Kaoru Nigisa at Reasonable Conversation discusses the non-statement made by CFI, including this about the mythologizing that the antifeminist quarters have included in their “Skeptic Women” petition in support of Ron Lindsay’s strawmanning and lack of comprehension about the conference and conversations he was hosting:
We are aware of a campaign, headed by Amanda Marcotte and others, to remove Ronald A. Lindsay from his position as CEO of the Center for Inquiry. We do not support this effort.
Where? Where has anybody, Amanda Marcotte or otherwise, lead a “campaign” for Ron Lindsay to be fired? Everybody I have read has asked for an apology, either from him or on his behalf. And who is calling to interfere with the careers of people? This is completely made up nonsense, a collection of hyperbolic ghost stories told by anti-feminists to justify their harassment tactics. The point of this letter is just to tell the world that the undersigned don’t have any problems with people treating others horribly. They’re fine, so why should they give a shit about anybody else?
Basically, this is weapons grade projection.
And at CFI On Campus, Seth Kurtenbach channels his inner fifth grader to explain why the statement by CFI is less than adequate:
In the second paragraph, we learn that the CFI Board has a wish. A wish is a want, or a desire. Some people believe wishes come true under certain circumstances. For instance, some people believe a genie can make a wish come true. Other people believe wishing upon a star makes your wishes come true. I don’t believe in those things, but maybe the Board does.
The CFI Board’s wish is to express unhappiness. Unhappiness is a lot like sadness. This is a very sad wish. Why is the Board sad? Because of a controversy about their women’s conference. I wonder who did this to them? Whoever did controversy to them must be pretty mean, because it makes the Board wish to express unhappiness. The people who made this controversy must have a problem with women. I hope the Board’s wish comes true, so that they can express this unhappiness, and the people behind this controversy can feel ashamed! Maybe I will wish upon a star that their wish will come true.
People are rightfully upset that the CEO of CFI, Ron Lindsay, brought the feminism conversation’s equivalent of a creationist accusation that evolution is undercut by Piltdown Man to a convention where everyone damn well knew it was a fallacious argument on a number of grounds. They are upset that Lindsay had the temerity to bring up falsehoods and straw dummies in the opening speech for a convention he was holding, in order to chastise the participants over things that are patently wrong. They are upset that he left a fundraising dinner to call one of the speakers comparable to a totalitarian fascist country. They are upset that his lack of professionalism, not to mention his lack of knowledge on the topic, overshadowed the speakers that everyone was there to hear. They are upset that the CFI board’s statement threw the conference itself under the bus by saying that there was controversy surrounding the conference, rather than surrounding their CEO’s actions.
If it takes a fifth grader’s explanation to make that plainer than everyone has made it so far, I more than welcome this contribution to the dialogue.
20 thoughts on “Two takes on CFI's non-statement you should read”
Could we please dispense with the idea right away that there is something, somehow, wrong with asking the board to consider (just consider, like, think about, look into) having Lindsay step down? That’s not what I’m suggesting here by any means. I’ve got no opinion on that. But I think it is interesting that some folks who are objecting to the objections to Lindsay’s talk are setting up this particular straw man, because it is not a very good straw man. Perhaps it is the case that no one has asked for him to step down, but what would be wrong with suggeting it? Such a thing, suggesting this, is in fact a totally normal thing to do when a CEO does this much of that kind of stuff to this particular pooch. As it were.
I did not and do not think that cambaigning him to step down is unreasonable. I just note that nobody’s done it, to my knowledge, despite the howls of outrage from the usual howler monkeys.
It’s typical Slymepitter false equivalence – they feel it’s in no way profoundly intellectually dishonest to reword “question the judgement of” as “fired unceremoniously and then dragged into the street and beaten with tire irons”.
Do we really expect anything better of them at this stage of the game?
As I said (over there), I wonder if the attempt to make the suggestion of stepping down an automatically bad thing to do is a form of cover. Or, as I’ll say here but did not say there, is it just a general misunderstanding, mixing up, of tactics, what is OK and what is not OK. With all the bullies running around it is hard to keep track of what the latest thing you are not supposed to do is.
Since you explained it better here, Greg, I do think you’re right. This could very well be an attempt to poison the tactic. So when we DO ask someone to step down, people will point to this incident and say “oh, but I thought you agreed that was off-limits! Hypocrite!”
It’s just how mythologizers manage to keep driving the narrative this way, by making shit up from whole cloth, that gets me.
Dana did mention the removal of Ron Lindsay from his position in her letter.
And just to be clear, I don’t see anything wrong with this.
Jason, there were a lot of people writing letters, and I don’t doubt some letters expressed the idea that Lindsay should (metaphorically) fall on his sword. That doesn’t make it a campaign to sack Ron — the campaign was the letter writing, to ensure the CfI board knew what the WiS2 attendees thought of the conference, and the (non-)welcome by the organisation’s CEO.
If I find an example of someone who wrote such a letter I’ll post a comment here to that effect. And as Greg said, it’s not at all an unusual opinion to hold and argue, when faced with unprofessional actions like attacking and undermining your own organisation’s conference and speakers while it’s in progress. I don’t like the phrase ‘screwing the pooch’ but in this case the pooch, if it could speak, would be vociferously complaining about its abuse.
I don’t like the phrase much either but somehow it just seemed to almost fit perfectly.
Ninja’d by Jean!
Worth noting that Dana Turner did not give the board an ultimatum or a demand, but firmly asked for action, with removal of Lindsay as the first alternative: “[f]ailing that, he must apologize, in full and without qualification”. So again this is no evidence of a “campaign to sack Ron” — but it is indicative of the letter-writing campaign seeking actions to resolve a very public problem, which has been met with dissolute inaction.
I think the meme is an attempt to make movement organization folks think we’re threatening all their jobs in order to get them to oppose us. They’re trying to say we do this over and over, when in fact, we (I) have done this once, with Vacula.
FYI it was a group called “Skeptic Women” supporting RL.
I think Stephanie is on to something. These sorts of myths have to create a credible threat, and “they objected to somebody they could document harassing people getting an important job” just doesn’t have the same sense of menace as “THEY’RE OUT OF CONTROL!”
Corinne: oops, my bad! Changed!
What’s worse is that it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. Most weren’t calling for his resignation before. But now that he’s doubled down in his defensive statements afterwards, alienated supporters, and brought the CFI board into his defence, it’s certainly on the table for many.
I think he should have resigned or been fired. I don’t think that is too much to expect after his doubling down behavior. I support the CFI boycott.
There absolutely were some letters that called for his removal. However, there was no organized campaign to ask specifically for that.
Amanda’s letter essentially does: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/20/an-open-letter-to-the-center-for-inquiry/
However, all letters with more than one signature, or a statement by an organization, (that I’m aware of) asked for some sort of apology.
Denying that there was a collective attempt to get him fired sounds like a move to salvage appearances, now that it looks like Lindsay might hold onto his job. I say “might” because I don’t for a moment think it’s a sure thing. In an “alternate universe” (if you will) the letter writing campaign could have got him fired, and I doubt many on this side would be crying into their conference pub drinks over that outcome.
Probably this, note the date:
From Amanda Marcotte’s open letter, linked above:
To me that says “resignation would be the right thing to do, but it’s negotiable.”
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