderek, people have been downright charitable with you, and are showing remarkable restraint at the moment. Focus on the substance of the arguments presented to you, please. If you take a sharp turn into “hey, don’t like your tone” territory, you have lost.

  121. Anthony K says

    Anthony K, why are you giving funkyderek a choice? Did Dawkins give Watson a choice?

    Oh, because I’m a much better man than he, terrible as I am.

  122. seraphymcrash says

    @127

    “Fractally Wrong”

    I realize you probably meant factually wrong, but I thought fractally wrong was an awesome term. As in “so wrong that you can break it into any piece and it’s still wrong” kind of wrong.

    I’ll be stealing that for future use.

  123. says

    seraphymcrash:

    I realize you probably meant factually wrong, but I thought fractally wrong was an awesome term. As in “so wrong that you can break it into any piece and it’s still wrong” kind of wrong.

    I’ll be stealing that for future use.

    Nope, I meant Fractally Wrong, and you got the meaning so right. Steal away, it’s widely used all over the place, for when a :facepalm: just won’t do.

  124. dezn_98 says

    @ 136 gussnarp

    I am not saying it is not possible… I am saying that this is not an excuse for what went on. In the exchange they were clearly thinking about inviting watson… When dawkins put his footdown, they clearly sided with him and stopped thinking about inviting here.

    Whether or not an actual physical invitation went out before he put his footdown.. is not the issue. The issue here is that Dawkins used his powerful position to silence a minority voice. This is how marginalization works in the real world.. and AA was all to happy to accommodate sexism. This is a serious issue. They fcked up.

    now, this response is… again.. another fck up. All it does is highlight the fact that they are oblivious to what the core issue is. Which makes it worse for them.. because if you do not even understand the complaint about sexism.. than chances are you are harboring sexist ideology yourself. The fact of the matter is that they were partners in marginalization.. that is something they need to take a step back and look at.

  125. Anthony K says

    Oh, you know Anthony K has a flaw in his character, that insistence on fairness. Tsk.

    Yeah, that’s one of my few redeeming qualities.

    seraphymcrash, ‘fractally wrong’ isn’t a typo. It’s used in the way you’ve described, because it is awesome.

  126. Anthony K says

    Whether or not an actual physical invitation went out before he put his footdown.. is not the issue. The issue here is that Dawkins used his powerful position to silence a minority voice. This is how marginalization works in the real world.. and AA was all to happy to accommodate sexism. This is a serious issue. They fcked up.

    This. Exactly. The fuckers can whine all they want about ‘drama’ and ‘divisiveness’, but at the end of the day the straight, white, male tantrum thrower gets his way.

  127. Anthony K says

    Hmm, anyone fancy starting a band…?

    Is talent or skill required? If not, can l play bass?

  128. Anthony K says

    Daz: Only if I can play an instrument that sounds like a mosquito’s drone.

    So, we’ve got a bass and an oboe so far.

  129. says

    Oh blimey

    Daz: Only if I can play an instrument that sounds like a mosquito’s drone.

    There’s only one amateur harmonica player in this here band, and it’s me. Mind you, kazoo would fit the description…

    Is talent or skill required? If not, can l play bass?

    You’re hired.

    [Sorry ’bout the derail.}

  130. A. Noyd says

    funkyderek (#139)

    I think far too much time and effort has been spent in quarrels that have irreparably damaged what I used to think of as the atheist community. The level of vitriol expended on those who disagree slightly over minor issues strikes me as hugely disproportionate.

    Let me tell you a little something about “minor issues.”

    Or little issues, if you like. Or trivial issues.

    Whatever you call them, if they’re really so insignificant as you’d like to pretend, then their solutions are easy and simple and achievable with a minimal effort. (Or, if not always so, then nearly always so.)

    So ask yourself why you respond to someone mentioning such issues by telling them to shut up. Ask yourself why, rather than silencing them, you don’t acknowledge the issues and engage yourself in the easy, simple, nearly effortless acts that it would take to solve them.

    Me? I’ll continue to measure how serious an issue is by how resistant people are to solving it.

    An issue that inspires screaming, angry abuse against the people who mention it? That engenders backlash to the mere suggestion that things could be done differently? That inspires hate campaigns to silence the people who want to work on solving it?

    That’s not a minor issue.

    If you want to convince me an issue is minor or little or trivial, then prove it. Don’t just tell me; show me. Show me how little you have to go out of your way to help solve that issue. Show me how you can make some minor changes to your life and then move on.

    The comments or posts or emails or messages you send to shame the people who bring up isssues? Those don’t write themselves. You have to go out of your way to put them out there. Channel that effort into solving those issues instead.

    Then the issues won’t just be minor or little or trivial; they’ll be gone.

    And when you can point to how little it took to solve an issue? Then you can say that issue was minor. And I’ll happily agree.

    (Adapted from here.)

  131. notsont says

    It’s less likely to be an issue in certain types of employment because there’s less trust involved. But generally, the principle is that you should keep your employer’s secrets unless there’s a very good reason for not doing so. At least, that would be my principle.

    Who’s principle is that? When my employer does something ethically questionable, I certainly wouldn’t keep it a secret. A few years back I had a boss fire a lady because he just didn’t like her “lifestyle” when the state investigated (for unemployment purposes) he asked all the managers to lie. I made damn sure the investigator knew what was really going on. And yeah I think what Dawkins did is just as bad as what my old boss did.

  132. funkyderek says

    @146 PZ

    Would anyone here like to tell me that I have a choice, that I can either allow you to comment on threads here, or I can allow funkyderek to do so?

    I mean, apparently it’s fairly easy to allow both of you to comment freely here, but you know, if someone objects, then he has nothing to complain about if I choose you over him — after all, he has no right to demand to comment.

    It’s your site. You can choose to let me comment or not. I’d prefer if you let me and I think forums are better when they allow polite dissent but it is of course entirely up to you.
    I will not be demanding a right to comment. I am a guest here and if I have broken some rules, I apologise.

  133. says

    @yazikus #42 – “Would you recommend Norwescon for someone’s first con? It is one I could actually travel to, and due to a change in work/school I will actually be able to take a day or two off in April… I’m excited just thinking about it.”

    It is one of the bigger ones, and the crowds can be a bit overwhelming for a first timer. But having been to bigger (ComicCon) and smaller (OryCon and RustyCon) I think it would be an excellent gateway drug first convention. The programming focuses on panels, and with more than 200 panels over the weekend, you will be hard-pressed finding the time for everything you want to see. If you are a gamer, you will find everything from pick-up hands of Magic or Flexx, to scheduled D&D Competitions, to unannounced demonstrations of as-yet unpublished titles. Plus the art show. Plus the vendor hall. Plus the costume contest. Plus the dances. Plus the midnight movies. And if nothing else, you can spend hours in the areas open to the public, just people watching.

    You will want to get a membership soon, though, before prices go up again (they scale up the closer the convention gets.) And if you want to stay at the host hotel, you should really make your reservations immediately. There are a number overflow hotels, some even cheaper than the host, within easy walking, but they can fill up, too.

  134. stevebowen says

    Dawkins is an inspirational, eloquent and knowldgeable science writer. I have bought or read everything he has ever published since the selfish gene back in 1976 and see no reason not to continue to do so. I have bought his books as presents for many friends over the years and will continue to do so. I have had two opportunities to address him personally recently and reluctantly chose not to because I could not have resisted the temptation to talk about Rebecca Watson. He has a blind spot, it’s sad… Celebrate him for his achievements and remember that heroes, real ones, are fallible.
    Another generation is making the running now and they will do it with broader vision than an Oxford don can be expected to possess, largely because people like Richard Dawkins existed before them and laid the foundations from which we will evolve. Rise above him by all means, but there is no need to trample on him.

  135. says

    Rise above him by all means, but there is no need to trample on him.

    Abstinence from trampling needs to be reciprocal.

  136. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’d prefer if you let me and I think forums are better when they allow polite dissent but it is of course entirely up to you.

    Your dissent isn’t “polite” if you dismiss woman’s concerns and opinions. Which you appear to be doing. Think about that before mentioning polite dissent again.

  137. dezn_98 says

    @178 stevebowen

    I am sorry but.. I literally laughed out loud when I read your response. I mean… wtf is this? LOL.

    I mean… I am highly confused but also swept up into a whimsy with this post! Why? What possessed you to write this?

    Considering the context of the blog post, I have no idea why you wrote this. It is revealed that Dawkins just marginalized a feminist voice because she had the audacity to call him out on his BS. Which was the first of many “blandspots”… his textbook orientalism and racism… started turning people away after that event. I do not think anyone is under any sort of obligation to feel any sort of sympathy for his bigoted ways… not when they are just one example of a long line of bigoted people put in powerful social positions.

    You know what this comment reads to me? It reads to me like this…

    I make a blog post discussing the epic amount of fcked up slavery the Founders in america had, and listed all the racist precedents and called out Lincoln for his fcked up racism….

    Then one commented, after reading that… comes up and says, in an almost poetic fashion… how he is absilutly in love with all the presidents and that I should thank Lincoln despite his racism because if it was not for them… I would not be able to even blog.. and blah blah blah…..

    (actually this has happened to me before, multiple times.. and almost always, as I explore the view of this person.. they tend to be really fcked up racists… )

    Can I ask you something… can you kind of see how this sort of comment is out of left field? Or does that not enter your thoughts as you wrote it? Consider it.. won’t you?

  138. Anthony K says

    there is no need

    Yeah, ‘need’ is such a nebulous term, and really explains so very little of what people do and why. There’s no ‘need’ for a pure atheism movement, and yet here we are.

    to trample on him.

    Don’t worry; I’ll take off my heels.

  139. Anthony K says

    Why? What possessed you to write this?

    I agree. There was no need for stevebowen’s comment.

  140. says

    Shock news – Dawkins in stuffy, elderly Englishman surprise. “We had no idea he could be surprisingly rude…”, said one onlooker. “It’s almost like he’s pushing seventy and getting a bit cantankerous.”

    “There’s only one conclusion!” opined one interested blog commenter. “1) atheism is rotten to the core with white middle class misogynistic evil doers pushing an anti-everything sacred agenda B) it is really important we hold him to account for kind-of refusing to talk on the same bill as someone else because although some other morally superior dude did something similar, it’s not quite the same if you analyse the fuck out of it – and iii) It’s outrageous the upper middle class tweed suited academic has prejudices alien to the moral code that we’ve been working on.”

    “What an asshole,” said another “I just can’t stand to listen to this kind of shit anymore; what a fool and a hypocrite!”

  141. says

    stevebowen:

    Dawkins is an inspirational, eloquent and knowldgeable science writer. I have bought or read everything he has ever published since the selfish gene back in 1976 and see no reason not to continue to do so. I have bought his books as presents for many friends over the years and will continue to do so. I have had two opportunities to address him personally recently and reluctantly chose not to because I could not have resisted the temptation to talk about Rebecca Watson. He has a blind spot, it’s sad… Celebrate him for his achievements and remember that heroes, real ones, are fallible.

    Another generation is making the running now and they will do it with broader vision than an Oxford don can be expected to possess, largely because people like Richard Dawkins existed before them and laid the foundations from which we will evolve. Rise above him by all means, but there is no need to trample on him.

    I appreciate your attempt to frame this in such noble terms, however, this is not a Shakespearean tragedy, a la “Out, blind spot! out, I say!” This is an all too common case of a person who has been successful in their career, and has done a good job in science communication, and yet, they are a privilege blind person who has taken to reveling in sexism. And racism.

    Oh yes, there are feet of clay. You’re still trying to put those sticky feet up on a pedestal. No, thank you. And in particular, I’ll thank you not to speak for me, or anyone else. I don’t share your feelings for Prof. Dawkins. Even prior to his current foot-permanently-in-mouth syndrome, I didn’t have those feelings. It’s fine if you do. In such cases, it’s best to speak for yourself. To me, this tendency to assume we all bow before the greatness of the Science Knight of Blinding Light, is a sign that the royal we Prof. Dawkins is so fond of happens to be contagious. I don’t care for that sort of thing.

    I find it interesting that you don’t wish to see Prof. Dawkins trampled. The thing is, he isn’t being trampled. He has his shiny reputation, and a legion of devotees, who will snarl, hiss, and refute the slightest criticism. Given all that lovely stuff, Prof. Dawkins doesn’t seem to have any problem trampling all over people who are considerably less privileged than he is, and already part of a marginalized group. It’s not fun, being part of the Invisibles, invisible all the time, except for when someone in a place of privilege decides you need to be stomped on, just a wee bit.

  142. says

    stevebowen:

    He has a blind spot, it’s sad…

    Also, I just have to: Really? Seriously? This is a man you’ve held up to be of splendid intelligence, articulate, someone who should be able to critically think their way through a problem, or situation. So far, Prof. Dawkins has refused to do that, and believe me, he had many opportunities to do so.

  143. says

    @stevebowen

    Rise above him by all means, but there is no need to trample on him.

    Fine, perhaps not trample, but we very much should aggressively and vocally rise above him. We should do so to send a message. If we don’t resist the blind spots of today, they will probably just end up being the blind spots of tomorrow.

    I have no problem recognizing Dawkins’ good work. I think “The Greatest Show On Earth” is a wonderful book and have recommended it to people on several occasions. There’s a video of him on youtube I’ve got bookmarked, where he gives a demonstrated on the evolution of the eye, refuting the creationist nonsense that there’s no stepwise process for that organ. It’s my go-to link when that subject comes up because of the clear manner in which he explains the subject.

    Dawkins has done much good. That’s exactly why it’s important to slap him down when he screws up. If we don’t, it sends the signal about our relative concern about the subjects: Evolution is important. Women being pushed out of speaking arrangements isn’t.

    If he was just a random nobody, I’d be much more incline to just ignore his blithering, but he’s got influence. That’s why we must add our voices to the crowd when these subjects come up. Advances on social issue are never accomplished by sitting down and shutting up.

    Women didn’t get the vote by waiting for the next generation to see the obvious truth of their cause. Segregation wasn’t ended because people “rose above” the racism. Gay marriage isn’t becoming more accepted because people are asking nicely. No social justice issue has ever been advanced by not speaking out.

  144. says

    “What an asshole,” said another “I just can’t stand to listen to this kind of shit anymore; what a fool and a hypocrite!”

    Well yes. The linked video features Dawkins telling religious people how much better a thought-out morality would be than a handed-down sky-daddy morality. Very good point. But… It’s a shame that he doesn’t seem to have actually thought one out, at least as regards the basic bits, like treating people fairly.

  145. Anthony K says

    The linked video features Dawkins telling religious people how much better a thought-out morality would be than a handed-down sky-daddy morality.

    In support of an argument against “It’s outrageous the upper middle class tweed suited academic has prejudices alien to the moral code that we’ve been working on”, somehow. Just accept that moral code handed down from the Oxford professor. Don’t question, don’t argue; just accept.

    Again, if the atheist community as it stands attracts worshippers like AlexHM, then it needs to be taken out back behind the barn and disposed of.

  146. daniellavine says

    Sure, Rebecca Watson didn’t have a free choice. But why would she?

    Since “everyone had a free choice” was one of the premises of your argument presumably you thought she did not even a few hours ago. What changed?

    Who among us has a free choice to be invited to speak at conferences? Well, you, more or less. But you have no right to demand to be invited. If you’re invited, you can accept or decline or put any conditions you like on it. If you’re not invited, you can do nothing about it.

    You seem to be moving the goalposts. What you were initially arguing (under the premise you’ve since disavowed as I quoted above) is that Watson’s position of not attending Dawkins’ talks is somehow more unfair or divisive or what have you than Dawkins’ position of not talking at any conference at which Watson will also be speaking.

    This is absurd on its face. Watson made a personal decision — one which affects no one besides herself — not to attend Dawkins’ talks. I don’t see any attestation that she would not speak at events at which Dawkins was also speaking.

    Dawkins said nothing about whether or not he would ever attend a talk by Watson (though I have a pretty good idea of how enthusiastic he is about the prospect). However, according to the account above (on which you are also basing your arguments) he refused to speak at any event at which Watson was speaking.

    As I mentioned before, Watson’s decision doesn’t have any affect on Dawkins. But Dawkins decision pretty obviously has an effect on Watson. Even if you want to ignore the relative influence of the two speakers their decisions have very distinct effects — and somewhat the opposite of how you represented them when you initially made your argument. Again, Watson’s decision only affects herself while Dawkins’ decision affects Watson and conference organizers. No conference organizer had to worry about Watson’s decision which had nothing to do with whether Dawkins was speaking at the same conference.

    I don’t think I have strong biases on this issue other than that I think far too much time and effort has been spent in quarrels that have irreparably damaged what I used to think of as the atheist community. The level of vitriol expended on those who disagree slightly over minor issues strikes me as hugely disproportionate.

    That you’d interpret Watson’s actions as more destructive/divisive/what have you than Dawkins’ suggests a little bit of bias on your part. As far as whether the “level of vitriol” is “disproportionate” to movement heavyweights blackballing those who are insufficiently obsequious I’m pretty sure that’s a decision you only get to make on behalf of yourself; others are free to make their own decisions on that.

  147. says

    Anthony K:

    Again, if the atheist community as it stands attracts worshippers like AlexHM, then it needs to be taken out back behind the barn and disposed of.

    Double tapped. Just to make sure.

  148. says

    AnthonyK. Errmm. You seem to confabulating.

    You really did miss the point by a country mile.

    I would explain, but your charming, suggestion that I be destroyed (blimey – I’ve seen weeks of blogs fuelled by that kind of aggressive garbage) makes me think you are not worth it. Anyone else willing to have a punt for the intellectually challenged mr K?

  149. daniellavine says

    Alex HM@193:

    I would explain, but your charming, suggestion that I be destroyed (blimey – I’ve seen weeks of blogs fuelled by that kind of aggressive garbage) makes me think you are not worth it. Anyone else willing to have a punt for the intellectually challenged mr K?

    I think you need to read AK’s comment more carefully before you start throwing around the “intellectually challenged” epithet.

  150. says

    You really did miss the point by a country mile.

    You made a point?

    Anyone else willing to have a punt for the intellectually challenged mr K?

    I did. As you seem to be somewhat, erm, what was the phrase?… “intellectually challenged” yourself, I’ll rephrase:

    Do you not find it ironic, that in the midst of a discussion of Dawkins’ immoral action, you link to a video of him speaking about why a thought-out morality is a good idea?

  151. brianpansky says

    lol @193
    Alex HM

    you can try hitting the reset button all you want, but you have already been addressed. try to respond with substance.

  152. says

    Double charming. You are both such wonderful examples of how to behave, I’m genuinely embarrassed to have said anything to upset you.

  153. says

    …your charming, suggestion that I be destroyed…

    Anthony was suggesting that the atheist community be taken out back, not you.

  154. Anthony K says

    You are both such wonderful examples of how to behave

    We had no idea he could be surprisingly rude…”, said one onlooker.

  155. says

    AlexHM:

    I would explain, but your charming, suggestion that I be destroyed

    Would you please learn to read?* And I’ll put this as kindly as I can: as you seem to be unable to correctly comprehend the written word, you have no business attempting to write words in this thread.
     
    *In Anthony K’s post, it was the atheist community which needed to be dragged out back. You were just the clueless worshipper. Sentence structure, Alex. I wouldn’t dare tackle context or meaning. You aren’t ready.

  156. Anthony K says

    Anthony was suggesting that the atheist community be taken out back, not you.

    Given Alex’s complete lack of self-awareness and dogmatic devotion to double-standards for his Pope, I’m thinking we can’t afford the time to walk the movement around back.

  157. says

    You are both

    … said the intellectually superior one, who had up to that point been addressed by four people.

  158. says

    A fair cop – I missed a couple of words on mr Ks post. I do my best. You guys still don’t get it though. If you genuinely want to hear what I meant by my post, please ask. Or you could try and work it out.

    PS. Would you guys feel so free to be aggressive if you knew I was dyslexic and this was quite hard for me?

  159. says

    I’ve not read any comments yet, but please allow me to be (I assume) the x-hundredth person to say

    “OMG Rebecca Watson was EXPELLED!”

    and

    “OMG what about Rebecca’s Freeze Peach™?”

    I wonder just how the DouchePit are going to spin this (as I said I’ve not read any comments yet, but I’m sure the spin’s already in effect upthread) … if their position is that free speech is sacrosanct and that everyone should spine the fuck up and deal with “dissent”, how can such fragile-egoed rockstar wankery be justified? If they wail and stomp and hew and cry about being blocked on fucking twitter for “mere disagreements”, how will they defend Dawkins’ essentially kicking out a fellow speaker for essentially the same thing? Rebecca didn’t harass or threaten Dawkins or accuse him of some impropriety; all she’s ever done is disagree with and call him out on things he’s actually said.

    If this wasn’t such hypocritical bullshit – and wasn’t going to lead to pathetic justifications from the WhinePit – it’d be hilarious.

  160. screechymonkey says

    Alex HM@205:

    PS. Would you guys feel so free to be aggressive if you knew I was dyslexic and this was quite hard for me?

    I would.

    Because someone who knows he has genuine difficulties with communication shouldn’t be as quick as you were to call other people “intellectually challenged,” accuse them of missing the point “by a country mile” or “confabulating,” etc.

  161. dogofman says

    Pheew!

    For a moment acting ‘imperious’ (not really) But I saw PZ’s conclusion about the commentariat in #156.
    There was an other think that put the brakes on though besides that it would be like acting like Dawkins did.

    It would have put funkyderek in the same position as Rebecca Watson. An that wouldn’t have been fair, against Watson.

  162. Owlglass says

    Just that I understand this correctly. PZ Myers changes his policy some hours ago, and suddenly, Dawkins is all wrong and he is all righteous?

    There is no qualitative difference between PZ Myers stating that he won’t attend when Abbie Smith is also invited, and Richard Dawkins stating that he doesn’t want Watson invited. It comes down to using one’s celebrity mojo to keep another person away. To use PZ Myers statement on 111, Prominent Atheist choices limited everyone else’s options. True in both cases, true for Smith, true for Watson.

    It’s good that PZ Myers corrects his mistake, but I don’t like that this is done simultaneously with attacking Richard Dawkins for pretty much the same issue. I find both cases problematic and some more honesty would have been good. Like, “Sorry, I also did this. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but now I see it was a bad idea…” or something. Now it became another dodgy gambit.

  163. says

    In comment #2, it’s mentioned that PZ Myers in 2012 stated that he would refuse to participate in any conference where Abbie Smith was a speaker. At first I thought PZ Myers was just reasonably changing his mind. But I also see that Greta Christina is making the same promise, but with an exception for people who she considered unsafe. I am curious if PZ is using the same exception, and thinks that Abbie Smith falls under that exception.

  164. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Would you guys feel so free to be aggressive if you knew I was dyslexic and this was quite hard for me?

    Many of us have our own problems, but manage. You are expected to do the say. Minor offerings to Tpyos will be forgiven. But, if you can’t formulate and coherently explain your thoughts, why go on? Sit offline, make, it right, and post later.

  165. says

    You guys still don’t get it though. If you genuinely want to hear what I meant by my post, please ask. Or you could try and work it out.

    I did. At least for part of it. If you feel we haven’t understood your meaning (which seemed to me to be mostly “Oh look how clever I am at sarcasm), then please clarify.

    Would you guys feel so free to be aggressive if you knew I was dyslexic and this was quite hard for me?

    See #209

  166. dezn_98 says

    @2alexHM

    wow this is painful to watch. for someone who postures himself as an intellectual heavyweight…. you sure do get things wrong in the most blatant ironic and hilarious fashion….

    do yourself a favor and stop….

  167. says

    AlexHM:

    Would you guys feel so free to be aggressive if you knew I was dyslexic and this was quite hard for me?

    Did you bother to read the other comments first, Alex? Because if you did, you’ll note that at one point, I put in a Monitor Note to allow for language differences and difficulties. Now, had your initial response to Anthony K’s post, or mine, been that you were dyslexic and had trouble, I would have put out another note, to allow for reading difficulties, and apologized. You didn’t do that. Instead, you went straight for nasty.

    If you wish to be taken seriously, then act in good faith, and provide an actual argument, and pay attention to the counter-arguments proffered. You’ve refused to answer Daz’s argument several times.

  168. says

    Miller, I think there is a difference between choosing to decline an invite to speak, if it is offered, if you have a problem with other speakers, and intentionally blackballing a speaker you have a problem with.

  169. says

    Just ‘cos I use idioms and a wide vocabulary, you think I couldn’t miss nuance in someone else’s sentence?

    My point with my Dawkins post, for those still listening, is that he is flawed – and morally stuck in the past. As secularists I hope we accept that individuals are not to be worshipped as moral leaders. Not even PZ..

    However – we can recognise morally valid thinking. Dawkins statement on Q&A is the essence of how we should think. And hopefully it can keep us open to challenging ourselves until we’re as old as Dawkins. He does exemplify that – although, I fear, the flesh is weak (and prejudice runs deep) even if the spirit is willing.

    I’m not dyslexic by the way – just a lazy reader.

  170. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m not dyslexic by the way – just a lazy reader.

    And by your own admission, a “teller of tales”. Don’t be surprised if I don’t take anything you say very seriously now, and ask for third party evidence for every claim you make. Major faux pax on your part.

  171. Jacob Schmidt says

    There is no qualitative difference between PZ Myers stating that he won’t attend when Abbie Smith is also invited, and Richard Dawkins stating that he doesn’t want Watson invited.

    Smith has a history of shitty behaviour. Dawkins doesn’t like Watson because Watson said “guys don’t do that”. I see quite a difference.

  172. screechymonkey says

    Alex HM @221:

    Just ‘cos I use idioms and a wide vocabulary, you think I couldn’t miss nuance in someone else’s sentence?

    Oh, get over yourself. My point wasn’t that your language was impressive in any way, it was that you went straight to aggression yourself, without asking for clarification or considering the possibility you had misread something. And hey, this is Pharyngula, we tend to be aggressive here, so knock yourself out. But then don’t expect to be able to fall back on the “but what if I was dyslexic”? gambit.

    I’m not dyslexic by the way – just a lazy reader.

    Color me shocked.

    But hey, at least you decided to mix it up and invoke dyslexia. Makes a nice change from the “but what if he has Asperger’s?” stuff we all got tired of.

  173. dezn_98 says

    @212 and 213

    This is not some abstract thesis on how to govern invites to conferences…. danm….

    This is about how one speaker used his social power in a sexist way. full stop. using social influence is not inherently bad in all cases – that is a silly argument – but it can be bad when someone rather ignorantly and callously uses influence to propagate a bigoted social hierarchy. using influence to stop bigoted social power structures is something everyone is fine with…. using influence to promote or maintain the unfair satus quo is what everyone here condemns.

    im really tired of people coming in with objections…. and leave the social power dynamics out of their analysis. you cant understand issues like racism or sexism without understanding the power dynamics that operate on events like these.

  174. says

    Alex HM:

    Just ‘cos I use idioms and a wide vocabulary, you think I couldn’t miss nuance in someone else’s sentence?

    It was not a matter of nuance.

    My point with my Dawkins post, for those still listening, is that he is flawed – and morally stuck in the past. As secularists I hope we accept that individuals are not to be worshipped as moral leaders. Not even PZ..

    PZ is not worshipped. He is routinely disagreed with, even by the *gasp* commentariat here.

    However – we can recognise morally valid thinking. Dawkins statement on Q&A is the essence of how we should think. And hopefully it can keep us open to challenging ourselves until we’re as old as Dawkins. He does exemplify that – although, I fear, the flesh is weak (and prejudice runs deep) even if the spirit is willing.

    No, this does not fly. Please, do not use that ‘flesh is weak, spirit willing’ crap. Because that’s what it is, pure shit. Obviously, his ‘spirit’ is not willing. He leaves evidence of this all over the ‘net, every day. So, what he exemplifies is a privileged white man who revels in his bigotry, and shamelessly has a temper tantrum in which he fully expects to be indulged. No thanks.

    I’m soon to be 56 years old, and in the sense you’re talking, I’m light years ahead of Prof. Dawkins. A good example, he is not.

    I’m not dyslexic by the way – just a lazy reader.

    Ah. So you’re a liar. You might want to check out those new commenting rules, too.

  175. says

    There is no qualitative difference between PZ Myers stating that he won’t attend when Abbie Smith is also invited, and Richard Dawkins stating that he doesn’t want Watson invited.

    Quite correct. And I have realized that.

  176. says

    PZ is not worshipped.

    You mean I’ve been keeping a filled glass of Glenfiddich in front of the Cephalo-shrine for nought?

    (Not to mention, Who the bloody hell has been drinking it then?)

  177. says

    @Owlmirror

    There is no qualitative difference between PZ Myers stating that he won’t attend when Abbie Smith is also invited, and Richard Dawkins stating that he doesn’t want Watson invited

    I disagree. I think there are two important differences:
    1) PZ made the statement as a general rule. He didn’t say it in reference to a specific event where Abbie might have been in consideration.

    2) PZ said it out loud in public. He didn’t do it behind closed doors, in secret. This allows conference goers to respond.

    I think there’s certainly some problematic aspects with a (relatively) big-name speaker saying “I won’t attend if X is there”, but I think there’s also some striking differences between PZ former policy and this case.

    @Alex HM

    He does exemplify that – although, I fear, the flesh is weak (and prejudice runs deep) even if the spirit is willing.

    I, on the other hand, consider behavior much more indicative of a person’s intentions than their words. It’s easy to talk about being moral, but if it doesn’t amount to action, then what good is it? And if he really does have good intentions, but is simply blinded by by obliviousness, then surely a direct and forceful criticism is the best way to knock him out of it, no?

    I’m not dyslexic by the way – just a lazy reader.

    I half suspected it when you phrased yourself in that hypothetical manner, but I figured I was being too cynical. I will strive to keep your dishonesty in mind for any future discussion with you.

  178. A. Noyd says

    Alex HM (#221)

    I’m not dyslexic by the way – just a lazy reader.

    So, you pretended to have a disability to get out of the consequences of your laziness. Was your goal here to make absolutely sure no one ever listens to you again?

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    @LykeX
    Psst, that’s not Owlmirror, it’s Owlglass.

  179. consciousness razor says

    I’m not dyslexic by the way – just a lazy reader.

    So not dyslexic, just lazy. Oh, and also a lying asshole. Good to know.

  180. screechymonkey says

    Daz@229:

    You mean I’ve been keeping a filled glass of Glenfiddich in front of the Cephalo-shrine for nought?

    (Not to mention, Who the bloody hell has been drinking it then?)

    That reminds me, I’ve been meaning to mention that I’m really more of an Islay man.

  181. consciousness razor says

    1) PZ made the statement as a general rule. He didn’t say it in reference to a specific event where Abbie might have been in consideration.

    Meaning it has wider application than a single event.

    2) PZ said it out loud in public. He didn’t do it behind closed doors, in secret. This allows conference goers to respond.

    Meaning it encouraged (at least implicitly) others to follow suit.

  182. chrislawson says

    Put me down as another ex-Dawkins defender. His early books are wonderful (I haven’t read any recent ones, so I have no opinion to offer), and I used to get worn out from defending Dawkins over and over again from lies and manipulations by detractors like Mary Midgely, or not quite deceptions but very slanted misreadings by Leon Kamen and the like. I used to point critics to the actual passages in The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype to show that Dawkins was being crucified for positions he explicitly rejected in his books.

    But I can’t do that anymore. His stances on elevator gate, Islam-as-the-ultimate-enemy, and religious-upbringing-is-a-form-of-child-abuse are unforgivable, and more importantly based on what Dawkins has actively and enthusiastically published.

    So do we “throw him under the bus”, as the current catchphrase would have it? If course not. His best books are still there to be read and enjoyed and admired. But it is quite possible to air public grievances about some of his positions while celebrating other things he’s every said. I’m not sure why his most ardent defenders don’t get this. I mean, I see it as no different to my love of Voltaire, who was the funniest and most incisive humanist writer ever but was a raging anti-Semite. Or Hitchens, who was the second funniest humanist writer ever but was gleefully, deliberately provocatively sexist.

  183. Bicarbonate says

    236 Lawson

    What’s wrong with religious-upbringing-is-a-form-of-abuse? If it isn’t always, it often is and certainly can be.

  184. says

    @consciousness razor

    Meaning it has wider application than a single event.

    Presumably, so did Dawkin’s decision. I don’t get the impression that his point was that he didn’t want to attend that particular event only, if Watson was there.
    The thing I was getting at, though, was that with a general statement, it doesn’t disrupt specific considerations. Organizers aren’t put on the spot and they can more casually decide which person to invite. That’s less pressure than if you’re in the process of negotiating and then you suddenly make a demand that another person (perhaps also in negotiation) can’t attend.

    It’s one thing to make a demand up front. It’s another to keep it hidden and only reveal it once people have already invested time in talking to you.

    Meaning it encouraged (at least implicitly) others to follow suit.

    Or it caused people to support Abbie and boycott PZ. My point is that when it’s public, at least people know what’s going on and they can respond however they wish. It means that the person blacklisted (if that indeed happens) knows that it’s occurring. PZ is putting himself out there, too. You can’t respond if you don’t know it’s happening.

    Like I said, it’s still problematic, but I think it’s less problematic to make a public blanket refusal than it is to make a private refusal, while in the middle of negotiations.

  185. says

    216, Caine, Fleur du mal:

    Rebecca didn’t harass or threaten Dawkins or accuse him of some impropriety

    Sure she did. You’re forgetting about the feminist hair™, man. It’s evil.

    Oh, good Grud, of course. I should’ve realised such vibrant plumage on a fe-Male (running contrary to all Laws of Nature!) would drive a decent, be-tweeded Oxfordian like Monsignor Dawkins to exclaim “I simply will not work with That Woman™” and send him scurrying for his couch and salts.

    And gosh, look: a Wild Dissembler appears as I catch up with the comments! Funkyderek’s done a marvellous job of trotting out a grab-bag of bollocks including gems such as false equivalency and borderline tone-policing as well as displaying advanced competency in obtuse ignorance; I’ve more or less filled a Bingo card thanks to his sterling efforts.

  186. says

    Bicarbonate:

    What’s wrong with religious-upbringing-is-a-form-of-abuse? If it isn’t always, it often is and certainly can be.

    There’s a deeper background there. Dawkins claimed that teaching children about hell was severe abuse. After a bit of back and forth, Dawkins also stated that he had been molested as a child, and between the two, the religious teaching was far more severe abuse.

    It didn’t endear him to a number of people, including myself, who was raped for 6 years as child, and had the fear of hell drilled into me. In my case, hell was the better option.

  187. zhuge, le homme blanc qui ne sait rien mais voudrait says

    In some sense, I think I disagree with some of this post. I understand that there are definitely privilege and power dynamics in play, but I think it can be acceptable to refuse to speak on stage or at an event with some other person there. Just not as a means of bullying, nor as a means of silencing.

    I would refuse to share the stage with David Duke, because it would give him credibility. I would refuse to share the stage with Justin Vacula for similar reasons. But the important thing, to me, is that I would be willing to share that far and wide. I wouldn’t hide that fact. I’d be damned proud of my policy.

    The fact that this is something only whispered about until now with Dawkins suggests that it is bullying and silencing, and not any sort of principled stand. The context obviously supports this, since Watson’s only “sin” was starting a conversation where Dawkins humiliated himself and then criticized him and didn’t like him.

    And that, to me, is the most important thing. It’s not that Dawkins was going to use the means of not speaking on stage with someone, it’s that the person he wouldn’t share the stage with was Rebecca Watson, and he wouldn’t do it because she was mean to him.

    Obviously, of course, others may feel differently. But I don’t think PZ did anything wrong by refusing to share the stage with Abbie Smith. She empowers a group of mysognistic twits who are poisoning this movement and forcing women out of it, and I see no reason to even let the notion cross that I would support a conference where such people are in any way given respect. Of course, I don’t think PZ is doing wrong by chosing to consider the power differential and thus change his policy. But the fact that his policy was public and grounded sensibly makes all the difference in the world to me.

  188. consciousness razor says

    Presumably, so did Dawkin’s decision. I don’t get the impression that his point was that he didn’t want to attend that particular event only, if Watson was there.

    But that is, presumably, the only (relevant) effect of delivering his commandment to Silverman. Because Silverman (with a few bystanders) was there, on the mountaintop, to receive the good word.

    Who wasn’t there? Every other event organizer in the atheist/skeptic/humanist/blahblah community. What Dawkins wanted, in other cases which would apply to them, is beside the point.

    The thing I was getting at, though, was that with a general statement, it doesn’t disrupt specific considerations.

    Sure it does. When any specific organizer decides what they’ll do for their specific event, that general statement disrupts what they might have otherwise done.

    Organizers aren’t put on the spot and they can more casually decide which person to invite. That’s less pressure than if you’re in the process of negotiating and then you suddenly make a demand that another person (perhaps also in negotiation) can’t attend.

    You seem to be saying Silverman shouldn’t have bothered considering, prior to this, whether he’d cave in this general sort of situation, where some pompous shithead made an ultimatum like this? Why should something like that be a “casual” decision, instead of a matter of professional behavior?

  189. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I’m not dyslexic by the way – just a lazy reader.

    You may not be dyslexic, but I’m pretty sure i know something else you are.

  190. klatu says

    @zhuge #242

    In some sense, I think I disagree with some of this post. I understand that there are definitely privilege and power dynamics in play, but I think it can be acceptable to refuse to speak on stage or at an event with some other person there. Just not as a means of bullying, nor as a means of silencing.

    As a personal preference not to associate with someone, yes. No problem there.
    But this wasn’t an expression of such a preference. It was a demand to forbid someone else to speak. It’s silencing, plain and simple, made possible realized by the power Dawkins holds in Big Atheism™.

  191. Jacob Schmidt says

    Caine

    After a bit of back and forth, Dawkins also stated that he had been molested as a child, and between the two, the religious teaching was far more severe abuse.

    It didn’t endear him to a number of people, including myself, who was raped for 6 years as child, and had the fear of hell drilled into me. In my case, hell was the better option.

    So Dawkins was telling other victims how they should feel about their abuse?

  192. zhuge, le homme blanc qui ne sait rien mais voudrait says

    klatu, I don’t disagree. I’m just saying any false equivalence between pz and Dawkins is just that, false.

  193. says

    @consciousness razor

    Who wasn’t there? Every other event organizer in the atheist/skeptic/humanist/blahblah community. What Dawkins wanted, in other cases which would apply to them, is beside the point.

    Unless he’s in the habit of making such demands. If he does it in private, it’s no wonder that we don’t hear about it and from his attitude, it sounds to me like he very well might. So, rather than one public statement, what you get is a number of private statements in each case where it is relevant. If that’s the case, then all the other organizers do in fact hear of it. They just hear it in separate, private conversations.
    Does it seem to you that he might not make this demand the next time he’s asked?

    When any specific organizer decides what they’ll do for their specific event, that general statement disrupts what they might have otherwise done.

    Maybe I’m being unclear. What I mean is that at the time when the statement is made, there’s no ongoing negotiations about attendance. The negotiations and decisions are, to some extent, separated from the demand. It doesn’t eliminate the effect, but it does makes a big difference to how it affects people.

    To make a comparison: In case 1 an employer notes in the wanted add that you’re expected to wear a thong bikini to work. In case 2 the employer mentions nothing in the add, the interview proceeds as normal, but just as you’ve accepted the job, he says “Oh, by the way, do you have a thong bikini you could wear?”

    Those situations are not identical. The fact that you’ve already invested time and energy into the prospect, negotiated about wages and vacation time, and can, so to speak, see the light at the end of the tunnel, will make you more likely to accept a demand you’d otherwise reject.

    You seem to be saying Silverman shouldn’t have bothered considering, prior to this, whether he’d cave in this general sort of situation, where some pompous shithead made an ultimatum like this?

    No, my point is that it’s one thing to sit quietly in your office, surrounded by friends, and make a decision about whether to invite this person or that, and it’s something very different to be in the middle of a discussion with someone that you’ve already all but invited and suddenly be informed, while face to face with the guy, that he has this extra requirement.

    You can certainly say that Silverman ought to act the same in both situations, but realistically, the situations are not the same. Being face to face with the person making the demand makes it much harder to reject it.

    That’s another aspect of it; refusing to invite a person by simply not inviting them is very different from refusing to invite a person by saying, in the middle of discussing arrangements, that you’ve changed your mind and you don’t want them to come.

  194. says

    Jacob:

    So Dawkins was telling other victims how they should feel about their abuse?

    No, I wouldn’t say that. He stated unequivocally that one was definitely worse than the other, then handwaved any disagreement with his “both happened to me and X was much worse, extrapolated it to all children”, then dismissed every one else. It was assholery on a whole new level.

  195. consciousness razor says

    Does it seem to you that he might not make this demand the next time he’s asked?

    What do you think it seems like to me? Yes. This isn’t relevant to what you said in #230. I’m not making any excuses for Dawkins, and I’m not making them for Silverman and PZ either. Why are you?

    To make a comparison: In case 1 an employer notes in the wanted add that you’re expected to wear a thong bikini to work. In case 2 the employer mentions nothing in the add, the interview proceeds as normal, but just as you’ve accepted the job, he says “Oh, by the way, do you have a thong bikini you could wear?”

    Those situations are not identical. The fact that you’ve already invested time and energy into the prospect, negotiated about wages and vacation time, and can, so to speak, see the light at the end of the tunnel, will make you more likely to accept a demand you’d otherwise reject.

    They’re not identical, because you have it backward. Silverman is the “employer.” Dawkins doesn’t get to make such demands, since he isn’t running the show.

  196. says

    CR:

    Silverman is the “employer.” Dawkins doesn’t get to make such demands, since he isn’t running the show.

    Nonetheless, it was Dawkins who had the power. Silverman is the employer, yes, however, he is dependent on the draw of speakers, which makes the power dynamic different from the usual.

  197. chrislawson says

    bicarb @ 238:

    The problem was that Dawkins elided from religious upbringing can be abusive, which I agree with 100%, but ended up writing that religious upbringing is a form of abuse and then, as Caine says, combined it with an I was molested and it wasn’t that bad to intimate that bringing up a child in a religious tradition is worse than child abuse.

    To Dawkins’ credit, he did say that he wasn’t trying to minimise the trauma from the many more serious cases of abuse than he experienced, (see here), but then he keeps saying things like:

    What a child should never be taught is that you are a Catholic or Muslim child, therefore that is what you believe. That’s child abuse.

    And an obsessive concentration on sexual abuse by priests is in danger of blinding us to all their other forms of child abuse.

    (Which is a kind of sexual-abuse version of his Dear Muslima letter: “don’t let acting against sexual abuse blind you to what I think is really important!”)

    And…

    Regarding the accusations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, deplorable and disgusting as those abuses are, they are not so harmful to the children as the grievous mental harm in bringing up the child Catholic in the first place.

    Let’s also remember that Dawkins signed petition that: “children should not be subjected to any regular religious teaching or be allowed to be defined as belonging to a particular religious group based on the views of their parents or guardians.” (He did later express regret for signing the petition, but the fact that he signed it without reading it/thinking through it is a sign of lack of care about the wagons he jumps on.)

    Just to clarify, I would be completely on-side if Dawkins had simply said religious upbringing CAN be abusive, and that abusive religious upbringing can be a form of serious harm to children AS WELL AS physical and sexual abuse. But that’s not what Dawkins said, and that’s repeatedly not what he said, and it’s repeatedly not what he said in prepared statements/essays/speeches that can’t be excused as informal, off-the-cuff remarks.

  198. says

    As long as people stand up to him when he makes mistakes, this may be okay in the end.

    Well….if past is prologue…. Dawkins handles public criticism from both the opposition and the people on his side with all the grace of a 2 minute old giraffe.

  199. says

    I’m not making any excuses for Dawkins, and I’m not making them for Silverman and PZ either. Why are you?

    I don’t think that I am. I’m drawing what I think is a relevant distinction, in response to what another poster said. I’ve been clear in expressing that PZ’s former policy was problematic and I think the present is probably better. I just think that the two situations are different in certain relevant aspects.

    They’re not identical, because you have it backward. Silverman is the “employer.”

    You’re focusing on the wrong part of the analogy. The point isn’t about who’s the employer, but about who’s making the demand. If you really want, I can rephrase it. Two cases again:

    1) You post an add saying that you’re looking for a job and you mention that you must have a corner office.
    2) You respond to a job add in the paper, send in your resume, go through the interview process, get to the final stages and only when the employer offers you the job do you mention your demand for a corner office.

    They’re still not the same.

    Dawkins doesn’t get to make such demands, since he isn’t running the show.

    Really? Because you might have noticed that not only did he make such a demand, but he actually got what he wanted. That’s because, as a big name, he does get to run the show.

    I don’t know how he pares up with Silverman, but Dawkins certainly has more pull than many smaller conventions. He might very well make the difference between a successful convention and a dismal failure.

  200. consciousness razor says

    Nonetheless, it was Dawkins who had the power. Silverman is the employer, yes, however, he is dependent on the draw of speakers, which makes the power dynamic different from the usual.

    There is no lack of quality speakers, who aren’t powerful old white dudes and who would’ve jumped at the chance to speak at Reason Rally. When Silverman could have changed the dynamic (because it’s his event, where he could use his power to decline), but didn’t because Dawkins is oh-so-popular and obviously preferable to all of those alternatives, what’s supposed to be okay about that?

  201. says

    Silverman is the “employer.” Dawkins doesn’t get to make such demands, since he isn’t running the show.

    I don’t think the employer/employee analogy fits here as the powey dynamic is completely different.

    I prefer to liken this incident to Silverman being akin to concert promoter and Dawkins being equivalent to a headline act. Dawkins hears there’s a support band he doesn’t like on the bill, he tells Silverman “If she stays, I go,” and Silverman, being placed in a shitty situation by his star attraction, nixes the support.

    I’ve been in bands and around music for 20+ years. This shit happens, whether an inconsequential pub gig or major festival. No surprise it happens with atheist “stars” on the con circuit.

  202. says

    Maybe a better example would be if the employee is a big name star being courted for a promotion contract.

    1) It’s generally known that Big Star would never work with companies that are connected with other Not Quite As Big Star. Company looks at other prospective names.

    2) Big Star is in negotiation with a company which also is thinking of hiring Not Quite As Big Star. Only as the contract is about to be signed, Big Star mentions: “Of course, I’d never sign a contract with a company that would hire NQABS. You’re not thinking of hiring them, are you? No? in that case you won’t mind putting that in the contract.”
    Company now has to either reject NQABS or flush the last two months of negotiations down the drain.

  203. says

    When Silverman could have changed the dynamic (because it’s his event, where he could use his power to decline), but didn’t because Dawkins is oh-so-popular and obviously preferable to all of those alternatives, what’s supposed to be okay about that?

    Who’s saying it’s okay?

  204. says

    Seriously, CR, if Metallica were headlining Awesomestock and heard a band they hated, say, Creed, were one of the openers, do you think Awesomestock management would say “No” to Metallica if they demanded Creed be kicked off the tour, because they knew a zillion other bands would be happy to have Metallica’s headline slot?

    Like I said, Silverman wasn’t the boss in this situation; he was a hapless event organiser placed into a shitty position by his star attraction. Said star attraction had ALL the power in that transaction; Silverman might well have been derelict in his duty (as far as the AA board went) to tell Dawkins to shove it, then scramble about trying to find another headliner.

  205. says

    CR:

    There is no lack of quality speakers, who aren’t powerful old white dudes and who would’ve jumped at the chance to speak at Reason Rally.

    Yes, there are. A couple of things, though. an event like Reason Rally starts advertising very early, to attract the maximum amount of people, as schedules have to be rearranged, travel done, money saved, all that stuff. So, most of the speakers are lined up fairly early, the big headliners in particular. If Dawkins had already been lined up, and advertising was in place, yes, he had all the cards.

    Also, it doesn’t much matter if I don’t like it, but Dawkins commands a very large draw. Again, he holds all the cards.

    Do I think Silverman could have acted differently? Yes, and dependent on whether or not Dawkins was already signed, it would have been nice to see him dumped in favour of someone else. Unfortunately atheist cons aren’t corporations, with enough of a cushy backfall to do that sort of thing.

  206. cicely says

    I don’t think I have strong biases on this issue other than that I think far too much time and effort has been spent in quarrels that have irreparably damaged what I used to think of as the atheist community. The level of vitriol expended on those who disagree slightly over minor issues strikes me as hugely disproportionate.

    Sure. It’s not your issue…so of course, it is minor. No skin offa your personal nose.
     
    Incidentally, it is a bias, that you consider it a non-issue; just because it is the status quo’s bias, and therefore “business as usual”, doesn’t strip your stated view of its bias.
    It’s only “hugely disproportionate” to you, because you aren’t the one holding onto the muddy end of this cultural/social “stick”.

    *applause* for A. Noyd.

    Abstinence from trampling needs to be reciprocal.

    *applause* for Daz.
    Unilateral trampling is the stock-in-trade of status quo.
    -

  207. consciousness razor says

    Seriously, CR, if Metallica were headlining Awesomestock and heard a band they hated, say, Creed, were one of the openers, do you think Awesomestock management would say “No” to Metallica if they demanded Creed be kicked off the tour, because they knew a zillion other bands would be happy to have Metallica’s headline slot?

    You’re asking me whether or not they would say that. I don’t know or give a fuck. What should they do? That’s a different question. Seriously. Being “realistic” when we talk about their intentions is not telling me a fucking thing about whether they ought to act that way.

    So are you one of the people who’d say it’s okay? Is Silverman? I don’t know, but those would answer Lykex’s question.

  208. says

    Have a heart, Cicely (@263). Surely it’s in the best interest of The Community™ that when we talk about Certain Things we make a concerted effort to make the atmosphere more comfortable for people who aren’t directly affected by those Certain Things.

    [/major snark]

  209. says

    And one of the reasons that I’ve been putting off reading any of Carl Sagan’s autobiographies is that I love his books and Cosmos so much and I know there’s some unflattering material lurking in there that I’ll be uncomfortable seeing pretty much the last hero figure I have crumble.

    Kinda like reading in one of Richard Feynman’s books where he explains that he found out the best way to get laid was to treat women like shit.*

    *passage excised from later editions.

  210. says

    “The language used as recalled some two years later by a single eyewitness. I don’t think we can put too much faith in the exact wording. I think the account is probably true but I’d be very wary about relying on any of the details.”

    One doesn’t wait 2 years – saving an unflattering story about a popular person – if what was said was not at all consequential- unmemorable and did not stand out to you at the time as very problematic. Unless you assume people reporting are psychotic revengeful women with a grudge.

    If had happened in a less offensive way…it would *not* be something to report.

    If Dawkins for instance had said, “I’d prefer not to be on the same dais with Ms. Watson”…without threatening to take his ball and go home, I might understand, after all they are not besties. There’s tension. Saying something to that effect or something similarly less egregious would not be memorable. It would be a bit prima donna…but not horribly demanding.

    Sarah would be harboring no anxiety about not saying it for the two years that passed.

    But Sarah has been stewing it seems. Which tells me what Dawkins said WAS imperious and demanding.
    An imperious demand – IS memorable…and given all the crap that’s been going around..It’s quite understandable that Sarah is/was hesitant to engage the flying pooflingers of the atheosphere by bringing it up. That she did again – makes sense – because of all that is happening.

    Is it more likely that:

    A. Sarah is a horrible grudge bearing not at all well person with a Dawkin’s obsession…which would be a reason for WHY she would make this up….and then start a shitshow after two years…

    or

    B. That Dawkins has an outsized ego and is a bit of a demanding person used to being catered to by an adoring fan base – and made an imperious demand/threat.

    There might be other explanations…but those seem to be our two options.

    I’ll take B.

  211. says

    You’re asking me whether or not they would say that. I don’t know or give a fuck. What should they do? That’s a different question

    That may be the issue, then. I know this is response to someone else, but I’ve been getting the feeling that we may be talking past each other and if that’s the case, then maybe this is it. See, I’m not talking about what the organizer should do. I’m talking about what the big name star should do. I’m comparing the conducts of Dawkins and PZ. I’m not talking about Silverman at all.

    In this context, Silverman is only relevant as a part of the environment in which Dawkins is acting. So, given the fact that Silverman is likely to be influenced in certain ways by his demand, should Dawkins make that demand or not?

  212. says

    The idea that Dawkins “did not want the drama,” is…. hilarious considering that the original report sounds very much like someone who has no problem with drama…the drama of the prima donna demanding green M and Ms and the exclusion of other ballerinas she doesn’t get on with…

    Observed in context, what fans most liked about Hitchens AND Dawkins in their bitchiness in performance. There’s a name for it in Hitch’s case….the Hitchslap!

    Sadly, it seems to bleed out into how Dawkins treats the underlings and people who are not groveling sycophants.

  213. cicely says

    Surely it’s in the best interest of The Community™ that when we talk about Certain Things we make a concerted effort to make the atmosphere more comfortable for people who aren’t directly affected by those Certain Things.

    Works for the Pope.
    <volley snark>
    -

  214. says

    RE Age and offensiveness….this is the Paula Deen defense…and it’s unacceptable.
    The senility thing is offensive.

    I know MANY 70+ year old people who are perfectly awesome – who do not suffer fools practicing -isms at all.

    A 70 year old lived through the last 50 years of discourse and tumult and resistance. If they managed to STAY the same shit head they were 50 years ago…that is on them…not their age.

  215. consciousness razor says

    In this context, Silverman is only relevant as a part of the environment in which Dawkins is acting. So, given the fact that Silverman is likely to be influenced in certain ways by his demand, should Dawkins make that demand or not?

    Yes, I get that you were coming at it from that angle. You’re saying he’s likely to act a certain way (which is shitty and you’re not saying it’s okay, just explaining it to me as if I’m incredibly naive). You might have wanted to say the reason PZ was a little better about it than Dawkins is because it’s not putting organizers in situations where they’re likely to do such shitty things. But you gave different reasons, and I still don’t see how you really addressed my responses to those above.

  216. chrislawson says

    Jafafa Hots:

    Do you have a source for those Feynman chapters? I ask because I have quite old (but nowhere near 1st edition) copies of both Feynman’s autobiographical books and I can recall his discussion of working out an algorithm to “chat up barmaids”, but he didn’t go into much detail. While he was obviously objectifying barmaids as potential sexual conquests, I can’t recall anything that would count as “treating women like shit” as a getting-laid strategy. Happy to be brought up to speed if you can point me in the right direction.

  217. A. Noyd says

    cityzenjane (#254)

    Well….if past is prologue…. Dawkins handles public criticism from both the opposition and the people on his side with all the grace of a 2 minute old giraffe.

    Hahahaha! At least 2 minute old giraffes are a lot less smug.

  218. says

    To make it absolutely clear, I am retracting my previous post about refusing to speak at any conference that also includes Abbie Smith. This is not in any way a change in my opinion of her, but recognition that that puts organizers into an uncomfortable position.

    I will say as well that I only had ONE conversation with a conference organizer where a potential conflict came up — they were dithering over whether to invite her or me. It was a con somewhere closer to where she lives, and I told them that they should be building local talent (and getting more women involved), and encouraged them to invite her rather than me. She’s not exactly an asset for creating a supportive environment for women, so maybe that was a mistake…I don’t know if they did ultimately bring her in.

  219. notsont says

    Quite correct. And I have realized that.

    Thank you PZ, This was bothering me, many people here would defend you no matter what you did and honestly that is disturbing. I remember when you said you would not attend shows if Abby was invited also, and at the time I agreed with you. Seeing it in action with Dawkins though really does highlight the wrongness of it.

  220. says

    “I’m not dyslexic by the way – just a lazy reader.”

    You did not fucking do that.

    To those of us that are….you do NOT get to grab a disability to mask your shit headedness.

    FUCK YOU BUDDY.

  221. says

    Primary diff between PZ and Dawkins … PZ owns his errors and works to correct them publicly in ways that matter.

    No such behavior has (as far as I have seen in 5 years) ever been forthcoming from Dawkins. His move is to double down…and apparently throw his power around behind closed doors.

  222. says

    PZ:

    I told them that they should be building local talent (and getting more women involved), and encouraged them to invite her rather than me.

    That is right, though. That’s exactly what con organizers should do. If Abbie falls down on helping to create a supportive environment for women, that’s on her, and it allows the con organizers to assess whether or not they want her back or not, on her own merit. It’s the right way to do things.

  223. says

    Regarding the accusations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, deplorable and disgusting as those abuses are, they are not so harmful to the children as the grievous mental harm in bringing up the child Catholic in the first place.

    Having been raised nominally Catholic… and turning out a skeptical atheist type….and having NOT been abused as a child I am pretty sure if given the option to trade a past filled with sexual abuse – or having to tolerate going to church a few times a year…with all that beautiful music and the nice smells I could space out to…

    I would choose a few Sundays in church….after all my mind is a palace. I always guarded it well. My body I had much less power to defend.

    (His statement is fractally wrong…that’s what the kids say right?)

  224. says

    Cityzenjane:

    I think I may want to change my pseud to GimpShield ExtraOrdinaire… For When just Being A Dickhead Is not Enough.

    Please don’t use dickhead, because we ask for newbs all the time to not use gendered slurs or insults. It’s difficult to do that when people place them in their nyms.

  225. dezn_98 says

    @238

    I have all of feynmans books … ans i can confirm that story is in there. i have it on my bookshelf right now. I also remember that story clearly because I remember thinking how PUA’s employ this age old sexist strategy yo get laid and they think they are ingenious for it…

  226. says

    To make it absolutely clear, I am retracting my previous post about refusing to speak at any conference that also includes Abbie Smith. This is not in any way a change in my opinion of her, but recognition that that puts organizers into an uncomfortable position.

    Geee, what kind of skeptic are you PZ? True Skeptics ®™ don’t change their opinions when presented with new ideas or information. They dogmatically stick to them so that everyone knows what kind of True Skeptic®™ they are.

  227. Ingdigo Jump says

    PS. Would you guys feel so free to be aggressive if you knew I was dyslexic and this was quite hard for me?

    I’m not dyslexic by the way – just a lazy reader.

    …………………./´¯/)
    ………………..,/¯../
    ………………./…./
    …………./´¯/’…’/´¯¯`·¸
    ………./’/…/…./……./¨¯\
    ……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
    ………\……………..’…../
    ……….”…\………. _.·´
    …………\…………..(
    …………..\………….\…

  228. says

    Chris Lawson:
    Sorry, I don’t have a citation. I had an early edition and was shocked to read it there, years ago.
    I mentioned it years ago on a forum and someone was upset to hear it, wasn’t in their edition.

    He was describing his days when he first started dating and having sex, and if I remember correctly was surprised when one woman slept with him after he bought her dinner or a drink (I may have that part wrong.)

    He went on to tell of another woman who wouldn’t sleep with him despite him buying her dinner (possibly a few times) until he finally yelled at her and called her a name (Whore? Tease? I don’t recall) and she broke down in tears and was apologetic and had sex with him. And he related that that was when he realized that the way to get women to have sex was to treat them like crap.

    Obviously some of this is likely distorted in my memory by the number of years it has been since I read it, but in the discussion I mentioned above, the person who was upset to hear it and I compared editions, and I quoted the passage straight from my copy, and it wasn’t in her copy.

    I subsequently sold my copy when I was a book dealer, so I can’t check now, but one other person in the discussion had the same edition as I did and confirmed it too.

    If someone wanted to spend a few bucks they could probably track down a 1st or second printing off of amazon and check – I’m pretty sure that while my copy was an early one, I don’t think it was a first edition.
    Was a paperback, BTW.

    I may be mischaracterizing the section due to faulty memory to some degree, but it definitely was in the early editions and removed from later ones, without mention.

  229. dezn_98 says

    @293

    I can confirm this. My edition is a paperback as well, and I have the story on me, and its identical to he blog post about it someone linked – he def called her a whore and asked for his sandwich money back.

    I was actually unaware they took it out.

  230. says

    PZ, #279

    To make it absolutely clear, I am retracting my previous post about refusing to speak at any conference that also includes Abbie Smith. This is not in any way a change in my opinion of her, but recognition that that puts organizers into an uncomfortable position.

    Travis, #289

    Geee, what kind of skeptic are you PZ? True Skeptics ®™ don’t change their opinions when presented with new ideas or information. They dogmatically stick to them so that everyone knows what kind of True Skeptic®™ they are.

    John Maynard Keynes,

    When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?

    It’s an oldie, but a goodie.

  231. says

    Caine. Noted.

    Abject Apologies…genuinely felt.

    I shall work on being less of a lazy dyslexic.

    For When You’ve Been a Shitty Person and Need to Deflect onto an already Oppressed Group

    …yeah needs work…

    (Thanks Caine.)

  232. says

    The woman I was talking with assured me it was not in her edition.
    If not taken from all editions, maybe it was excised from “Book Club” editions or some such.

  233. says

    This is building on what cityzenjane said, but the “he’s an old British guy, what do you expect” excuse is a cop-out that throws lots of older people under the bus. This comes up now and again on Yo Is This Racist: old people lived through these fights for equality, and in many cases, were contemporaries of the people leading them. Britain isn’t, so far as I know, insulated from those fights, and Dawkins himself is no stranger to feminist thought. Shameful as it probably is, I learned “consciousness-raising” from The God Delusion, and it helped me accept that gender-neutral terms weren’t just PC bullshit.

    Dawkins has no excuse; let’s stop trying to give him one by patronizingly patting old and British people on the head and acting like they’re incapable of rising above the past beyond some arbitrary point.

  234. says

    Jafafa Hots,
    Sorry for beating you. I live in a small bachelor apartment, my books are not much more than an arms reach away. If it makes you feel better, I stretched really hard and leaned back in my chair because I was too lazy to get up, and my arm is a bit sore now.

  235. says

    Ingdigo:

    Oh crap, havn’t checked new rules yet, sorry if I effed up

    As a person who is dyslexic, you had every fucking right to post that. I’m not gonna say you did wrong.

    Cityzenjane, you could always substitute with asshole. Or doucheweasel. Or douchecake. Or Pisscake. Or any number of good stuff.

  236. says

    Tom Foss:

    This is building on what cityzenjane said, but the “he’s an old British guy, what do you expect” excuse is a cop-out that throws lots of older people under the bus.

    Yes. As I pointed out to the not charmng Alex HM, I’ll soon be 56, and I’m light years ahead of Dawkins in regard to issues such as sexism. He’s not all that much older than I am. He is a prime example of a person who has refused to adapt. I don’t want anyone thinking all older people are like that, they aren’t.

  237. ekwhite says

    cityzenjane:

    Thank you for saying so eloquently what I tried to say earlier today. I am 60, soon to be 61, and am the son and grandson of two women who died of Alzheimers.

    Professor Dawkins is 72 and is as far as I know in full control of his faculties. His behavior reeks of unexamined privilege. Growing up in a different age certainly affected him, as it did me, but it does not excuse him from ignoring the past 50 years of history.

  238. Mark R says

    In case anyone wants to know what the A.A. say about this story:

    American Atheists, Inc. (Official)
    11 hours ago
    A recent blog post by Sarah Moglia alleges that American Atheists President Dave Silverman acquiesced to a demand by Richard Dawkins in September 2011 that he choose between Rebecca Watson and Dr. Dawkins as speakers at the Reason Rally in March 2012.

    American Atheists and Mr. Silverman do not condone, support, or participate in the practice of allowing potential convention speakers, or convention supporters, sponsors, or attendees, to blacklist or attempt to blacklist other potential speakers and attendees.

    While Mr. Silverman does not dispute that an exchange with Dr. Dawkins took place in Miami in September of 2011, there was no acquiescence on Mr. Silverman’s part. At the time the exchange took place, Ms. Watson had not in fact been invited to speak at the Reason Rally, and that decision had already been made. The Reason Rally had many more requests from prominent atheists to speak than speaking slots to offer.

    American Atheists and Mr. Silverman appreciate Ms. Moglia’s effort to bring attention to the issue of blacklisting speakers despite that in this particular instance she was not in possession of all the facts. Like many other organizations, American Atheists has faced occasional criticism and threats of boycott for its choice of speakers, but maintains the stance that the growing atheist community is big enough, diverse enough, and reasonable enough to understand the value in diverse perspectives.

    American Atheists believes this is an opportunity for consciousness-raising and growth, and continues to encourage and support reasonable and open discourse about controversies for the wider benefit of the long-term goals of atheism activism.

  239. scimaths says

    I first came across Dawkins donkey’s years ago – way before the interwebs had taken off, and he was just another entitled, arrogant, upperclass, old boys club kind of guy. Two a penny in Oxford and academia in general, then and now.

    Fast forward to my first encounter with internet atheism, which basically consited of the rather risible sight of a bunch of Americans swooning over their new superhero R. Dawkins. He doesn’t seem to have changed much, nor has the culture in general that still holds men like him up as Very Important Voices and Leaders, and is more than happy to exclude those who are “other”.

  240. scimaths says

    My edition is a paperback as well, and I have the story on me, and its identical to he blog post about it someone linked – he def called her a whore and asked for his sandwich money back.

    Yes. Feynman was a misogynistic creep too. In his next book there’s a short chapter where he defends himself by declaring that he likes his sister and once put a bunch of hysterical feminists in their place, so not sexist at all.

    Question to everybody: why do you make men like these your heroes in the first place ? Even if you then get disillusioned, what is going on that you fall for them to start with ?

  241. stevebowen says

    @ dezn_98 I’m so pleased I managed to amuse you.
    For what it’s worth I have no issue with anyone censuring Dawkins for his abuses of privilage, his sexist attitudes and completely unnacceptable treatment of Rebecca Watson . I was merely pointing out that those few people who are into a wholesale damnation of the man’s past and character might like to reconsider.
    In some ways it’s a pity that Dawkins ever pursued his four horseman persona beyond writing The God Delusion as, frankly, he’s not very good at it. My admiration for him is as a writer and an evolutionary biologist, not as an advocate for atheism and certainly not when he’s unscripted. Also he (like me) would be better off not opining on issues of sexism as he’s unqualified to do so. I’ve almost learned that lesson: he hasn’t apparently.

  242. scimaths says

    Britain is still very much more a class stratified society then the US.

    No it isn’t

    I would not really expect him to be the kind of person who would be ever out on the “barricades” with Labor pushing for more justice.

    The idea that “Labour” are out on the streets pushing for any sort of justice, rather than just another flavour of old boys club is laughable.

  243. Dabu says

    It’s become thuddingly clear that “Dear Muslima” wasn’t an aberration or a bad day on Dawkins’ part. It was consistent with how he is. I have no doubt he’d immediately condemn identical behavior that he heard about someone else doing, especially if they were religious’n’shit. Dawkins is happy with the idea of feminism, so long as women are properly grateful by paying due deference to his awesome progressiveness.

    That petulant Rebecca-directed display? No one behaves like that unless they know they can get away with it, and knowing they can get away with it is knowledge gleaned from having done it before. I’ve enjoyed many of Dawkins’ books over the years, as he can be a lucid, powerful communicator. Trouble is, he’s also spoiled.

  244. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    @stevebowen

    What I think you’re trying to say is that while Dawkins is an excellent writer on the subject of, and advocate for, science and Atheism with many accomplishments in those fields, he is also a sexist idiot who absolutely falls down on issues of feminism; and that it is perfectly legitimate to acknowledge his contributions to and achievements in the former while also smacking him down for his failures in the latter. You seem, if I may say so, to be coming at this in a rather roundabout fashion, but assuming that is what you are saying then I agree. If not, then please correct me, but if it is then just say it, and stop pussy footing around with all this talk of “trampling”.

    All the talk of trampling gives the impression that you feel we should be acknowledging his achievements in the same breath as condemning his failures, in order to add some sort of balance. However, the two are separate subjects. It is no more necessary to bring up his achievements in every discussion of his failures than it is to bring up his failures in every discussion of his achievements. I agree that he is a product of his time and background, but so is everyone, and there is no reason to give him a pass for his bad behaviour because of that, nor to try and balance out his failures by saying “Yeah, but [insert big list of his achievements]. And the phrasing you use makes it seem as if that is what you are trying to do (excuse, or at least mitigate, his bad behaviour by discussing his achievements), which is presumably why you have been recieved less than favourably.

  245. Alex says

    Just dropping by to stress that I am not Alex HM.

    Also, I DO think that Richard Dawkins has played a very important role
    for american atheists (with lowercase a) (as a “catalyst”, galvanic bath, whatever) back in the day when TGD came out. I’m sure there are tons of people whose lives have been profoundly affected by his media presence etc.

    I also think that this got to Dawkins’ head, kind of like a rock star who can’t handle the devotion by thousands of fans. I’m sure it is very tempting to see yourself as the patron saint and father figure of all the poor oppressed atheists all over the world, and every new testimonial how someone was “saved” by Richard lets him slip a bit further towards the dark side of atheist palpa.. erm papacy.

  246. Walton says

    That’s remarkably juvenile, petty and downright nasty behaviour from Dawkins. (And no, it’s not uncorroborated; I’ve read from other sources that Dawkins refuses to speak at events where Watson is speaking.) He knows perfectly well that it will harm her career; he evidently doesn’t care, because his personal vendetta is more important to him than other people or the community. Sigh.

    It just cements my position: I am very disenchanted with mainstream New Atheism, and have been so for a while. At best, it’s a movement dominated by self-important, overprivileged, white men who have little regard for, or apparent understanding of, the socio-political consequences of their rhetoric. And at worst, it allows outright racists like Pat Condell, and misogynists like Justin Vacula, to shelter within its ranks. I’m a radical atheist, and I think we can make a radical, intersectional, sociologically-informed critique of religion; but the likes of Dawkins and Harris fail to achieve that, and their brand of activism often makes things worse rather than better.

    And I support and admire PZ’s pledge, by the way.

  247. chrislawson says

    Thanks, Travis and Jafafa Hots. I really can’t recall that story from memory, so either my editions are bowdlerised or my memory is at fault (it was a long time ago that I read them). Either way, it looks like Feynman was one of the early “players” into negging. Since Randall Munroe often portrays Feynman as some kind of great ladies’ man AND clearly despises negging, I wonder if he didn’t read the edited version too.

  248. says

    Actually I’m not against taking a stand and refusing to speak at the same events as another person per se.
    But that decision must be made carefully and weigh a few criteria

    1. Power: Who is likely to stay at home? If it’s you, go ahead, nobody is entitled to tell you what to do with your own time. If it’s most likely the other person you are wielding power and need to consider further arguments.

    2. How bad is that person, actually? I think it would be downright unethical to lend credibilty to people like Jenny McCarthy or Burzanski or such. At that point a boycott is the ethical behaviour.

    3. How important is this? This is tied in with 2. and smells a bit of “lie back and think of the movement, I know. But it’s true. We have to weigh the effects, since each of the decisions has consequences. If you go to a place where X is speaking then you might inadvertedly lend them credibility or solidarity. If you don’t go, then your case will suffer and it’s not always easy to make that decision and others will disagree.

    4. Make your decision public and give your reasons (unless they would mean a risk to you, of course). That way people can decide whether they agree with you or not, but the cards are on the table.

    In Dawkins’ case, he answered the questions like this:
    1. I’m Richard Dawkins. I am important. I am right. Pick me!
    2. She hurt my manly man fee-fees. There is no crime worse than that. She also didn’t buy my book which means that she owes me 2 bucks.
    3. Nothing is more important than people listening to ME ME ME. Because I’m not only always right, I’m also infallible when it comse to words.
    4. I have no reason to justify myself in front of the peons.

    +++
    As for the “old and senile”: Fuck that shit. My gran has Alzheimers. When she is cruel and mean it is because at those moments she is completely disoriented, does not know where she is or who we are and feels threatened by all those strange people and places. Dawkins, OTOH looks very much like in control of himself and the situation.

  249. onex says

    I think we really need to stop pretending that David Silverman is an ally. If he pretends to be it is only a facade of convenience. The fact that he acceded to his demands and other troubling stories about the working climate at AA makes me think we would be wrong to still support him.

  250. Al Dente says

    This is a punching up versus punching down situation. Dawkins angered Watson so she said she would not listen to his speeches, buy his books, or otherwise support him. She also explained why and it’s a matter of principle. Dawkins dismissed her legitimate concerns and did so quite rudely. Watson also said it was a personal thing and nobody had to follow her lead.

    Dawkins retaliated by refusing to support any convention or other gathering at which Watson would speak. This is decidedly different from refusing to listen to her speeches. It’s putting the onus on convention organizers to chose Dawkins or Watson. Also the reason he’s doing this is not based on principle but pique. Watson publicly pointed out a flaw in Dawkins’ personality and Dawkins is angry about an attack on his awesomeness.

  251. says

    No, don’t just throw out us old white guys with our old ideas. Try to encourage those of us who are willing to learn and grow to continue to do so.

  252. Bernard Bumner says

    I think we really need to stop pretending that David Silverman is an ally.

    Silverman failed to stand up to Dawkins and American Atheists offered a rather uneven and unconvincing defence of the situation.

    On the other hand, the gender balance of the speakers lists for AA events is notable, their events give good prominence to issues of social justice, have strong anti-harassment and pro-equality policies, and Silverman has been a public voice against anti-feminists.

  253. says

    I said it long ago on one of the old Pharyngulas… I have a problem with anyone who would place or allow to be placed their name in a logo that tries to represent atheism as a whole. I could never stand that A shirt for that very reason.

    I couldn’t understand how someone could be that egotistical to think that such a thing was even appropriate.

    Always seemed like hucksterism.

  254. Al Dente says

    PZ @322

    No, don’t just throw out us old white guys with our old ideas. Try to encourage those of us who are willing to learn and grow to continue to do so.

    I’m older than you are PZ and I think I understand things like privilege, power dynamics, and marginalization. I certainly understand these concepts better than Richard Dawkins does.

  255. David Wilford says

    FYI, the passage in Feynman’s “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman” being referred to is titled “You Just ASK Them?” and was never excised from the book, at least of the last paperback edition that was issued in 1997 in the U.S. Maybe there’s some foreign edition of the book where that passage was edited out, but I doubt it.

  256. A. Noyd says

    Al Dente (#321)

    Dawkins angered Watson

    He did way more than that. He attacked and belittled her and encouraged (even if it wasn’t intentional) a fuckton more anti-feminists to harass and attack her for the Elevatorgate thing while feeling justified in their hatred of her (because Dawkins was on their side, oooh!). Which probably made her angry, yeah, but it was more about the fact that she didn’t want to support someone who was harming her and who was hostile to feminism.

  257. screechymonkey says

    Re Feynmann: I don’t have my copy of the book handy, but my recollection is that he wrote that he quickly abandoned (what we would now call) pick-up artist techniques, because it just seemed … I forget his words, but shabby or sad or just plain wrong — basically he just didn’t want to act that way. I’ll look it up this weekend if someone else hasn’t beat me to it.

  258. says

    screechymonkey,
    I have the book in front of me now, and the last paragraph is basically as you said:

    So it worked even with an ordinary girl! But no matter how effective the lesson was, I never really used it after that. I didn’t enjoy doing it that way. But it was interesting to know that these things worked much differently from how I was brought up.

  259. Anthony K says

    Re Feynmann: I don’t have my copy of the book handy, but my recollection is that he wrote that he quickly abandoned (what we would now call) pick-up artist techniques, because it just seemed … I forget his words, but shabby or sad or just plain wrong — basically he just didn’t want to act that way. I’ll look it up this weekend if someone else hasn’t beat me to it.

    There’s a lot of casual sexism in Feynman’s writing (or, I suppose more correctly, his storytelling), but yes, You Just ASK Them? does end that way (PDF):

    But no matter how effective the lesson was, I never really used it after that. I didn’t enjoy doing it that way. But it was interesting to know that things worked much differently from how I was brought up.

  260. David Wilford says

    screechymonkey, your recollection is correct, as the last paragraph from that section relates:

    So it worked even with an ordinary girl! But no matter how effective the lesson was, I never really used it after that. I didn’t enjoy doing it that way. But it was interesting to know that things worked much differently from how I was brought up.

  261. says

    Anthony K,
    I could go for a drink right about now. My uncle has cask strength, single cask single malt whisky waiting for me at his house right now. Sadly I have no idea what it is, but I am looking forward to having it tomorrow.

  262. Anthony K says

    Ooh, that sounds delicious, Travis. I’m in the mood for a drink right now myself, but more pressing is my desire for a cigarette. Trying to quit, but I’m not going to survive the workday unless I have one. I’ve already yelled at one coworker, and I don’t like to do that.

  263. says

    Anthony,
    I understand, no need to justify your habits with me. If you look carefully at my photo on here you will see a cigarette. I do not smoke a lot, but it is a habit I also have.

  264. marcmagus says

    I note that the official response from A.A. is a tacit acknowledgement that Dawkins made the attempt to blacklist Watson.

    All they deny is that this was the reason for their decision, claiming they had already decided not to invite her that year.

    Does anybody still think Dawkins has been mischaracterized?

  265. says

    So it worked even with an ordinary girl! But no matter how effective the lesson was, I never really used it after that. I didn’t enjoy doing it that way. But it was interesting to know that these things worked much differently from how I was brought up.

    I see. So the method (treating women like shit) “worked” not only with the bar “bitches” but also with “ordinary girls,” but he stopped using it because he didn’t enjoy it despite finding it interesting to learn “how these things worked.”

    Redeemed.

  266. says

    The fact that he acceded to his demands …

    This is not really established. From Sarah’s telling it seems to me David was presented with a very demanding display by Dawkins which from her description – David responded awkwardly…I mean GAH…WHO ACTS LIKE THAT (Dawkins). It does sound like the line up had already been decided and Dawkins laying the boom had nothing to do with the line up in the end…in this instance…

    It sounds like David wasn’t a shining example of courage in the moment – but frankly I would have been gobsmacked were I privy to such a display…

    I’m willing to see how it all plays out and hope I am right to give David some leeway in this instance. That said… lots could change my mind about that, including examples of other instances of spinelessness in relation to celebrity.

  267. says

    RE Feyneman…. it’s amazing what a smart and manipulative person can do to ANYONE with low self-esteem… that’s kinda the gist of it isn’t it? Sad that he thought it was just women who were vulnerable to this sort of abuse/manipulation.

  268. scimaths says

    Sad that he thought it was just women who were vulnerable to this sort of abuse/manipulation.

    Sad, but interesting that so many men like him are so ready to believe that this is what women fundamentally are. Despite actual evidence to the contrary, they prefer the misogynistic “stupid bitch” fantasy rather than the facts of women’s humanity and suffering.

  269. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Does your new policy not apply to non-skeptic/atheist conferences? Or has this been grandfathered in?

    Why should a new policy apply to speaking engagements already accepted, when he is talking about acceptance of future speaking engagements? Pulling out at this late date to an already accepted engagement would hurt the conference’s advertising budget.

  270. says

    @krelnik
    Presumably, if the conference is in October, the final agreements were made months ago.

    Furthermore, there’s a big difference between withdrawing from a skeptic conference, in favor of another skeptic, and withdrawing from a woo conference, eliminating one of (as far as I can tell) very few skeptic voices.
    This whole subject is about attitudes within the atheist/skeptic community, after all. We’re not fighting for greater diversity in Answers In Genesis’ hiring practices, either.

    In other words, I’d imagine the answer is “both”. Do you think PZ should step down?

  271. says

    Situations like Tim brings up in comment 342 are part of that ugly web of choices that we all have to deal with as best we can. Do we want more skeptical voices in unskeptical places? Of course we do. Do we want female skeptics to have greater visibility? Of course we do (I assume). Do we know that unskeptical people want to deal only with skeptics who they think will help improve their own visibility? I would hope so, if they stop to think about it.

    So, sometimes those people may be willing to accept a suggestion for a different skeptic to be allowed in their spaces. Sometimes they won’t. When they won’t, do we not send any skeptic?

    Tim, I’m curious what you would do in that situation.

  272. says

    Well, an aspect to consider is what if you don’t know the full lineup until well after you have accepted?

    For example, I don’t speak a ton but I’ve already been invited to speak at two different conferences in 2014. In neither case have I been told the identities of any of the other speakers. (And nor should I expect it – both conferences are early in planning). So what happens if at a later date the lineup is published and it’s all white male?

    It would seem one has to be ready to withdraw after accepting (even if that causes problems for you or the organizers) or such a policy is not going to have much practical effect.

    As for me, I would probably take the opportunity to talk with the organizers and suggest some other (more diverse) speakers they could invite, in addition or in place of me.

  273. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    So what happens if at a later date the lineup is published and it’s all white male?

    Well, are you a person who keeps their promises or not?
    I believe PZ is talking about making sure that attempts at diversity are being made prior to accepting a speaking invitation. Backing out post acceptance without a good reason is bad form.

  274. says

    @krelnik, #347:

    Well, an aspect to consider is what if you don’t know the full lineup until well after you have accepted?

    If you make your conditions clear when you accept, then the organizers know that you will withdraw if the lineup is not diverse. Then they can plan accordingly, even if that means telling you that they can’t meet the conditions. I know one speaker who has a document to this effect that she sends out whenever she accepts a speaking engagement.

    Giving this clear notice as well as making suggestions, as you note you would do, makes this likely to be a practical and effective policy.

  275. says

    That seems pretty reasonable, but I think it can still go a step further. If you’re concerned for the organizers but you want to implement a policy like this, it would make sense to talk to them about your policy at the time they invite you to talk. Then, if they don’t take care to consider diversity in their decision-making, they’ll already be aware that this could affect your participation.

  276. says

    The person I’m talking about does discuss it first. The document is written confirmation of that policy as well as other points of agreement, just to have it in writing so there’s less chance of a problem or misunderstanding (and to have something that can be passed on if some of the organizers’ tasks are delegated). But yes, it should be discussed before any acceptance at all. I completely agree.

  277. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Wlll Shetterly

    You would step aside because all white guys think alike? If you’re only considering skin color and gender, your commitment to diversity is cosmetic.

    Actually, some do. Nothing but unrecognized male privilege, and the outlook of women and minorities doesn’t ever appear, nor do they want to hear that. Why aren’t you seeing the obvious?

  278. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    @Will Shetterly

    Depends what you mean by”think alike”. Privilege leads to blind spots, people with the same privileges will have the same blind spots. Therefore, the best way to remove those blind spots from a group is to diversify the group, so that people’s privileges overlap as little as possible. This allows said group to cover more ground and be relevant to more people.

    In other words, a more diverse group of speakers will cover subjects which appeal to a more diverse audience, i.e. a wider audience. Diverse groups of speakers are good for the con. Diverse cons are good for the movement. Geddit?

  279. says

    Nerd of Redhead, I believe human difference is greater within the races and genders than it is between them. A neoliberal politician will act pretty much the same way, whether that person is Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. When I want diversity, I want diversity of thought. I would much rather hear a socialist debate a neocon than hear Allen West debate Michelle Malkin. If the discussion is about atheism and the speakers are both middle-class people with the same politics, where’s the diversity?

  280. says

    Thumper, perhaps this is a better example: George W. Bush’s cabinet was more diverse than any that had preceded it. I haven’t checked to see whether it’s more diverse than Obama’s, but it’s certainly comparable to Obama’s in its diversity. But does that mean it was diverse in any meaningful way?

  281. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If the discussion is about atheism and the speakers are both middle-class people with the same politics, where’s the diversity?

    Experiences growing up. Growing up female, black, brown, rural, city, suburban are all different experiences. Why aren’t you seeing the obvious? Or, are you just another dude who thinks they can tell women, blacks, browns, etc, how they should feel and think? That is how you are coming across.

  282. says

    Nerd of Redhead, yes, race and gender will make a difference in your experience. But bourgie black folks and bourgie white folks are far more similar than they’re different. If I can see a rich white male New York atheist debate a rich black female New York atheist, I’ll shrug. But if I could see a working class atheist debate an Ivy League atheist, I’ll be intrigued, no matter what their race or sex may be.

    I think Myer’s announcement that he will only be on diverse panels is admirable. But his list is missing the most important kind of diversity, diversity of thought.

  283. Nick Gotts says

    Thumper, perhaps this is a better example: George W. Bush’s cabinet was more diverse than any that had preceded it. I haven’t checked to see whether it’s more diverse than Obama’s, but it’s certainly comparable to Obama’s in its diversity. But does that mean it was diverse in any meaningful way? – Will Shetterly

    Er, yes. It wasn’t diverse politically because it was deliberately selected not to be, but that does not make the ways in which it was diverse meaningless. On average, if you aim for ethnic, gender, class background andor sexual orientation diversity in your speakers you will get a wider range of viewpoints than if you don’t, because life experience makes a difference. You will also make it clear that your event is open to people of a wide range of backgrounds, and values their participation. But perhaps you don’t think that’s a worthwhile aim.

  284. Nick Gotts says

    bourgie – Will Shetterly, #360

    Eh?

    But his list is missing the most important kind of diversity, diversity of thought.

    So, you’d like fundamentalist Christians, jihadi Islamists, Nazis, homeopathists and David Icke invited?

  285. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    @Will Shetterly #356

    Fuck me, did you actually read my post at all?

    Look; by dint of the way our society is, people of different ethnicities have different experiences. These experiences inform their opinions and their worldview. Thus, having an ethnically diverse panel means having a panel with diverse opinions and ideas. With me?

    This also applies to differences in sex, gender, sexuality, ability/disability… literally any difference you can think of, because our experiences influence who we are as a person. A “cosmetically diverse”, to paraphrase yourself, panel is a panel with diverse opinions and ideas.

  286. says

    Yes, there are multiple kinds of diversity. Achieving diversity of race/gender/sexual orientation/gender expression/economic background/whatever does not guarantee achieving any other kind of diversity.

    Of course, I haven’t seen anybody claiming that it did, so I’m baffled as to what point Will Shetterly thinks he’s making.

  287. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    @Will Shetterly

    But his list is missing the most important kind of diversity, diversity of thought.

    My point being that PZ is promoting diversity of thought.

  288. The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical says

    Will Shetterly

    If I can see a rich white male New York atheist debate a rich black female New York atheist, I’ll shrug.

    You’re a white dude. You’re used to seeing people who look like you in positions of authority. You’re used to hearing the voices of people who look like you. You’re used to people taking it for granted that people who look like you have a place in atheism.

    This is not the case for a lot of people. One of the reasons it’s good to have diversity in gender and race is that it makes for a more welcoming space for people who aren’t white dudes. And perhaps you’re unaware of the subtle differences between (to use your example) Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, but I can assure you that POC understand those differences well. Some minor reference that doesn’t even ping on your radar speaks volumes to those who know.

    So a Black woman atheist speaking is going to a) make the space feel less exclusionary, b) understand things in ways that another speaker wouldn’t, and c) be understood by the listeners in ways that another speaker wouldn’t.

    Maybe a white dude in the audience won’t get much more out of her speaking than he would out of anyone else, but he’s not the only person who matters.

  289. says

    PZ, would you step aside for Richard Dawkins?

    Nick, if you want an echo chamber made of many hues, that’s fine. But any list of diversity that does not include class is an incomplete list. You might google “When Class Became More Important to a Child’s Education Than Race” if you think PZ’s concept of diversity is the most important one.

  290. says

    PZ, would you step aside for Richard Dawkins?

    Can you articulate the benefit to doing so?

    Nick, if you want an echo chamber made of many hues, that’s fine.

    How clever. Would you mind attempting to engage with what’s actually being said rather than your little fantasy of what’s being said?

    But any list of diversity that does not include class is an incomplete list.

    1. Nobody has suggested excluding class as a basis for diversity criteria.

    2. Including various “cosmetic” markers, especially race, increases the odds that different class backgrounds will be included; specifically, people of color are more likely to be poor than white people and women are more likely to be poor than men, and people with disabilities are more likely to be poor than able-bodied people, et fucking cetera.

    3. Fuck Brocialists.

    You might google “When Class Became More Important to a Child’s Education Than Race” if you think PZ’s concept of diversity is the most important one.

    That’s a big IF, you illiterate wanker.

  291. says

    Okay, I should’ve made this clear: Yes, in light of all other things being equal, dear God, give me a panel that’s not made up of white guys. But whiteness and maleness are not the most important aspects of diversity in a world in which the gap between rich and poor, regardless of hue and gender, grows greater every day.

  292. says

    SallyStrange,

    I don’t think he should step aside. He’s the one who said, “if I’m one more white guy in a roster already overloaded with white guys, I’ll step aside and suggest that you invite someone who doesn’t look like me instead.” Isn’t Dawkins a white guy?

    1. Who included it? Capitalists often don’t mention what’s inconvenient. There’s a reason class has been called the US’s last taboo.

    2. Agreed. And if they all think alike, meh.

    3. Ad hominem, ad feminem, ad nauseum. And, yes, that’s a big if, because so far, diversity has been defined purely in terms of race and gender. That was PZ’s definition up above.

  293. says

    But whiteness and maleness are not the most important aspects of diversity in a world in which the gap between rich and poor, regardless of hue and gender, grows greater every day.

    Tired of fucking brocialist straw men.

  294. says

    Evidence that the gap between rich and poor really IS growing “regardless of hue and gender”? It has not done so in the past. Evidence thus far shows that gaps in income and wealth very much WITH regard to hue and gender.

  295. says

    SallyStrange, last time I looked, the wealth was going to the top 13%, regardless of their hue and gender, and not going to the rest. Which includes an awful lot of white folk. What Martin Luther King said in ’67 still applies: “In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.”

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

    @Will Shetterly

    But whiteness and maleness are not the most important aspects of diversity in a world in which the gap between rich and poor, regardless of hue and gender, grows greater every day.

    Yep. The most important aspects of diversity are citizenship, the trans/cis divide, and dis/ability.

    Thanks for pointing that out, Will. It’s always good to know exactly whose oppression is the most important. Resolving that question here for us as you did is exceptionally beneficial.

  297. David Wilford says

    Evidence that the gap between rich and poor really IS growing “regardless of hue and gender”? It has not done so in the past. Evidence thus far shows that gaps in income and wealth very much WITH regard to hue and gender.

    Not in the People’s Republic of China it doesn’t. The Communist Party there is the ruling/upper class now. George Orwell would appreciate the irony.

  298. says

    I don’t think he should step aside. He’s the one who said, “if I’m one more white guy in a roster already overloaded with white guys, I’ll step aside and suggest that you invite someone who doesn’t look like me instead.” Isn’t Dawkins a white guy?

    I believe you just answered your own question, unless your confusion about whether Dawkin is a white guy is genuine.

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

    @ Will Shetterly:

    Don’t you F dare, Will Shetterly.

    I never said that the rich were “equally oppressed” with the poor. Obviously classism exists.

    I contested your statement that

    whiteness and maleness are not the most important aspects of diversity

    That depends on definitions of “important” and leaves out crucial data that, e.g., the quickest way to end widespread subsistence-agriculture poverty is to provide education to girls and women on equal terms with men.

    I challenge the idea that saying classism can be said, in some F objective way, to be “more important” to address than racism or sexism.

    I never said that classism exists or that the rich do not oppress the poor or that poor trans folk suffer in exactly the same ways and to exactly the same extent as rich trans folk.

    Do NOT go making shit up about me and putting those words in my keyboard.

    You lie about my commitment to the liberation of all because I refuse to minimize the resistance of some as not working on the “most important” movement?

    Back off and use your brain before addressing me again.

  300. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But whiteness and maleness are not the most important aspects of diversity in a world in which the gap between rich and poor, regardless of hue and gender, grows greater every day.

    Which means it is more important to have diversity of voices, and those voices must include the people who haven’t been seen on the podium due to overwhelming presence of old white dudes. If you are going to grow a movement, inclusion women and minorities is very important for involving younger people and getting them to listen.

    You keep sounding like a dudebro, trying to justify seeing nothing but white males speaking for everybody, and telling them what to think. Doesn’t work.

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

    Fuck.

    I never said that classism exists

    should have been:

    I never said that classism does not exist

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

    @Sally:

    There was someone I knew who took the name of someone she knew, and turned it into an acronym:

    Blowhard Earfucking Narcissist

    If the decent Bens of the world can forgive us, BEN could be a very useful term. And while this is the more general term,

    Brocialist Earfucking Narcissist

    Works quite well for a prominent subsection.

  303. says

    SallyStrange, I just searched this comment thread for “class”. It was interesting–not much mention of it, which didn’t surprise me. It’s rarely a concern of people who think economic privilege is no different than social privilege.

    As for the business about Dawkins, I really need to remember that irony doesn’t work on the web. Yes. Dawkins is a white guy. Myers is a white guy. Myers said he would step aside for white guys, because that’s his definition of diversity. So I’m wondering if he would step aside for Dawkins, because Dawkins is just another white guy. Ah, well. That’s as clear as I can be just now, so I’ll drop this.

    But I’ll repeat that I don’t like all white or all male panels on principle. I took the Project Implicit test for race, and found I’m in the large minority of white folks who have an implicit preference for black folks. When I was younger, I saw power primarily in terms of race and gender too.

  304. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    “guarantee” =/= “render more likely”

    This. I should have been more specific on that front. Of course the only way to guarantee diversity of thought is to select participants based on their known opinions. But it sort of depends on the event. If you’re trying to set up a debate, this a good criteria to select on. If you’re trying to set up, say, an Atheist conference where all participants will be speaking on subjects related to Atheism, it’s better to select on diversity because then all participants can approach the same set of subjects from differing viewpoints, so while their talks all deal with the same or similar things, they will deal with them in different ways. I think we can all agree that’s more interesting than hearing people from the same backgrounds apraoch the same issues. That’ll soon become boring.

  305. says

    Nerd, I quoted my inspiration for my approach, Martin Luther King. He’s a white guy now?

    As for physical rather than economic diversity making a difference, I became suspicious of that when Margaret Thatcher came to power, and I don’t think it’s better to have Obama killing brown people than it was having Bush killing them.

    Since it’s time to go, I’ll leave you with the words of another black socialist, Adolph Reed Jr.:

    “I remain curious why the “debate” over antiracism as a politics takes such indirect and evasive forms—like the analogizing and guilt by association, moralistic bombast in lieu of concrete argument—and why it persists in establishing, even often while denying the move, the terms of debate as race vs. class. I’m increasingly convinced that a likely reason is that the race line is itself a class line, one that is entirely consistent with the neoliberal redefinition of equality and democracy. It reflects the social position of those positioned to benefit from the view that the market is a just, effective, or even acceptable system for rewarding talent and virtue and punishing their opposites and that, therefore, removal of “artificial” impediments to its functioning like race and gender will make it even more efficient and just.

    “From this perspective even the “left” antiracist line that we must fight both economic inequality and racial inequality, which seems always in practice to give priority to “fighting racism” (often theorized as a necessary precondition for doing anything else), looks suspiciously like only another version of the evasive “we’ll come back for you” (after we do all the business-friendly stuff) politics that the Democrats have so successfully employed to avoid addressing economic injustice.”

    Peace.

  306. says

    P.S. Just occurred to me that Adolph Reed may not be white, but he could be dismissed as a “bro”. If you’d like to read a black woman on the same subject, google Thandeka’s “Why Anti-Racism Will Fail”. Or if you don’t mind white women, Sharon Smith’s “Race, class, and “whiteness theory””.

  307. says

    Your most recent post again reveals your dishonesty, Will Shetterly. I’m glad you’re going to take your fight against your villainous straw men who care about racism but not economic injustice elsewhere.

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

    And Will Shetterly quotes in support of his position:

    I’m increasingly convinced that a likely reason is that the race line is itself a class line, one that is entirely consistent with the neoliberal redefinition of equality and democracy.

    …From this perspective even the “left” antiracist line …, which seems always in practice to give priority to “fighting racism” (often theorized as a necessary precondition for doing anything else), looks suspiciously like only another version of the evasive “we’ll come back for you”

    Wow.

    I have nothing to say, but perhaps Jamie Lee Curtis might.

  309. chigau (カオス) says

    Will Shetterly
    Myers said he would step aside for white guys, because that’s his definition of diversity.
    Where did he say that?

  310. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    @Will Shetterly

    So you’re just going to ignore both Sally’s post and mine, then?

  311. says

    “I think we can all agree that’s more interesting than hearing people from the same backgrounds apraoch the same issues. That’ll soon become boring.”

    Thumper, full agreement!

    Crip Dyke, sorry to disengage, but I gotta go. If you’re curious about the problem of fitting economic injustice into social identity terms, see Matt Bruenig’s “Identitarianism’s class problem”. He points out: “The fundamental problem with cramming poor people into the identitarian framework is that, unlike every other identity treated in that framework, justice for poor people requires their elimination. The appropriate remedy to racial oppression is not to make everyone white, nor is the appropriate remedy to gender oppression to make everyone male. But the appropriate remedy to the “oppression of the poor” (as identitarians describe it) is to make them no longer poor. Poorness is not an identity to be celebrated or lifted up; it is an identity to be done away with altogether. The oppression of poor people is that they are poor people. The same cannot be said for any other marginalized group.”

    Enough talk in the doorway. Peace!

  312. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    The fact that Senor Shetterly assumes that class diversity is not one that PZ aims for is amusing.

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

    P.S. Just occurred to me that Adolph Reed may not be white, but he could be dismissed as a “bro”.

    Awww. Isn’t that sweet. Will Shetterly still thinks bro is a synonym for man, and not that we judge each man’s statements as bro or non-bro on their own merits. How quaint.

    It’s also nice how he throws a couple women in as an afterthought, just so that we know he’s so far from sexist. Nicely done, Will Shetterly. That will totally convince us. So when we refer to you at some future time using the word bro or dudebro, we are certain that you will see these terms only as synonyms for all men, and thus not at all indicative of us harboring ideas that you maintain sexist ideas or have engaged in behaviors that support sexism. We look forward to you enjoying the support for your gender identification and right to self-define and not at all taking offense.

  314. says

    Crip Dyke, no, I threw in a couple of women because I suspected you would dismiss the thoughts of men who disagreed with you simply because they were male. It appears my suspicion was correct.

    I didn’t know that women have been called “bros”. That’s useful. Thank you. I agree that people should be free to identify their gender in any way they please–Chelsea Manning’s pronoun is “she”, no matter what her legal identity may be.

    Edging out the doorway….

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

    @401

    Crip Dyke, no, I threw in a couple of women because I suspected you would dismiss the thoughts of men who disagreed with you simply because they were male. It appears my suspicion was correct.

    Wait a minit. I had something around here somewhere, Dietwald. Seems like there was a good response to this sitting around here somewhere. Oh, wait! There it is:

    Awww. Isn’t that sweet. Will Shetterly still thinks bro is a synonym for man, and not that we judge each man’s statements as bro or non-bro on their own merits. How quaint.

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

    Separately…

    I agree that people should be free to identify their gender in any way they please–Chelsea Manning’s pronoun is “she”, no matter what her legal identity may be.

    Cissplain it to me again, Dietwald.

  317. Nick Gotts says

    Nick G., bourgie == bourgeois – David Wilford@368

    Well I guess that was what was intended, but then why not use the correct term? Moreover, it suggests that Shetterly, for all his professed interest in class, doesn’t know what “bourgeois” means: the bourgeoisie are not middle-class people like Dawkins and PZ (and, I’ll bet, Shetterly himself), but the capitalist ruling class: those who make a living from their ownership of the means of production.

    Nick, if you want an echo chamber made of many hues, that’s fine. But any list of diversity that does not include class is an incomplete list. – Will Shetterly@369

    You’re a liar, Shetterly. I implied no such thing, and you know it. I notice you didn’t answer my question, so presumably you do want Christian fundamentalists, Nazis, etc. to be invited to speak at atheist conferences. Moreover, I specifically included “class background”.

    because so far, diversity has been defined purely in terms of race and gender – Will Shetterly@372

    Another lie, of course, but that’s just what we’d expect from you.

  318. says

    Okay, Crip Dyke, I’m laughing ’cause you think agreeing is explaining, and because you think cissplainers refer to Chelsea Manning as “she” while transsplainers refer to Bradley Manning as “he”. Our frames of reference are hopelessly far apart. I’m turning off my subscription for this thread now so I can get on to other things.

    Peace.

  319. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Weren’t you leaving, Oh Lying Brocialist?

    He can’t leave. Nobody has agreed with his dudebro (MRA) outlook, and he’s looking for or will invent a “win”. His twisting of facts and responses is very telling of somebody not honestly engaging. Typical.

  320. David Wilford says

    Nick G, no the bourgeoisie is ostensibly made up of the middle class, insofar as the middle class is sympathetic and supportive of the ruling class. The cliche of Keeping Up With The Jones in an effort to ape the wealthy is part and parcel of that notion.

    Frankly, I think it’s a load of codswallop that gets trotted out as so much name-calling by the Trots who are always trying to prove how ideologically pure at heart they are. Meh. There’s more to the subject of class than Marx’s caricature of it.

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

    transsplainers

    A little light in the lateral nuclear group, aren’t we?

  322. says

    Nick, your comment arrived before I could turn off the subscription, so:

    “Bourgie” is common slang in many communities, especially black communities. It is derived from “bourgeois”. For socialists, it’s not complementary, but some rich folks wear it proudly. Google can provide you with more info if you want it.

    And I do owe you an apology. I read several different people’s comments quickly and completely missed your mention of class. My very bad. In that comment, I was more noticing this: “It wasn’t diverse politically because it was deliberately selected not to be, but that does not make the ways in which it was diverse meaningless.” I disagree. It’s a fine example of meaningless diversity, because Bush II continued the neoliberal policies of his predecessors.

    If the rest of your objections haven’t already been covered at least once, sorry. The subscription’s turned off and I’m gone. Ciao!

  323. says

    Folks, do be aware that Shetterley is an infamous troll, from all the way back to usenet. It is a notoriously complete and utter waste of time conversing with him. You can probably google up a couple of dozen previous examples of his constant trolling. The “class is the only axis that matters” is very typical, because it lets him point to a white cishet homeless man and insist that you show him how this man is more oppressed than Michele Obama, because he dishonestly wants to pretend there’s no such thing as outliers.

    Don’t bother replying to me, Shetterley, I’ve no interest in wasting time, energy, or pixels on your self-serving bullshit.

  324. David Wilford says

    Nick G., the middle class has some capital, generally in the form of a home, and is not interested in the notion of redistribution of same.

  325. A. Noyd says

    CaitieCat (#413)

    Folks, do be aware that Shetterley is an infamous troll, from all the way back to usenet.

    Jeez, how unimaginative does a mind have to be to find amusement in such basic trolling for 30+ years.

  326. David Marjanović says

    Wait. That was published on RDF’s Website?! Seriously?!

    LOL @ a catalyst galvanizing anything. If a catalyst generates that much electricity, it’s doing it wrong!

    Waaaait a minute… Is this some kinda experiment, maybe? Just some cruel test to work out how much you have to inflate someone’s ego before they start saying stupid things about Rebecca Watson?

    FOR SCIENCE!

    I appreciate your attempt to frame this in such noble terms, however, this is not a Shakespearean tragedy, a la “Out, blind spot! out, I say!

    I squeed in laughter.

    if the atheist community as it stands attracts worshippers like AlexHM

    You misunderstand.

    :-D

    Alex HM is Piltdown Man.

    Just look at comment 184! It couldn’t be more obvious! Or funnier. :-D

    Admittedly, perhaps the funniest part is how much he looks like I imagined… :-)

    Do you not find it ironic, that in the midst of a discussion of Dawkins’ immoral action, you link to a video of him speaking about why a thought-out morality is a good idea?

    Heh. No, he thinks he’s making a deep philosophical point, as usual. :-D

    Given Alex’s complete lack of self-awareness and dogmatic devotion to double-standards for his Pope

    “Pope” is right…

    Rebecca didn’t harass or threaten Dawkins or accuse him of some impropriety

    Sure she did. You’re forgetting about the feminist hair™, man. It’s evil.

    Thread won.

    You mean I’ve been keeping a filled glass of Glenfiddich in front of the Cephalo-shrine for nought?

    (Not to mention, Who the bloody hell has been drinking it then?)

    :-) :-) :-)

    Oh, In[g]digo … that is fucking awesome.

    Quite!

    Jafafa Hots,
    Sorry for beating you. I live in a small bachelor apartment, my books are not much more than an arms reach away. If it makes you feel better, I stretched really hard and leaned back in my chair because I was too lazy to get up, and my arm is a bit sore now.

    :-D

    well, at least I can haz lolcat vurzun!

    Bookmarked.
    (Without the question mark and the whole “source=email” nonsense behind it. I tried, the page loads nicely without it.)

    What Martin Luther King said in ’67 still applies: “In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States.

    But only 13 % of Americans are black. Logically, then, a greater proportion of Blacks than of Whites is poor.

    transsplainers

    …what?

    There’s more to the subject of class than Marx’s caricature of it.

    Perhaps more importantly, a lot has changed since his times…

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

    @David Marjanović

    Re: Transsplainers.

    I assume you’re just confused by Dietwald’s general incoherence and inability to understand dynamics of social power…or was there another question here?

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

    Oooops.

    Sorry for my reference to Dietwald. Yes, the person we’re discussing goes by the ‘nym Will Shetterly.

    I find him typical of the misbehavior exhibited in this thread, by the numerous comments of Dietwald Claus (link only to the first), and skewered by Max Dick McMacho and long may that thread stand as tall, granite monument to McMacho’s greatness for generations to come. His contributions were clearly seminal.

  329. Nick Gotts says

    Nick G., the middle class has some capital, generally in the form of a home, and is not interested in the notion of redistribution of same. – David Wilford@415

    Yes, but that does not make them the bourgeoisie, because they don’t make a living from ownership of the means of production. A home is not a means of production. Under capitalism a relatively small group of people own andor control most of the means of production, which are predominantly industrial, and of distribution and exchange (mercantile and financial capital), and are able to shift their assets from place to place and industry to industry in order to maximize their profits, and exercise a veto on measures that would undermine their position – their capital is mobile (money, shares, or credit) or readily mobilized. In pre-capitalist modes of production, capital is held predominantly in the form of land, and is much less mobile. (I don’t mean just that you can’t move land; it was a lot less easy to buy and sell, both because of legal and customary restrictions – although the classical world was something of an exception here – and because monetary and financial systems were much less sophisticated.) The growth of a free market in land was a key phase in the development of capitalism in the early modern period.

    Will Shetterly@
    Thanks for the apology – accepted.

    It’s a fine example of meaningless diversity, because Bush II continued the neoliberal policies of his predecessors.

    That does not make it meaningless. You have (wrongly) accused others of ignoring economic inequality, but you ignore other forms of inequality, which is just as wrong. For women, or black people, to be excluded from positions of power and influence is an gross injustice, and insofar as he did not do this in selecting his administration, Bush did right – dwarfed though this is by the scale of his crimes. Left-wing movements are notorious in particular for ignoring and indeed often reinforcing gender inequality: the charismatic male leader who uses his position to exploit women is all too common (for a recent example, see Downfall, the biography of the Scottish politician Tommy Sheridan by his former friend and colleague Alan McCombes); while the British “Socialist Workers’ Party” has recently split over the treatment of an accusation of rape made against a leading member, and “dealt with internally” in the manner of the Roman Catholic Church.

  330. David Marjanović says

    @David Marjanović

    Re: Transsplainers.

    I assume you’re just confused by [Will Shetterly]’s general incoherence and inability to understand dynamics of social power…

    Yes.

  331. says

    CaitieCat, I admire a clever bit of ad hominem, but that ain’t it. For one thing, I’ve never argued that class is the only axis that matters–quote me if you honestly think I did. I argue that class matters most, regardless of your race or gender. But, as Adolph Reed points out, Manicheists can’t see shades of grey.

    SallyStrange, yes, social class and economic class are different. People who come from socially upper class backgrounds continue to have the benefits of their social status even when they lose their money, but when poor people get money, they may still be insulted as “white trash” or “ghetto” because they don’t know the social codes of the bourgeoisie.

    David Marjanović, the racial breakdown of poverty in the US in 2010: 31,650 white people, 10,675 black people. That’s three times.

  332. says

    Blah blah whiney troll is whiney blah.

    Why is it that so many self-important trolling wads of used toilet paper can’t stick their fucking landing when they flounce? It’s so disappointing.

  333. says

    Oops. I was cutting and pasting numbers from a table that provided numbers in thousands and forgot to say so in the previous message. It was 31,650,000 white Americans in poverty and 10,675,000 black Americans in poverty in 2010.

  334. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    but when poor people get money, they may still be insulted as “white trash” or “ghetto” because they don’t know the social codes of the bourgeoisie.Show citations to prove that what is considered middle class is truly the bourgeoisie. Going back to the definitions used in the radicalization of campus days during the ‘Nam war, you are full of shit, as it only applied to those in control of the economy.

  335. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Gack, borked the blockquotes #426. Should read:

    but when poor people get money, they may still be insulted as “white trash” or “ghetto” because they don’t know the social codes of the bourgeoisie.

    Show citations to prove that what is considered middle class is truly the bourgeoisie. Going back to the definitions used in the radicalization of campus days during the ‘Nam war, you are full of shit, as it only applied to those in control of the economy.

  336. piegasm says

    It was 31,650,000 white Americans in poverty and 10,675,000 black Americans in poverty in 2010.

    It’s also ~15% of total white population in poverty vs. ~30% of total black population in poverty which means, *gasp* black people are more likely to be poor. WHODATHUNK!?

  337. I've got the WTF blues says

    #424 CatieCat

    Why is it that so many self-important trolling wads of used toilet paper can’t stick their fucking landing when they flounce?

    Hmmm…. maybe it’s because they tore something reaching for their conclusions justifications?

  338. says

    CaitieCat, I’ve always thought “flounced” was gendered language, with its implication that one’s skirts are bouncing. Just sayin’.

    Also, I thought to flounce, one had to leave annoyed. I left amused and returned amused. And I was happy to correct the misunderstanding about the number of Americans in poverty.

    Nerd, under capitalism, if you gain capital, you join the bourgeoisie because you become an owner of the means of production. You may not be seen socially as upperclass by old families in New England and New York, but you will be bourgeois.

    I think you’re being confused by the American sense of “middle class”, which is a vaguely defined group that’s not rich or poor, and the traditional sense of middle class, which is the merchant class between the nobility and the rest of us.

    piegasm, argue with Martin Luther King, not me. I agree with him: 30 million is larger than 10 million. King and I and most socialists don’t want to ignore anyone who’s poor. Identitarians only want to focus on the black poor or the female poor and thereby diminish the scale of poverty.

  339. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ve always thought “flounced” was gendered language, with its implication that one’s skirts are bouncing. Just sayin’.

    Sorry, you are definition deficient. It also means a dramatic exit, around here by trolls who have nothing cogent to say, but say it anyway.

    if you gain capital, you join the bourgeoisie because you become an owner of the means of production. You may not be seen socially as upperclass by old families in New England and New York, but you will be bourgeois.

    Missing the point. But then, you are not a radical. I know the lingo. You are just another pretend idjit who thinks big words will confuse us. Sorry, doesn’t work here.

    I think you’re being confused by the American sense of “middle class”, which is a vaguely defined group that’s not rich or poor, and the traditional sense of middle class, which is the merchant class between the nobility and the rest of us.

    No, I know exactly what you say, and where you lie.

  340. says

    CatieCat and company, I have work to do, so I’m turning off notifications again and flouncing. Perhaps I’ll flounce back when I have more time. ¡Hasta luego!

  341. Anthony K says

    piegasm, argue with Martin Luther King, not me.

    What a stupid thing to say. Tell ya what, Will: if you’re going to hide behind MLK, then you should go all the way and let him do all your arguing online for you.

    I agree with him: 30 million is larger than 10 million.

    That’s undeniable. But also simplistic. (And I’m Canadian, so you can’t invoke American Heroes at me and expect me to swoon at your iconography).

    For instance, I work with cancer data. And childhood cancers make up a very small proportion of all cancer cases, yet they come with differences in etiology and differences in outcome. To ignore them would be unethical, as well as inefficient. And yet, we cannot treat them the same way we treat adult cancers.

    No one is saying that the white poor should be ignored. But it is important to recognise that PoC who are poor are under different strains

    Identitarians only want to focus on the black poor or the female poor and thereby diminish the scale of poverty.

    I’m certainly interested in ‘diminishing the scale of poverty’, where ‘diminish’ means to reduce and ‘scale’ refers to magnitude or size of the issue.

    (Or did you mean to say something else? Maybe something that MLK said? You really should consider having him argue for you. You’re just awful at it.)

  342. Anthony K says

    Perhaps I’ll flounce back when I have more time.

    Don’t bother. But do ask MLK if he can pop in and clarify your silly, unstructured thoughts for us.

  343. Thumper; Immorally Inferior Sergeant Major in the Grand Gynarchy Mangina Corps (GGMC) says

    I’d love to say I’m sorry I missed you…

  344. consciousness razor says

    David Marjanović, the racial breakdown of poverty in the US in 2010: 31,650[k] white people, 10,675[k] black people. That’s three times.

    Some are neither white nor black. If you were going to be serious about breaking it down by race, actually do that, because that’s not at all what you did. How many other minorities (and poor people) did you leave out? But even with this, as others have noted, according to the measurement you gave (which you first got wrong and still haven’t fucking cited), poverty disproportionately affects black people, among others. It’s also the case that classism and economic inequality in general, not just “poverty,” also affects them disproportionately.

    What exactly do you think citing those numbers was supposed to do? I’m almost afraid to ask. Are you innumerate and utterly baffled by the factoid that it’s “three times” as many white people? Or are you a fucking bigot who is aware of how dishonest he’s being?

  345. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    CatieCat and company, I have work to do, so I’m turning off notifications again and flouncing. Perhaps I’ll flounce back when I have more time.

    Since one can’t make a dramatic exit “back”, your whole logic is nothing but one big non-sequitur, making everything else you say suspect. Typical of someone who doesn’t understand basic definitions, but pretends they do.

  346. piegasm says

    @ Will Shetterly

    piegasm, argue with Martin Luther King, not me[1]. I agree with him: 30 million is larger than 10 million.[2] King and I and most socialists don’t want to ignore anyone who’s poor. Identitarians only want to focus on the black poor or the female poor and thereby diminish the scale of poverty.

    [1] Martin Luther King has been dead for 45 years. You’ll have to forgive me if I feel attempting to argue with him would prove futile. It’s a moot point anyway because he was just as misguided as you are on this point.

    [2] I agree with that too. Unfortunately, raw numbers of poor people by race are not relevant to the claims you’re making that class is the most influential determiner of the opportunities one has in this country. If it was, when I searched Google for US population by race I would have found that the same percentage of each population was poor.

  347. says

    Oh no, heavens beware me of the “lie back and think of the revolution” socialists. I’m sick and tired of them. Because they care about The Big Picture™ They know that everything will be well once we get the revolution! Because it’s such a handy excuse that means you can just excuse your personal bad behaviour because you work for Bigger Goals™. You can simply ignore sexual harassment of upperclass women because they’re upperclass. And you can simply ignore the sexual harassment of working class women of colour because they’re working class and you’re already working in their best intrest, those bitches could be a bit more grateful, don’t you think?

  348. nathanaelnerode says

    What a child should never be taught is that you are a Catholic or Muslim child, therefore that is what you believe. That’s child abuse.

    Dawkins said that? He’s 100% right about *that*. It’s psychological abuse. When it comes with the extra caveat of “if you stop believing this, (nonsense) you are a bad person”, it is an exceptionally nasty form of psychological abuse. I’m not going to say that it’s worse than physical abuse, because personally I’m of the “sticks and stones” variety, but calculated psychological abuse can be a very severe form of abuse, and I’ve seen it wreck people’s *entire lives*.

    he is also a sexist idiot who absolutely falls down on issues of feminism;

    This is the problem with Dawkins. His fit of pique about Rebecca Watson is completely unacceptable.

    Regarding Feynman, the anecdote which people are referring to is in the context of a dozen other anecdotes about Feynman trying to understand human psychology, which he clearly finds bizarre. It’s also worth noting that what he says “works” is simply asking upfront on a date whether he’s going to get laid. (One assumes from his description that if he got the answer “no” he would have moved right along.) This is also in the same book as the story about Feynman being unable to figure out how to get women to pose naked for paintings — the answer to which was “Have you tried asking them?”. I therefore read this differently than the people who saw it as a sign of misogyny — although frankly there are lots of other passages where Feynman seemed to look at many women as aliens and lab specimens.