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.

Bi Any Means Podcast #146: The Trans Podcaster Visibility Initiative with Callie Wright and Marissa McCool

Today’s episode is the audio from an online panel discussion Callie Wright, Marissa McCool, and I did about the Trans Podcaster Visibility Initiative during last week’s online OrbitCon. OrbitCon was a three-day online conference organized by the bloggers at The Orbit featuring panels and talks livestreamed on YouTube about atheism and social justice. Benny Vimes introduced us and asked us a few audience questions near the end, but mostly it’s the three of us talking about what the Initiative does, as well as talk about trans visibility in the atheist movement.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #144: Atheism, Bisexuality, and Activism with Amanda Scott

My guest for today is Amanda Scott. She’s a fellow bisexual atheist activist whose first foray into activism was speaking out against having an “In God We Trust” display being installed in a Mobile, Alabama government building. She’s currently a Georgetown University student studying government and American history, and continues to put her humanist values into action through political activism. Today I have her own the show to talk about her story and her activism.

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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.

Bi Any Means Podcast #142: How to Avoid Activist Burnout—Live from NaNoCon ‘18

Today’s episode is my NaNoCon presentation “How to Avoid Activist Burnout.” The audio you are about to hear is the 20 minute opening talk and my closing words at the end. What you won’t hear is the discussion questions I asked the audience to discuss among themselves because I didn’t want to put people’s voices online without permission. But overall people said they enjoyed my workshop, and I hope you will do the same.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #140: Secular Women Work with Stephanie Zvan

Returning to the show today is Stephanie Zvan. She’s helping put together the second Secular Women Work conference, which will be held in Minneapolis from August 24th to the 26th of this year. Today I have her back on the show to talk about the upcoming conference, plus how the mainstream atheist movement can create safer spaces for attendees in the wake of Lawrence Krauss.

As a head’s up, we will discuss rape and sexual misconduct in the atheist movement, so listener discretion is highly advised. But it’s a conversation that needs to be had besides just plugging awesome upcoming conferences.

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Free Speech Goes Both Ways — My Latest for Splice Today

I forgot to share this yesterday.

My friend Helen Pluckrose of Areo Magazine spoke on a panel recently at Portland State University called “We Need to Talk about Diversity,” which also featured James Damore, the Google Memo Guy. Based on all accounts, everything ran smoothly, except for one incident where someone smashed audio equipment. Other than that, Antifa didn’t show up and burn anything down like last year during a Milo Yiannopoulos speaking engagement.

There’s a myth that Leftists are against free speech and want to shut down controversial speeches. I’m a proud Leftist, and consider myself one of the most pro-free speech people around. In fact, I believe the Portland State panel could’ve been more pro-free speech if they had actual people of color and LGBTQ people to talk about diversity rather than four white people.

Critics of identity politics often say that identity has nothing to do with the validity of one’s argument. When it comes to social and political issues, however, including people from different backgrounds creates a more diverse array of opinions on controversial subjects.

Read the rest here.

Bi Any Means Podcast #138: Queer Disbelief with Camille Beredjick

My guest for today is Camille Beredjick. She’s a journalist who blogs about LGBTQ rights on the blogs GayWrites and Friendly Atheist. She has a new book out called “Queer Disbelief” that explains why atheists should care about LGBTQ rights. Today we talk about her back story, her work, and the new book.

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The #MeToo Conversation Erases Trans People — My First Article for HuffPost Opinion

CN: Sexual Assault, Transphobia

The Me Too movement has given many women the courage to speak up about their experiences with sexual assault and has opened up a nationwide dialogue about consent and sexual misconduct in our culture. As with many mainstream feminist movements, however, the movement has been silent at best — and hostile at worst — when it comes to the experiences of transgender people.

Take, for example, actress Rose McGowan’s encounter with a trans woman at a Jan. 31 speaking engagement. During an appearance at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan, Andi Dier stood up and challenged comments McGowan had made on RuPaul’s podcast “What’s the Tee?” last year. “They [trans women] assume,” the actress said on the podcast, “because they felt like a woman on the inside . . . That’s not developing as a woman. That’s not growing as a woman, that’s not living in this world as a woman.”

“Trans women are dying,” Dier said during her confrontation with McGowan, “and you said that we, as trans women, are not like regular women. We get raped more often. We go through domestic violence more often. There was a trans woman killed here a few blocks [away].” The confrontation erupted into a shouting match between the two, ending with Dier being escorted out of the venue and McGowan having a public breakdown.

To be fair, McGowan did say trans women are women during her talk, and she acknowledged the alarming rates of sexual violence against trans women.

Shortly after the encounter, allegations of sexual misconduct against Dier came to light, some of them dating back to 2010. However, instead of focusing on transmisogyny and sexual assault against trans and gender-nonconforming people, most of the media focus was on McGowan. This, unfortunately, is just one example how trans and gender-nonconforming people’s stories are far too often ignored.

Read the rest here.

(BTW, I already had to mute a TERF on Twitter who accused me of saying cis lesbians have to fuck trans women, even though I said nothing of the sort.)

I Can Only Take You So Far — My Latest for Splice Today

As a bisexual genderqueer person in a world where sexuality and gender are still seen as strict binaries of gay/straight and man/woman, I had some explaining to do when first coming out. I love educating people most of the time. That’s why I write about sexuality and gender for various websites, talk about those issues on my Bi Any Means Podcast, and did a presentation on non-binary gender identities at last year’s American Humanist Association conference. I lost count of how many people have walked up to me at conferences and sent messages thanking me for what I do, so apparently I’m doing something right.

However, sometimes people treat me as not just a source of information, but the ultimate source of all things LGBTQ rights. For example, a few years ago a Facebook friend messaged me and asked what I meant when I said I was genderqueer. I explained it to her, and she seemed to get it, but then she started asking about asexuality and pansexuality. It probably wasn’t her intention, but I got the impression that she expected me to educate her about all the letters in LGBTQIAA. I wanted to scream, “Google is free!”

Read the rest here.