A recent prolonged Twitter discussion including David Silverman — President of American Atheists Inc. — and I concerning claims of misogyny, sexism, threats, and the like within the atheist movement has occurred.
Readers familiar with my content pertaining to the atheist blogosphere ought to know that I am skeptical of claims of rampant misogyny and threats within the atheist community which lead people to the conclusion that the atheist community is a hostile and unsafe place for women. In various venues, including interviews, podcasts, episode of my radio show, and pieces on this website, I have condemned criminal activity and other vile behaviors, but have been asked to make a statement.
I asked David Silverman to appear on an episode of Brave Hero Radio to talk about these issues within a debate or discussion. Silverman — as it seems — requested I make a statement before he come on the show. While I don’t believe, as I noted, that the atheist community is a hostile and unsafe place, I have no problem making a statement against certain behaviors with the caveat that I am skeptical of various claims – which should be no problem because, after all, David Silverman and I are going to discuss these issues and present divergent perspectives on the condition that he approves of my statement.
Here is that statement modified from a statement Silverman himself had authored in July of 2012.
Criminal activity which may be directed at members of the atheist community including — but not limited to — threats of violence, actions of violence, and threats of death are repugnant. I would, rather than see conversations devolve into pure nastiness, prefer to see ideas discussed rather than people attacked. I see criminal activities as base and detestable. They have no redeeming value and may lead to individuals being hurt. As a long term activist, I see criminal activity directed at members of the atheist community to be reprehensible and do not condone it.
Additionally, satire and parody can be utilized by individuals to mock others. Satire and parody which devolves into egregious name-calling and personal attacks (hatred) is not a way for discussion to move forward when concerns are to discuss ideas, raise skepticism, and poke fun while not being hateful. While I may not be aware of, and am not responsible for, content others may author, I openly condemn and wish not for individuals to engage in criminal activity or engage in hatred as previously described.
I condemn criminal activity and hateful satire or parody. In being respectful — even if poking a bit of fun with tasteful satire and parody — the atheist community can be a healthier place in which ideas can better be openly discussed.
I await your response, David, and hope this meets your standard of expectation. It is difficult to author a statement of condemnation like this because gray areas exist concerning interpretations of what constitutes hatred and because individuals respond differently to material. I may even be best to see specific examples of objectionable content rather than make general statements..but this should be a good general statement.
I look forward to having a discussion/debate with you on Brave Hero Radio and I admire your willingness to come on the show and have candid discussion rather than engaging in character attacks and failing to address criticism. Propose dates and times. Make it happen. We can work out the details. Be a #bravehero.
As always, commenters are welcome to add their input below.
Update: David Silverman has agreed to appear, as promised, on an upcoming episode of Brave Hero Radio.