I gave up on creationist debates when I realized I was being taken advantage of — I’ve always been willing to do these engagements as an opportunity for science communication, so I wouldn’t charge anything except for travel expenses. Then I did one event where, after getting there, I learned that there was a banquet planned for their honored creationist speaker, to which I was not invited. Then I discovered that he was put up in a suite in the big hotel in town, but I was told that surely I’d be able to find a motel somewhere nearby. That’s the kind of respect you get from creationists.
Atheists aren’t much better.
Would you believe I still get tentative invitations to speak at atheist conferences? (For the past 6 months, those have all been online events, of course.) I hardly believe it myself, since I consider myself persona non grata in atheist circles, but apparently some people have good memories of events I’ve done in the past, and they call or email me. “Hey, we’re in the planning stages SuperAtheistCon, and your name has been suggested as a potential speaker. Are you interested?” And I’d say, sure, if I’m free that day. They’d ask for the usual headshot and bio, and sometimes they’d ask for an abstract for the talk, and sometimes they’d even ask for a complete outline of my topic, which was usually something science-related. I’d provide what they’d ask for, and let it lie. Then, usually, silence. I’d never hear from them again.
I’d just figure, “wow, my idea must have been really boring,” which may well have been the case, and that’s OK.
A few times, I’d get a regretful call back. They decided not to go with me, after all, because one of their board members objected that I was a feminist or an SJW (unspoken: the rest of the board went along with what they thought was a legitimate complaint), and also they landed some Hitchens-loving islamophobic misogynist speaker who was more popular than me, and now they’re out of money. Fair call.
One event even got to the point where I had all the slides done for a talk when they pulled the plug. It’s sinking in that I’m not ever going to speak at an atheist conference ever again, and that atheist conferences have achieved a kind of uniformly vaguely right-wing ambience that means they don’t want me, and that I don’t want them.
That’s all fine, I do not expect to be given a platform. However, please stop pestering me with tentative requests that you and I both know will get squelched by the dominant right-wingers in your organization, especially if that request is accompanied by a demand that I do the work of providing a justification for myself. It’s getting old and really hardening me in my cynicism.
P.S. I have zero sympathy for those professional atheists who whine about getting stiffed by conference organizers like Pangburn Philosophy. Sorry, guys, I’ve always done it for the cause and not for the money, so your petty bourgeois demands leave me cold. You’re doing it for the cash, and you got robbed by capitalist parasites, but still you defend the status quo? Boo hoo.
P.P.S. Maybe another reason I get disinvited from conferences is that they know I might sneer at their headliners.