I have been following the controversy around Ron Lindsay’s opening remarks at the Women in Secularism conference, and haven’t said a whole lot outside of a couple of comments on twitter. Mostly I’ve been too exhausted dealing with my own shit to get involved this time around. The public statement they issued today, though, is too astounding to not to comment on.
For those who haven’t been following this stuff, the statement and links to descriptions of the events that led up to it are here.
The amazing thing about today’s statement, to me, isn’t that it fails to address the issues everyone wanted CFI to address. Though I had hopes that they would directly address Ron Lindsay’s speech and subsequent douchebaggery, I didn’t really expect it of them. I’ve been disappointed too many times by the inability of skeptic organizations to address criticisms of their own actions with the maturity that they expect of the organizations they themselves criticize. My expectations were not very high.
That said, what I expected was a shitty apology that failed to adequately address the issues that have been raised over the past few weeks. What I didn’t expect, and am still astounded by, is that they didn’t just fail to adequately address the issues, they failed to address the issues at all. As Greta Christina points out, today’s statement mis-attributes the issues to the conference, rather than Ron Lindsay; identifies the issues as divisiveness, rather than a fuck-up on the part of a major figure in their organization; expresses support for all sides of the issues, harassers and harassees in equal measure; and utterly fails to address any of the issues that have been raised.
Here’s the thing: I knew there was a good chance the Center for Inquiry didn’t think the challenges women face in the secular/skeptical movement were important enough to take a stand on. I didn’t know that the Center for Inquiry thought its constituents were stupid. I didn’t know that the Center for Inquiry (an organization that caters to the issues of, for fucks sake, skeptics – people who might, one would hope, be expected to read a statement like this with at least a modicum of critical thinking) thought we were all so utterly inept at critical thinking that we wouldn’t figure out that they hadn’t said anything.
Today’s statement doesn’t just imply a lack of concern for and understanding of the issues that necessitated it in the first place. Today’s statement implies an astounding lack of respect for the critical faculties of CFI’s audience. Did the Center for Inquiry really think this statement would go over well? Did they really think we wouldn’t figure out that it contains zero substantive content? Did they think we wouldn’t realize that they had both mischaracterized and failed to address the issues at the same time?
After all this, what I most want to ask the Center for Inquiry is this: how stupid do you think we are? And do you really expect people whose issues and intelligence you’ve shown such an astounding lack of respect for to want to have anything at all to do with you?
If so, again, how stupid do you think we are?