Bi Any Means Podcast #147: Creating a Safer Atheist Movement with Ashley F. Miller and Jessica Xiao

Today’s episode is a small panel discussion between Dr. Ashley F. Miller, Jessica Xiao  and meabout how to make the atheist movement a safer space. As a head’s up, we’ll be talking sexual assault and harassment in the movement, so if you’re not in a good place right now, feel free to skip this episode for now and listen when you’re a much better place. For everyone else, I hope you gain something from this conversation.

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Why Are Secular Skeptic Communities Failing To Address Sexual Crime? — My Latest for The Establishment

CN: Sexual assault

It’s no secret that Christianity has a history of mishandling sexual misconduct allegations. From the Catholic Church’s well-documented pattern of silencing child abuse victims, to evangelicals brushing aside allegations against both Roy Moore and Donald Trump, there’s a common theme that one should not touch God’s anointed, no matter what they do. One would think secular communities that promote skepticism — a method of determining truth where beliefs are questioned until sufficient evidence is presented — would do a better job of handling sexual misconduct allegations. Yet, a recent BuzzFeed article documenting the many sexual misconduct allegations against famous physicist Lawrence Krauss, taken with the attendant responses from the atheist community, demonstrate how even skeptics have a long way to go.

To be fair, several prominent atheist organizations and activists severed ties with Krauss shortly after the article’s publication. The American Humanist Association released a statement on March 9 saying they would no longer invite him to speak at any upcoming conferences, and they are considering rescinding his 2015 Humanist of the Year Award. The Center for Inquiry likewise announced that they were suspending their association with Krauss “pending further information,” as did evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne after doing his own investigation.

However, author Sam Harris, whose 2004 book The End of Faith first launched the so-called New Atheist movement, voiced his doubts about the accusations against Krauss on his “Waking Up” podcast, saying “there were many things obvious about [the BuzzFeed article] that suggested that we shouldn’t rush to accept all of these allegations,” and that he hoped Krauss “finds some way to redeem himself.”

Read the rest here.

The Biskeptical Podcast #46: Scientific Racism and Atheist Movement Drama

On today’s episode, we’re going to first talk about the recent debate between Sam Harris and Vox writer Ezra Klein about Harris’ interview with Charles Murray, co-author of the infamous book The Bell Curve. We’ll talk about what both Harris and Murray got wrong, and go a little bit into the science behind intelligence and genetics. For the second half of the show, we’ll talk about how stress from all the atheist movement drama led me to a suicidal episode last week, and whether or not being part of the movement is worth it.

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The Atheist Movement’s Future — My Latest for Splice Today

CN: Sexual misconduct

I have a love/hate relationship with the atheist movement. On one hand, I’ve experienced more grace, fellowship, and healing among my close-knit group of atheist podcaster friends than in a church. On the other, many prominent atheist activists have either been outed as sexual predators or tried to deny any problems within the movement. The latter has only intensified with the recent BuzzFeed article detailing the sexual misconduct allegations against Lawrence Krauss. While some organizations, like the American Humanist Association and the Center for Inquiry, have cut ties with Krauss, others feel most prominent atheist activists aren’t doing enough to address this issue.

For example, Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist podcast, has received pushback for statements he made on social media regarding sexual misconduct in the atheist movement. While he did call Krauss’ behavior “inexcusable” in a Facebook post, he also referred to several friends of mine in the comment section as “extremists,” and claimed they believe in “a vast conspiracy of frontline male activists who don’t care about respect for and the safety of women.” One of these so-called extremists is Minnesota Atheist associate president Stephanie Zvan, who told me on my Bi Any Means podcast a few weeks ago about the history of prominent men in the atheist movement misusing skepticism as an excuse to not believe in women’s stories. While I’ve deliberately avoided online disputes with Andrews, I’m still disappointed at his poor response to those telling him misogyny in the atheist movement is a systematic problem.

The incidents involving Krauss and Andrews are just the latest examples in a long line of controversies—Elevatorgate, “Dear Muslima,” MythCon, etc.—that have stirred up heated debates about the atheist movement’s future. Some have left the movement altogether, some have formed smaller sub-communities, and others suggest the problematic elements of the movement are just a few bad apples. So where does the atheist movement go from here? Can the movement survive? If so, how?

Read the rest here.

#MeToo and the Masks We Wear — My Latest for Splice Today

Content Warning: Sexual assault

Standing out in the #MeToo conversation is how we all wear masks. Continuously, men we thought were good aren’t. The latest example is physicist and public speaker Lawrence Krauss. Friends in the atheist movement knew about his reputation for years, but it wasn’t until BuzzFeed published an article detailing his history of sexual misconduct allegations that everyone else found out.

Shortly after, allegations against someone in my own circle of atheist podcasters came to light. I heard some things about him before, but he seemed like the epitome of a male feminist so I had doubts. He spoke about the dangers of White Feminism, giving non-white non-men space to tell their stories, and how all politics are identity politics. That changed last week when several friends shared screenshots that proved he was wearing a mask the whole time. I’ve since cut off all contact with him.

That’s why I try to be as naked (figuratively speaking) as possible. When #MeToo first started, I shared the story of how I was the Creepy Sensitive Nice Guy many years ago. I needed to cleanse myself from the toxic masculinity I inherited from our sexist culture and encourage men to do the same.

Read the rest here.

The Biskeptical Podcast #43: #MeToo in the Atheist Movement

Today on the show, we talk about the recent Buzzfeed article about Lawrence Krauss’ history of sexual misconduct, and how even the atheist movement sucks at addressing these issues. We also take a look at what the fine folks at MythCon have in store for this year (spoiler alert: it doesn’t look good).

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Bi Any Means Podcast #137: Yelling at the Atheist Community with Larry Yellingman

My guest for today is Larry Yellingman. He’s the host of the new podcast Man Yelling at the News where he and two guests talk—and yell—about the latest news. Today I have him on the show to get to know him a little bit more, but mostly to yell at the atheist community.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #113: “Divisiveness” in the Atheist Movement with Stephanie Zvan

My guest for today is Stephanie Zvan. She’s a blogger whose blog, Almost Diamonds, can be found on The Orbit. She’s also one of the organizers for Minnesota Atheists, and one of the hosts of the Atheist Talk radio show. Today we’re going to talk about a recent blog post she wrote about “divisiveness” in the atheist movement.

The post was written in response to Dogma Debate host David Smalley’s recent talk at this year’s Gateway to Reason conference. As I tell Stephanie in the interview, at first I thought he did a good job talking about how not to let different opinions divide the movement. But as Stephanie explained, when people in the atheist movement talk about divisiveness, they’re not talking about the “Everyone I don’t like is Hitler” meme.

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Another Day, Another Atheist Asshole

You may be wondering what the “Fuck Joey Lee and Lindsay Kirkman” line from yesterday’s episode of the Biskeptical Podcast is all about. Well gather around, kids, because I’ll tell you all about it.

Allegedly a “PSJW mob” (the p stands for “pseudo”) insulted Joey Lee Kirkman’s wife Lindsay last week (who these people were, I don’t know), so Joey decided he had had enough. He decided to fight fire with fire and attack two people who had absolutely NOTHING to do with insulting Lindsay: Callie Wright and Ari Stillman from The Gaytheist Manifesto.

First Joey posted this meme insulting Wright:

callieinsult

 

Fatphobia and misgendering for the price of one!

But the real cherry on the shit sundae was when Joey shared a screenshot of a friends-only post Stillman recently made about feeling uncomfortable after a guy tried to flirt with them. (He eventually took it down, but then re-posted the screenshot, only this time blocking Stillman’s name.) Apparently according to Kirkman, being uncomfortable with a strange guy hitting on you automatically makes you some sort of radical extremist feminist who goes around falsely accusing people of rape at atheist conventions.

joeyleedoxxesari

Strawman much?

I knew Joey had an ax to grind against what he calls “PSJWs,” but I don’t want to be the one who always gets defensive whenever someone says SJW. I want to know what one means by “SJW” before I jump to conclusions. I also have no problem with disagreements about beliefs and ideas. If I have a belief that contradicts what the empirical data says, then I want the empirical data to squash it.

But what Joey did goes way beyond criticizing a belief; he resorted to personal attacks like a child. He posted someone’s personal information for the sole purpose of bullying them. He attacked random people that had nothing to do with anything. Overnight Joey turned into a YouTube Atheist without even having a YouTube channel.

I know I probably shouldn’t say much since I’ve had my fair share of Facebook temper tantrums. I can’t stand on my high horse and act like my hands are clean. But the difference between Joey and me is that when people I respect tell me I fucked up, I believe them. Joey, on the other hand, has been told by many of my fellow atheist activists that what he did was wrong, yet he still refuses to see it.

So congratulations, Joey Lee Kirkman: You are now part of the elite club of Atheist Assholes Who Are Ruining It For Everyone! Here are your complimentary butthurt cream and bucket for your white tears.