The bus got stuck in traffic

I’ve been watching the video of the Pharyngula hangout yesterday. I’ve paused it at 38:45; so far it’s been all about Women in Secularism 2 and a little bit about the upcoming Dublin Empowering Women Through Secularism conference. Interesting conversation, and frustrating to watch, because I intended to participate but first there was a glitch with Google+ and then a Windows update crashed my computer twice so I had to do a restore, which took forever, so I never got there.

Nick Gotts is going to the Dublin conference. That’s good!

There’s a lot of discussion of how very unfortunate it is that the (huge amount of exceptionally) good stuff about the conference has been totally swamped by talk about the one bad part. It’s ironic that the one bad part was the work of the CEO of the organization hosting the conference. No, ironic isn’t quite the right word, is it. Incompetent? Treacherous? Never mind the attendees and speakers for the moment; it’s so unfair to the CFI staff. All their hard work, undermined by their boss, for…for what? I still, honestly, have no idea.

Well, part of this overshadowing is because the videos aren’t out yet. I did try. I did several hooray posts. Jason and Kate liveblogged. But…

Jadehawk pointed out that even the CFI website (I think she means the blog) did this – there’s nothing about the conference except Ron’s three posts. (I think Fidalgo reported on it, but in the daily roundup of news, not in a separate post.) If I’d been on the hangout I would have pointed out that the same is true of the RDF site – all it had about the conference the last time I looked was the same three posts by Ron. That’s a very bizarre choice. The conference really was not about Ron or his posts. It’s very peculiar to post those and nothing else – and by “peculiar” I mean “hostile.”

So how about some positive again. I paused it where I did because it was the end of an enthusiastic discussion of Rebecca Goldstein’s talk – how brilliant it was, how bowled over everyone was by it, how much it mattered. (See what I did there?)

It started because Nick Gotts asked Jadehawk about it – if she shared the enthusiasm he’d seen all around. Yes she certainly did. The idea of “mattering” connects with everything. PZ said it was a good example of why philosophy is good and why we need more of it, and that the “mattering” idea made a lightbulb go on for a lot of people.

Exactly. That’s why I was having that gesture-laden conversation with Dave Silverman: because we were talking about the relevance of mattering to how we talk to and about theists. He was enthusiastic about Goldstein’s talk in the same way everyone else was.

At the time, you see, Goldstein’s talk somewhat blunted the impact of Ron’s talk. It came later the same afternoon, and at the end of the afternoon, so on that day (or that evening), I think, the bad part hadn’t completely overshadowed the good. It was mixed. It was “North Korea” that tipped the balance.


  1. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    So… Stop me if I’m wrong about this, but is that both the Dawkins website AND the CFI site, for whom the ONLY article on the WiS2 conference are Ron Lindsay’s talk and subsequent blog posts?

    And they actually think it’s rational to worry about MEN being silenced?

  2. says

    As far as I can tell, yes. The CFI site has a Point of Inquiry post about an interview with Katha Pollitt, and it mentions the conference, but that’s all – just a mention. There is nothing else about it at RDF – just Ron’s three posts, including the “North Korea” one, collected in one post and titled “Three posts on CFI about the Women in Secularism Conference – May 17-19” – which is ridiculous, because they’re not about the conference at all, they’re about Ron’s demon-haunted imaginings about it and then his fury at being questioned about the demon-haunted imaginings.

  3. Dave Ricks says

    Thanks to Jadehawk et al for noting this dynamic.  This weekend I increased my monthly donation to Secular Woman by a factor of ten with a note that Ron Lindsay’s speech was symptomatic of something larger. This thread supports my decision.

  4. hjhornbeck says

    I was about to argue against this one. I had a quick boo on CFI Canada’s website, and found that they didn’t really have anything about Imagine No Religion 3. An official announcement, a speaker lineup and schedule, a place to buy tickets, and that’s it. Not having much on your website about your conference is actually quite common, if my memory serves.

    But the two situations aren’t quite the same. CFI has all that, plus those blog entries. While not talking about your conference is common, talking about the contents of your conference is not.

    There’s even an argument against that, however. A brief note about contents could be acceptable, if something big and controversial happened and needed some clarity. And, well, it kinda did.

    But even that doesn’t quite fit. Say Watson said something outrageous on one of her panels at WiS2. Would she get a post on CFI’s website, detailing what she said and defending her views? No way, at best she’d get a brief “look her for Rebecca’s rebuttal” note, pointing to a blog entry on SkepChick, and certainly not a three part series of long posts on the subject.

    Lindsay is perfectly within his rights to defend his speech on his personal blog. If that blog is on CFI’s website, that’s also cool. But his posts on the RDF site… that seems to cross a line, to me. That seems like an abuse of privilege.

  5. says

    Well keep in mind that he didn’t post them there himself. He emailed me to say that.

    All right, but did he object? Did he consider asking to have them removed? Did he suggest adding a more upbeat post to talk about the conference itself as opposed to Ron’s “I’m not going to welcome you” talk?

    Who posted them there, or suggested posting them there? Dawkins? I doubt it, thought it’s possible. But if not Dawkins, then Cornwell. Robin Cornwell and Ron Lindsay are fellow “heads” – she surely wouldn’t have done that if she had thought it was a poke in the eye to Ron. She did it with his at least tacit approval, in other words, and quite possibly his enthusiastic approval.

    Why? Why did she do that? What was her point?

    I would like to know.

  6. says

    I wouldn’t be so sure Dawkins didn’t direct those articles to be put there. He was following at least some of the conference. When my comment about being allowed to be as cranky as the guys got tweeted and retweeted repeatedly, he tweeted to ask whether cranky meant “like a crank/crackpot” (because, he said, that’s what the word means in England).

  7. says

    I wasn’t so much sure he didn’t as doubtful that he did. If he did – well the same questions apply, but without the added edge contributed by the fact that Robin was a participant.

  8. hjhornbeck says

    Benson @5:

    Well keep in mind that he didn’t post them there himself. He emailed me to say that.

    Ok, now this is getting weird. The posts on the RDF site claim to be authored by Ron Lindsay. Not merely written by Lindsay, but also posted by the username “Ron Lindsay.” If “Ron Lindsay” isn’t Ron Lindsay, than someone just stole his identity to post on a website he has no affiliation with.

    And he’s OK with that? He hasn’t contacted the RDF to have them removed or altered, despite knowing about the existence of those posts?

  9. says

    Hm. I looked at a couple of other articles. They too have usernames. That seems to be something they do there.

    But no. I’m sure he hasn’t asked to have them removed, because if he had, they would have removed them. They’re hardly going to say “No!”

  10. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    And he’s OK with that? He hasn’t contacted the RDF to have them removed or altered, despite knowing about the existence of those posts?

    Kinda reminds me about how Vacula, for SOME MYSTERIOUS REASON, doesn’t email AVFM to ask them to stop lying about the origin of his post there.

    To whit:
    “His previously censored blog posting is reproduced on AVfM with thanks to him for writing it.”

    Since we know, for a fact, that he wrote the article specifically for AVfM and was not censored in any way.

    It’s almost like some sort of dishonesty-tolerating club, where minor deceptions are casually overlooked if they serve the ’cause’.

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