When I was invited to be the main speaker for the first-ever Sunday Assembly Los Angeles, I felt very optimistic. The people with whom I worked were so incredibly helpful, I got to cover an awesome topic that gave me an excuse to further educate myself, and the event went swimmingly. The press coverage wasn’t bad, either. I later spoke at the first Sunday Assembly Orange County as well.
As rarely happens, I had hope about something. But, as always happens when I do have them, those hopes were dashed. I have recently found out that this April, Sunday Assembly Los Angeles is hosting Michael Shermer. His talk is promoting the latest of his many books.
The topic? Morality. Yes, really.
Based on all that is at hand, as well as a promise I have made before, I have no choice but to not only decline the offer they have given me to emcee a future event but also to withdraw, with regret and apology, any form of support or endorsement I have ever given to SA-LA.
Contact information for SA-LA can be found here. I especially encourage you to reach out and share your concerns if you are local to Southern California.
I reached out to them already. Details of that below the jump.
When I brought up my concerns with one of the SA-LA organizers, I was told that the content is vetted rather than the speakers and that there is no “publicly available falsifiable evidence” against Shermer.
There are easily-accessible, multiple accusations against Shermer, some of them by women who are known, named entities and very much a part of the movement (or were at the time). Many of the other allegations were made by women who didn’t want to be named but who were vetted by known, named entities who are part of the movement. Women have been warning each other against being alone and/or drinking around Shermer for years in the Southern California skeptic scene. Apparently, it’s more likely that all these people are lying through their teeth and making it all up than that a powerful man is doing what more than one powerful man has done with said power.
So yes, I have a content-based objection. It’s to someone like Shermer doing a talk on morality. Morality, of all fucking things. Talk about a slap to the faces of every possible person who has been harassed or assaulted.
Remind me to never hope again. And also that I’m not completely out of touch with reality to think that the moral writings and talks of one such as Shermer ought not to be promoted by any group that wants to claim that it cares about inclusivity and allegedly wants to make the world a better place.