Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Speaking of Shunning
In a blog on the CFI website Ronald Lindsay presents some good news. The Center for Inquiry is not going to be shunning speakers just because a bunch of people have threatened a boycott if a certain person is speaking. I think that makes perfect sense. I also think, as I have said before- We should not refuse associate with people just because they don't think exactly like us.
For the CFI or any other organizer to give in to threats of a boycott based on a difference of opinion would be a bad thing and would soon result in a big damn mess every time there was a conference.
While we should all realize there is one boat we are all traveling in together, some don't see it like that. They want to claim the boat is theirs and they can choose who is the dead weight. That isn't the way it works, and those people should be waking up to that fact by now. These people think they are the be-all-end-all when it comes to social values, skeptics, and atheists. They think the people who rally around them nodding and smiling represent the people of the world. That is an incorrect assumption. I'm afraid the reality is --1)Most people don't care about you or 2)don't know who the hell you are, and if they did it wouldn't change fact #1. Add to this the very important fact that most people are moderates, they don't want to deal with your extreme views no matter what they are about.
While I think we should include everyone who has something new, interesting and worthwhile to say, I also wonder if some of the people who are most often invited to speak really meet that criteria. PZ Myers gave his talk about atheism having a soul and A+ thinking and it was a snore-fest I don't think even he was awake during the entire talk. In the video you can see the attendees start looking around for a piece of rope to make a noose. Since then PZ Myers himself has given everyone fair warning that he probably won't have anything new to say until.....well I doubt he will manage to ever work that out considering the direction his feeble mind is headed. Why then is he even being invited to attend as a speaker? Is there a shortage of people who can speak to large groups about a topic atheists/skeptics find interesting? Or how about Rebecca Watson?....When is the last time she said something that hasn't been heard a thousand times before, or even something true? The only way she can manage to say anything people haven't grown tired of is to either lie or twist the meaning in order to make it seem like important new information or unbelievable drama.
Rebecca Watson can't shut up long enough to realize she doesn't speak for every woman on the planet. She should also realize you can't force people to agree with you just by acting like they don't matter when they disagree. The same kind of thing can be said about people like Ophelia Benson who seems to be blogging as if someone has a gun pointed at her head and is forcing her to blog something, anything no matter how petty, unimportant, or ignorant. Here is some advice--If you don't have anything to say then shut up. Maybe spend more time reading and listening to the opinions of other humans who have put just as much thought into things as you, if not more. Who is interested in paying money and/or wasting time to hear Ophelia tell them things like how she doesn't like the word "cunt" or how bothersome it is that people use the short version of someone's name?
Would it be entertaining to listen as Stephanie Zvan gave new definitions to all the words in the English language? That seems to be her major focus at this time, when she isn't accusing people of hating all women because they don't like her friends. Or maybe it would be better to spend the $250 or whatever it is Richard Carrier is asking on some old propaganda films from WW2 or the cold war. You could get the same feeling and still have money left over to serve everyone hot dogs and a shot of whiskey. Better yet you could ask someone who isn't actively calling for a war between atheist/skeptical factions that only exist as your self fulfilling prophecy.
Yes we include people who think outside of the box or who may stir things up a little, but just as you can have a mind that is too open, you can have a policy that invites thinking that will be more harmful than helpful or interesting.
The bottom line is some people are just looney and/or attendees are gonna get bored listening to the same old common sense delivered with the enthusiasm it deserves for being repeated for the 7,995,547th time. No one is going to need to worry about who is speaking because no one will be there to listen. I'm sure some conference organizers know this already and will manage to offer the opportunity for some new face to enlighten the masses. Wouldn't it be nice to listen to someone who has a new or even just a different delivery of the topics we find of interest or importance?
I may be a bit biased but the SkeptiCal conferences we have in my area are very good at providing new and interesting speakers each year. I'm sure there are other similar events, in my opinion they should all be this way. Ronald is correct about shunning others but you shouldn't keep having the same things repeated to you over and over by the same people, or make it a habit of helping spread thinking that undermines the very thing you are working to achieve, unless you are expecting a different result, but that is an entirely different issue isn't it?
Here is Ronald's post. Make sure you check out the comments for a laugh or two...or a cry
Ronald A. Lindsay-On Shunning Fellow Atheists and Skeptics