The Secular Policy Institute has now flexed its mighty muscles and done something. You might be wondering “who?”, so I’ll remind you: this is the vaporous think tank that used to be called the Global Secular Council, or Secular Global Institute, but then underwent a few confusing rearrangements of the chairs on the poop deck to reorganize under this new name. Their specialty seems to be attempting to strong-arm feminists into supporting them, listing celebrity atheists on the masthead, getting together for photo-ops, and otherwise…doing nothing at all. They’ve lately discovered a latent ability to wag their fingers, though, so they’re going to try to do that with this announcement.
The secular movement has a problem,
They do! We’re six words in, and I still agree with them. What problem are they finally going to address? The out-of-touch leadership? The rabid blaming of Islam for every problem? The presence of sexual predators on the boards of certain organizations? The blind eye turned to the naked misogyny in the ranks?
in that some of our foremost leaders
Good start. Our problems aren’t in the ranks, it’s among people who appoint themselves “leaders”, and rarely seem to be competent.
get media attention by causing controversy.
Oh, no! They’re going after Richard Dawkins!
While this helps them draw in followers,
Wait, no, so not Richard Dawkins? He doesn’t need the media to have followers; his shenanigans on social media have actually cost him fans.
it causes an atmosphere of infighting in the secular community that hinders us from partnering, takes our eye off the ball of important issues,
Excellent. They’re going to rebuke Michael Nugent for his bizarrely hostile and obsessive campaign against me. Well, unless they think I’m one of the most important issues for the secular community to address.
I don’t have the ego to think that could possibly be the case.
and makes us look crankypants to outsiders. No wonder the stereotype of a secular person is condescending and angry.
Richard Dawkins again? Come on, quit picking on him.
At the Secular Policy Institute, we know that the problem comes from who we partner with, in two ways.
Yes, definitely. Look at their list of members, which is a very mixed bag. Some good people, some problematic people, and a few I wouldn’t piss on to put ’em out if they were on fire. Is this an announcement to clean up their board?
First, we want to positively partner with anyone who will work with us, including religious organizations. We don’t bash religion and we seek to partner with everyone. This prevents doors from closing with politicians and other big decision-makers. We even have several churches in our coalition because plenty of liberal churches support our goals of separating of church and state, and ending discrimination against nonbelievers.
Oh, please. I don’t buy this pious BS, but if I did, I’d have to think they’re really out to get Richard Dawkins again. Or Boghossian. Or Harris.
Second, we also avoid partnering in some situations. We believe the secular movement should stop rewarding those who cause discord.
DAWKINS??!? Or maybe it’s poor obsessed Nugent after all.
Why are “shock jock” bloggers invited to lecture at major secular conferences?
Eh, what? The “shock jock” remark is rather biased, but there is a reason: there are many people other than the ones appointed to the Secular Policy Institute who have interesting things to say, or simply offer different perspectives. It’s also the case that many of those bloggers have criticisms of the leadership — which is why they get called “shock jocks”, not because they’re particularly shocking, but because they do challenge the status quo.
Shouldn’t it be obvious to the Secular Policy Institute why diverse views should be expressed within the atheist movement?
Freedom of speech is a confusing issue, but it means that each person can speak freely through his or her own channel. It does not mean that angry voices have a right to dominate unmoderated discussions on our own Facebook pages and forums.
Exactly right. So this is still muddy and unclear — they’re going after trolls who are cluttering up their forums? You don’t need to make a public announcement to do that. Just do it.
Perhaps as a community we are responsible for leading a cultural tone and guiding people towards constructive debate.
Sure. And sometimes that tone is called the status quo, and you need people who will rock the boat and break down the barriers of dogma.
Apparently we are not alone in wanting to look more professional as a movemnent to the outside world.
Actually, I think the big problem is a movement that wants to look slick and professional, but with an emptiness in its heart: no real cause, no genuine ideals, just a desire to pose on an empty stage and pretend to be cool. I don’t want you to look good, I want you to be passionate for a cause.
This week, SPI coalition member Atheist Ireland publicly dissociated itself from blogger PZ Myers in an open letter.
Oh, no! I’m so sorry, Michael Nugent. The SPI has noticed your unprofessional and constant harassment of me, and are offering a stern rebuke. You know, as an affiliate of the very professional-looking SPI, you should avoid that kind of inappropriate obsession, especially when it is directed at someone with no connections to your organization, and no obligations to you. It’s just kind of wierd and creepy, you know?
What are your thoughts? Do you feel that strident internal criticism makes us stronger,
Internal criticism is essential. The kind of stalkerish sea-lioning that Nugent engages in is against someone who has nothing to do with your organization, so it isn’t really internal.
or that our generosity to be inclusive to all voices is being taken advantage of? Let us know on our Facebook page and on Twitter.
This makes no sense. No one has taken advantage of SPI’s ‘generosity’ — I don’t know that Nugent has been given anything by you. For that matter, I don’t think SPI has given anything of benefit to anyone. He’s free to rant away on his blog. So I…
Wait. I have just been informed that SPI is trying to criticize me. But that makes even less sense! I am not a member of the Secular Policy Institute, and have only been critical of that posturing glob of pretentious “leaders”. And it starts off complaining about some of their
foremost leaders, but I’m not “theirs”, I’m not “foremost” anything, and I do not have a leadership position anywhere.
Except maybe on FreethoughtBlogs. But even there we have a constitution that says we’re all pretty much equal here. I’m kind of a founding member, and that’s about it.
I’m about as much a member of the Secular Policy Institute as I am of Atheist Ireland, which makes all the finger-wagging laughable. I can just sit back and do my own thing and they have no strings to pull on me — so I can keep on laughing and mocking and criticizing, and will do so.
Unfortunately, there are all those other members of their coalition — I’m not tied to any of them, either, but they might want to watch out. The Secular Policy Institute thinks their job is to scold people, and particularly people who might criticize their presumed position at the top of the hierarchy.