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.