UPDATE: Richard Dawkins has declined NECSS’ re-invitation, citing his health.
A couple weeks ago, serial tweet-vomiter Richard Dawkins linked to a distasteful video hosted
created by serial harasser Sargon of Akkad (ed: this work of brilliant satire was apparently created by Sye Ten Atheist, and hosted by Sargon.) . Shortly after, the Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism (NECSS) made the choice to remove him as a speaker. The move was surprising, as it’s increasingly rare to see a major skepto-atheist conference or organization take a stand against Dawkins.
Now it seems that NECSS has, in an extremely confusing PR move, decided to retract their retraction:
We wish to apologize to Professor Dawkins for our handling of his disinvitation to NECSS 2016. Our actions were not professional, and we should have contacted him directly to express our concerns before acting unilaterally. We have sent Professor Dawkins a private communication expressing this as well. This apology also extends to all NECSS speakers, our attendees, and to the broader skeptical movement.
I’m curious what changed between now and their previous statement (emphasis mine):
We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However, unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech runs contrary to our mission and the environment we wish to foster at NECSS. The sentiments expressed in the video do not represent the values of NECSS or its sponsoring organizations.
Sargon of Akkad’s video (and Dawkins’ endorsement of it) wasn’t somehow more divisive or hateful two weeks ago. But perhaps Dawkins will get yet another chance to explain himself… during the panel that NECSS has asked him to be on (in addition to his regular speaking slot):
NECSS 2016 will therefore feature a panel discussion addressing these topics. There is room for a range of reasonable opinions on these issues and our conversation will reflect that diversity. We have asked Professor Dawkins to participate in this discussion at NECSS 2016 in addition to his prior scheduled talk, and we hope he will accept our invitation.
One of the most divisive men in skepticism on a panel about the divisive issues facing the movement. I wonder who they’ll ask to represent the opposing side. I have a guess as to who it won’t be.
Yep, no way this will go wrong.
Featured Image by Michael Josephson