Oh lordy, it just never ends.
Staks Rosch did an Atheist of the Year contest at the Examiner, asking his readers to nominate candidates and giving them two days to do it. And the nominees are –
- Dave Silverman
- Ricky Gervais
- Hemant Mehta
- Matt Dillahunty
- George Takei
Lisa Ridge did a Facebook post gently wondering why there were quite so few women, as in, none. I read the post and Staks Rosch’s comments and a post he’d written on the subject, and got somewhat warm under the collar. From the post:
I started with an open nomination process in which people could suggest nominations and make a case for their nominations. I would then take that into account in finding five actual nominees. Four nominees because pretty clear early along, but I didn’t have my fifth yet. I noticed however that I didn’t have a token black candidate or a token female candidate.
Seriously? Seriously? I’m reminded of these unfortunate traffic stops that Mel Gibson keeps having, or of Michael Richards going overboard with the “edgy” thing. Doesn’t everybody know by now that it’s a tad insulting to attach the words “a token” to the words “black” and “female” automatically like that, as if it were simply obvious and universally acknowledged that a black and a woman couldn’t possibly be qualified? Doesn’t everybody? Because I do. It seems to me I learned that some decades ago. Why didn’t everybody else? Too busy being so happy to be someone who would never have the words “a token” attached to his label that he couldn’t manage to keep up?
Or to put it another way…what a rude dismissive contemptuous entitled thing to say. Newsflash: it is not the case that there are no black atheists or female atheists or black female atheists who are good enough to be nominated as Atheist of the Year. It is not the case that any black or woman so nominated would be a worthless talented zero who was nominated solely as a “token” of good will. It is the case that implying otherwise is deliberately insulting.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an obvious and well deserved black nominee and if I had six spots to fill, I would have definitely picked him. But should I put him in just to have a token black guy or should I leave him out and hope that he continues his efforts and makes it next year?
Oh, poor Neil Tyson, not quite good enough to measure up to Ricky Gervais. How does that work? What “efforts” would Tyson have to “continue” to be good enough for Rosch’s list?
Still, there is no female nominee. There were a few that I thought might be good candidates, but they would only be token candidates rather than making it in on their merits. I always love Greta Christina for example, but her accomplishments in 2011 don’t particularly stand out. I thought about Rebecca Watson, but her only claim to fame this year was Elevatorgate and that hardly is worthy of atheist of the year.
What? What?? What? Greta Christina would be a token candidate because all that public speaking and writing wasn’t merit enough? Especially compared to the enormous merit of Ricky Gervais and George Takei? Rebecca Watson’s only claim to fame was Elevatorgate because all that public speaking and writing and podcasting wasn’t?
I really don’t want this to become Elevatorgate II: Electric Boogaloo especially since I consider myself a feminist for the most part. But I really didn’t think I should throw in token nominees. In the comments section, Greta Christina made a case for the token nominee and that is something I will have to consider next year. Unfortunately, many of the comments on Blag Hag seem to be from people who aren’t interested in discussing the issue rationally and just want to yell and scream about male privilege. There is certainly male privilege in the world and in the atheist community and I don’t want to ignore that, but at the same time I don’t just want to have a token female nominee.
Wonderful. Brilliant. “Token nominee” three times in one paragraph. Perfect. Never let anyone say The Atheist Movement™ is not friendly to women. On the other hand maybe The Atheist Movement¸™ I’m part of isn’t all that friendly to Staks Roschs. I suspect it isn’t.