Friday, January 11, 2013

A petition for equality in the atheism/skepticism community

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Scarlet ‘A+’ of Atheism Plus

I don’t often plug petitions, given the general futility of these things (good intentions are no substitute for effectiveness), but there’s one floating around that I think absolutely merits signing and sharing as widely as possible in the hopes of focusing our push-back against all the sexist assholery that’s been dividing the once-concerted atheo-skeptic movement:

We, the undersigned, are atheists, skeptics and nonbelievers who value free speech and rational thought and who seek to build a strong, thriving movement that can advocate effectively for these values. We've chosen to put our names to this petition because we want to respond to a video created by a blogger calling himself Thunderfoot. In this video, Thunderfoot attacks named individuals who've been active in promoting diversity and fighting sexism and harassment in our movement. He describes these people as "whiners" and "ultra-PC professional victims" who are "dripp[ing] poison" into the secular community, and urges conference organizers to shun and ignore them.

We hold this and similar complaints from other individuals to be seriously misguided, false in their particulars and harmful to the atheist community as a whole, and we want to set the record straight. We wish to clarify that Thunderfoot and those like him don't speak for us or represent us, and to state our unequivocal support for the following goals:

We support making the atheist movement more diverse and inclusive. […]

We support strong, sensible anti-harassment policies at our gatherings. […]

We support the people in our community who've been the target of bullying, harassment and threats. […]

To put a stop to this bad behavior once and for all, we need to change the culture of the atheist movement so that sexism isn't condoned or defended, just as racism and homophobia aren't condoned or defended. We're grateful to the leaders of the movement who've spoken out against harassment, and we encourage all atheists and skeptics, regardless of their influence or prominence, to do likewise.

See? This is how mature, reasonable adults carry a discussion about sensitive issues: No demands that opponents be banned or censored; no hatred or vitriol towards people with differing opinions; no blatant dishonesty and misrepresentations of anyone’s arguments or attempts to rewrite the record; and no thinly veiled threats against their livelihoods or persons. Just a community coming together in the spirit of reason, fairness and equality in order to accomplish what is obviously and undeniably the right thing to do.

There’s already some impressive names in the list of signatories, and 308 people (and climbing fast) have added theirs as of this posting. I don’t think it’ll be difficult to bump that number up past the required 730 minimum before day’s end, do you? This is an international effort, so there’s really no reason not to add your mark right now.

(via @jennifurret)