• NECSS booted Richard Dawkins for no reason

    Later this year, the Northeast Conference on Science & ‘Skepticism’ (NECSS) will be having its annual conference. Richard Dawkins had been invited as a keynote speaker but then, NECSS chose to withdrew the invitation — out of the blue:

    The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism has withdrawn its invitation to Richard Dawkins to participate at NECSS 2016. We have taken this action in response to Dr. Dawkins’ approving re-tweet of a highly offensive video.

    We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However, unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech runs contrary to our mission and the environment we wish to foster at NECSS. The sentiments expressed in the video do not represent the values of NECSS or its sponsoring organizations.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure they’re contradicting themselves. You can’t be for free speech and, at the very same time, hold the belief that there’s something called hate speech. (Hate speech doesn’t exist!) And, by the way, that word, “retweeting”, it doesn’t mean what the people at NECSS think it means. Dawkins tweeted the video. But I digress and this is not a Twitter-for-Dummies post…

    So, what was the video Dr. Dawkins tweeted approvingly? This:

    (Guess I won’t be invited to NECSS any time soon! For all I care.)

    Actually, when Dawkins tweeted the video, he also said: “Obviously doesn’t apply to vast majority of feminists, among whom I count myself. But the minority are pernicious“… but who cares about nuance and being fair when it comes to bashing Richard Dawkins? So, obviously, the NECSS people didn’t even bother reading what Dakwins was actually saying.

    Anyway, someone informed Dawkins that the ‘feminist’ in the video depicted an actual woman who has being threatened. I still don’t get the train of thought here: what was Dawkins supposed to do with that info? Some people appear to think he should have apologized, which is odd, because he hadn’t threatened anyone and he’s not responsible for the actions of others. At any rate, Dawkins deleted his tweet:

    To be clear: Richard Dawkins is not responsible for the actions of anyone other than himself. But he did delete his tweet anyway because “it was the safest and most humane course of action“.

    To recap:

    1. Richard Dawkins tweeted a video, clearly stating he was referring to the pernicious ‘feminists’ who turn a blind eye to the actual rape culture (Islam).

    2. Someone told Dawkins the video depicted an actual person who had received threats.

    3. Out of human solidarity, Dawkins deleted his tweet (although, had it been the other way around I doubt the ‘feminist’ in question would have done the same). I’ll say it one more time: he did that because he wanted to, he had no obligation to do so.

    4. Dawkins tweeted asking all of his followers not to threaten anyone with violence.

    5. NECSS booted him, because the video “runs contrary to their mission and the environment”.

    So the Novellas drank the politically correct and post-modernist bullshit Kool Aid. I guess their next move is to burn all the Sokal books they got left… but I will never know because I won’t be following them anymore. (It’s actually a shame, I have translated several posts by Steven Novella, but that’s come to an end now!)

    To all the other speakers, be warned — from now on until the conference in May, you could be disinvited for anything you say or think. Thought crimes are coming back and NECSS wants to make sure you know it.

    If you can’t disagree with the host, is it even worth speaking at such a venue?

    (image: Wikipedia)

    Category: AtheismSkepticism and Science


    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker

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    • To all the other speakers, be warned — from now on until the conference in May, you could be disinvited for anything you say or think.

      It is increasingly difficult to respect people who are willing to subject themselves to those conditions. I’d be unsurprised if some of the brighter speakers pulled out.

      • Albert Cornelius Doyle

        Alternatively, they could refrain from lumping Muslims and Feminists under the same Terrorist label, then say hah hah, isn’t that adorable, to a million or more fanboys. This is hardly about free speech, and no government has shut off Dawkins’s internet connection. A private organization determined that he had pissed off so many members and likely attendees, and flouted their principles, that they simply said “ha, changed my mind, you’re not invited to the party”. Universities do it all the time, to speakers on the right and the left, if they get sufficient pushback from students and alumnae and faculty. A Christian-owned theater can choose not to screen Midnight Cowboy or The Last Temptation of Christ. What’s the big deal? Dog bites man. Say something stupid in public, suffer some private consequences. I would venture that the saying something stupid (so often now, that I suspect Dawkins does it on purpose, to raise his MRA/Slymepit clicks) is more worthy of condemnation than people reacting with distaste.

        • There is so much wrong here, I’m not sure where to start. Where did you find the terrorist label, exactly?

          • Albert Cornelius Doyle

            Ummm…..context. But hey, man, if you thought that cartoon was a laff riot, and want to send it to all the women and Muslims you know, go right ahead, I’m sure they’ll spew non-alcoholic beer out of all their noses. But you probably don’t want to attend the NECCS, because it will make you even madder that folks with lady-parts don’t find Richard Dawkins ever-increasing grumpy-old-misogynist-racist stuff as amusing as Richard Dawkins, and clearly the author of this piece, and you, all seem to find him.
            He stepped in it, and then doubles down and gets ridiculously defensive. Unexamined Oxbridge Privilege run amok. He could just as easily have said, oops, hadn’t thought of that angle, sorry, my bad, and he’d have been orating away at NECCS. He didn’t. He instead played Rich White Christian Male apologist to his legion of MRA fanboys, and got dumped from the podium. Now he can play his ever-more-trite Victim Card, poor poor aristocratic Englishman, they don’t let him hunt foxes on the Commons anymore.
            Cry me a fucking river. Ain’t you guys got bigger fish to fry?

            • Where did you find the terrorist label, exactly?

            • Jesse

              Did you not watch the video? It all about how “we have so much in common” equating feminists who recognize patriarchy and misogyny with Islamists. That’s the whole point of the video.

            • Islamists are Muslims who believe that Sharia Law should form the basis of secular governance.

              Terrorists are people who kill and maim to further political goals.

              The number of people who fall into the first category but not the second one is on the order of millions.

            • There’s nowhere to be found

            • Shatterface

              ‘Cry me a fucking river’.

              Looks like we’ve got a Big Red fanboy here.

            • And he can go back to that eco chamber. This blog ain’t for him

            • TorSverre

              Wow. Good to see you’re so welcoming and that your message is one of inclusion. I see you prefer your own echo chamber of adoring fans rather that actual intelligent discussion. But have it your way, I guess I won’t be coming back here.

            • Shatterface

              Gosh, the place just won’t seem the same without you.

        • jg29a

          I found the cartoon rather devoid of humor value, though it had a bit of truth and certainly didn’t offend me. The thing that continues to amaze me, though is…

          “This is hardly about free speech, and no government has shut off Dawkins’s internet connection. A private organization[…]”

          …how little it takes to make progressives sound like libertarians. Is it similarly “hardly about racial equality” if a “private organization” decides that it would “flout their principles” to serve black people in the Whites Only room? When I was a naive 18-year-old wannabe libertarian, I likely would have answered yes. But now I’m all grownsies, and understand why it’s important to extend some basic values of civil society into parts of the private sphere. Canceling someone for merely passing along content, on a subject that they wouldn’t be speaking about at your event (certainly not if you asked them) is a rather serious violation of ones commitment to the free exchange of ideas.

        • LindaL

          “they could refrain from lumping Muslims and Feminists under the same Terrorist label”
          Please rewatch the video.
          It was calling attention to events like this:

          Feminists are not being called terrorists or compared to terrorists.
          The odd situation where some outspoken feminists appear to ignore attitudes and ideas they would castigate anyone BUT Muslims for having, is what is being parodied.

          You assuming people that watch that video without revulsion are likely MRAs is telling.

        • Shatterface

          This is hardly about free speech, and no government has shut off Dawkins’s internet connection

          Funny how the SJWs resort to libertard definitions of censorship when it suits their purposes.

          • And they give privileges and ‘affirmative’ action to people based on biological traits… but they’re against sexism and racism. Go figure!

        • allan

          ” they could refrain from lumping Muslims and Feminists under the same Terrorist label”. This is a completely dishonest assertion. The video was a brutal satire (not particularly clever). It was satirising the almost complete failure of prominent feminists to criticise the brutal misogyny of islam. There was absolutely no suggestion that feminists were terrorists. I don’t know who that horrendous woman is but she deserves all the mocking that the internet can muster. Being female does not excuse you from mockery when you behave like a demented banshee.

        • “Say something stupid in public, suffer some private consequences”

          The SWJs’ lack of self awareness never ceases to amaze me.

          BTW, this blog is not for you: http://www.skepticink.com/avant-garde/2015/01/29/is-this-blog-for-you/

        • tekhiun

          “Alternatively, they could refrain from lumping Muslims and Feminists under the same Terrorist label”

          “Obviously doesn’t apply to vast majority of feminists, among whom I count myself. But the minority are pernicious“

          These two don’t go together. If you think there aren’t extremist feminists then yous should educate yourself better about it. http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=cfd_1444928890 .

      • I completely agree with that statement. I wonder what Richard Wiseman is thinking about this whole thing

    • I do believe hate speech exists but this isn’t it. Criticizing ideas is well within the marketplace of ideas.

    • Albert Cornelius Doyle

      Just to point out the logical silliness of your title, in their withdrawal of their invitation, they gave a very specific reason for doing so, that their values suggest that they not honor people who say and do things that are in violation of their values. So in the first place, he wasn’t “booted”, which suggests being given the bum’s rush by beefy bouncers, but rather disinvited, and secondly, it wasn’t “for no reason”. It was simply a reason you don’t care for, or a reason whose underlying values you don’t care for. But they were ABUNDANTLY clear as to the VERY SPECIFIC reason.

      • jg29a

        In all fairness, I agree with this point. Calling bad reasons “no reason” seems to be a common, bad move on all sides out there.

        • Yes, my bad. My follow-up post avoided this mistake. Thanks for your comment 🙂

      • Clare45

        Since when did speakers at conferences have to agree with all the values of the organizers? “Disinvited” is the same as “booted”. Very tacky IMHO.

    • Paul Loebe

      Hate speech is real. But this is not it.

    • Paul Loebe

      They are a very unprofessional organization, though. Disinviting the keynote speaker without even making them aware of it. I wouldn’t want to do business with that type of organization.

      • Shatterface

        They’re not a professional organisation. Half of them are called Novella.

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    • Alex Waddell

      You nigger loving faggot feminazi. Wow, feels so good to get that off my chest. Glad there’s no such thing as hate speech.

    • NECSS sides w/Islamists and #RegressiveLeft. There’s Richard Dawkins, then there’s theocratic misogyny. Whose side are you on?

      The Goldsmiths fiasco, where apostate Iranian Maryam Namazie received death threats, led to Goldsmith Feminists and LGBT calling who a bigot? Namazie. And such feminists are the minority that the video addresses. The video offends regressives who defend religious chauvinism. Feminism that demands equal rights is one thing, feminism that whines about Richard Dawkins, thinks women are too weak to be criticized, uses terms like Mansplaining to shut down arguments, and trumpets faux calls of bigotry at every offense…should be satirized and mocked.

      Also, get a taste of Chanty Binx,the “feminist bigot” in question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVuK44kWgxk

    • lovemycity

      I read another blog post about this written by another atheist and she certainly took a different approach than yours. Reading hers (without ANY prior knowledge about the situation) I thought Dawkins “retweeted” a video containing actual clips of the woman (she didn’t post the video in her blog post).. now that I see the video, I’m glad I unliked and unfollowed the atheist FB page she writes for. Unbelievable, overreacting dummies.

    • Thorarin

      There is absolutely nothing contradictory about believing in freedom of speech and uninviting a speaker based on what they say or do. They are not trying to censor his words or actions, rather they are choosing who they will give a platform to based on their goals and ideals.

      Dawkins has repeatedly trivialized the concerns of women and pretended that he is a good feminist ally just because he opposes Islam. It has reached the point where his presence dissuades many women (and some men) from wanting to attend events and having him at a conference right after he just stepped in it again will clearly work against the goals of the NECSS. Whether or not you agree with it, it was a principled decision.

      • Shatterface

        If the ban was based on Dawkins usual behaviour and not this single tweet why invite him in the first place?

        Far more likely they had no intention of allowing him to attend and knew inviting and then disinviting him would give their cranky organisation some free publicity.

        • Good point. My guess: Novella didn’t even want Dawkins there in the first place and used the tweet as an excuse to boot him once and for all.

      • allan

        “It has reached the point where his presence dissuades many women (and some men) from wanting to attend events”. This seems highly doubtful (maybe you mean the Rebecca Watson, MS Binx types). The clips I’ve seen on Youtube seem to suggest that Atheism+/ feminism has greatly reduced interest in skeptic conferences. Who would people pay to see? Dawkins / PZ Myers. Sam Harris/Rebecca Watson. This nonsense only persists because of the grip these nitwits have on the education system.

      • “his presence dissuades many women (and some men) from wanting to attend events”

        That’s their problem, not his. Please stop denying agency to women. It’s demeaning and objectifying.

        BTW, this blog is not for you: http://www.skepticink.com/avant-garde/2015/01/29/is-this-blog-for-you/

    • taffelost

      I hope no one will be attending that conference!

      • Mike De Fleuriot

        Most likely will be as well attended as most A+ type conferences currently are.

      • Shatterface

        It’s 400 people.

        They could fill that hall with people who just want to get out of the rain.

      • +1

      • Clare45

        Dis-inviting Dawkins is a good way to reduce the number of attendees!

    • Lawrence Mahmood

      The video conflates feminism with Islamism and describes the two singers as a pair of spastics. Of course it’s fucking offensive. It conflates islamophobia with misogyny, but characterises them as imaginary. Both are real problems. If RD watched the whole thing, smiled approvingly, and tweeted it to show his approval, then I have now lost the last traces of any respect I ever felt for him.

    • Shatterface

      People are criticising the video because it is based on a real feminist – but if it had been based on a fictional feminist those same people would be complaining it is a straw-woman.

      • Heads you win, tails I loose.

      • Clare45

        Absolutely. And I don’t think it matters whether the feminist portrayed in the video was a real person or not. The point was that she was representing a small but extreme faction of feminism. She wasn’t given a name, but I assumed she was a reference to very vocal women at the Goldsmith’s college incident. Do we know if the Muslim portrayed was a real person? Does it matter?

    • TorSverre

      Of course mr Dawkins (or any other “adult”) is not responsible for the actions of others. That doesn’t mean it should be okay to condone them, does it? If you stand idly by watching someone being beaten, is that okay too? It’s not YOUR responsibility? Just because YOU’RE not the one doing the beating, doesn’t mean it’s okay to not interfere, or worse, spread a video of it on SOME. Dawkins has always been very outspoken, and while I have enjoyed much of his writing, he often comes off as a total dick in interviews/tweet/etc. And he knows it. And that can often interfere with what his actual message is. Honestly a situation I can relate to. ^_^ There’s really no right or wrong in this situation, but I honestly don’t see what terrible wrong NECSS did in this case.

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