Ron Lindsay, CEO of Center for Inquiry, opened his organization’s Women in Secularism2 conference, with an unwelcoming message. When faced with criticism, he did not act with grace and apologize. Quite the opposite.
Yesterday, we released our Statement of Objection to Center for Inquiry CEO Ron Lindsay’s Actions Regarding Feminism wherein Secular Woman outlined the conclusions we are forced to draw from the lack of apology or retractions concerning Lindsay’s statements and actions during Women in Secularism2. Today, our members are speaking up.
While some of the most notorious harassers and misogynists on the internet are rallying behind Ron Lindsay’s words, CFI’s supporters and donors, as well as the most of the organizers of this WiS–arguably the most successful and important thing CFI does all year–are furious and hurt; many donors are severing ties with the organization. As a former CFI employee I am ashamed and shocked. Until this weekend, Lindsay had ties with many of the most brilliant feminist thinkers in the movement. I fear his dismissive response to deserved criticism has ruined that. I hope Lindsay takes a look at the intellectual company he’s now keeping, and if that doesn’t concern him, it should concern anyone who wants to ensure CFI has a viable future as a relevant and truly progressive organization.Julia Burke
“How disappointing to see Mr. Lindsay exploit an otherwise positive event for and about secular women. We looked for leadership and instead found divisiveness and arrogance – again.”Anonymous
mr. lindsay, the reason many people took offense to your comments was because they were dismissive of the experiences of women.
this conference has a special focus on women.
if i and other people of colour are having a discussion about racism, and a white person pipes up with, “but latinos can be racist too!”, they are basically dismissing the experiences that we have had.
but the fact that a mexican kid picked on him in middle school pales in comparison to the persecution that people of colour in your country have endured.
when an event geared particularly towards women has a male speaker does the same thing by pointing fingers at women who have been meanies to a man, he is diminishing the experience of women who have received rape threats, death threats, outlandish sexual harassment and other attempts to chase them off from the movement that they have every right to be a part of.
i have found that when i shut up and listen is when i learn.
that is when i am more easily able to try and put myself in the shoes of someone else and gain the empathy that i need to work with them on any matter of social justice.
don’t get me wrong, i have also been told to shut up and listen.
but i can certainly understand the frustration that would lead someone to take such a stance, and i have found that by doing so, and when i say doing so, i don’t mean just shutting my mouth as i think of what to say next, but actually listening to the other person, the doors of communication have been opened on both sides.Rogelio Tavera
Ron Lindsey-please re-read your opening remarks and think about whether you would have addressed a conference of African American humanists that way.
“Shut up and listen” does not threaten the free speech of white upper class men. Those men-men like you-have a disproportionate share of attention. You do not have to fight to be heard. You said on Friday that you had no problem with “listen”-your problem was with “shut up.” Lindsey-you can’t listen while you’re talking. How about you take “shut up and listen” as the ADVICE that it is.Stacey Kennedy
I wasn’t at the conference, and I am hoping that perhaps next year I will be able to go. I look forward to meeting some of the folks that I have only interacted with online. I hear that it was a great time.
However, I saw that some attendees were “put off” by your opening speech. The focus, especially in context, was problematic. A few mentioned that they should discuss it with you. A couple wrote tweets or blog posts that they were disappointed in it, and engaged with what you said.
I felt that all of it was healthy discussion, until I read your subsequent blog-posts responding to the criticism which profoundly misstated the stances of the people you were responding to and were inappropriate in tone, especially considering your position. They read as extraordinarily defensive.
That was not a smart move.
Unfortunately, from my perspective as someone who engages primarily online, this situation seem eerily similar to other disagreements that have been allowed to escalate well beyond necessity, for all the world to see.
I request, with all sincerity, that you are introspective about what has happened in the last few days and take the time to charitably consider how others may have perceived your comments.M.A. Melby
“Betrayed” is the only thing to come to mind, but I have Disnomia. It’s unfortunate how an otherwise awesome lineup of women was bookended with two speakers who made me regret spending the money to come here.Anonymous
As someone who values CFI in many ways, I am trying to be charitable in how I understood your opening remarks. But your subsequent defenses make it impossible for me to do so. Dragging your critics into the hole you’re digging simply won’t help.
Please understand that there’s a difference between being told to shut up forever and being told to keep quiet long enough to listen with humility and compassion.Michael Cluff