Wham bam slam!

Secular Woman has issued a formal statement on the ‘introduction’ to the Women in Secularism conference. It’s pretty potent stuff…I like it.

I look forward to the CEO’s response, which will probably compare it to a communique from Red China. A declaration of war, perhaps?


  1. Ze Madmax says

    Improbable Joe @ #1

    possibly Spanish Inquisition.

    Well, certainly nobody would expect that.

    … I’ll see myself out.

  2. says

    I’ve been looking on Secular Woman all week hoping for some recap of the conference and some response to that horrible Lindsay non-welcome. THank you for pointing to it – I had not yet checked today and by last night had actually given up hope of finding one. So glad they’ve responded!

  3. mudpuddles says

    Great statement from Secular Woman. Looking forward to the response from CFI.

  4. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    And just when I was about to pout that no one responded to my questions yesterday, Secular Women comes through. Joining. Immediately. That’s where my erstwhile CFI donation dollars will go.

  5. kaboobie says

    Glad to see support for Secular Woman. I’m a member, and I’ve been happy with their response both to Lindsay’s meltdown and the earlier Open Letter to the Secular Community. SW may be the only secular organization I continue supporting in the long run…

  6. =8)-DX says

    Good to hear this, it takes a calm, well-thought-out response from another organisation to properly respond to official pronouncements of the head of an organisation. I don’t think CFI or Lindsay can ignore or dismiss this without completely discrediting themselves.

  7. Steve Schlosnagle says

    A great letter!

    I hope it makes Dr. Lindsey feel just as welcome as his address made me feel welcomed at WiS…

  8. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I’m glad that Secular Women noticed the invitation to BYOB and brought their own BOO-YAH for Mr. Lindsay.

  9. Stacy says

    I look forward to the new CEO’s response.

    You and me both. I’d settle for a heartfelt apology though.

  10. Kristin Nelson says

    “Worse, he instead chose to personally welcome a man who has harassed and antagonized many of the speakers scheduled for the weekend, and who now has an interview about the conference on the front page of the website of A Voice for Men”

    I’m not well-versed in all the details of this situation. What I had heard about this “welcome” really bothered me. This passage sounds as this man acted in an egregious manner, and I would like to know the specifics so I can evaluate what happened for myself: Who is this man? How did he harass speakers? Why did Lindsay single him out for welcome? Should he have known that this man might engage in activity that would go against “An Open Letter to the Secular Community.” Why are the writers bringing this up in an internet letter, without giving specifics or links, such as to this letter? (Is it just a huge “known secret” that everybody who was present knows about so it doesn’t seem necessry to give details?)

    I really appreciate hearing people’s accounts of these kinds of situations, but it is sometimes frustrating to understand what is going on when much of is written makes the assumption that the reader was at the event or is intimately familiar with all the details of what happened. I wish I had been at the event, and that I were more able to be involved in the secular feminist community than I am, but as I’m not, I’m dependent on those who know what is happening for the important details. :0

  11. Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu says

    Kristin @18, scroll through the posts here on Pharyngula, Butterflies and Wheels, and Skepchicks from last weekend. You can also go to the front page of CFIs website to read what Dr. Lindsay wrote for his speech.

    I would link you the “who” that is being referred too, except that he writes for the webste AVFM, and PZ, rightly IMHO, sends any post with a link to there to the spam filter. The link to SW’s response gives a reasonably detailed account of what happend as well.

    I’d not heard of SW before today. I will be looking into joining, I think.

  12. says

    Mister Sulu Elsa Roberts, remind me to never piss you off!

    (ST Into Darkness reference)

    An eloquent and appropriate response.

  13. brive1987 says

    It’s been pushed of the CFI home page. You need to go into the (blog) archive.

  14. says

    Kristin, the “bravehero” in question (seriously, that’s what he calls himself) is one of the personae hostilis featuring in Ophelia’s latest post on the non-stop monitoring and harassment she has been subjected to for internet-aeons now. It’s not the first post of documentation she’s published which features him (here’s just one of the other examples).

    Lindsay knew that many WISC2 attendees had taken pains to communicate clearly to this bravehero (via twitter and blogs) that they did not want him to approach them or interact in any way at the conference because of his history of hostile misrepresentation, because concerns about his potential for disruptive behaviour had been expressed directly to CFI. Lindsay decided that staging a very public welcome and handshake to the bravehero was a PR priority, shortly after he’d decided that publicly welcoming attendees and speakers to a conference they’d promoted and paid for was not a PR priority during his opening address.

  15. Ichthyic says

    I sincerely hope what Lindsay did, in his official capacity as CEO of CFI is not forgotten, nor forgiven.

    keep putting pressure on the board of directors of CFI; it’s the only way you can put any real pressure on Lindsay at this point.

    It’s hard to find CEOs to help with the administration of nonprofs. I do hope that Lindsay reconsiders his position and offers sincere apologies, instead of letting his ego harm CFI.

  16. Sili says

    How often (if ever – I don’t know the laws concerning this) do CFI publish their charitable donations? I’d love to see how effective this strategy from the CEO has been in improving the organisations cashflow.

  17. Ichthyic says

    I’d love to see how effective this strategy from the CEO has been in improving the organisations cashflow.

    write it up as a formal request to their board of directors.

    no kidding.

    how long would it take? 5 minutes?

    it has an impact. Really.

  18. mildlymagnificent says

    There must be a few hundred people like me who regret not having a regular contribution to CFI. Because I can’t cancel it and write them a polite letter telling them they’ll never get another penny.

    I suppose people who now sign up to Secular Woman could also write to CFI and tell them that they’ve made that choice and that CFI won’t get any contributions of any kind in the future.

  19. biogeo says

    From CFI’s Twitter feed:

    The CFI Board of Directors and CEO Ron Lindsay are aware that his recent talk and blog posts have generated much debate and discussion. […] CFI & Board are in ongoing discussions over this matter, which will be also be [sic] considered at Board’s regularly scheduled June meeting. […] Further comments on this issue will be made once the Board has had an opportunity to discuss and consider it in full.

    I can understand if they need to take some time to decide what exactly to do regarding Ron Lindsay, but I hope they can make it clear that Lindsay’s comments are his own and don’t reflect the organization’s views sooner than June. I don’t think people should be writing CFI off yet; it’s only been a few days, and even if everyone on the Board can recognize that Lindsay’s comments reflect poorly on CFI as an organization, I doubt they have procedures in place for rapid damage control if the CEO goes off the rails like this. While that phrase “debate and discussion” is certainly newspeaky on their part, they might pull through for us yet. But, of course, the longer it takes, the worse it looks for them.

  20. Ichthyic says

    I hope they can make it clear that Lindsay’s comments are his own and don’t reflect the organization’s views

    you know what would really help make that clear?

    telling the ass to remove his comments from the official CFI website, for starters.

    there’s only one reason Lindsay himself hasn’t done that yet: Pure ego.

  21. Ichthyic says

    I doubt they have procedures in place for rapid damage control if the CEO goes off the rails like this.

    having worked with a lot of nonprofs, I think you are overblowing the formality of how things are run.

    frankly, I would be surprised if Lindsay has not already HAD significant communications from various board members on this issue. If he is also a member of the board (not unlikely), then it’s his choice to listen to the advice of his fellow board members or not.

    Very very unlikely the entire board will decide to impose punitive actions for this, but it indeed will be disappointing if there is no retraction or apology forthcoming by the end of the week, say.

  22. biogeo says

    having worked with a lot of nonprofs, I think you are overblowing the formality of how things are run.

    You probably know more than me, then. But it seems like the (other) members of the board would have to recognize that Lindsay’s behavior here has been bad for CFI, though, even if some of them might actually agree with the sentiments he’s expressed. It seems obvious that this isn’t the way that the CEO should be treating CFI’s conference organizers, speakers, and attendees. But maybe I’m naive.

  23. Ichthyic says

    . But it seems like the (other) members of the board would have to recognize that Lindsay’s behavior here has been bad for CFI

    my point is there doesn’t have to be a formal process for this, or even a meeting.

    this is the kind of thing that can be handled by a phone call. That Lindsay has done nothing so far suggests either the board members do not think he has done anything significant, have previously allowed him leeway in this area (so have to kinda bite their tongues), or he’s simply ignoring them.

    no way to tell.

  24. biogeo says

    After checking Greta Christina’s blog, I discovered she helpfully linked to the list of CFI board members: R. Elisabeth Cornwell, Kendrick Frazier, Barry Kosmin, Richard Schroeder, Eddie Tabash, Jonathan Tobert, Leonard Tramiel, and Judith Walker. Based on her talks this year and last year at WiS, I suspect R. Elisabeth Cornwell probably largely agrees with Lindsay’s talk and blog posts.

  25. says

    re the no changes yet on the CFI website – in my experience of webwrangling for various companies and orgs including some non-profits, the website is often an afterthought and I can imagine exactly how it might be set up so that the board doesn’t actually have an easy way to just get Lindsay’s posts off the front page, even if they would really like to.

    e.g. as webmonkey I generally only have one point of contact within an organisation, and that’s who asks me to change things on the website. Other members of the org may quite possibly have no idea how to get in touch with me (although eventually following an invoice trail through the org accounts should end up with my details, it could take quite some time before someone thinks of that and gets it done).

    I and that contact person are usually the only persons with administrative and editorial user access, all other users are only at “author” level which means they cannot change anything other than their own posts. Thus they have no way to just log in and change anything written by another user. So if Ron Lindsay is the person who deals primarily deals with the webmonkey, or if CFI’s designated website manager is a direct report to him, then it might be almost impossible for anybody else in CFI to get anything changed on the website unless Lindsay gives the nod.

    Few orgs really think their in-house website management procedures through, and this often comes back to bite them. I’ve seen business clients lose control of their established-for-years website/domain because they got a young staffer to set it up (to save money) and then that staffer moved on without passing on login details to anybody else.

    So I’m willing to cut the CFI board a bit of slack regarding public pronouncements until it’s made clearer just what their internal website management procedures are. We can’t blame them for not getting statements countering those of Lindsay up on the website if they don’t actually have access to it.

  26. Ichthyic says

    We can’t blame them for not getting statements countering those of Lindsay up on the website if they don’t actually have access to it.

    but they have access to Lindsay, and Lindsay, obviously, has access to the website.

  27. says

    Is Lindsay listening to anybody offering criticism from within CFI? We don’t know, and if he isn’t, then they don’t have meaningful access to him, do they?

    If the only CFI persons in contact with their webmonkey(s) are either Lindsay or sympathisers, then the board can be blocked from the website indefinitely.

  28. chigau (違う) says

    I have, in hand, the most recent Skeptical Inquirer.
    There is an article about bigfoot and an article about lake monsters.
    (and some other stuff)

    There are something like 150 “Fellows” listed on the inside cover.
    Do they have anything to say?

  29. Silentbob says

    @ 18 Kristin Nelson

    “The man” referred to is Justin Vacula. Some background on the atmosphere surrounding his attendance at Women In Secularism 2 can be gleaned from this post.

  30. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    There are something like 150 “Fellows” listed on the inside cover.
    Do they have anything to say? – chigau

    Yes of course: they say there’s no Bigfoot and no lake monsters. Are these not among the most important issues we face in today’s troubled world?

  31. says

    So, the CFI Open Letter to a Secular Community was just a prepare the way thing for Lindsay? He then offends everyone. We respond and they can say “hey, didn’t you read that letter? We want more civility from. How dare you make angry noises about some unimportant issue like women in secularism and rape culture. You’re all poopy heads and we mean that in a polite and civil way.”

  32. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    He went out of his way to welcome the harasser, then refused to welcome the rest of the attendees, including the targets of that harassment, because he thought they already felt welcome enough?


  33. says

    If the CFI board works like most boards, I would expect they need to get a formal meeting together to discuss this whole thing. It should also be noted that Melody Hensley is on formal vacation for 10 days, so I would hope they would wait for her input as well before making any formal decisions and statements.

    From a pure leadership perpective, Ronald Lindsay was an abject failure. He gave horrible opening speech instead of being a supportive leader and toastmaster for the event, he was nowhere to be found during the entire conference, when he should have been schmoozing it up, increasing membership in CFI, and adding to the coffers. There are probably many potential CFI members turning away from CFI now and instead are directing their dollars to SW and AA. That’s some pretty serious business, so in my opinion I can’t help but feel the CFI board has no choice but to listen to the complaints since what Ronald did is causing them to lose members. To that end, I would urge people, as Greta has done, to write a formal complaint and sent it to the board directly, as Greta has recommended. http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/05/22/if-you-have-something-to-say/

    #7 – Hyperdeath, that made me chuckle.

  34. Ichthyic says

    If the CFI board works like most boards, I would expect they need to get a formal meeting together to discuss this whole thing.

    I’m sure they will, but long before that happens, Lindsay should have received a few telephone calls or emails expressing opinions on the matter.

    I know when I was working with nonprofs, if I did something stupid I would get an earful in a rather more immediate sense, long before any formal board meetings were scheduled. And, should I have chosen to ignore those opinions (which I also did on occasion), that board meeting would be more of the roasting variety than it would have otherwise.

    my point being, I’m positive board members opinions on this issue have already been communicated to Ron. Yet, there has been no action to remove or apologize for his comments on the website.

    that’s a fail, in and of itself.

  35. says

    Lindsay issued an “apology”:

    In my blog post of May 18, I complained about Ms. Rebecca Watson’s characterization of my May 17 talk. In doing so, I expressed my points in intemperate language, e.g., the comparison of her blog post to a press communication from North Korea, and for that I unqualifiedly apologize. This apology has been conveyed to Ms. Watson.

    To be clear, I still firmly believe Ms. Watson’s blog post mischaracterizes my talk, specifically by characterizing my abbreviated discussion of the phrase “shut up and listen” as the “crux” of my talk.

    So he apologizes for one thing he said on his blog, and he makes sure that we know he still feels that he’s been treated unfairly.

    But has he thought about the original speech, and about whether his totally non-cruxy discussion of “shut up and listen” was inappropriate, ill-suited to the occasion, and reflective of a crappy understanding of the issue?

    As to my May 17 talk, I have nothing to say. The CFI board will decide whether my talk was contemptuous of women, as some have alleged, misrepresented CFI’s commitment to women’s rights, or in some way committed CFI to a course of action inconsistent with CFI’s mission.

    Of course, the things he lists are the *only* things that could have been wrong with the speech.

  36. Ichthyic says

    Lindsay issued an “apology”:

    TOTALLY of his own volition, mind you, and with no prompting from the studio audience at all!

    this guy is a clown. The more he speaks, the more he makes himself look worse. Read some of his previous unrelated posts if you don’t think so. Try the one on cats vs birds for example.

    here’s a tip, Lindsay, and I mean this with all seriousness, and pragmatism:

    SHUT UP.

  37. says

    Try the one on cats vs birds for example.

    Well, I’ll never get that 7 minutes back.

    But he did use the word “normative”. Classy ;).

  38. =8)-DX says

    Notpology 101: Spend most of the apology explaining how you were right the whole time and did nothing wrong and aren’t reacting to criticism. Oh and then say sorry for the nasty word you used (you didn’t think people were that sensitive to your playful use of hyperbole).

    Where have I heard this before? Rush ‘Slutshamer’ Limbaugh or Todd ‘legitimate-rape’ Atkin? Well Lindsay didn’t say anything half as bad as these two, nor is he a total slimebag like they are, but notpology tactics seem to be universal accross the board.