Doing the right thing

Lawrence Krauss was scheduled to speak at an event with Harris and Dillahunty tonight: Krauss has withdrawn from it, which is rather interesting. This is part of a series of events assembled by this impresario I never heard of before named Travis Pangburn, who mainly seems to be focused on pandering to the old guard regressive atheists, pushing Sam Harris at every opportunity, so you’d think this would have been the friendliest possible venue for Krauss to push back. I guess he doesn’t think he can.

It is nice to see someone lose status within the atheist movement for being an asshole to women. It’s usually the other way around.

Also note that the American Humanists have spoken out.

“As humanists, we positively affirm a woman’s bodily autonomy and support those women who speak up and hold men accountable for misogyny and bad behavior. We encourage women to be empowered,” said Rebecca Hale, president of the AHA. “Sexual misconduct violates humanist concerns for equality and compassion.”

“Many have voiced concern that there will be little response to these allegations within our movement, and I want to assure them as a leader of the humanist community, that the AHA will not ignore these assertions,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of AHA.

The AHA works actively for gender equality and against harassment through its advocacy programs and with a special emphasis from the AHA’s Feminist Humanist Alliance. “Men benefit from a patriarchal culture that encourages male entitlement and predatory behavior,” said Sincere Kirabo, social justice coordinator at AHA. “Atheists aren’t exempt. It’s our job to work against this programming, to divest from it, and to actively challenge it.”

That’s the right tone. Now let’s see it applied to all the abusers.

And now…another Krauss cancellation.


  1. Matt G says

    Amen. The asshole atheists don’t speak for us non-asshole atheists, and we need to be louder and become more prominent than they.

  2. Raucous Indignation says

    If humanists aren’t going to do the right thing, we are far more well-and-truly-fucked than I already imagine.

  3. Helen Huntingdon says

    Oh hell no, that is not the right tone. Did you even read it?

    “We encourage women to be empowered,” should be your first clue. That’s pure weasel-speak. They’re talking about situations where power has been hoarded by men and denied to women — yet they’re using weasel phrasing to suggest that women should just CHOOOOOOSE to be empowered, and then it would be fine. Oh, okay, I guess the poor dears need a little encouragement before they choose to empower themselves, so fine, we’ll say we’re encouraging them. Empower yourselves already. What do you mean you’ve been trying?

    Any time someone talks about how people on the losing end of lines of dominance and power should “empower themselves” or “be empowered”, you know you’re seeing weasel-speak that is trying to remind everyone to blame the victims for not fixing the problems those with power have chosen to create.

    “As humanists, we positively affirm a woman’s bodily autonomy and support those women who speak up and hold men accountable for misogyny and bad behavior.” — More of the same. Note again the phrasing is that it’s the victims who have to fix things, as opposed to the organization itself and those with the most power fixing things. AHA can hold its people responsible. It doesn’t just have to sit there on its fainting couch as its weasel-speakers would like you to believe.

    “the AHA will not ignore these assertions,” said Roy Speckhardt, Well, yeah, they just said quite clearly the victims have to fix things. The AHA won’t *ignore* the assertions; they’ll burble about making inane weasel-words statements about how the victims should do what the AHA is too weasel-y to do.

  4. chrislawson says

    HH@3 — that seems a spectacularly uncharitable interpretation of a press release in which the AHA expresses unreserved condemnation of Krauss’s behaviour, recognises and expresses disappointment that he has been a past AHA Humanist of the Year, gives unequivocal support to those making the accusations, asserts clearly that “sexual misconduct violates humanist concerns for equality and compassion,” and describes the AHA as having a moral duty to “work against this [patriarchal] programming, to divest from it, and to actively challenge it.”

    The line “we encourage women to be empowered” that so appalled you, by its use of passive voice actually supports both women seizing empowerment for themselves and women being empowered by institutional change initiated by others and does not, as you so blithely put it, say “quite clearly that the victims have to fix things.”

  5. methuseus says

    It’s hard to tell if he’s avoiding the possibility of being asked any questions, or if he’s bowing out because he’s done a bad thing. Hopefully it’s the latter, but knowing these kinds of people, it’s probably the former.

  6. KG says


    Lying low in the hope that it will blow over, I would think. I predict that if it doesn’t, he’ll issue a bland “I made mistakes” notpology in a couple of months, and it will then be back to business as usual as far as most “sceptic” and atheist organizations are concerned. But I’d like to be wrong at least about the latter.

  7. lotharloo says

    @4 Helen Huntingdon:

    That was an incredibly silly post. Since when saying “I support the victims” is victim blaming? You must either be trolling massively or smoking something very fun.

  8. lotharloo says

    And about Krauss … good. It was about fucking time. He has a pretty colorful history I have to say (based on PZ’s previous post on him).

  9. says

    hmm, the link doesn’t actually seem to specify whether he withdrew, or whether the organizers removed him from the list against his will, or what…

  10. Helen Huntingdon says

    “Uncharitable” is the center square in atheist-bigotry bingo. Get out the fainting couches and smelling salts!

  11. chrislawson says

    HH@10 — no, “uncharitable” was me being diplomatic because I wasn’t sure about your motivations. Now that you’ve doubled down on being a self-righteously obnoxious tone troll, I can see that I should have written “untruthful, spiteful, and vexatious with more interest in puffing up your own moral purity than helping people working to improve the world.”

  12. billyjoe says


    You do nobody any favours, including yourself, by insisting on being offended in the most innocuous of situations. Do you want to move forward or forever be a victim? Women have been, and continue to be, abused. But the empowering move is to throw off that label along with the abuse, and stand up for yourself with the support of all those ready and eager to help. It’s counterproductive, and a waste of time and energy, to keep attacking those who honestly are just trying to help. There are plenty out there trying to pull you down. You don’t need any more enemies.

  13. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    that seems a spectacularly uncharitable interpretation

    That seems to be her thing.

  14. Helen Huntingdon says

    It’s been around ten years, I think, or nearly that, since I first ran across PZ asking in good faith where all the women were, why there were so few in these movements and activities he cares about. And one thing that has not changed at all is that he has only to look at his own comments sections for all the answers he needs.

    PZ, best of luck with the next 10 — maybe you can make a dent by then.

  15. chrislawson says

    Helen — mt apologies. I was already cranky about unrelated issues when I wrote my second response and I shouldn’t have done it. What I should have said was:

    1. If the AHA had been victim-blaming, I would agree with you 100%.
    2. I went back after your comment and re-read the AHA release, paying special attention to the passages you had highlighted, and could find no evidence of victim-blaming.
    3. I think it is important that the AHA be supported for doing the right thing on this occasion, not criticised for behaviours that are not in evidence.