Remember when the Catholics came up with the idea of a forum where believers and nonbelievers would sit together and calmly and politely discuss their differences? The so-called “Courtyard of the Gentiles“?
It seems to me that what we are seeing now with Michael Nugent’s ill-fated attempt to bring together those who think that women are people and those who have quibbles with the notion and its applications, is very similar indeed to this Christian palaver-fest.
This “dialogue” is so heavily moderated that it’s ridiculous, and we have a person with a real name appearing for the motion, Stephanie Zvan, while the harassers and false equivalencers from the Twatson side can conveniently have their say in anonymity behind “Jack Smith”.
I’ve said it before. This perception by Nugent that what we have here are two equally valid approaches to skepticism and atheism and what these terms should contain is flawed. There is no middle ground between “women are people” and “women are people after a fashion, although speaking up is more of a guy thing, and what about us white menz”.
The mere fact that we seem to have a “dialogue” now between harassers, their enablers, the proud Bigfoot skeptics and those content to see atheism as a way to feel smugly superior to the religious, and those on the other side who see social justice issues as a natural extension of atheism and skepticism sets these movements back 20 years, in my opinion. What was needed after Elevatorgate was a clear signal from our movements and its main representatives that yes of course, conferences and meetings should have anti-harassment policies, like every damn 7-11 store or corporate entity, that yes of course, our movements should be as inviting and welcoming as possible, and that yes of course, we should the fuck listen to those who are telling us that there are problems in our movements with the things mentioned above, and it would be a good idea to listen and try to fix the issues.
Instead here we are now having a “dialogue”. Listening to the politely and calmly presented arguments from “both sides”. This is well and truly surreal.
I have suggestions for future Courtyards: Let’s bring together normal people and proponents of banning abortions. Or how about, normal people and those who think gays should be killed in Uganda. Or how about this one, normal people and those who think letting Blacks on the bus was a bad idea in the first place, let alone to allow them to sit down. Let’s have a sincere dialogue and talk about these things, see if we can find some common ground. But strictly no yelling or bad words. And we won’t have any militant or strident folks speak for the normal people’s side. Yes, that’ll work.