Listen to the whispers

As PZ already has covered, there has been some revelations about problems with two former board members of American Atheists. One was Mandisa Thomas, who has been a major voice among Black American atheists, but whose behavior has caused major rifts in that community. I have little knowledge about neither Mandisa Thomas nor the situation, but I firmly support the people who have left Black Nonbelievers as a result of Mandisa Thomas’ behavior.

The other former board member of AA was Andrew Torrez, someone I know a lot more about. Andrew Torrez was a popular legal podcaster as the co-host of Opening Arguments and Cleanup on Aisle 45. I was a supporter on both podcasts on Patreon. As the stories of his behavior have started to come out, it has also become clear that several organizations and associates, including several podcast hosts, had heard about these problems as far back as in 2017. It appear that there was an incident in 2017 that was shared broadly.

What is certainly clear, is that there has been rumors about Torrez on the whisper network for years (something PZ alludes to in his original post on the subject). The problem with the whisper network is that it is by nature vague, and that you only hear it if you are connected to it in some way. This makes it easy to ignore, but that’s a mistake. The reason why the rumors tend to be vague, is that there is a constant worry of law threats (something we certainly know the risk of here at Freethoughtblogs), especially when it involves a lawyer.

I am not particularly connected to the whisper network, but I have occasionally heard names through it, and in just about every case, later revelations have show the whisper network to be right.

This is also the case for Torrez – someone I had really hoped the network was wrong about, but which it again turned out to be right about. Looking back, I really should have known better than to ignore it enough to financially support the podcasts, thus helping platform an abuser. I apologize for that. What I did do right, was to stop recommending the podcasts as soon as I heard the whispers – and this is something we all can do. If we hear that someone is problematic, stop recommending them, until you have looked into the allegations at depth.

I don’t say that you should uncritically believe any rumor you hear, but you should remember that when people step forward, even just on the whisper network, they risk serious repercussions, so it is not something that most people would do frivolously, so you definitely shouldn’t them out of hand.