Right now, there’s a campaign to get Ron Lindsay fired from his position because of the welcome talk he gave at Women in Secularism. If, like me, you do not want to see someone removed from their position for such a thing, then please follow suit and write to CFI (address below).
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: I Support Ron Lindsay
Dear Secretary Flynn and CFI Board of Directors,
I wish to express my support for Ron Lindsay amidst recent criticism of him for the speech he gave to open Women in Secularism.
In the interests of full disclosure, I was not at the conference (although I fully support the goals and motivations for WiS) so I am therefore relying on the written version of the speech posted soon after on his blog.
Reading the CFI mission statement I see that “no topic should be placed off limits to scrutiny”. It puzzles me, therefore, that this is even an issue. Dr. Lindsay’s speech seemed to me to be polite, civil and reasonable. More than anything, it seemed to be strongly pro-feminist. The concerns he expressed in his talk have also been raised by other feminists such as Julie Bindel and Becca Reilly-Cooper. He set the stage for his points of concern by saying that there can be disagreements within feminism, and articulated these concerns in a nuanced way while showing empathy and compassion for the issues that women face.
I was heartened by his willingness to engage openly and honestly with these issues. I had been worrying for a while that there are certain prominent individuals who not only seek to set certain topics off-limits for debate, but actively attack and libel those who hold an opposing view to their own. To see someone in Dr. Lindsay’s position challenge these positions publicly gives me hope that ‘freedom of inquiry’ (from the mission statement) is something that CFI takes as seriously as it ought to.
Dr. Lindsay does not deserve the overblown criticism of his speech and maligning of his person that seems to be getting worse by the day. “He treated us with contempt”, says one blogger. Another blogger (from the same blog network) writes “You assholes make me sick […] Stay the fuck away from us.” A Twitter user calls him a “raging misogynist”. Many are calling for the board to remove him from his position as CEO and president of CFI.
Even if there are things wrong with the timing or the content of the speech (perhaps it wasn’t suitable for a welcome talk, but I prefer challenging, cerebral introductions to mere pleasantries), no rational person would respond to a speech like Dr. Lindsay’s in this way. Criticism of ideas is healthy, but to date I’ve not seen any of Dr. Lindsay’s critics say why his opinions are misguided. If he is wrong, I’d like to learn why, but it is difficult to encounter rational criticism in a sea of moral outrage. This is not an environment that skeptical, rational inquiry can thrive in.
It is up to CFI to stand up for its stated values, and I sincerely hope that it will.
[The author of Notung]