A subset of Freethoughtbloggers and the Queen Skepchick got together on Google+ to discuss the recent contretemps. The people who participated were me, Al Stefanelli, Daniel Fincke, Greg Laden, Ian Cromwell, Jason Thibeault, Ophelia Benson, Rebecca Watson, and Stephanie Zvan.
Here’s how I introduced it:
The latest controversy to embroil freethoughtblogs is over the James Randi Educational Foundation’s big yearly meeting, The Amazing Meeting, or TAM for short. After DJ Grothe, the president of the JREF, announced his concern that, despite the fact that he’d done a fine job of making the roster of speakers well balanced, at roughly half and half men and women, the registration of women in the meeting was significantly down from last year. What to do?
Well, he could have asked big boosters of TAM, like Skepchick and Freethoughtblogs, to rally together and help get more women involved, as Skepchick has done every year. Instead, in a bizarre twist, he basically accused Rebecca Watson and a certain blog network, ours, of scaring women away with our horrible stories of sexual harassment. He also denied that sexual harassment had ever occurred, a story that has been steadily unraveling over the last few weeks.
Then, to make matters worse, a number of poorly informed people have been ranting that we, that is people like Rebecca Watson and Stephanie Zvan, want to “harm TAM” — another weird claim that ignores the history of our involvement with skeptical and atheist meetings.
So the point of our session today is to clear the air, get our position expressed, and maybe vent a little frustration.