25 comments on “Women in Secularism 2: Breaking News: Even at WiS, we have to defend the purpose of WiS!

  1. Reblogged this on The Monster's Ink and commented:
    Yeah. This happened. I was there in the front row, and I can confirm, Ron Lindsay’s speech was just as bad as it sounds. He was an embarrassment to the “old white guy” demographic. For the amount of time he spent scolding us nasty feminists for our bad manners, we could’ve had another talk.

  2. Howdy! I feel like I’m seeing all sorts of new and cool people thanks to this issue, so I guess there’s one good benefit?

    I’m sort of a nobody with a nothing background, and I rarely get to go to these events, but even so… it really seems to me that the speakers AND audience were almost universally troubled by Lindsay’s opening remarks. One person can be dismissed as a crank(and notice how Lindsay focused on ONE critic and ignored the others in order to pretend that RW is a crank), a few people could be a difference of opinion/interpretation. A whole shit-ton of people, including speakers, audience, and staff? Maybe it is time to, well, SHUT UP AND LISTEN!

    • I was definitely grateful for the fact that Lindsay both demonstrated before we got started that we were there because of a legit problem (one so pervasive that we evidently can’t even keep it out of a conference created to address it), and for how many people I have met because of the heavy participation by people I’d never have found otherwise.

      Lindsay was wrong and has continued to add terribleness on top of his initial wrongness, but he has certainly sorted the wheat from the chaff and I might as well try and benefit from it as a networking opportunity!

    • Me too Improbable Joe. For the one jerk here and there, I have met more good people. *waves to Joe* I don’t know how it will pan out, but that’s exactly what Ron has to do now if he is going to fix things. SHUT UP AND LISTEN. He is the leader, after all. He needs to contact all the attendees, the people he was supposed to be serving as the host of the conference, and listen. It’s a big list, but it’s doable. (300+ people, perhaps?) He also needs to do that with his entire staff, and then finally all the members of CFI. He’s got his work cut out for himself, and he better get cracking and stop blogging about it. It’s up to him to fix things, and if he chooses to do nothing, I think it’s quite reasonable for people to call that he step down and resign.

      • He needs to give a real apology to all of the people who PAID to be lectured to about how important it is we keep in mind his fears that feminists take things too far. WTF other event gets opened by a host who is so CLEARLY ambivalent about the speakers his own organization invited?

  3. And once again, the primary result of women trying to do something serious with a focus on women’s issues is that most of the commentary afterwards is derailment about some guy making it All About Him. Do you suppose he did it on purpose, to achieve exactly this effect?

    • I think this is one of those cases where any sufficiently advanced negligence is indistinguishable from malice. I don’t think I am willing to give him enough credit for having masterminded this; I think he genuinely believed that the conference would benefit from him pre-empting what he believes to be our tendency to get a little out of control when we get to talkin’.

    • I vividly recall the enthusiasm and energy after WiS [1] – which like the second conference, I followed from afar via social media – and it was heartening that after the conference finished, people like Jen McCreight and Stephanie Zvan, amongst others, helped channel that momentum into tangible progress: the development of anti-harassment policies that have been widely adopted by almost all of the atheist and skeptical conferences around the place. (The secret policy enforced at TAM seems contrarily to have been a harassment policy, by isolating the targets of harassment.)

      That was a major achievement, and the reward for it was (unsurprisingly) harassment from the same, backwards quarter of the internet secular movement directed at those proponents of decency and against harassment and abuse. So I am flabbergasted to think that Dr Ron A. Lindsay can have been so obliviously ignorant of the context of what happened after WiS – given that he also gave the introductory speech of welcome on that occasion also.

      The (non-)welcome speech of a conference is supposed to set the tone for what follows (and not supposed to completely derail the objectives of the meeting), but that’s what Dr Lindsay appears to have achieved – he not only did his best to sabotage his own organisation’s conference, but destroyed the chances of harnessing interest in the ideas that were discussed leading to better outcomes. The legacy of WiS 2 is beginning to look like a letter writing campaign to the Center for Inquiry, which rightfully has the censuring of Dr Lindsay as its target, but which looks incapable of achieving anything more permanent and useful than the replacement of an contemptuous and incompetent CEO.

      To say that the women, men, and non-binary people who attended WiS 2 expected better than shemozzle this is not enough. They deserved better than this. If it was his explicit intention to undermine his own organisation’s conference then that is malicious and contemptuous, rather than merely incompetently negligent.

      • Agreed 100%. There was so much amazingness at WiS2 and I actually figured a lot of things out for myself as far as how I want to Do Activism (both the secularism and feminism sorts), but it basically is taking a Namazie or Goldstein speech to even peek up above the raging bullshit storm that Lindsay caused–and had every reason to expect he would cause.

        I think that is the observation that has made me the angriest, honestly. It was a comment Greta Christina made that got me thinking about it.

        “I think he knew that giving this talk would turn a huge amount of the attention — at the Women in Secularism 2 conference — to Ron Lindsay, and to his opinions about feminism and feminists in the secular movement. And I think he was totally fine with that.”

        That’s not just obnoxious. That is actively sabotaging an enormous investment of time, energy, money, and hope (the latter of which any community organizer can attest is basically the most important resource of all) by his own organization. Maybe it wasn’t intentional, but he certainly did not think highly enough of those investments to give even A LITTLE BIT of consideration to how much power he had to impact the returns for the movement as a whole and whether that meant he maybe had a god damn responsibility where they’re concerned.

        Franklin Veaux commented once, “Past a certain point, any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.” I think this is one of those situations, and even if CFI doesn’t remove him as CEO for pissing lots of people off, they should probably remove him for being so oblivious to the potential he’d (probably inadvertently) used his position to squander.

  4. I find this darkly amusing in the “ahahaha you’re so pathetically bad” sense. When faced with almost universal criticism from the people involved in the conference, this guy not only doubles down on his stance, but he also tries to deflect it by singling out the boogeyman/rallying cry that Rebecca Watson’s name has become to anti-feminists.

    And maybe it’s just me, but doubling down in the face of criticism almost always seems to be a sign of an extremely immature mindset. Unfortunate but unsurprising at this point.

    • I don’t know why I still had the capacity to be surprised that WiS of all things would have not just included but been OPENED BY this basic nonsense, but for some reason I assumed that I was going to have a weekend free of this particular brand of denialism.

      Ah, two-weeks-ago-Me. So young. So naive.

  5. Pingback: Theistsplaining (Shut Up and Listen) | Atheism, Music, and More…

  6. Pingback: Ron Lindsay Kicks Off Women in Secularism by Demonstrating the Problem (TW: animated gifs) | Dissent of a Woman

  7. Pingback: My Letter to CFI’s Board of Directors | Dissent of a Woman

    • Yay! Thank you. ❤

      People have been really wonderful about getting me links, which makes this much easier!

      • No problem — I saw this from vjack:

        He managed to find one person in support of Ron who was actually there. Yeah he is an old white guy academic… But hey!

        Very amusingly titled post given he has 5 examples, one of which is his. The groverbeachbum one is my favourite as anyone reading that will get the definite, unintended, impression that the writer is rather deranged when it comes to freethoughtblogs. I’d count that on the anti-Ron side personally 😉

        • Yeeeaaaah. Sometimes it’s worth giving the opposition a platform just so that everybody can see we’re not misrepresenting how ridiculous they are.

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