Watson’s World and Two Models of Communication

May 18, 2013

Rebecca Watson inhabits an alternate universe.  At least that is the most charitable explanation I can provide for her recent smear.  Watson has posted comments on my opening talk at Women in Secularism 2.  It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea.


Her distortions begin with her second paragraph, when she states that “Lindsay spends a good deal of time arguing against the idea that feminism as a movement has no significant internal disagreements.”  I expended about 200 words out of a 2,420 word text posing the question about whether there are significant divisions within feminism.  In other words, I spent 90% of the time talking about other topics.  The next time Watson asks me for a “good deal” of my drink, I will leave her an ice cube.


Second, she says she has never heard anyone take the position that there are currently no significant divisions within feminism, which I assume is fairly translated as no divisions worth debating.  Yet Watson is aware that just a short time ago, the organization Secular Woman rejected the Open Letter that was endorsed by most leaders of secular organizations, in part because it implied that there was a legitimate ongoing debate about the meaning of feminism.  The Secular Woman response to the Open Letter states, in pertinent part:

“It is confusing, therefore, that this same letter suggests that a significant problem with online communication is centered on the ‘debate’ about the ‘appropriate way to interpret feminism.’ At Secular Woman, the principle that ‘feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression’ (Hooks, 2000, p. viii) is taken as a given, and not a topic for debate.”


Next, Watson claims the “crux" of my talk was the problem I have with feminists using the concept of privilege as a justification for telling men to “shut up and listen.”  This claim is false.  No reasonable person could possibly describe the crux of my talk as dealing with this issue.  Instead, the crux of my talk dealt with the millennia-long history of the subordination of women and how CFI was committed to working toward a society in which women would have “complete social and civil equality and equal economic and political opportunity.”


But in her defense, perhaps Watson was too busy tweeting about how “strange” it was to have a “white man” open the conference to pay attention to what I was actually saying.  (I’m just glad Watson didn’t notify security: “white man loose on stage, white man loose on stage!”)


But let’s leave Watson’s distortions behind and move to the central issue presented by her criticism, and that is what model of communication we should adopt when we are conversing with someone who has had different life experiences, e.g., a conversation between a woman and a man.  As I stated quite clearly in my talk, we should listen respectfully and attentively to someone with different life experiences, especially if that person is from a group that historically has had its voice suppressed.  However, although we should listen attentively, we should not fail to engage and, where appropriate, question. This is exactly what I said:


“By the way, with respect to the ‘Shut up and listen’ meme, I hope it’s clear that it’s the ‘shut up’ part that troubles me, not the ‘listen’ part. Listening is good. People do have different life experiences, and many women have had experiences and perspectives from which men can and should learn.  But having had certain experiences does not automatically turn one into an authority to whom others must defer. Listen, listen carefully, but where appropriate, question and engage.”

By contrast, the position against which I was arguing, as articulated by PZ Myers, is as follows:


“When a member of a marginalized group tells a member of a privileged group that their efforts, no matter how well-meaning, are wrong, there is one reasonable response: Shut up and listen. You might learn something.

There is also a terrible response: arguing back. It always makes it worse.


It’s not that they are infallible and we are totally stupid. It’s that THEY are the experts and the subject of the discussion.”


Myers-Watson assume you should never question, you should never argue back, because the person from the marginalized group must have the expertise.


I do not share that assumption, and I doubt its wisdom.  Indeed, I think it is a horribly misguided, logically infirm understanding of communication.   This model of communication asks us to put our critical thinking on hold merely because the person speaking comes from a marginalized group.


No extended argument or analysis of this issue is needed, and I do not think the choice could be starker.  Either you believe reason and evidence should ultimately guide our discussions, or you think they should be held hostage to identity politics. 

 

Comments:

#1 Hero on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 5:47pm

I have tremendous respect for you, thanks for your courage.

I’m not sure if Miss Watson is being deliberately obtuse or, if she is indoctrinated.

You have resisted groupthink - I hope that one day, Steven & Jay Novella can do the same. You are an inspiration.

#2 Ryan Grant Long (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 5:49pm

No no no, you’re missing what’s going on here. Skepchick runs on intentionally provocative blog posts and tweets. And as I’ve already said many times, PZ and Rebecca are perfectly happy to tell women and minorities to shut up when they disagree with them. I believe they genuinely care about discussing gender and working for equality like I believe opponents of marriage equality really do care about “the children” (which is to say, I don’t).

It’s not an alternative universe, it’s just vastly different intentions and goals. You seem to be trying to genuinely understand the issues under discussion, and you’re acting as if either Rebecca or PZ are honestly committed to the causes they claim to be for. Meanwhile, Rebecca and PZ are at best writing gossip and at worst trolling, riling up both their fans and detractors who eat this stuff up; their “feminism” is simply a cover and vehicle for these behaviors.

If you truly care about politics you don’t attempt to engage with the likes of Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh expecting anything useful to happen. Likewise if you want to explore gender issues in any meaningful way, you consult real activists, social scientists and other experts on gender; not drama bloggers.

#3 SubManUSN on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 5:51pm

It is not communication at all if one person (or group) by virtue of their sex, skin color, sexual preference, or religion can forestall the other party from speaking. It becomes a monologue and not a dialogue. It ensures that there can be no dissent. This is why religions have used tactics similar (heresy) for millennia.

#4 Hero on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 5:56pm

A recap of some of the petulant, irrational remarks made against Ron Lindsay on Day 2 of WiS: http://storify.com/ElevatorGATE/mad-fems-continue-to-pile-on-to-hero-ron-linday-on

#5 Justin Vacula (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 5:56pm

This is amazing, Ron.

Thank you so much for your opening remarks at #WIScfi and for standing up in the face of heavy criticism and smearing campaigns from the usual suspects. Be brave. Remain fearless. Don’t back down.

#6 Hero on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:00pm

Women’s rights are human rights.

#7 Asher Kay (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:05pm

>>“No reasonable person could possibly describe the crux of my talk as dealing with this issue.”<<

I am reasonable, and I would describe it that way, based on the word count, the general structure of your talk, and how the topic related to your conclusion.

>>“I’m just glad Watson didn’t notify security: “white man loose on stage, white man loose on stage!””<<

You realize that what you’re signaling here (beyond a childish snarkiness unbefitting the president of a secular organization) is a disparagement of the experience of women at conferences.

>>“But let’s leave Watson’s distortions behind and move to the central issue presented by her criticism, and that is what model of communication we should adopt when we are conversing with someone who has had different life experiences”<<

You have absolutely missed the central issue of her criticism, which, if you’ve read her post and the comments on your other posts, should be extremely clear. The central issue is why, among the many topics you could have chosen to open a conference on women in the secular movement with, you chose the specific topic of how men are being treated unfairly by feminists.

Why not answer this question?

>>“Myers-Watson assume you should never question, you should never argue back, because the person from the marginalized group must have the expertise.”<<

This does not accurately state the position. Watson’s post makes this clear.

#8 RefreshingChange (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:08pm

Get ready for more smear campaigns, Ron. They hate it when they get “called out”, and can;t get their own way.

No doubt guttersnipe Oolon will be here any minute to defend his chums.

#9 John C. Welch (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:12pm

Wow. I mean, wow. You hit so many points that a lot of other folks have been talking about forever, and you did so perfectly.

This part especially -

“Myers-Watson assume you should never question, you should never argue back, because the person from the marginalized group must have the expertise.”

I’ve had a lot of experiences I’d have rather not. Growing up with two mostly-functional alcoholics for example. However, that doesn’t make me an expert on:

alcoholism
being a child in an alcoholic family

or anything else. It makes me an “expert” on *my* experience, but my experience doesn’t give me any form of superiority, even over someone who hasn’t gone through what I did. In fact, when I meet people who had *far* more of the “Leave it to Beaver* life growing up, I want to listen to *them*, because it is important that I know what THEIR experience is like, so I DON’T fall into the trap of thinking my experience in that area is somehow more valid.

Were they “privileged” Maybe, but I never saw that as something bad. They are not me, OF COURSE they have a different worldview. Be creepy if they didn’t. That cannot ever mean they have nothing of value to teach me. Even if it’s just that what I went through was only normal for me, and not to project on others.

#10 Guest (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:28pm

Very well said. Watson’s approach to feminism (or really, any topic) seems to be “misogynists disagree with me, so you must be one of them, because here you are also disagreeing with me. Checkmate.”

#11 Maria Maltseva (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:31pm

Finally, words of sense from the CFI. Thank you for taking the only reasonable position on this issue.

#12 allison (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:34pm

An excellent response to Ms Watson’s characteristically fact-challenged blather, Ron. Thank you.

#13 Maria Maltseva (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:34pm

Excellent comment, Ryan, as always. Yes sexism, misogyny, discrimination, and bigotry are serious problems. The Skepchick/FTB “axis of manufactured controversy” makes these problems worse for all of us.

#14 Marc (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:39pm

Very well said.

What communication should be: Open, respectful dialogue between two people of differing opinions.

PZ and Watson-style communication: One-sided monologue by the less-privileged individual (or PZ, when inserting himself into this role), in which the privileged viewpoint is not permitted to speak, question the validity of, or request evidence to support assertions made by the less-privileged. When the privileged is permitted to speak, discussion will be thwarted with shaming tactics, foul language, insults, and generally childish behavior.

Based on their behavior, PZ and Watson are children, and you should never give candy to children.

#15 Lilly (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:43pm

I would say, aren’t we all a minority?  Even white men, can be in some situations…disability, being gay,being in a country where white men are the minority… heck being at a WIS conference minorities?  What I found sad about Rebecca’s blog is that she felt only the “minority” could speak for themselves.  Yet real empathy, “I don’t know what you are going through, but I myself through listening to you can have empathy for your suffering.”  comes through conversation.  Also, SHUT UP, just TRUST ME.. is wrong. 
For one thing, how can one person ever claim to speak for an entire group?  Can we only truly speak for our own problems and experiences?  While I can not know what my disabled child goes through, I can speak for her as if I don’t, no one will.  I would rather not have some more articulate person with this disability speak for my child.  They only know their voyage.  To claim, Well I’m NOT THAT, so I can’t SPEAK FOR THEM, is also throwing off your responsibility for our fellow humans. 

  Also, somehow we’re going to have to learn to work together if we are going to make changes in the world.  Is life fair, no.  Should we work to make it more fair, yes? Should everyone have a voice that is respected? most definitely. 
I was told it was your “tone” that was the problem when I pointed out this seemed rather taken out of context and such a small part of your talk.  No no, I was assured it was your “tone”. 
sigh.  Then she brings up the horrible rape emails and one day someone might act on their threats! 
A German person talked, hey have I told you about what Hitler did? He’s GERMAN TOO YOU KNOW. 

(that’s what is reads like). 

And they say they don’t scare men away, I know three women they have scared from the movement.  The very people they claim to speak for, the movement is losing.

#16 Maria Maltseva (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:47pm

Yes, this is a key point: We are all disadvantaged in some way; we are all the “other” in some way. It is on this understanding that true empathy and respect should be built.

#17 zenbabe (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:47pm

Asher Kay:
“The central issue is why, among the many topics you could have chosen to open a conference on women in the secular movement with, you chose the specific topic of how men are being treated unfairly by feminists.”

Perhaps it is because prior to the event, well known online personalities who fly under the banner of feminism tried to defame and ban a man from attending the con, a man who tends to criticize the way they repeatedly silence, or attempt to silence, people who have contrary thoughts and opinions. Those attempts were often cloaked with language best described as fear mongering.

Intimidating others into silence isn’t “ok” simply because a person who identifies as a feminist does it. Honest dialog can’t occur if people are afraid to disagree.

Lindsay made this one point out of many made in his speech. To my eyes, the reaction only means that the people upset about it realize on some level that their approach to argument is invalid.

#18 Iris Vander Pluym (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:52pm

>>Myers-Watson assume you should never question, you should never argue back, because the person from the marginalized group must have the expertise.<<<

The person from the marginalized group does indeed have the expertise on the experience of the marginalized group. Relative to yours, Ron. This is all PZ Myers is pointing out, and it is excellent advice.

You may want to consider why you react so emotionally to the idea that you do not, in fact, have the expertise of a marginalized person, and that if you wish to be an ally you will need to defer to them with respect to their own experiences.

But go ahead. By all means, question and argue with more marginalized people about their own experiences and perspectives. See how far that gets you.

>>>This model of communication asks us to put our critical thinking on hold merely because the person speaking comes from a marginalized group.<<<

This interpretation is either willful blindness, or sheer delusion. Either way, it reflects very poorly on CFI.

#19 AM (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:52pm

Good point, everyone! Lets redefine minority status to the point where it’s meaningless so we can avoid actually dealing with prejudice!

#20 AM (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:56pm

This is incredibly disappointing. Your speech felt to me like I was back in high school being lectured by an angry teacher. You spoke in a condescending tone and told women how to deal with sexism, as if you were the expert. Now, rather than listening to the (numerous) critiques and actually taking the time to consider them thoughtfully, you’re throwing out insults and doubling down. Plus, you’re now implying someone must be crazy to disagree with you. So disappointing.

(First time didn’t post. Posting again.)

#21 Pandora3 on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:57pm

“By contrast, the position against which I was arguing, as articulated by PZ Myers, is as follows”

I’m sure the audience appreciates your skipping a basic welcome because that’s a waste of time compared to your picking a bone of contention with a specific person.

Since you apparently missed Asher Kay’s question, I’ll repeat it:

why was this specific topic important to you, above others? No mention of the presenters—you know, the women over yonder—-but hearing a specific rebuttal from you in a disagreement with PZ Myers is imperative?

#22 Ulysses (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 6:58pm

Ron, your speech showed you don’t understand the concept of privilege.  But I won’t try to explain it to you.  Right now you’re too angry to read an involved sociological explanation.

There are times when you, Ron Lindsay, actually do need to shut up and listen.  You may have read Rebecca’s post but you didn’t understand it.  You wanted to reply to it so much that you just picked out those parts you felt were insulting to you without reading what Rebecca was actually saying.

The point of having WiS2 was to give women a chance to discuss their views, comment about their problems in the secular world, and give possible solutions to those problems.  So what did you do in your opening speech?  You scolded women for telling men to shut up while women were talking.

WiS2 came about because a group of noisy misogynists are doing their utmost to silence women in atheism and secularism.  That’s because many women are trying to bring social justice ideas into secularism.  You’re obviously not too happy about this idea yourself, considering your tepid, almost grudging acceptance of Atheism+.  But there’s a fair bit of tolerance given by organized secularism and skepticism (particularly CFI and JREF) to these misogynists.  There’s too many people saying the misogynists and the women are equally at fault.  Your opening speech showed you were in this group.  You rebuked women for saying “don’t talk when we’re talking” at a conference where women will be talking.

BTW, it was not too classy to say (paraphrasing) “I’d like to welcome you here but I’m not going to.”  Just a suggestion, the next time you give a welcoming speech you might actually welcome the people.  It makes you look less like jerk.

#23 Maria Maltseva (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:02pm

Dear poster above: You fail to recognize that you don’t even come close to representing all or even most women.

#24 Guesty (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:03pm

Mr. Lindsay, thank you. Now you know what the rest of us have had to put up with for the last couple of years (if you didn’t already). Get ready to be named Witch of the Week by the cultish Freethought Blogs/Skepchick/A+ axis. They will tear through the internet, trashing and libeling you at every opportunity, in an effort to ruin your reputation in the community (and possibly your position at CFI). Stay strong and don’t back down from these thuggish, completely irrational para-religious ideologues.

#25 Zenspace (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:04pm

Mr. Lindsay,

You continue to impress. It is an enormous breath of fresh air to see CFI shining a very bright light on the dysfunction that is the Myers-Watson ‘contribution’ to skepticism. Bravo!

Ryan Grant Long describes the Myers-Watson motivations perfectly - a simple-self serving drama machine designed to feed their personal self-interests and need for attention, the damage to personal reputations and skeptical organizations be damned. The relief at seeing this realization finally coming to light at CFI is indescribable.

Also, thank you for making the effort to personally welcome Mr. Vacula to the event. That really was a very classy thing to do and a real world demonstration of your fair-mindedness. Bravo again!

#26 Iris Vander Pluym (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:12pm

>>trashing and libeling you at every opportunity<<

Why would anyone need to trash or libel Mr. Lindsay? His own embarrassing words are here for everyone to see.

#27 PQ (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:14pm

@Iris

“The person from the marginalized group does indeed have the expertise on the experience of the marginalized group”

What they have, by default, is the expertise on their own experience.  Which encompasses both what they’ve experienced personally, what they’ve heard about from family, friends, and the like.  It’s not negligible, but it’s not inherently “expertise on the group”.

Sure, if I want to know about, say, the level of prejudice faced by gay people in a given country, a random gay citizen’s personal experience is much more useful than a random straight citizen’s.  But a systematic, well-performed study which involved talking to a large, representative sample of gay people would be better still, and if discussing the aggregate experience of the whole group in question, someone who cites such a study in support of their views, regardless of their sexuality, is providing better evidence than someone who has only their own experience to go on.

I think that Lindsay, then, is not dismissing the value of personal experience, he’s simply pointing out that it isn’t some universal get-out clause from the usual rules of assessing evidence (and, indeed reasoning - even using one’s own personal experience doesn’t make one immune to drawing wrong conclusions about it), where, even when discussing a group to which one belongs, far more is relevant than simply one’s personal experience.  And so reducing the question of who has something valid to say and can make a convincing argument to simply one of identity is absurd.

#28 Marc (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:20pm

@Iris

“The person from the marginalized group does indeed have the expertise on the experience of the marginalized group. Relative to yours, Ron. This is all PZ Myers is pointing out, and it is excellent advice.”

No. The person from the marginalized group has the expertise on their own personal experience, not that of the entire group. Otherwise, the marginalized person may be providing misleading information based on their own faulty perceptions of their own group, or will imply that they are speaking for an entire group, for which they are not.

And this is not all PZ is pointing out. His actions suggest that he marginalizes dissenting opinions through shaming tactics, boorish behavior, and attempts to discredit individuals for invalid reasons. PZ only gives credence, or even consideration, to viewpoints that mimic his.

Mr. Lindsay has pointed out several times that no viewpoint is beyond reproach, regardless of whose viewpoint it is. No one gets a free pass on their views. No one is exempt from supporting assertions with facts. But PZ, Watson, and their ilk, seem to think they get that free pass. It’s special pleading at its finest.

#29 Guesty (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:24pm

>>His own embarrassing words are here for everyone to see.<<

Hahaha. Nice try, but fail.

How are his words “embarrassing”? Because they didn’t kowtow to you and your friends? Because someone dared to talk to you as adults, instead of sucking up to you as the special little snowflakes you all pretend you are?

There was nothing “embarrassing” about his remarks, other than the fact that a self-serving group of unskeptical, irrational ideologues were embarrassed that they were publicly called out in a very truthful manner. It really sucks that you people just can’t run amok through the atheist and skeptic communities without being called out for your disingenuous nonsense, doesn’t it?

#30 MallorieNasrallah (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:26pm

I just wanted to drop you a note of support. The general sense of solidarity among people who have had their words twisted by this loose affiliation of bloggers was once highly important to me, so on the off chance that you need another voice in the choir of support: you have mine.
There can be no reasonable discussion where the first response is to mischaracterize the words of the person you disagree with. I am deeply sorry that your obvious statement of desire for dialogue and respect has fallen victim to such an attack.

#31 Brave Hero (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:26pm

Thank you, Ron.

#32 LawnBoy (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:40pm

“It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea.”

Really? Woah. This must have been quite the whopper of a statement. Let’s see the list of enumerated lies!

1. She called a part of the speech “a good deal of time” that was 200 words.
2. She claimed not to remember anyone ever saying that there were no divisions within feminism, when in fact one particular subgroup asserts that there are no divisions within that group.
3. She identified a topic as the “crux”.

So….

1. “a good deal of time” is a fuzzy measurement. It’s not defined to be > 10% or anything specific. It’s not lying to say that part of a talk went on for a long time _in the perception of the listener_.
2. “At Secular Woman, the principle ...is not a topic for debate.” Secular Women is not the entirety of feminism - they were taking a stand for what their group felt united about, not claiming that no one outside their group (but still within feminism) disagreed.
3. Others have agreed with Rebecca that this seemed to be the central point of your talk. But again, as with point 1, a listener having a different perception than you doesn’t make the listener dishonest.

So, what is the total of the dishonesty that matches North Korea? Perceiving a different emphasis that the speaker claims to have intended and not incorrectly equating a small group with an entire movement.

In short, nothing Ron objects to is clearly based in the intent to deceive.

Frankly, I’m very disappointed in Mr. Lindsay for taking disagreement on emphasis and an equivocation mistake on his own part and misrepresenting it as someone else’s dishonesty.

#33 Gordo (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:45pm

What a baby. You guys are in the same hotel. Go talk to one another. She tweeted that your talk was accusatory and wrongheaded, and your response was to take to CFI’s public page to attack a blogger? Grow up.

#34 Marc (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:51pm

@Gordo

“What a baby. You guys are in the same hotel. Go talk to one another. She tweeted that your talk was accusatory and wrongheaded, and your response was to take to CFI’s public page to attack a blogger? Grow up.”

Perhaps you should be aware that this is not Mr. Lindsay’s first post about this topic, and considering the amount of twitter comments that have been generated since his presentation, it would be impractical for Mr. Lindsay to address every single comment to every single person. This “issue” is not solely about Rebecca Watson, and if it was, perhaps Rebecca should have engaged Mr. Lindsay, since she is the one who took exception. He may not have even been aware of her displeasure, had he not read her blog.

#35 ann (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 7:53pm

Is there anyone surprised ?

From the beginning, this was about Rebecca Watson’s mission to be the Oprah Winfrey of Skepticism & be famous, no matter who or what stood in the way. Listen to the Amateru Scientist podcast she was on at Dragoncon in 2009. That is her: drunk, arrogant & to quote her ‘not hiding her light under a bushel’.

Back when she coyly wrote about a fling at a 2006 conference in San Antonio Texas with a speaker & that she’d be writing about it for a Skeptic magazine [guess why that didn’t happen], to failing to make it in the UK and now her new fling—- it’s about being famous.

Congratulation to everyone, espeically women, who made the skepchick cliques what they are & attacked any criticism, constructive or otherwise, of her.

Think of how many other not-skepchick women you could have helped with your support over these many years, who would have not have done this to you in return.

You now have what you deserve & I hope your asses hurt from the same biting she’s given everyone else.

#36 Reap on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:02pm

Ron-I’m pleased to see you follow up on your earlier post as needed. I expect we will see more childish and ignorant rambling from a certain click before the discussion is finished. How many times do PZ, Rebecca and their little gang of poser skeptics need to be shown their position is unreasonable? The simple fact that no one on their side will engage in a real discussion on the subject gives them away. It is laughable that PZ will engage with creationists but hides like a scared child from any discussion with atheists/skeptics who disagree with him unless its where he can control the conversation. Or he leaves it to his inept gang of socially retarded commenters. Otherwise he would rather brand critics as unworthy of his consideration and dismiss their opinions before he even hears them.

  I’m afraid you were in the wrong place at the wrong time Ron. Rebecca has been without any drama and some of the blog site are seeing less hits.  That makes it time to stir things up doesn’t it? We can depend on Rebecca to cause problems, we sure as hell can’t depend on her to try and resolve any.

#37 Pandora3 on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:04pm

“Also, thank you for making the effort to personally welcome Mr. Vacula to the event.”

Seriously? Well, at least one person at Women in Secularism got a warm welcome…A man demanding attention.

Maybe Mr. Lindsay could welcome a token woman or two next year despite the critical few seconds it would take from their direly needed lecture.

#38 Lsuoma (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:12pm

Pandora@37

The snark is weak with this one!

#39 David Leech (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:17pm

You erred Ron Lindsay. Your introduction should have told these slacavists where the bar was and there drinks are on their expense accounts. These losers don’t care about anybody but their junkets and bar bills. Where is the evidence that these lot are doing anything for anybody else but themselves and ruining their own livers.

#40 Melody (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:24pm

Half of the Slymepit have shown up to support these series of blogs. These are not our supporters or donors. They are harassers and sexists.

I’m completely embarrassed. I feel betrayed that that my allies are upset and the people that wish me ill will are cheering this on. I wish we could go back in time and delete this PR disaster.

#41 SallyStrange (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:27pm

Myers-Watson assume you should never question, you should never argue back, because the person from the marginalized group must have the expertise.

Well, when the subject at hand is “what is it like to be a member of a marginalized group,” then, yes, you should defer to the people with the expertise, i.e., the members of that group.

Does Ron Lindsay experience street harassment? No? I have. Plenty of times. If Ron Lindsay wants to talk about street harassment, he’d be ill-served to use only his own experiences with it as a starting point. He should “SHUT UP AND LISTEN” to people who have experienced it.

Then, after listening, he should talk about it. If he wants to. But without pretending to be a bigger expert on what it’s like to experience street harassment than the people who actually experience it on a regular basis.

I’m rather baffled as to why he’s so intent on misrepresenting the positions of those he disagrees with. And the “call security” remark was just juvenile and petty and mean.

#42 Ashley (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:30pm

Ron,

When complaining about being misrepresented, it’s usually best not to misrepresent others yourself.  You wrote:

But in her defense, perhaps Watson was too busy tweeting about how “strange” it was to have a “white man” open the conference to pay attention to what I was actually saying.  (I’m just glad Watson didn’t notify security: “white man loose on stage, white man loose on stage!”)

Watson’s full tweet was this:

Very strange to open #wiscfi w a white male CEO lecturing women about using the concept of privilege to silence men.

You quotemined her, Ron.  Doesn’t that bother you?

#43 Pitchguest (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:31pm

Ulysses/‘Tis Himself/Rodney Nelson:

Look, I realise appropriating other people’s words into your own is a specialty of yours, but it’s not ever on and you really shouldn’t try to speak for women. It’s condenscending. Not speaking for them, but several women here have already given their support for Ron and thanked him for his talk. Do you think they felt “scolded”?

#44 Melody (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:42pm

Did one of those women attend the conference?

#45 Astrokid on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:59pm

Next, Watson claims the “crux” of my talk was the problem I have with feminists using the concept of privilege as a justification for telling men to “shut up and listen.”  This claim is false.  No reasonable person could possibly describe the crux of my talk as dealing with this issue.  Instead, the crux of my talk dealt with the millennia-long history of the subordination of women and how CFI was committed to working toward a society in which women would have “complete social and civil equality and equal economic and political opportunity.”

Ron,
While I agree with the message of this post, I can’t agree with the above.
What you claim as the crux of your post.. was actually the preamble of your post. A preamble that is NOT news to anyone who is familiar with CFI.
You then went on to analyze what feminism’s role could be in secularism, and how its proving difficult to figure that out since debate was being quashed using the ‘check your privilege, white male’ tactic.
I took that as the crux of your earlier post. And if you look at the comments on your post, or the tweets.. most people responded to that portion. That confirms what the crux was.

And to me, Rebecca Watson’s understanding of the crux isnt off by much.

#46 Rupert MacLannahan (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:59pm

Sir, you and your organization took the idiotic step of inviting Ms. Watson as a speaker and VIP at your conference.  Any conference organizer that invites Ms. Watson (or PZ Myers) is a nincompoop.  This is what you get.  Slander.  Defamation.  Attacks.  Biting the hand that feeds you, etc.  Just look at how she turned on Mr. James Randi.  After she essentially called for a boycott of the JREF and tried to destroy that organization because it refused to kowtow to her every desire (no matter how ridiculous, like trying to impose harassment policies at skeptics conferences that would require everyone to abide by workplace modes of communication and behavior), anybody who organizes an event with Ms. Watson being even peripherally involved deserves everything they get in return.  It is like inviting a Tasmanian Devil to your event—it might be interesting, it might bring extra attendees, and it might even get you some publicity, but someone has a very good chance of getting bit.  And you, Sir, have been bit, and I predict that this is not the last wound that Ms. Watson and her sycophantic cohorts will inflict on you or your organization.  Now that you have called a spade a spade, and dared to say something contrary to Ms. Watson’s world view, you and your organization will now be on the receiving end of calls for boycots, calls to stop donations of money, calls for people to leave local groups, and so on.  The funny thing is that even a blind man could see this coming from a kilometer away.  You, or more likely some incompetent subordinate, made the big mistake of inviting Ms. Watson into your life and painting a great big bullseye on your organization.  It is lucky for you that Ms. Watson’s act has worn thin on most of the rest of the secular community, and right thinking people look upon her with contempt, if they actually give her any thought at all.

#47 Prometheus (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 8:59pm

This is possibly the most unprofessional writing that I have ever seen from the head of a major organization. I am not sure if Mr.Lindsay was exhausted or altered in some other way, but the level of animosity demonstrated in this post does not reflect well on the author or the organization he leads.

#48 Astrokid on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 9:09pm

To the small minority that are throwing ad-homs.. please dont. Ron has conducted this dialogue in a very respectful and fact-based manner. Remember the last time Ben Radford had a couple of blog posts here that were shutdown by Paul Fidalgo.. because the conversation apparently devolved into throwing insults? Lets not have that happen again.

#49 Brian Lynchehaun (Guest) on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 9:26pm

“This model of communication asks us to put our critical thinking on hold merely because the person speaking comes from a marginalized group.”

Ron.

Do you understand that “critical thinking” is done with the brain, and not the mouth?

For fuck’s sake, put down the shovel and step away from the hole. Your responses to criticism are inept, and are throwing gasoline on the (originally small) fire.

Could someone at CFI please take control of this PR shitstorm and take away Ron’s writing privileges? Seriously…

#50 Astrokid on Saturday May 18, 2013 at 9:36pm

Ron,
Tangentially Related:  If you believe that “marginalized” groups should be listened to, and engaged with.. primarily in the interest of serving justice one would assume..
lets say there’s a group of men very adversely affected by feminist laws.. such as 600 Million$ p.y since 1994 VAWA that CFI supports.

Now for several decades, Conservatives, libertarians and Mens Rights Activists have been saying that this law is discriminatory against men, and academics have shown it too, and there’s even some mainstream coverage on Non-Left Wing media Abused Men
Now.. why would you NOT listen to those voices? why would you keep quiet when one of your important allies..  Roy Speckhardt of AHA .. publicly argue that such voices should be ignored?
Some Arguments Just Don’t Have Two Sides

Even though women’s rights issues like equal pay and protection from domestic violence should not be topics up for debate, MRAs insist upon voicing their opinions on the issue—and too often the media and others listen. Since the foundation of their opinions is that of religiously sanctioned discrimination and blatant sexism, MRAs and their allies should be ignored like other fringe groups

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