Here is part three in my ongoing series where I ask the men who are leaders in our community to speak out against the hate that has been directed at many of the vocal women in atheism, secularism and skepticism.

I am thrilled to present a comment from the President and Chief Executive Officer of CFI, Ronald A. Lindsay.

Ron speaks to the fact that this negativity is not only intended to silence women, in which it is disproportionally directed at, but that it is also damaging to the areas in cyberspace that our secular communities call home.

I will let him explain.

Ron’s comments after the jump.

From Ronald A. Lindsay:

Threats of violence should not be condoned, tolerated, or treated with indifference by anyone, let alone by those who call themselves humanists or freethinkers.

The expression of a desire to hurt someone, rape someone, mutilate someone, or kill someone does not represent the articulation of a thought. Rather, such outbursts are no more than grunts, yelps, and shouts, intended to intimidate, not persuade.

I am appalled by the number of “comments” I have seen that consist of such vile spasms of rage. They now litter the secular/skeptic cyberscape like so much rubbish. Unfortunately, like rubbish, they do have a noxious effect—an effect that can only worsen if they are permitted to accumulate.

Hate-filled invective has been directed at many different people, male and female, but of late women have been disproportionately targeted. What is especially sad and disgusting about this trend is that some religious skeptics seem to be mimicking religious fundamentalists: they want to intimidate women into silence and submission. What’s the point of discarding the Bible or the Koran if you retain the misogyny sanctified therein?

Members of the secular and skeptical communities should be distinguished by their respect for others, including those with whom they may disagree. Those who are incapable of treating others with decency and respect do not belong in our communities. To such individuals we should say with one voice: take your hate elsewhere.

~Ron Lindsay

Ronald A. Lindsay is President and Chief Executive Officer for the Center for Inquiry.

Thank you so much for standing with us, Mr Lindsay and thank you for speaking out against hate. You can find out more about The Center for Inquiry here.

Prior posts in this series can be found by clicking the links below.

Speaking out against hate directed at women: David Silverman

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Dale McGowan

More to come.

Amy Roth

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and writes about vegan food. She is the founder and president of the Los Angeles Women's Atheist and Agnostic Group: LAWAAG. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+.

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34 Comments

  1. Avatar of Brian
    July 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm —

    An excellent statement, Ron–and a great series, Amy. I look forward to future responses by more of our leaders.

  2. Avatar of kittynh
    July 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm —

    The Olympics has standards, and it has been suggested that Skeptics and skeptic meetings should have standards.

    http://www.wjla.com/articles/2012/07/olympian-voula-papachristou-kicked-off-greek-team-after-racist-tweet-78208.html

  3. Avatar of mythbri
    July 26, 2012 at 8:16 pm —

    This has been a great series, Amy, and I hope that we see more of it.

  4. Avatar of Caitlin
    July 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm —

    Is anyone else worried that there will be people who justify their hate by saying “I don’t hate women! I just hate *these* women. Therefore, I am not a misogynist and these statements do not apply to me.”?

    • Avatar of Amy Roth
      July 26, 2012 at 9:18 pm —

      Oh, I’m sure that is happening which is why it’s important to emphasize that unbridled hate itself is unwelcome in this community whether it is directed at men or women. It’s one thing to be angry about something specific or to disagree with a topic or someone’s opinion but it is a completely different thing to threaten physical harm upon a person or to harass them online or in person. And we see hate disproportionately directed at women in our community and so we can see we have a problem. People justifying that hate by focusing it specifically on us for example, because we are in the public eye, doesn’t make it any less despicable.

    • Avatar of chemgeek
      July 27, 2012 at 6:41 am —

      That’s a case where I’d argue, “If it waddles like a duck, has feathers like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

      People who use racially-charged insults against Obama come off as racist (their protestations of “I’m not a racist” notwithstanding). People who use homophobic phrases to deride things come off as homophobic. And people who use misogynistic insults to threaten and/or insult particular women should still come off as sexist. They wouldn’t be picking those insults if at some level, they didn’t think they were the worst ones they could throw (ie, if they weren’t buying into the sexist tropes that make those insults particularly venomous when directed against women in the first place).

      That’s my thoughts, anyway.

  5. Avatar of A Hermit
    July 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm —

    This series is a great idea; getting the loudest voices in the community to speak out can only move the conversation in the right direction.

    So glad to see this one in particular; I’ve been a big fan of CFI for a long time. Might be time for a donation…

  6. Avatar of Steersman
    July 27, 2012 at 3:03 am —

    Great series and I’m glad to see more than a few individuals, particularly men, stepping up to the plate and commendably asserting, as did Ronald Lindsay, that “threats of violence should not be condoned, tolerated, or treated with indifference by anyone, let alone by those who call themselves humanists or freethinkers.” Behaviour that is well beyond the pale and well across the Rubicon.

    And it really has been a bit of an eye-opener to see the extent or rather the depth to which far too many people, mostly men by the look of it, have descended with some rather vituperative language and with some decidedly hateful and savage threats. It might be instructive to ask ourselves exactly why such virulent misogynism has so much currency.

    However, while I don’t want to be raining on anyone’s parade, I think it is unwise to be thinking that all women are as enlightened as feminists in general and as Skepchick supporters in particular. Or even to be thinking that all feminists and all women are entirely blameless in whatever processes led or contributed to the various manifestations of that attitude. Or appearances of it: not all criticisms of women or feminists justify such charges.

    For instance, while many of the “men’s rights” supporters give some indications of being decidedly off the wall – rage being all the rage these days, one can’t help but get the impression from some of the saner ones that they might have a point or two in their favour: where there’s smoke one very frequently finds some incendiary causes that are other than self-inflicted arson.

    Might be a step in the direction of rapprochement to give some consideration to some of those claims.

    • Avatar of sallystrange
      July 27, 2012 at 10:54 am —

      Hello Steersman. You’re part of the problem.

      However, while I don’t want to be raining on anyone’s parade

      I am unconvinced of your lack of desire to “rain on anyone’s parade” because of the fact that you went ahead and did so anyway.

      I think it is unwise to be thinking that all women are as enlightened as feminists in general and as Skepchick supporters in particular.

      Non sequitur. What does the relative enlightenment of women in general have to do with the acceptability of dehumanizing, gendered, violent rhetoric in our community? Nothing.

      Or even to be thinking that all feminists and all women are entirely blameless in whatever processes led or contributed to the various manifestations of that attitude.

      Straight up victim blaming. There’s literally nothing anyone can do or say to “deserve” rape threats, gendered slurs, or any of what we’ve all been experiencing (I got my share of it when I helped organize my local SlutWalk). If someone is using dehumanizing, cruel language then the only thing the “deserve” is to be removed from the community, not to have their bad behavior mirrored back to them. The attitude we are talking about is a basic contempt for women in general. There absolutely nothing any particular woman can do to “deserve” that, and in any case, the problem with the language and threats we’re talking about is that they intimidate and dehumanize ALL women, not just a particular woman, whatever you imagine her offense to be.

      Or appearances of it: not all criticisms of women or feminists justify such charges.

      Here you are repeating the misogynist trope that feminists brand people as misogynists merely for “disagreeing” rather than for blatantly sexist and misogynist behavior. It’s a bit like the Tea Party claiming that they are branded as racists merely for disagreeing, when the real reason for applying the label is that they hold up blatantly racist signs with blatantly racist messages on them, and forward emails with blatantly racist messages in them, etc., etc.

      For instance, while many of the “men’s rights” supporters give some indications of being decidedly off the wall – rage being all the rage these days, one can’t help but get the impression from some of the saner ones that they might have a point or two in their favour: where there’s smoke one very frequently finds some incendiary causes that are other than self-inflicted arson.

      The few isolated good points that MRAs have are indeed good points, but that doesn’t change the fact that they mostly blame their troubles on women’s equality, which is factually wrong, and accompany this error with a whole boatload of woman-hating.

      Might be a step in the direction of rapprochement to give some consideration to some of those claims.

      There can be no rapprochement with misogynists. People (women can be misogynists too) can either drop the misogyny or get the fuck out. This applies to you too.

    • Avatar of Mr. Drumble
      July 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm —

      This is not a call for everyone to agree with feminists in the skeptical movement. It’s about treating women with the basic respect everyone deserves. It’s *never* okay to threaten or harass anyone for any reason.

      This has nothing to do with falling in lockstep and agreeing with everything the Skepchicks or anyone else says. The entire point is that disagreements should be civil discussions, especially in a movement that prides itself on being rational. Anything else shouldn’t be tolerated.

      • Avatar of marilove
        July 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm —

        But but but!! Women are lying bitches and we must be reminded of this at every fucking turn. We cannot forget it. Nor can we forget that it is our fault that misogyny exists.

    • Avatar of marilove
      July 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm —

      This bunch of bullshit basically boils down to:

      “Okay, women? I know that men are telling you all the myriad ways they want to rape you, among other terrible things, but DO NOT FORGET! that it is your fault. Take blame, women! You have dug your own grave! And don’t forget it!!!”

    • Avatar of Steersman
      July 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm —

      Hello Steersman.

      Hello Sally; fancy meeting your here again on this same field of battle ….

      You’re part of the problem.

      Funny; I sort of thought that I might be part of the solution. Part of the reason why I stuck my neck out defending feminism over on A Voice for Men – and had my head chopped off for my troubles.

      I am unconvinced of your lack of desire to “rain on anyone’s parade” because of the fact that you went ahead and did so anyway.

      Lots of things we all do even if we don’t want to, simply out of a sense of duty and obligation – to “fair play” and equity in this case.

      What does the relative enlightenment of women in general have to do with the acceptability of dehumanizing, gendered, violent rhetoric in our community?

      Just trying to set the stage by pointing out that there is a spectrum in both the male and female communities as well as in the feminism and masculinism ones and that none of them are all monolithically right or monolithically wrong – as your welcome concession about some good points made by some MRAs confirms.

      Straight up victim blaming. There’s literally nothing anyone can do or say to “deserve” rape threats …

      Talking about non sequiturs …. I am not in the slightest trying to say that anyone “deserves” rape threats. But that is only one segment of the “various manifestations of that attitude”. Really not cricket, nor showing much evidence of a skeptical turn of mind, to tar them all with the same brush – qualifies as categorical thinking and stereotyping if I’m not mistaken.

      In addition, I think it is important to differentiate between causes and effects and to recognize who is doing what to whom in a very complex dynamic. Consider the somewhat analogous case of the Columbine massacre: none of those people “deserved” to be murdered but there is more than a little evidence to suggest that bullying played a significant role: “not all students are entirely blameless in whatever processes led or contributed to the various manifestations of that [response to that cause]”.

      Just because some people go off the deep end is no reason to reject out-of-hand the possibility that some others may have pushed them along in that direction. And your concession about some “MRA good points” gives some justification for thinking that “some women” should probably bear some analogous responsibility.

      Here you are repeating the misogynist trope that feminists brand people as misogynists merely for “disagreeing” rather than for blatantly sexist and misogynist behavior.

      And that never happens? I’d be happy to provide you an example or two if you think not. And you condemn me as one of those on what basis? My forthright condemnation of “threats of violence” towards women? My defense of (equity) feminism on AVfM? Rather quick to judge I would say – sort of like your first comment to me over on Pharyngula, lo, these many moons ago ….

      If someone is using dehumanizing, cruel language then the only thing the “deserve” is to be removed from the community …

      So I suppose that you probably think that epithets like “asshole” and “wanker” along with various “anatomically impossible” suggestions about what to do with porcupines – in various stages of decay – does not qualify as “dehumanizing, cruel language”? Cool; the benefits of privilege and of having separate sauces for goose and gander ….

      There can be no rapprochement with misogynists.

      Didn’t mean to suggest that there should be. Although, as suggested, it kind of helps to understand where they are coming from and why ….

      • Avatar of marilove
        July 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm —

        Thank you oh so much for the mansplainin’.

        • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty
          July 29, 2012 at 2:00 am —

          This is classic mansplainin’. If done right, it’s a comment that’s not even wrong. It’s off topic, and really belongs in another forum.

          A nonexistent one where people post things like “all feminists are right all the time”, “all MRA positions are wrong” or “no rape claims are ever false”.

          • Avatar of eamc
            August 1, 2012 at 2:17 am

            It’s the variant derailin’ mansplainin’…

      • Avatar of Amy Roth
        July 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm —

        Are you insinuating that I deserve the hate and rape threats I receive online and the mockery and accusations I received at TAM? Please provide a link to where I said or did something to deserve that level of vitriol and then we can chat about how ‘both sides’ are right and wrong.

        Also, please keep your Pharyngula disagreements on that blog. Few here understand the insider lingo and it just serves to derail.

        Everyone keep it civil.

        You have been warned.

        • Avatar of marilove
          July 27, 2012 at 2:47 pm —

          I was SO CONFUSED.

          So basically, he got his feelings hurt at PZ Myer’s blog and now he’s whining about it here.

          How fantastic!

          • Avatar of Steersman
            July 27, 2012 at 3:03 pm

            Marilove,

            So basically, he got his feelings hurt at PZ Myer’s blog …

            What the heck does that have to do with it? Other people are complaining about having “their feelings hurt” by posts on other blogs …

            These are all examples of various questionable modes of behaviour in the entire skeptic-atheist community; I fail to see how it is equitable if I’m criticized if I draw examples from the same well …

          • Avatar of marilove
            July 27, 2012 at 3:07 pm

            This blog is not related to PZ Myer’s blog. Any comments directed at you AT ANOTHER BLOG have nothing to do with this blog.

            STOP DERAILING.

            Your points have nothing at all to do with the point of this series. The point of this series WAS NOT to start blaming women for the patriarchy, holy hell.

          • Avatar of marilove
            July 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm

            These are all examples of various questionable modes of behaviour in the entire skeptic-atheist community; I fail to see how it is equitable if I’m criticized if I draw examples from the same well …

            Oh, and I see. Women are being told how many ways they should accept their rape (AND LIKE IT, you prude sluts, you!), but according to you, that’s secondary to … I’m not sure. Some vague notion that women are being too mean to misogynistic fuckheads.

            How fantastic! We must take endless amounts of abuse, but as soon as we get a little angry at the abuse? We are 100% to blame for the abuse!

            Now, now ladies. Please be nice to your abusers!

        • Avatar of Steersman
          July 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm —

          Are you insinuating that I deserve the hate and rape threats I receive online and the mockery and accusations I received at TAM?

          Not in the slightest. I very carefully said – several times as a matter of fact – that threats are way beyond the pale and across the Rubicon.

          As for the “deserve” question, please take another and closer look at my analogy with Columbine. Very important to differentiate between all of the factors – and actors – in play and not conflate them.

        • Avatar of Steersman
          July 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm —

          Amy,

          [Duplicate comment as the last one showed up in the wrong location]

          Are you insinuating that I deserve the hate and rape threats I receive online and the mockery and accusations I received at TAM?

          Not in the slightest. I very carefully said – several times as a matter of fact – that threats are way beyond the pale and across the Rubicon.

          As for the “deserve” question, please take another and closer look at my analogy with Columbine. Very important to differentiate between all of the factors – and actors – in play and not conflate them.

          • Avatar of marilove
            July 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm

            As for the “deserve” question, please take another and closer look at my analogy with Columbine. Very important to differentiate between all of the factors – and actors – in play and not conflate them.

            Except you have the facts about the Columbine murders WRONG.

            http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-04-13-columbine-myths_N.htm

            “These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation,” psychologist Peter Langman writes in his new book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. “These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems.”

            I wonder what else you’ve got wrong, hmmmmm?

          • Avatar of Amy Roth
            July 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm

            “What the heck does that have to do with it? Other people are complaining about having “their feelings hurt” by posts on other blogs …”

            We are not discussing getting your feelings hurt, we are discussing ongoing harassment and threats of violence directed primarily at the women in this community.

            This is you second warning to please stay on topic or cease commenting.

      • Avatar of marilove
        July 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm —

        And your concession about some “MRA good points” gives some justification for thinking that “some women” should probably bear some analogous responsibility.

        AND NO. The patriarchy holds the responsibility. Not ~women~. Some women benefit from the patriarchy (ie, Michelle Bachmann) but that doesn’t mean “women are at fault! Take the blame, women!”

        Yes, no shit, sexism hurts me.

        We know that.

        Seriously, dude. Way to fucking derail the entire conversation away from the point of this entire series of posts.

  7. Avatar of lactosefermenter
    July 27, 2012 at 6:50 am —

    “What’s the point of discarding the Bible or the Koran if you retain the misogyny sanctified therein?”

    This sums it up beautifully.

  8. Avatar of Lyr
    July 27, 2012 at 11:15 am —

    Men who hate women will always find a way to justify their superiority. Fundamentalists use the Bible; skeptics and atheists use science.

  9. Avatar of mrmisconception
    July 28, 2012 at 11:45 pm —

    Silencing language is more than hurt feelings, specifically targeting Skepchick for merely existing as those sporting t-shirts and knock-off Surlyramics were doing is more than hurt feelings, and psycho freakout by a certain segment of the internet that happens every time Rebecca writes anything is not hurt feelings.

    There is a big difference between saying that a reddit thread does something without pointing out that every single member might not do it and tarring Skepchicks with epitaphs in an effort to shut them up.

    When your best argument seems to be “oh yeah?” then maybe you need to stop. Really.

    • Avatar of Steersman
      July 29, 2012 at 12:11 am —

      mrmisconception:

      Silencing language is more than hurt feelings, specifically targeting Skepchick for merely existing as those sporting t-shirts and knock-off Surlyramics were doing is more than hurt feelings, and psycho freakout by a certain segment of the internet that happens every time Rebecca writes anything is not hurt feelings.

      I did say a spectrum – you seem to insist on wanting to focus on only one segment of it. Great for defending a case – regardless of how questionable it might be in all the details; not so great for finding solutions.

      • Avatar of marilove
        July 29, 2012 at 12:40 am —

        STAY ON TOPIC. One of this has anything whatsoever to do with the actual post.

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