David Silverman is failing Redemption 101


When last we heard from David Silverman, he was involved in some new enterprise called Transformative Humanists of America. Tragically, that seems to have vanished off the internet. Whoops.

Now he’s started something new, a website for himself called Firebrand for Good. Good for him. He should be scrambling for redemption after the disgrace that led to his ouster from American Atheists, and that’s the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, the path he’s taking is to simply deny the accusations, and blame it all on a conspiracy of liars. That’s not the right thing to do.

Stephanie Zvan goes through all the details he gets wrong and misrepresents, and doesn’t let him weasel away from the wrong he did. He also makes another point I want to address — he argues that he did a lot of good in his prior position. That’s true!

Do you remember the strict codes of conduct, the gender neutral bathrooms? the ERA speech on the capitol lawn? the first atheist contingent at a choice march? Those were good ideas. I’ve been a feminist for 30 years and I did a lot for us.

I became a lifetime member of American Atheist when I saw what Silverman was doing, because I thought it signaled a good direction for the organization to be taking, so I supported it with my dollars. Really, I think that’s what we have to do, positively reinforce good approaches, and … negatively reinforce bad ones. When Dave was found to be on the shady side on a number of issues, I retracted my support for him personally.

He is not winning me back with this strategy of denying the problems. That just tells me he isn’t going to change.

I also support my local humane society. If I learn one of the staff people likes to kick puppies in the privacy of their homes, I’m still going to support the goals of the society, but I’m also going to expect that that individual will no longer be working there. It would be wonderful if they could work their way back into our trust, but it would take something other than crossing their heart and swearing that no sir, they never did kick no puppies, they sure did love them puppies, can they please come back and work in the puppy room? Because we know they kicked those puppies before. Trying to bury the truth instead of confronting their own ugliness is not going to persuade me that they’ve changed. Quite the contrary.

So sorry, Dave. Your new direction is diametrically opposite the one I’d support. There is no ratchet, and those things you’ve done that I do support aren’t permanent advancements. You can slip back out of grace, and you’ve done so.

Comments

  1. says

    A pattern of constant cleansing and fissioning is not an indicator of a healthy and effective organization.

    See Homage to Catalonia, and also compare SDS and SNCC.

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