No, Penn Jillette, Rape And Death Threats Are Not Free Speech

screencap from the movie My Chauffeur (1986)
Penn Jillette being artistic?

There has been a major storm over misogyny in the freethought movement for several years. Women in the movement who have spoken out against it have been harassed with rape and death threats among other nasty reactions. People who don’t see anything wrong with the misogyny, like comedian Penn Jillette, worry more about being able to call a woman a ‘cunt’ than why one shouldn’t be doing that in the first place. That’s the problem.

Buzzfeed has a very thorough article about the misogyny conflict in the freethought movement. It actually gave both sides of the issue and while I knew most of the incidents described the article also included interviews with several women who had been raped and/or harassed.

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Seculars, Young And Old, Need To Work Together

clipart showing a reading circle
How I imagine older Humanists passing on their knowledge to younger Humanists

It has been almost 20 years since I officially chucked religion once and for all and identified as an Atheist and Humanist. Getting rid of the irrational belief system called religion was the most liberating thing that had happened to me in my life to that point and I wanted everyone to know it. I became an evangelist for rational thought and if you didn’t agree with me you were a moron. Now 20 years and many battles later I don’t feel the fire in my belly as much. I’m still a non-believer but I am more selective about what gets me cranked up. Is it my age? Have I gained some kind of wisdom as I got older that mellowed me out. Maybe it is some kind of secular menopause.

*Editor’s note* Since this post was originally published and after some good feedback in the comments below I have rewritten a couple of paragraphs to clarify my thoughts. I didn’t intend to offend any reader young or old. This post was mainly an expression of my thoughts on the subject and how I need to do better. I expressed the thoughts I know are not productive as means of illustrating that it was not productive. If you read the entire post you should see that my point as set in the title is that all of us seculars, young and old, need to work together. We all have different things we can bring to the movement. Thanks again for the feedback and reading this post.

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To My Freethought Friends: You Are On Notice

image of a Be Nice sign
Can’t we all just get along

There has been a serious issue with discussing diversity and sexual harassment within the freethought community. I have written a post or two about the matter and it seems that even a year since the biggest blowup – elevatorgate – the sexism and misogyny has not abated. It seems some immature boys can’t let go of the fact that their harassment is stupid and wrong. I’m declaring right now that I will quit any group that ignores or condones harassment and I will personally shun any person who harasses for any reason or continually makes excuses for such behavior. I didn’t come to this decision lightly but it seems some just can’t move forward and they are holding our freethought movement hostage. Enough is enough.

The other day on the Atheist Revolution blog there was a post about an Atheist blogger filing a DCMA complaint against another “Atheist” blog. The name of the blog is “Elevatorgate”. When I saw the site my jaw dropped. The entire site was devoted to Ad Hominem attacks on several bloggers and activists in the Freethought community who complained about diversity and sexual harassment in the movement and those who supported the bloggers who complained.

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Attention Men In the Atheist & Freethought Community! STOP IT!

image of DJ Grothe - President of James Randi Educational Foundation
DJ Grothe – President of James Randi Educational Foundation

Another conference and another bad experience by women at the conference followed by a backlash from men toward the women complaining. I am getting SICK OF IT! Knock the shit off now guys and show some respect for women. Right now some atheist men are no better than those on the religious right who want to return women back to the days when they were all barefoot and pregnant.

The atheist and freethought communities have gotten a black eye lately from a couple of highly publicized incidents where women attended some conferences and were harassed or treated unfairly by some men also attending the conferences or demeaned or outright dismissed in panel discussions.

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